One of the most popular people at any official EVE Online gathering has to be Bergur Finnbogason , AKA CCP Burger. The Senior Development Manager at the company that makes one of the most popular online games today is often the target for numerous well intentioned questions and suggestions from an enthusiastic audience. He also does quite a few talks. It was five minutes prior to one of these that I managed to snag some time with the busy developer. Hurting from a combination of jet lag, and just maybe, going a little too hard the night before while partying with the fans, we spoke.
[Hardcore Gamer] I know you’re hurting and you’ve got panel coming up. Time’s limited so I will try to be brief. You’ve got a lot of stuff coming up here. You’ve got the upcoming expansion Bloodlines, the Alpha revamp, plus the stuff going into next. You’ve got a big team working on different parts that get put together as a whole. If you call out one thing that you would think is the strongest feature, what would that be?
[CCP Burger] Personally, what I’m super excited about, is the forward operating bases and the shipyards. Those are my babies. That’s my team that I work with a lot in stuff that we’re bringing out. With the forward operating bases, we’re bringing proper fleet fight experiences to High Sec. It’s crazy. It’s going to be amazing. I think, with the Alpha changes that we’re seeing now with the cap being moved up to 20 million skill points, lapsed players can now return and actually do something. Before, with 5 million points, it was like “Yeah, you can do stuff, but it’s not the most exciting game.” Now that they can pilot a battleship, it’s going to be way, way more interesting and more fun.
So, I was talking to a couple of fans earlier about this Alpha thing, and they told me that their first thought was “how do we abuse this?” But then I went to a roundtable and everybody in there was giving suggestions about how to improve things for the Alphas. (Note: After this interview I went back to that same roundtable. While I was gone, the venom boiled over and I witnessed the aftermath.) This community engagement that you guys have is a really interesting business plan.
The game wouldn’t be anything without the community. The game is you guys. You make the game. We make the tools, the paintbrushes and the canvas, and you guys paint the pictures. We have no idea how you will use some of the things. We have a general idea of where we want to take things or how they can be used, but players figure out the most random stuff, things to do with the stuff that we deliver them. Community is key.
When you are taking that community input, while you have your own road map set aside, how do you integrate that? Is it a chart with question marks next to ideas and you have to erase whole swaths?
Of course, we look at all feedback with our critical glasses on, even if it’s community or from within CCP. We have rolled out features that (didn’t quite catch on) and people wanted to go back. Of course, we know twenty four months in advance what we kind of want to do. So, it’s like “Guys wait. It’s going to be awesome.” We might have to take some painful steps in the immediate, and people don’t see the whole picture. Eventually, there is some sanity to the process.
Like that, CCP Burger was off like a shot. There were fans who traveled the world to hear what he has to say about the current state and future of their favorite game and he wasn’t about to let them down. For more insider knowledge from CCP, be sure to read our interviews with CCP Argent about Project Aurora and Andrew Willans regarding EVE: Valkyrie – Warzone.