Non-Exclusive Dev Blog: A Day in the Life of Jack Emmert
Jack Emmert of Cryptic Studios has written a dev blog where he describes a day in the life of the Chief Creative Officer of Champions Online.
I've been asked many times, "so what exactly do you do as chief creative officer?" I think most of my designers would simply say, "he doesn't do much" (little joke).
So I thought I'd go through a particular work day: Friday, March 21st.
9:30 a.m. – I get to work after going to the gym for a workout. Cryptic sponsors employees' memberships to a small, private gym. It's pretty intense. There has never been a Cryptic employee who has gone there, worked out for the first time, and didn't get sick! I lost about 30 lbs. through this and changing my diet. We've got showers at work so I don't stink up the joint.
9:30-11:00 a.m. – I'm answering e-mail, sending e-mail and reading the Champions boards. Most of my e-mails this morning are related to my business roles as chairman of the Cryptic board and as one of the founders. We've got a board meeting coming up so I'm a little busier with this than I normally am. I'm also discussing some Champions opportunities outside of gaming and planning some events. I've asked QA to set up some Champions characters for me to playtest later in the afternoon.
11:00-11:30 a.m. – Meeting with two of my combat designers and two game programmers. We're tackling a sticky issue: how to balance defense (the chance to avoid an attack) and resistance (decrease in damage). We've actually been talking about this for weeks and we're starting to focus on solutions. Nearly every approach comes with its plusses and minuses. The engineers like one solution, the designers another. Luckily, one engineer came up with an awesome solution! I'll be writing more about that later.
11:30 a.m.-noon – My weekly meeting with two leads (Champions and Project X). At this meeting, I'm mostly trying to find out where they're having troubles. My lead on Champions is driving the implementation of stuff, so I'm trying to keep up to speed on any changes that need to be made and see if anything is causing a hold up. The other project is still in preproduction, so the major focus is just nailing down an overall vision, though we are putting together a demo "level." I'd normally try to follow up with any employee issues we're having, but right now the team is pretty darn good.
noon-1:00 p.m. – Company meeting! We do these once a month and this time we've ordered lunch. Our president, Michael Lewis, informs the team that we're taking them to Las Vegas for their bonus this year.
1:00-3:00 p.m. – Playtest time! The Champions team has just hit a milestone and submitted it internally to QA. I'm playing through every single mission and exploring every inch. I really want to make sure that I know every minute of the game. And I want to make sure it's fun enough. I can't spill the beans too much, but I was running around Slither Beach battling the hordes of VIPER.
3:00-3:30 p.m. – Another one of our top secret projects (let's call this Project Y) is having an update meeting. I'm not driving this one very much, so I'm not as involved in day-to-day implementation. I attend just to listen to what the guys have put together.
3:30-5:00 p.m. – Project Y vision brainstorm time. I get together about twice a week with the core team (artists, engineers, designers) and discuss a particular element of the game. This week, we're talking about social systems. Last week, it was character roles. We start each meeting by listing the principles of the system in order to make sure we know what we're trying to accomplish. Then we freely start tossing out ideas, without any criticism. We need to be very careful not to shoot down every idea; after all, no game system is perfect. By the end, we try to weigh those ideas against the principles – what matches our goals the best? Which doesn't?
5:00 – 5:45 p.m. – Randy Mosiondz, the Champions lead designer, has put together a really nice system for the end game. There was a meeting this week to kick it off, but I didn't read the documentation. I know the broad strokes of it after several conversations with Randy, but now I sit down and read it pretty thoroughly.
5:45 p.m. – Home! Fridays I always go out to eat with my wife and two kids. By the time we're home from dinner, it's time to give my older son a bath and put him to bed. He doesn't like sleeping alone, so I usually sleep on the floor next to his crib. There are piles and piles of comics in there that I read as I go to sleep. Tonight, however, my sister-in-law is visiting so she'll be taking care of JP (whom I also call "Jeeps").
Normally, I like to play either Champions, another MMORPG or some other video game for an hour before bed, but with my sister-in-law in town, I put that little habit on hold.