The Interview: Ned Coker: CCP

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So pretty much all of us are fans of CCP here at Obsolete Gamer, many of us were and still are Eve players so when we got a chance to do a bunch of Gamer Profiles from CCP staff we were honored to publish them.

We wanted to go a bit beyond the gamer profile and find out what it like working for CCP and what else is going on in their world. Ned Coker was kind enough to chat with us about himself, CCP and their upcoming projects.

 

CCP: Gravy can baseball

Can you tell us about how you came to work for CCP?

Ned Coker: I was a marketing intern at White Wolf Publishing in 2006 right before the merger with CCP. Upon the melding of the two companies, how could I not continue riding the juggernaut? I got to my current position, being in charge of EVE Online’s Public Relations, after working my way up through the ranks, losing my fair share of battleships in pursuit of “getting to know EVE” and proving my love of our products to those around me.

What game did you first work on?

Ned Coker: The first game that I contributed design work to was a White Wolf product line called Scion.  I’ve even co-authored a part of the Scion Companion book on the Hindu Pantheon.  Once I switched over to EVE PR, I’ve joined my other coworkers in plenty of CCP “open brainstorming” sessions. I still do some stuff for the White Wolf part of EVE too.

What is it like working for CCP, the day to day?

Ned Coker: It’s probably easier to show you a few videos… take your pick.

NSFW Lyrics

Just because you work with games does not always mean you are a gamer however, a lot of people at CCP are true gamers, what is that experience like?

Ned Coker: Being able to share a common “language” is amazing—considering that we all pretty much grew up loving games of all sorts.  From actual playtesting to Halo 2 conference room trash talking to some long standing pen and paper games, it’s refreshing and well, comforting to feel like nearly everyone here is a brother by another mother or a sister by a different mister. Do we all agree that Star Control 2 had one of the greatest multiplayer components of any game ever? No, but not everyone here shares my vision.

Can you tell us about your other games?

Ned Coker: Well, I could talk for years and years about CCP’s game design, the settings etc, but the easiest thing to do is to just reiterate that from White Wolf’s storytelling system to EVE Online and further into the future, we hold several things at the core of creating games. Maximize human interaction. That’s really it.  It’s the shared experience of gaming that makes them wonderful. Sitting around a table or chatting from a thousand miles away. Whether it’s telling cooperative stories about vampires or negotiating economic deals across star systems, all of our games point towards a shared experience on many scales.

 

 

The one-to-one encounters to the thousand person shared experiences.  Leaving the choices and goal-making up to players is also a key tenant in our game design.  Sure, it requires more imagination, but it also provides tremendous rewards. Sort of like a homemade meal just tastes better than fast food because you put some elbow grease into it. These things will never change about our games and in the future you’ll see us trying to innovate with our philosophies as a base.

CCP: After a Friday barbecue

With EVE Online, what was the overall goal you wanted the game to achieve?

Ned Coker: Mazimize human interaction. It seems like a lofty goal for a game, but it’s what’s at the heart and soul of the original game design, why the “sandbox” style was chosen.  A secondary goal would be to create a really amazing Science Fiction experience. EVE has a lot of room to grow to capture all the Sci Fi hallmarks, but the sense of scale and exploration are there. Of course the battles. And, well, with the addition of Incarna next year, we’re taking a huge leap forward.  On a less philosophical level, we are always refining our goals.  As a business, we want more subscribers, but we also want subscribers who are contributing to the game and who will stick around with us because they provide invaluable content for the game itself. We also want EVE Forever. So far, we’re nearly 8 years in and it’s changed a lot and kept growing.

More CCP Downtime: CCP Atlanta’s head chef

Seeing it today with a strong following are you happy with the results?

Ned Coker: There were many mistakes along the way, as is natural with any evolving product, but I can safely speak for the founders in saying that they never imagined EVE would change so much or be so popular. Our players have been really patient and helpful in building EVE.  So, yes, extremely happy.

What was something you wanted to add to Eve Online that you haven’t been able to yet?

Ned Coker: Yes. There’s a LONG LONG LIST. Luckily, there’s room to grow, so it’s just a matter of time.

What is the next major step for Eve Online?

 

Ned Coker: Right now we’re deploying EVE Online: Incursion, which adds a huge new feature in the form of group content.  Up next is really more like a whole staircase instead of a step—Incarna—the name of our technologically massive effort to bring realistic avatars to the game.  Did I say realistic? Here’s a test version video made by a player.


Can you tell us about your gaming background personal and professional?

Ned Coker: Sure. I’ve been gaming since I was really really really young, since my dad worked for IBM.  Nintendo was my first big jump into true nerdery though, and from there I split my interests amongst tabletop, a long stint at Magic: the Gathering and numerous consoles and then getting back into PC gaming after high school.  I’ve always been about world building and roleplaying, and never took my FPS games too seriously. For me, it’s all about the experience of playing with others, so I reveled in Goldeneye 64, roleplaying games, and now the glorious, indefatigable MMOs.

 

Professionally, my “career” really started with White Wolf as a marketing intern. I know, lucky me avoiding the real world (I don’t count shorter summer jobs).  Before that—and after college—I was writing a novel, which I never finished but will eventually.

What are you currently playing?

Ned Coker: Currently I’m all about Team Fortress 2 and EVE Online. They fulfill both parts of my personality. For tabletop, I switch between White Wolf stuff and a homebrew D&D 4E game.

What’s the next major event for CCP?

 

Ned Coker: Fanfest, and the party at the top of the world. I hope you’ll join me there. I’ll buy you a drink!


Fanfest 2011 trailer

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J.A. Laraque

J.A. Laraque is a freelance writer and novelist. His passion for writing mixed with a comedic style and intelligent commentary has brought him success in his various endeavors. Whatever the subject, J.A. has an opinion on it and will present it in writing with an insight and flair that is both refreshing and informative.

One thought on “The Interview: Ned Coker: CCP

  • December 8, 2010 at 10:34 AM
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    Eve Online used to be one of my old online cracks. I’m looking forward a lot to World of Darkness.

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