Time to backfire on CCP?

My mmorpg commentary is like biorhythms. Up and down with no apparent reasons. But there ARE reasons. I’ve praised CCP and Eve-Online for a long time. It looks like things could start to change.

To begin with, the biggest delusion I could hear from them:

GamersInfo.net: What is your position with CCP?

Kjartan Pierre Emilsson: I have been Lead Game Designer of EVE Online these last 5 years, overseeing general design of the game, but in the near future I am gearing up for upcoming projects within CCP, so I will pass that flag along to be able to concentrate on those.

GamersInfo.net: Upcoming projects?

Kjartan Pierre Emilsson: No comment.

Now don’t just go start the alarms. It seems that “LeKjart” is still with Eve, but moving out to follow and lead the launch of the game in China, where CCP has huge expectations (and even the fancy plan to bring the two worlds together):

(see still the dev blog feed)
Following the alpha, Serenity will go into closed beta running on the brand new hardware that Optic has invested in to run the game. If that goes smoothly, it will go into open beta just before the launch itself, scheduled for some time this summer.

All of this has obviously tied up some resources within CCP, but we have also nearly doubled our staff over this last year. This parallel development will actually be beneficial for all EVE players. The code base between Serenity and Tranquility will be strictly in synch, so that any new development will be distributed to everyone. The main new addition that we had to do for the China cluster is converting the whole of EVE to Unicode, as well as putting in place a whole new back-end system to enable localization of each and every aspect of the game’s content and UI. This means that TQ players can expect to be able to choose their native language like German, French or Russian for the UI in the near future. This will only help TQ grow more and more, and make it culturally more diverse.

I will personally move to Shanghai for a while, to monitor the launch and the first critical months of Serenity, passing the torch of Lead Game Designer for EVE to TomB, who I am sure will wield it masterfully. Shanghai is a trend-setting city that leaves no one unmoved, and it’s futuristic Blade Runner-like atmosphere can only be inspirational for things to come in EVE. I certainly intend to soak in as much of its culture and atmosphere. In my opinion, this whole Chinese endeavor will influence CCP and EVE in multiple positive ways for everyone during the coming years.

This should reassure me that CCP isn’t following the stupidity of every other mmorpg companies working on sequels or clones, but they should still focusing and reinvesting exclusively on Eve. I hope this is true because mmorpgs life cycles aren’t about the “age” of a product, they are exclusively about the full support of their companies. A mmorpg always dies when devs move to new projects. Always.

Anyway. TomB is now the lead designer and I see this as a bad sign (putting my hands forward). I disliked him since early beta and my opinion never really changed. I’m not passing out judgements already, but I’m not really confident in what he can do. I’ll gladly change my opinion, though.

As you might have read in last week’s blog that Kjartan posted, we have had some changes in the design department of CCP. Since last year, my presence on the Ship & Module forum has diminished because of increased responsibility. Kjartan is now moving to our Shanghai based office for the EVE release in China and I have been promoted to EVE Lead Designer. Before, I have been known as the evil bas%#@d that ruins everything you love, but thatÂ’s not all there is to me. As a result, I thought it time to share some of the road that brought me to where I am now.

(full story + ‘badass’ claims still in the dev blog feed)

For me he’s always been the symbol of the hardcore mentality in Eve. Him taking the lead of the game could easily become the first nail in the coffin of a highly promising game that was just now starting to flourish.

Of course these are all early claims with no substance. Yet. But mmorpgs are long term projects and the shit that happens *today* is crucial for tomorrow. When everyone will have already forgot what happened and what brought the change of pace.

What you see as just mmorpg “gossip” is what really moves things in the background and determines if projects fail or succeed.

We’ll see.

I’ll just throw this idea in there: the worst game designers seem always to come from QA, have you noticed?

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