Questions by Cody
Answers by Scott
Hartsman, Senior Producer and Creative Director for Everquest 2
When you’re playing your favorite MMOG, do you ever wonder
what sort of creative mind it takes to create a vibrant, living, and
breathing world? Or perhaps you’ve heard a particular name
that caught your attention, and you want to know more about this
“rock star” developer. As always, Ten Ton Hammer is
here to get those questions answered, and today we’re
profiling Scott Hartsman, Senior Producer and Creative Director for style="font-style: italic;">Everquest 2. A man
of many talents and an extensive resume, Scott talked to Ten Ton Hammer
about his start in the industry, the games that really influenced his
career, and how best to break into the industry.
Ten Ton Hammer: For
starters, can you give the Ten Ton Hammer readers a brief synopsis of
who you are and what your role is with Everquest 2?
style="font-style: italic;">Hartsman is the
Senior Producer and Creative Director for EQ2.
I'm a guy with a really cool job! I'm the Senior Producer and Creative
Director for Everquest 2, which means wearing two hats a lot of the
time. I'm not the guy who's making dungeons and I'm not the guy who's
writing stories, but I am the guy who's in charge of getting everything
done by the time we need to get it done.
I also make sure that the things we do across all the disciplines
involved in development - art, engineering, design, audio - have a
consistent vision. I make sure they're driving towards our goal at the
same time and insure that we're turning in the sort of quality product
that we're hoping for.
Being in charge of both the production and the development side
definitely causes me to get a lot more credit than I should. We have an
excellent set of other producers and leads on this team who are all
ridiculously on top of everything that they need to do, and they're
backed up by the most incredible set of developers who are interested
in putting out a quality product and go to extremes to actually get
Kunark, in particular, has been extremely impressive lately with the
sheer amount of polish and last minute touch up work that's been going
into everything, because everyone wants this to be the best launch
Ten Ton Hammer: What
genre of games do you play regularly? Do you mainly stick with MMOGs or
do your interests spread into other games as well (tabletop, card
That's actually a really good question because if you would've asked me
that question a few years ago, I would've told you that the games I
played were either MMOs or single player RPGs. The first games I ever
got interested in when I was a kid were either the games where players
were playing online via a modem - like the text-based games - or RPGs
that you were playing bty yourself.
I was never a big action or console person. Shooters I do play, but
lately it seems to be a fairly even split between my time in EQ2 as a
player and other little random casual games like Peggle and Portal.
I've also been playing Puzzle Quest for the Xbox 360. I'm one of those
guys that will go and buy a $500 console and play $8 download games. I
certainly don't play as much as I want to anymore, that's for sure.
Ten Ton Hammer: Do you
have an all-time favorite game(s)? If so, why do you enjoy it so much?
man. *long pause*
Ten Ton Hammer: You can
pick a couple, if you want.
picking a couple is killing me, y'know? There are several games where
I've fallen head-over-heels for and followed them for multiple years.
The original Everquest is my first, greatest graphical game love that I
played for far to long. I had a fantastic guild and had great
experience after great experience there.
In the single player world, I'm a huge Civilization fan. That's one of
those games that I love and when someone asks me if I could pick a game
to have on a desert island, it'd be that game because there are so many
different ways to play and win.
Failing that, I have a job that lets me play the greatest game in the
universe and that is called making MMOs. It's better than any MMO that
you'll ever play, and I highly recommend it.
Ten Ton Hammer: Are we
ever going to see a Norrathian-themed Civ-type game?
That'd definitely be interesting. When they took the Civ formula and
applied it to Alpha Centauri, the gameplay was just amazing, awesome,
and fantastic. And it didn't have to be the same old Civ that we were
all used to! The entirely different themes still made it a terrific
So sure, if someone wants to make a Civ-Norrath, I'm there for it.
Ten Ton Hammer:
What are your hobbies? What do you find relaxing/entertaining about it?
in a job that fosters a workaholic nature, and so I don't have a whole lot of extra time to spend on hobbies.
That means there are activities that I used to do that I don't
anymore. However, I've turned into the sort of person that loves to
have a BBQ over at the house, a bunch of people over, way too much to
eat and drink, and just generally hang out all night long. There are
people outside chatting, people inside playing console games - Guitar
Hero is always a party favorite - but I'm bizarrely, for the amount of
time that I'm on the computer at work, a major people person.
To me, I've lived in several different places across the country, and
it's never about where I am; it's more about who I'm there with. It's
about the people and what they're all like. That's really one of the
reasons I've been at SOE as long as I have; the people around here are
some of the coolest, greatest people I've ever had the priveledge to
When I'm not working and not playing games, my activities are based
around who I'm doing them with. I can be doing anything, and anything
would be fun if it's with the right people.
Ten Ton Hammer: You
recently started a gaming blog focused around your thoughts as an MMOG
developer. Why did you decide to do this and has it been refreshing to
have an audience to talk to?
style="font-style: italic;">One of Hartsman's
first loves was Everquest.
was a result of a couple of things. FIrst, I was bored one Sunday and a
friend of mine who works at a different dev shop was asking for
something I'd written up concerning interacting with online
communities. It occurred to me that over my lifetime I'd occasionally
written stuff down and then absolutely misplaced them to where I don't
know where they went. It just got shoved all over the place. There were
some things that I just did not want to lose, that it'd be nice to give
them a home somewhere. It really was initially a desire to find a place
to store information.
That combined with a slow Sunday afternoon, a love of playing with web
pages, and a friend that owned a hosting company caused my blog to
appear in a matter of fifteen minutes.
If other people want to read the stuff that goes up on there and
comment about my thoughts, that's fine, but it was mainly created as a
place to store all my information.
Ten Ton Hammer: How did
you get started in the industry? What led you to become a developer?
Scott: I was
thirteen, had an Apple II, and a 300 baud modem. Back in the day, you
used to get online by getting onto the local BBS because all the old
computer stores used to keep track of each other's bulletin boards, and
a friend of mine pointed me in the direction of a game called Scepter.
The game was playable by 16 people at a time over a 300 baud modem, and
you were online in this awesome fantasy world where the entire goal was
to kill stuff, explore things, gain levels, and meet other people. It
was, to me, the single coolest thing I'd ever seen in my entire
whopping thirteen year old life.
I played that game for a couple years until I was about fifteen, and I
made friends with the people who had made the game. It was right around
that time that they decided to take the game national and I got the
chance to work for them from home. That's how that game got made; there
were two guys in Virginia and five people in Milwaukee. The five of us
that were in Milwaukee were the content designers, customer service
people, tech support, in-game event controllers, and billing
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our EverQuest II Game Page.