MMO Money, MMO Problems
Q: Do you eventually want to be lead dev on your own grand virtual world?
A: I think the job I have now is about perfect, where I can sit down at my desk every day and pontificate about combat systems. If I rose any higher I'd be doing too much paperwork.
Q: Do you have any suggestions for the people out there who want to show their ideas to a company such as NCSoft? Are the risks high if someone were to have some form of interview with a company that anything shown may be ripped off at a future date?
A: If you tried to show me your new design for an MMO I'd tell you legally I could not look at it for that reason. People can be lawsuit happy. If you want to prove your chops, the way to do it isn't by showing off your design ideas on paper, it's in constructing something. A NWN1 level works well, in fact Bioware requires you to have something done in NWN1 as a pre-requisite for interviewing with them.
Q: Did you get any "perks" when working on DaoC? I know you mentioned that you have to log on with the same interface as regular players, but do you pretty much get to play DaoC free for life? Do you get any items/in game currency- which I guess brings up the question of whether you would even want to get free in game items or currency?
A: Free copies of the games, a free account (dunno if that will carry over for Warhammer now that I'm not there any more - my guess is probably not) and a closet full of T-shirts. As I said before when talking about acceptable use policies (which Mythic had as well) no, you don't get free money or items. Gotta level up your character like everyone else.
Q: What is the culture like at NCSoft? Do you find that it's different working for a Korean founded game company compared to Mythic?
A: It's about like any other game company, which means things are a bit looser in terms of dress code and hours and you're expected to work longer hours. The Korean aspect only comes into play when folks from Seoul come to visit. Language barrier, cultural barrier, all sorts of things like that. Once I was rattling off opinions at a meeting to the one guy who sort of picked up on English without an interpreter. I thought he was a web dev, turns out he was the CEO. Hope I made a good impression!
Q: What's your opinion on that as far as MMOG's go, though? I mean, in your opinion can someone realistically develop a competitive MMORPG these days without having ever played WoW for any significant time, let's say?
A: Not really. You do have to have an awareness of what's out there. If you don't know about the mistakes others have made, you're likely to repeat them yourself.
Q: Where do you feel that the difficulty level will be for future games?
A: I think WoW showed that simpler games can be popular. That being said, being a more complex game is certainly one way to differentiate yourself from WoW. But generally complexity just for the sake of complexity isn't a very good idea, it limits your audience significantly to D&D 1st Edition DMs.
I think games need to STOP focusing on endgames, personally. Because a focus on the endgame means you keep having this barrier to entry of levelling or grinding or whatever that you have to "pay your dues" to get to the "good part" and that's not really a very sane way of making a fun game.
Q: What sort of environment do you work in? Do you just come in and write stuff or do you hold bigger discussions and take notes, etc.? How many hours do you work per week? Does your team hire coders after the planning is done or before, or does NCsoft just have a bunch of company coders that code stuff for various games?
A: It's a standard office/cube farm, but with silly decorations. Here's my desk. (I have LCD monitors now instead of CRTs)
Generally we work around 40 hours a week right now. As we start getting closer to deadlines that will go up significantly. The Tabula Rasa team gets dinner brought in lately since they all usually stay in late, for example.
As for coders, some are moved internally, some are hired externally. Depends on the project.