Exclusive Carbine Studios Game Update Interview with Eric DeMilt

Posted Mon, Apr 20, 2009 by Cody Bye

While it may not always be public knowledge, there are dozens of MMOs in development around the world. However, most of these titles are still in their “quiet” stages, with development teams putting together the game without much fanfare or public attention. One of these companies happens to be NCsoft West’s Carbine Studios, a development team that has been working on a “WoW-sized” MMO for the last several years.

Recently, Ten Ton Hammer’s Cody Bye had a chat with producer Eric DeMilt on his role in the Carbine Studios’ project and where everything stands with the upcoming triple-A MMO. Eric talks in-depth about his previous work at Interplay, how working on an MMO compares to single player titles, and Carbine’s focus on quality. Enjoy!

The Carbine Studios Logo

Ten Ton Hammer: What’s your responsibility as the producer of the Carbine Studios MMO?

Eric DeMilt: Overall, I manage the day-to-day operations of the studio. The nice thing about the way we’re set up here is that we’re purely a dev studio. All of Carbine Studios works on just this one game, a lot of the normal operation stuff is handled by our parent organization, NCsoft West so most of what I focus on is the day-to-day management of the project.  Things like; making sure that all the department heads have the resources that they need, ensuring that people are talking, dealing with the small minutiae that people need covered, keeping the content pipeline flowing, relaying the latest build information to the right people to make sure its tested and people are getting the feedback they need.  All of that is my responsibility.

It’s very hands-on, which I like a lot.

Ten Ton Hammer: You’ve been working on games a long time, and you were at Interplay when they were putting out games like Baldur’s Gate, Fallout, Stonekeep, and other notable titles. How does working at Carbine compare to your previous work at Interplay?

Eric: Working on an MMO is way bigger than anything I’ve ever done before. The scope of the project, the resources we’re being given, the size and caliber of the team; everything is just much, much larger than anything I worked on over at Interplay.

The problems that we ran into while working on a single player RPG were big. Fallout 2 was definitely a really big project, and we had to worry about getting people through a test run of the entire game by a certain date so you can get it off to manufacturing and things like that. It was still orders of magnitude smaller than an MMO.

In an MMO, you’re going to find people that are playing solo, grouped, in their guilds, as tradeskillers….there’s just a zillion games inside of one MMO. On the other hand, it is still similar to single player games. There are just things that are the basic tenets of an MMORPG that aren’t any different than making quests for games like Fallout or Stonekeep. These are things that engage the player and develop the player over time. I mean, the reward systems and that sort of thing are exactly the same. It’s kind of weirdly different and similar at the same time.

We have a really powerful scripting system on this game, and it reminds me a lot of when I first worked on the original Stonekeep. We had a bunch of junior programmers that were the content guys and could do CRAZY stuff that we never imagined. I mean we had one guy in Stonekeep scale down a couple orcs so you had one normal orc come out then three mini orcs come out and stand on the heads of the others. It was a really funny thing that no one ever expected.

Now we’ve got the same sort of thing, except it’s in an MMO. Our scripters are doing crazy stuff that you wouldn’t even expect. There’s a lot of power there.

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