The Mittani Interviews SOE CEO John Smedley

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Nice Catch!
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Awesome interview. The Smed is an interesting guy ... loathed in some circles for previous SOE stuff but everything I've seen him put out recently paints him in an interesting light.
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Fantastic read and great insight about emergent gameplay. The WoW comment is interesting.
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EvE victor!
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I find his views on sandboxes and emergent gameplay tremendously encouraging. There is simply no way that most game-makers can create content fast enough to keep up with the playerbase, so this has to be the future for MMOs. Well, that or procedurally-generated content, and that will still suck for years to come.
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I played Galaxies. Like most who played it, I went from excited to "wait, that's it?" when I hit that content wall. I had been annoyed by Galaxies' failure. Interesting to see SOE learning from little old CCP on how to make a successful MMO. It will be interesting to see how developers play with emergent gameplay for MMOs in the future.
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What an amazingly candid interview.
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I'm not sure there is a better equipped CEO of a gaming company than one that actually plays the games in the field of competition to really understand the landscape of the business. Innovation isn't driven in a board room.
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I wonder if smed is in TEST or PL
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I am more excited for PS2 after reading this article and seeing that the CEO is a gamer just like the rest of us and has a real grounded view on the industry itself.
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This is really exciting to see, and it makes me a LOT more confident knowing that Sony's upper management actually plays / 'gets' Eve (at least in regards to DUST). Also, what a great score with this interview! It's really cool thinking that I've probably flown in fleets with (and talked on coms with) the CEO of Sony!
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Flies drakes and rifters? Gotta be TEST
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he loves drakes, ergo, not pl. but he uses reddit a lot, so probably test.
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SWG was my first "real" MMORPG. I played it on and off up until about a year after the NGE. Very few companies learn from their failures, and even less man-up and admit they fucked up. Fortunately for us, it seems both SOE and CCP fall into that exclusive club.
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Awesome interview, now I want more regarding the sandbox ideas he has for Planetside 2
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Good interview, got me interested in PS2 a bit to boot!
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Great interview, I suddenly care more about SOE. Thanks Mittens and thanks John for agreeing to this.I guess it's no surprise that as an EVE player I completely agree about ~emergent gameplay experiences~. It's also nice knowing he is an actual EVE player, it makes me more inclined to accept his statement rather then thinking he is just pandering to the obvious intended audience of the article.
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Given that the origins of fofofo hearken back to UO, it is clearly time to fofofo in local. Let us fofofo!
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SWG took an awful long time to get to "That's it?" status. It had player made content that kept it going far longer than a dead horse should be able to be flogged. It actually fell on it's arse when it tried to make "end game content" because they really sucked at that.
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there is a term known to MMO veterans, especially to SWG veterans: to smedley a game ... meaning unprecedentedly fuckup something ... it scares me to death that this guy plays my game
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If you like 'getting into any fleet' with a Drake, you better stay in HBC/CFC alliances, Bub. Brutal backlash against drakes in a lot of other fleets at the moment. Great scoop for this page though. Nice work !
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Sony killed the Matrix Online deader than Rick Grimes' high school yearbook literally weeks after acquisition. As long as Smedley keeps his grubby meathooks out of CCP they'll do great.
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That's because 90% of Eve is obsessed with ships that are expensive or require high SP instead of focusing on what is actually effective.
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Wow in the ps2 beta right now and current ps2 combined with the best parts of eve.....wow just wow...want to write a huge post but all I can say is wow...Do that and a single shard :)
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Curious. Think he's trying to generate interest in PlanetSide2 by appealing to EVE players? Hope it's not at the expense of DUST - we need that to succeed to see more progress in EVE.
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"Actually we had something like this in Star Wars Galaxies too."It's rather ironic, considering that Smedley is the man who killed the SWG sandbox and replaced it with the awful NGE!After that experience, I can't trust Smedley as far as he could throw his precious Drake.
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Unfortunately for SWG, it was far too little much too late, and SOE will forever bear the burden for that mistake.
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Normally I'd agree with you, but this is John "NGE" Smedley we're talking about here; his track record speaks volumes to his incompetence ad understanding games and gamers.
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Another reason to reset TEST.
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WHERE IS EVERQUEST, SMEDLEY. YOU SAID THERE'D BE EVERQUEST.
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Peopl do, on occaison, learn from their mistakes. I am very interested in seeing what comes of this.
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I can't get excited over Dust because it's a FPS on a console. Also, because I don't have a Playstation 3.
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People need to realize that Smed did not push the NGE, Lucas Arts did, and per their contract with them had no choice but to do as they said. Hence why Smed stated that they will not contract any IP's anymore, and only do games based on their owned IP's. They have been proving with PS2 that they learned from their mistakes, so cut the man some slack.
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Not to worry, we'll all be playing PS2 and wait patiently for CCP to realize what platform DUST belongs on.
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...As if we're short in reasons to reset TEST!(Uh, wait, I *am* in TEST...)
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Still holding out hope that EQ3 will be a throwback ultra-hardcore grindfest that crushes the hopes of new players and turns veterans into elitiest poopsocking planes squatters. That's why SOE rehired Brad McQuaid, right? RIGHT? I want to believe.
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Having worked at Verant and early SOE on EQ. I'm happy to see the company grow into something I always knew it could become. I hope at least a few of the old faces are still there today =) They had some dramatic moments but if this article shows anything it's that people grow up and can be better. This is a radical departure from the company I remember.The appeal of your average theme park mmo lasts about 2 days.. emergent(sandbox) gameplay is where it's at.
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Well, you won't see this on that ~other site~
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Wait, this is actually news. Like, real content and shit. Dayyyuuummm
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After what he did to SWG this fucker better stay the hell away from DUST. Nothing kills a sandbox like John smedley
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OMG YES...Hardcore EQNEXT! <3
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I have a PS3 but refuse to play Dust simply because I can't stand shooters on consoles. Dust belongs primarily on PC so that Eve players can tie the two together better, or it has to be cross platform. The latter will never happen now that SOE have their grubby paws on it though.

John Smedley, CEO of Sony Online Entertainment (developers of Everquest, SWG and Planetside, for those of you living under a rock) revealed himself earlier this year as a Fanfest-attending Eve player, in addition to being heavily involved in the design of an upcoming game which just about everyone is frothing about. I ask him a few questions about his Eve experience, PS2, and the shape of the gaming industry itself. 

 

You’re not just the CEO of SOE, you’re an Eve player currently residing somewhere in the HBC bloc. What can you tell us about your Eve experiences (without giving away so much detail that the upstanding citizens of New Eden hunt you down)? When did you begin playing, what do enjoy most about New Eden, and what do you consider to be the most problematic aspect of Eve gameplay at the moment?

My Eve experiences have been some of the most amazing of my gaming life. I am a true PVP'er at heart and I'm not a big fan of rules. Eve provides the perfect environment for a person like me. I created my character with Piracy in mind and after paying a few ransoms in my newbie life I realized that's harder than it looks. I began playing a few years ago. I tried 6 times to get into Eve and on the 7th it took. And I credit Eve University with that. As soon as I got in there things just clicked. The most problematic aspect of Eve Gameplay at the moment - honestly I'd have a hard time pinning it down. 6 months ago I would have said the newbie experience but they are working hard to improve it.

Obligatory fluff question: What’s your favorite ship to fly in Eve, and why?

My favorite ship - so far it's the Drake. Because I can get into almost any fleet with it and because it's cheap enough that if I lose it I don't care. I will say the Rifter is a close second because it's fun as hell to get into small engagements.

Has your experience as an Eve player impacted your design philosophy as it relates to Planetside 2, and if so, how?

My experiences as an Eve Player have had a huge impact on Planetside 2. The concept of Cert Points and the notion of gaining them offline came straight from there, although our system gives you points that are flexible and we also give you more experience when you're online than off. Also our resource system started out very similar to Starcraft but it's evolved a lot into something more akin to what Eve has. Right now it's not going to get as much use as it will in the future when we allow player owned bases that require rare resources that players fight over. Right now we don't have a market but that will come over time. I like to give credit where credit is due and it's fair to say that Eve greatly influenced my thinking as an online gamer and as someone running an online gaming company.

CCP’s Dust 514 is doing something that’s ‘never been done before’ by linking a MMOFPS to a MMORPG; Trion’s Defiance is doing something that’s ‘never been done before’ by linking a MMOFPS to a TV show. Similar language was used to describe the release of Eve’s Incarna expansion, but CCP CEO Hilmar later referred to Incarna as a ‘Jesus Feature’. What do you think about this trend - is it a consequence of companies trying to distinguish their products in an ever-more-crowded field as the industry matures?

In making games we try new things that we hope will become the next big "it" thing. call it the Jesus feature.. call it whatever.. but I think it's just trying to make something cool. You get an idea in your head and you think everyone around you will love it. I'll admit I bought in and still fully buy in to CCP's vision for the Eve Universe co-existing with Dust. That Vision movie they made is fricking awesome and I hope they keep going there. I realize players were upset with the Incarna expansion because the perception was that it didn't deliver enough red meat. I love CCP and think they listened to their playerbase (hell they made a damn monument in game) and understand that you have to go a little slower.. but I LOVE where they are aimed.

Ever since Dust 514 was announced to be a PS3 exclusive, some in the Eve playerbase have been worried about a Sony takeover of CCP - especially now that CCP is making IPO noises in the run-up to the Dust 514 release. Care to comment on or debunk these rumors?

Folks - there is NO truth whatsoever to the rumor that Sony is buying CCP. I went to Fan[fest] as a player. Ask my corp mates. I did the pub crawl. I hung out. I ate that shitty nasty shark whateverthehell it is thing. It's as simple as that. In the online gaming industry there are really very few companies. I know most of their CEOs and really like most of them a lot and play their games. Hilmar was kind enough to give us an office tour and extend some wonderful Icelandic hospitality. There it is. Nothing more.

You’ve mentioned a desire for more sandbox MMOs in your Reddit AMA, and sandboxes are obviously a major draw for Eve players. Do you have plans for adding sandbox elements to PS2, and if so, would you like to discuss them? If there really is an untapped market for sandbox MMOs, why haven’t we seen more of them, besides Eve and SWG?

Sandbox elements - SOE is redefining itself as a creator of emergent gameplay experiences. That's our future. You can call it sandbox but it's so much more than that. A good example is Player owned bases in Planetside 2. That's coming. We're going to make huge continents that are empty and have vast resources on them and players can fight it out and put down their own bases there and other players can come and obliterate them. Sound familiar Eve Players? Actually we had something like this in Star Wars Galaxies too. THAT is content. At some point as an industry we need to realize that we have already lost the race to outpace players in making content. I personally thought SWTOR was a great game. I loved Diablo III. The problem is you get to the endgame and as game makers it's not just expensive. it's impossible to stay ahead of the curve.
 
Think about this statement - If WoW had come out yesterday.. at what point would people be "done" with the content. We need to focus on game systems that are perpetual and give players a lot more control over what they can do rather than JUST putting yet another dragon in front of them with scripted content. We need to be doing both in order to be successful. And that's our plan.
 
Thanks for your time!
 

(Editor's Note: Hello there, internet. You can follow us on twitter at @TheMittani if you like.)
Goonswarm Federation CEO, Space Tyrant. Likes yoga, Alaskan Malamutes, bacon, and delegation.