Bit on the past, the present and the future
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 that’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.
Before CCP was founded I supposed to be attending school. However, I was rarely seen in any of the classes I was supposed to be attending because I was addicted to the world of computer games. My favorite type of game has been multiplayer games involving competition or co-operation with players, especially the interaction with other players, and the community that grows around these type of games.
My first online addiction was Quake1 back in 1996. The atmosphere and the feel of the game that attracted me to it and afterwards the balanced multiplayer that kept me playing the game for years. While Quaking in 1997, I was introduced to Ultima Online and that was the time when I said g'bye to my social life for good.
CCP has some deep roots that sprouted from Ultima Online. MrRed (QA) and I formed an Icelandic guild with some other Icelander we found called Zrakor (same dude that made almost every single mission in EVE). Later on, we ganked two guys called Solaris (Creative Director & Founder of CCP) and Panzer (Customer Support) but later befriended with them as they managed to cry out that they were Icelanders before they hit the ground. Here's a picture of me, MrRed and Solaris in UO, killing miners and leaving behind a mark of fear for future miners (or what others might call vandalism):
Ultima Online is also where my current nickname comes from, where I was known as “The Murderer” Tom Bombadil. After moving to other games with my clan it hit me that my nick was to long for forums and other games so it got cut to TomB (and it's Tom Bee - not tomb like in Tombraider, calling me the later ensures a damn good beating from my bat).
Solaris brought me into the CCP offices to hang out, we spent long hours playing games day and night. I was hired by CCP in 1998 and my job included researching other MMORPG’s, administrating the forums and other smaller tasks. In 2000, the development for EVE went full force and my job moved to being Lead Tester in the Quality Assurance department. That alone didn’t last long as we were badly pre-nerfed in the manpower attribute, so the responsbility of both the combat mechanics and creating the NPC system were handed over to me. For a long time I worked in both departments, testing during the day and designing at night, but eventually moved to working in Game Design 24/7.
When EVE went live nearly 3 years ago, there were only three full time Game Designers (LeKjart, Clover and I) but a lot of designs were still done by people in other departments because of the lack of people to create the rich gameplay we needed for release. Balancing the game for release and the next year post-release was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I did most of the work solo, but the friendly 3D artist known as Pong assisted whenever he could. CCP as a whole spent the 72 hours preceeding Tranquility going live without sleep or showers and I still have the occassional flash back of the pre-launch haze assisted by coffee/energy drink/caffiene cocktail that I needed to stay awake.
But doing what we did was worth it; we managed to create a system where not only the oldest, richest and most advanced players would reap their rewards, but also where new players could survive, compete and even prosper.
The CCP team has grown rapidly in the past year. Today the content/design department holds 15 people, two new content developers joined us two months ago and we plan on adding two more team members before the summer. My task, besides designing, is mainly reviewing designs and any kind of modification made by Devs that affects EVE gameplay, to ensure we are following our design path and to help the Devs do their best work. Most players think that my impact on EVE has been primarily with the PvP and PvE combat aspects, but I have touched almost every feature in the game. As an EVE player, I have taken part in almost every aspect of the game, including:
- I’ve been on the top10 bounty list as a pirate
- I’ve provided my corporation with all types of ships as a manufacturer
- I’ve done a lot of good and bad trading
- I’ve whored agent missions to death
- I’ve even mined alone for a battleship in a tiny cruiser
So my attention as a game designer is not just combat based, but on every aspect of the game and I try to see the changes through the eyes of a player, too. As an example, one of the biggest goal I have today is to make the universe feel less empty, I want to bring more content to each and every solar system and a better feeling of presence to the player. It surely won’t get perfect in a single patch but I promise that it will stay as one of the primary goals our team has.
The future of EVE that we see now is much more promising than it was a year ago. We love this game but we are still far from being satisfied with how it is. Our plan is to make EVE bigger and better and I hope we never become complacent with what we have.
I know this is the question that everyone is asking, "Who has the nerf bat now"? As Kjartan handed me his torch, I have handed over my nerfbat. Sir Tuxford has proven to be insane enough to take on the combat balancing task and his math skillz exceed mine by far. Behold the new wielder of the EVE Nerf Bat: