GamersInfo.net: Who are you and what do you do?
Magnus Bergsson: I am the CMO, the Chief Marketing Officer. Fancy title. I have been with CCP for a little over a year.
GamersInfo.net: The game obviously centers around ships / space combat, etc. Why no people? For example, more personal contact in stations, etc. Thinking about the old tradewars game... a bar would rock!
Magnus Bergsson: Hehe, true. Itґs just not something we have time or resources to do. You have to select either one given the time it takes to create an MMO today. So, unless you have a very large team and plenty of time then that it is not always possible.
Magnus Bergsson: Personally I donґt think so, the social aspect in EVE is huge and a big part of why players tend to stick with the game for a long time. Itґs the reputation of the player that makes the most impact.
GamersInfo.net: Space is big, really big, and Eve is no exception - what challenges come out of a game spread out over such a large distance? What process does CCP go through to balance the game, especially such a data rich game like Eve?
Magnus Bergsson: The first challenge was to fill EVE up. The processes we use to balance the game are soooo many. We actively monitor the activity of the gamers and we closely listen to the players. EVE is a free-form game and it has evolved from the actions of the players
Magnus Bergsson: We have 2 head balancers that are working with a very large group of volunteers. This group is constantly testing and balancing the game and takes input from all levels of players. Beyond that I would need to have you talk with the balancers as this is more of an art than science. Then we have a strong vision of where we want to take the game to. The vision is so classified that I would be killed in a public place in Iceland if I were to reveal it. And buried in a glacier. There is 1 copy of the story in existence and itґs kept in a safe, only 2 people have seen it, and I am not one of them. :(
GamersInfo.net: Is the story developed by a team, though?
Magnus Bergsson: The story was written by 1 person, our founder, and it was written before the game was developed.
GamersInfo.net: The market is quite important, and I know drives a lot of what players decide to do in the game - but I've also heard complaints on the forums about NPC set prices and how the market isn't really "free". Is that something you can really be completely hands off about though?
Magnus Bergsson: Actually the majority of the market transactions are done by players by far and the NPC pricing is always lagging, not leading. The NPC buying is not fixed anymore, the prices fluctuate based on demand and supply.
GamersInfo.net: Are you worried about "harvesters" - folks who do nothing but build up Isk to sell? How do you counteract them?
Magnus Bergsson: The ISK selling on eBay and other places is a industry wide problem that no one has a solution to. We have banned players as well, but itґs next to impossible to stop them from buying another account using a different credit card.
Magnus Bergsson: Most of the ISK sellers are regular players selling a small amount of ISK, those players are not hurting games. Itґs the large scale sellers that have sweatshops doing nothing but create isk - Those are bad in every way possible. We have banned a lot of users and we have programs that try to catch these traders. The tricky part for EVE is that the market is so active and advanced that it is very easy for users to hide these transactions.
GamersInfo.net: Obviously, Eve is beautiful, and the visuals add to the game system. Is there any particular artistic style or work you are trying to emulate? Any certain movies / stories that you feel reflect in the game art?
Magnus Bergsson: The art direction/feel is inspired by multiple sources but there is no one source. Much of it is simply created by the artists and we have had the same artists since launch so the feel is kept throughout.
Magnus Bergsson: Very crazy, and itґs definitely a labor of love. The moral and culture within CCP is the best one I have encountered.
GamersInfo.net: MMHell's readers gave you top honors, with the Best of 2004 award. PCGamer, a 90% review. Eve has consistently good scores and rave reviews all over the place. But you are also listed at less than 1% market share (mmogchart.com). Why do you think this is? How are you trying to attract new players?
Magnus Bergsson: Itґs interesting the sci-fi movies are much more popular than fantasy, but in gaming itґs the opposite. We are just about to start a major marketing campaign in the US and you will see the result of that shortly. But to date we have simply not have had the funds. CCP almost got really hurt when Simon and Schuster Interactive was closed down. [Now] we own and publish.
Magnus Bergsson: Yes, itґs different and we are almost exclusively online. [It] gives us the freedom to do all kinds of crazy marketing things. [Simon and Schuster] had the publishing rights and we bought them back. For awhile you could not buy EVE anywhere, as we were not allowed to sell online and they were not distributing the game! The good thing though is that EVE has experienced a very organic growth.
GamersInfo.net: How big is CCP? How does the team break down?
Magnus Bergsson: We have 40 people in our office in Iceland, and 20+ in support by our hosting partner. Then some in the US, so the total is about 70 people, but we are growing.
Magnus Bergsson: There will be an update in May that will not be as big as Exodus. Then we have another big one scheduled for Q4 2005 which is code named Kali.
GamersInfo.net: What did you guys do at GDC this year?
Magnus Bergsson: We had 16 people at GDC from every department, we basically did everything, and I won a flat TV from Microsoft. :) We actually have had a really good partnership with Microsoft, all of our servers run on Windows and we use MS SQL.
GamersInfo.net: Two billion plus records on MS SQL? You are practically a case study.
Magnus Bergsson: Yes, they want us to write about our architecture. Itґs pretty impressive what the devґs have done. We have invested about 1.2M in hardware and software to date.
Magnus Bergsson: I think that gamers need to know that EVE is different and offers more depth and opportunity for creative thinking than most other games. It's not a theme park, but a playground. You have to bring something to the table.
GamersInfo.net: Thank you very much for your time, Magnus!
Magnus Bergsson: Thank you! Good Night!