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AGC: Jack Emmert

Interviews By Dana Massey on September 26, 2006

The creative head of Cryptic Studios talks exclusively to MMORPG.com

Editor's Note: The final article of AGC was unfortunately delayed due to my own travel schedule. We apologize for the delay in concluding our AGC coverage.

The last appointment of AGC brought MMORPG.com face to face with Jack Emmert, the Creative Director of Cryptic Studios. We spoke about the City of Heroes/Villains franchise and what else may be on the horizon for this California-based development studio.

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Currently, Cryptic is staffing up on a cross-platform (PC and unspecified next-generation consoles) massively-multi-player game. While Emmert was not yet able to give us much details, he did tell me specifically that the company is not worried about potential DC Comics and Marvel MMORPGs in development at Sony and Microsoft and wont avoid the genre that made them famous out of fear of being crowded out. He pointed out that there are hundreds of fantasy games and they view superhero games as a genre unto themselves. Does that mean their next-gen MMO is a superhero game? No, but it doesn’t rule it out either.

To support this project – and not hurt their bread and butter CoX franchise – they went to AGC with recruitment in mind. Unlike most established developers who require a set number of published titles and years of experience to even look at you, Emmert told us that he values intelligence over experience. He points out that he himself comes from an academic background. All potential design applicants are given a test and Cryptic doesn’t even look at the resume unless the person scores well: published titles or not.

Jack also had the upcoming update to City of Heroes/Villains on his mind. In this issue, Emmert wanted to apply the lessons of City of Villains back to City of Heroes. Essentially, this expansion is all about leveling the playing field. As there is only one development team for both titles, Emmert anticipates that all expansions will be more equally distributed between the two games.

One feature that will hit both sides of the franchise is the new costume options. Wings and trench-coats are just two of the new, hard to model things that are coming soon.

Emmert also spoke of how the team addresses problems within the existing world. At any given time, they have a list of the top ten problem issues. They regularly meet to prioritize and address what they can from that list.

The cycle of life for successful people is to move up the food chain. Emmert told us that he is not nearly as personally involved in any of the projects as he once was. He’s currently something like an executive designer. He sets the standard, all designers eventually report up to him and he jumps in if there are problems, but on a day-to-day basis he is more concerned with business development and general operations.

As befits the company name, Emmert also hinted at things to come for the City of Heroes/Villains franchise. When I asked him what he was most excited about moving forward, he told me that it was Issue 9. Given they’re still in the middle of putting together Issue 8, this was a surprising answer. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait and see what they have up their sleeves.


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