Questions by Cody
“Micajah” Bye, Managing Editor
To look behind the scenes is very person's dream. You hear about
"backstage passes" and "behind the scenes" documentaries, and people
are always willing to pay hundreds of dollars more for these perks. The
editorial staff at Ten Ton Hammer feels exactly the same way, so we
devised a set of developer questionnaires that we've been methodically
sending out to the various MMO teams to see how their past has
influenced their present experiences. In this week's developer profile,
we sat down with Lineage 2's producer, Tim Tan, to
see what made him into the leading MMO developer that he is today!
Ten Ton Hammer: As the producer of
Lineage 2, what sort of responsibilities do you have with
the crew? Do
you basically manage time spent on projects, or do you pick up odd jobs
every now and again?
style="font-style: italic;">While working on
Lineage 2, Tim takes on a little bit of everything.
Honestly, it’s a little bit of everything. We’re a
machine here at NCsoft; we have lots of departments and a lot of
different groups who are in charge of different things. If I
anything to do personally, that typically means that all of our
departments are getting their work done and driving the style="font-style: italic;">Lineage 2
Every once in awhile I do pick up odd jobs,
but a lot of it is communicating, interacting, scheduling, setting
dates and times, and just making sure everybody is on task and getting
Ten Ton Hammer: Is there a particular genre of game that you play
regularly? Do you mainly stick with massively multiplayer games, or do
you spread your interests around to other products?
That’s a really cool question. I personally like all kinds of
games. There are way too many games to say that I’ve tried
everything out there, but I think I can say that I’ve tried
every genre of gaming, from collectible card games to tabletops to pen
and paper to console to MMOGs.
That said, I do play a lot of MMOs. It’s almost like a job
requirement. I do try to stay up to date with consoles, and I play a
lot of collectible games as well. I really try to play all the games
that are necessary to stay up to date with the industry, but I play a
lot of games for fun as well.
Ten Ton Hammer: Do you
have any all-time favorites?
All-time favorites, let’s see….. *thinks*
Ten Ton Hammer: This is
the one that always stumps people because most of us have five or six
games that we just love and adore.
Tim: One of
my favorite games ever was the original Bard’s Tale. That was
a long time ago. I remember playing it on an old 286 computer where the
monitor only had two colors. But it had the basic elements of an RPG
and you had several ways of dispatching monsters. So it’d
definitely have to be right up there in the roleplaying game category.
The first game that I felt took time away from my life because I
wouldn’t realize what time it was would be style="font-style: italic;">Civilization. The
original Civ was definitely a classic game and it deserves to be in my
Ten Ton Hammer: What game
are you playing right now and what were your reasons for exploring that
I’m definitely playing – and I think everyone is
playing it – is Team
Fortress 2. I really felt the urge to play this game
simply because there’s a ton of people playing this game. My
curiosity drove me to check out the game.
Ten Ton Hammer: Do you
have any hobbies outside of gaming?
don’t have as much time to participate in them as I did in
the past, but I still really enjoy sports. I played basketball for
awhile, and for a long, long time I was a martial artist. I even taught
Ten Ton Hammer: How did
you get started in the video game industry? What sort of life events
led you to video game development?
Basically, I’ve always loved games and I got an opportunity
through a friend to come out to Austin and start off in a quality
assurance department. I had friend working in the industry and working
at NCsoft, so out of the blue I decided to change things up.
style="font-style: italic;">Tim's passion for
gaming helped bring him into the video game industry.
So I got my start in QA, which is a really great place to start if you
enjoy the game industry and want to get an idea of how things work.
Once you’re in, you can start working your way up.
In previous jobs, I was always trying to go down that project
management path, and the producer position is very similar to the
project manager sort of career you can find in other jobs.
You’re really in-charge of and doing a little bit of
It was kind of a fluke, but it really stemmed from a passion for games.
Ten Ton Hammer: What kind
of schooling did you receive? Was your educational focus directed
towards game development at all?
background is actually in electrical engineering with a minor in
computer science. That sort of schooling helps, but when I got my
degree I had no idea that I was going to be doing gaming in the future.
However, the degree did give me the sort of problem solving skills
necessary to figure out ways to get around common problems. It
especially helped in the quality assurance field because
you’re looking for defects and issues. You really have to
know how to reproduce the steps to get to the problem and possibly fix
Ten Ton Hammer: How has
your gaming history influenced your work on style="font-style: italic;"> Lineage 2?
don’t have any specific examples of things I’ve
directly applied from previous games, but I know that my experience has
influenced some of the decisions I’ve made and the overall
flow through various steps in each project. style="font-weight: bold;">
Ten Ton Hammer: Why
should the massively multiplayer gamer play style="font-style: italic;">Lineage 2? How
would you recommend the title to them?
It’d be nice to know a little bit about the person. *laughs*
But in general I’d tell them about the player versus player
combat. We are a very open-ended game; if you want to go out there and
hunt, you can. Some people like to group while others like to play
solo, but either way other games out there have limitations. For
example, you might be playing for a certain faction or race. In style="font-style: italic;">Lineage 2, you
don’t have that sort of hindrance and if you enjoy that sort
of freedom L2 is for you. We give you a way to deal with griefers.
Other aspects include the tight knit clan system that we’ve
developed in the game. If you want any sort of continuity in your game,
our clan system really out does most other games. If you want the large
scale combat, you definitely need to look at style="font-style: italic;">Lineage 2. Whether
it’s castle sieges or basic PvP, no game does it better.
I’d then talk to the person about staying power, because in style="font-style: italic;"> Lineage 2
there’s always something to do. The content will never end.
There’s always more to level, more to get, more items, more
skill, more people to kill, more quests to do. You’ll never
run out of things to do.
Finally, the political system is just fantastic. The intrigue involved
with that is actually a part of the game. We take the normal clan drama
and integrate it into L2. You need to pick your friends wisely and
choose your battles carefully. If you decide to fight someone, make
sure you can deal with the consequences of that decision.
style="font-style: italic;">The best part of
the industry, for Tim, is interacting with the players and changing the
game to suit their needs.
Ten Ton Hammer: As my
final question, what do you think is the best part of being in the MMOG
industry and what kind of advice would you give to someone who wants to
break into the field?
best part of the industry is definitely the community. It’s
all about interacting with players, getting their feedback, and seeing
what you can do to improve their opinion of your game. Everyone has an
opinion on what makes a great game, but actually being in a position
where you can take that feedback and apply it is fascinating. Trying to
make the right decisions to help the overall group rather than the most
vocal players is always a fun challenge.
To address the second part of the question: If you’re really
interested in gaming, keep that passion and don’t be afraid
to start from the bottom. Quality assurance and customer support are
integral parts of our game, but it’s also a way to get some
great insight into the industry and determine how things work. You get
to know how the game works, how the processes work, and how to interact
with the player base. From there you can grow and move up.
Ten Ton Hammer: Is there
anything you’d like to tell the players before we sign off?
major, I just really appreciate all the players in style="font-style: italic;">Lineage 2 and hope
everyone is still having a good time. We’re working hard to
make sure that the world continues to be a great place for everybody.
To the players who haven’t played style="font-style: italic;">Lineage 2 or
haven’t played in a long time, I hope you take a chance and
look at the game.
breaking into the MMOG industry? Does Tim’s story help you at
us know on the forums!
Ten Ton Hammer is your unofficial source for style="font-style: italic;">Lineage 2 href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/175">news
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Lineage II Game Page.