Monday, April 15, 2013

Scott Hartsman In Space?

On Friday CCP Hellmar (aka CCP's CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson) published a dev blog concerning the fate of the current executive producer of Eve Online, John Lander.  The dev blog was necessary after alert players spotted a job posting looking for a new executive producer.  We learned that CCP Unifex would remain with CCP working toward developing the company's mobile strategy.  CCP has a mobile strategy?  Exactly.

So while everyone dreams about all the goodies CCP Unifex will bestow upon a grateful New Eden (setting skill queues from our iPhones?), the question becomes: who will replace CCP Unifex?  If Eve was a sports team, I would guess the biggest available name currently available.  In my opinion, the biggest available name is Scott Hartsman, most recently the executive producer for Trion's RIFT.

What makes me think that CCP is leaning toward a big name?  First, this portion of Hilmar's dev blog:
"For our next Executive Producer of EVE Online, we will be looking outside of CCP. We have been actively interviewing candidates and plan on a smooth transition over the summer. I am letting you know now so everyone can plan on buying Jon a lot of beers at Fanfest, but also because we have had a lot of really talented people join CCP from the EVE community over the past decade. Jon himself is in fact one such example. It might very well be that some of you have what it takes for this job, or know someone that does." (emphasis mine)
Indeed, given the talents of the Eve player base we could indeed see a former player emerge as the next Executive Producer.  But given the qualities CCP is looking for in its ideal candidate, apart from John Smedly who I think is happy as CEO of Sony Online Entertainment, the talent pool is probably small:
Ideally:
  • A good understanding of MMO game development in general and EVE Online in particular.
  • Extensive industry experience with multiple titles and large scale operations 10+ years preferred
  • A track record of delivering multiple high quality entertainment experience
  • Significant experience of delivering excellent business results in large scale projects in an ongoing ‘Product as a service’ model 
Except for experience with Eve, I can't name anyone who could exceed his record.  Hartsman began his career in the video game industry back in 1986 and has served as a senior or executive producer for three AAA MMORPGs: EverQuest, EverQuest 2 and RIFT.  Back when Hartsman worked on EverQuest the game was the most popular MMORPG on the market with over 500,000 subscribers.  In describing his tenure at EverQuest 2, many just use the phrase "the man who saved EverQuest 2" for his performance in turning around the EQ sequel after a rocky start facing World of Warcraft.  And RIFT was the last major MMORPG to launch with a subscription model that has not gone F2P or B2P.

One concern I would have is someone used to making theme parks trying to fit into the Eve universe.  That is offset by the recent moves that made CCP Seagull the Senior Producer and CCP Ripley the Development Director.  Also, looking for someone with over 10 years experience would ensure someone exposed to sandbox games like Ultima Online or games with shared dungeons and mob camping that promoted competition between players and guilds like ... EverQuest.

I do have to admit to a bias in favor of Scott Hartsman.  While I wasn't too thrilled with RIFT, I loved EverQuest 2.  The Echoes of Faydwer and Rise of Kunark expansions, the last two expansions he oversaw, were great.  I've also been tempted to pick up the RIFT expansion because I've heard the housing introduced is amazing.

Now, I'm not sure that CCP could lure Hartsman out of nice, warm Southern California to the cold rocky shores of Iceland.  But CCP's looking for a big time talent and not too many people fit the ideal qualifications.  So why not try?

3 comments:

  1. Why would we want someone from the mainstream industry? That sounds like a terrible idea all around.

    They should just promote Soundwave. Here's a rubik's cube, go fuck yourself.

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    1. Dinsdale PirannhaApril 15, 2013 at 8:54 AM

      Why NOT soundwave?

      Maybe the very top level some people at CCP realize that handing this important position to a goon is insane. Maybe they have realized that CCP has been infiltrated heavily with people beholden to the null sec RMT cartels, and that they need someone exactly the opposite, someone with integrity and no bias towards null sec, to steer the ship.

      Maybe they have realized that for this game to flourish the control of the game must be wrested from the null sec zealots, and bringing in someone independent if that group is the only way.

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    2. There are plenty of folks with a broad view. Soundwave has his place, but it's not any higher than he is.

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