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Age of Conan: Unchained Dev Journals: Dev Profile Q&A: Haluk Diriker

By Guest Writer on May 03, 2007

Dev Profile Q&A: Haluk Diriker

MMORPG.com:

Tell us a little about your childhood. How did school and where you live influence your choice to join the video game community?

Haluk Diriker:

My family moved around a lot due to my father's profession. I think I lived in 3 different cities before I was sent back to my home town to live with my grandparents. It was decided that all the moving was interfering with my education.

It all paid well for me in the end. I was a hyperactive kid and my grandparents couldn't run after me the whole day, so I was awarded with an Atari 2600 and the handhelds of the time: Gamewatches. That's when games really entered my life.

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MMORPG.com:

Can you remember your first video game? How often did you play, what other games had an influence on you?

Haluk Diriker:

My father made my first introduction to videogames. He had a Pong console, and I was allowed to play under his supervision - I was really young back then. But the game that had the most influence was Wizard of Wor. I spent a lot of time on it. I also played a lot of Pitfall, Soccer 1 & 2 and River Raid.

Other games that had influence on me were Lucasarts and Sierra adventure games, Japanese RPGs -such as Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy-, Planescape: Torment, Fallout... and EverQuest. I did play a lot of EverQuest. It wasn't my first MMO, but it was the one that captured me.

MMORPG.com:

Besides games what other influences brought you into your career? Whether it is books, movies, or artwork everyone has different tastes, tell us about yours.

Haluk Diriker:

Well, besides games, there are always more games. It's the major influence and you can never get enough.

Books have a lot of influence too. I like reading a lot. I suppose that's why I like RPGs. I like having a decent plot and character development. Also, there's math... I know it sounds odd but it's why I started programming in the first place. I enjoy solving difficult problems.


MMORPG.com:

What was your first job in games? What other games have you worked on?

Haluk Diriker:

My first job in games was very small time. It was kids games and I was doing render coding. This is back in the DirectX 7 and OpenGL days when 3dfx was a major chipset manufacturer. Then I moved onto TV and computer animated shows.

I also did enterprise development for quite a while.

MMORPG.com:

What is your job at Funcom? How did you get your foot in the door?

Haluk Diriker:

My formal title is AI designer and it is what I do most of the time. I am also responsible for Hiving and some AI related tools coding. My plate is very full to be honest and considering the size of the team, it gives you a good idea about the scope of the game. Everyone is always busy.

Getting my foot in the door was... very sudden and unexpected for me. Even though I wanted to pursue a scientific career, working on an MMORPG has been a dream-job for me since the days of EverQuest. I was about to go back to academics but I saw the job opening for Funcom while browsing Age of Conan forums. I had my application ready the next day and here I am. Like I said, it was very sudden.


MMORPG.com:

Take us through a typical day of work on Funcom while working on Age of Conan, what is it like when you show up at the office?

Haluk Diriker:

Coffee machine is heavily camped and I do tag along most of the time. I start work by reading through my emails and bug reports. It's generally quiet until the morning meeting. The meeting is like a kick off. It gets very busy all of a sudden. Those are pretty much the only constants in my day. Everyday is something new and like I said before, I do have a lot on my plate.

MMORPG.com:

Are there any friends or family who had a major impact on your career or chasing dreams that you'd like to talk about, do they play games?

Haluk Diriker:

My family supported me a lot. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for them. I do have a lot of friends who play games, also my brother and his friends play a lot of MMOs. But I guess the real shock was to my parents when I told them about the job at Funcom. While they did support me my entire life, they did also complain that I spent too much time on games. It never really occurred to them that I could build a career on it.


MMORPG.com:

The video game industry continues to grow very quickly. What are your hopes for games in the future?

Haluk Diriker:

Well, there's the current "games for family" trend in the industry as a general, it's only a matter of time before it begins in MMO market as well. I do believe that it's important to have a wide variety of games and being able to tap a market that did not exist 5 years ago is a major jump for industry. It's also possible to sell titles that cost less to such an audience since their prior gaming experience is relatively low and almost everything is new for them.

From a gamer point of view, I hope it will boost the industry and won't make high-budget titles obsolete. Experienced gamers are a small percentage compared to the untapped potential customers out there and the costs for triple-A titles are increasing by leaps and bounds, like the technology that is used to make them. This might sound like conspiracy theory to some, but in other industries, a still-profitable product being replaced by a more profitable one is not uncommon.

MMORPG.com:

How have things been progressing with Age of Conan? Have you enjoyed working on such a strong IP as Conan?

Haluk Diriker:

Yes, I do. Giving life (for lack of a better term) to Hyboria 80 years after it has been created is a lot of fun. You have lore to follow but you also have creative freedom. There are also expectations. When you have an IP as strong as Conan, you know that the expectations are going to match the IP in strength. We want to live up to the expectations and then some.

The progression has been immense compared to the last year. The game is really geared up towards external testing now and the differences between last year's E3 version and the current version are staggering.

MMORPG.com:

Is there anything you would like to write to the readers of MMORPG.com that we have not spoken about?

Haluk Diriker:

I want to thank the community for the fantastic support they have shown so far. Age of Conan forums carry valuable info for all of us, even if most of us don't have the time to post there, we do read their posts.

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