As Terry wrote in his column yesterday, there’s a new sheriff in town with Eternal Crusade. Filling the large and vibrantly energetic shoes of Miguel Caron is Nathan Richardsson. From CCP, Trion, and Ubisoft with a pedigree in MMO gaming like few others, the new Senior Producer of the Warhammer 40K MMO chatted with Rob Lashley about the future of Eternal Crusade and his gaming past.
MMORPG.com: Nathan, most of our readers are probably already familiar with your work on titles such as Eve and Defiance but can you tell us a little bit about your background and let us know what you have been up to since I last talked to you when you were working at Trion?
Nathan: I’ve mostly been up to secret stuff such as Ubisoft, maintaining my status as an Icelandic secret agent and helping out some startups with my friends. I think that one of the main interesting thing happening lately is the indy scene, that you can develop amazing experiences with as few as … well a single person … and you have many new avenues to get in contact with players, so I liked touching that a little bit. No, not in that way.
That being said, my background has been getting specialized, I guess not many have been working on massive online games on consoles lately and a background in “traditional” MMOs, so it’s been some pretty amazing times and challenges that I’ve gone through that I hope will be of benefit here. Producing massive online games is a bit different than other games, so it’s not just leading a development team, it involves everything from hosting servers to community management. I’ve touched on all that in my career on some pretty unique games so I’m probably a rare (sexy) beast.
MMORPG.com: What drew you to the BeHaviour team?
Nathan: I love the city of Montreal and I had been working here, so I knew about them but more importantly, I also knew they were working on the Eternal Crusade – and I’m a big 40K fan so those two certainly fit. Then with the vision of the Eternal Crusade fitting very well with my previous experience in massive online, shooters, spandex and that I think it would also be a good fit for consoles, I think it was pretty obvious that I should try this. The food in Montreal and the people at the company being so welcoming didn’t exactly hurt either. MMORPG.com: What is your background with the 40K universe?
Nathan: Professionally, I haven’t worked on 40K before and a long time ago, it was a hobby I wanted to get into. Then about 4 years ago, a group of my friends and colleagues start playing so we kind of get ourselves all into it. Over time though, I think I’m close to 100 books in the 40K universe, so I’ve spent some time investigating fully the grim darkness of the far future.
I’m a Blood Angel if people are wondering, for a number of reasons. They have some similar personality traits to me, my favorite color is red and their playstyle suits me. Well, and they are kind of vampires, which fits with my previous encounter with World of Darkness. I might also have something of a thing for gold and angel wings.
MMORPG.com: Projects in any industry, unfortunately, do not have a good track record of success when the project manager switches half way through. How do you plan on instilling confidence in the longtime supporters of Eternal Crusade that you are the right person to see the game through this transition period in development?
Nathan: It’s true but what needs to be kept in mind is that game development teams are so different from game to game. I wasn’t the first producer on EVE and I thought that went pretty ok but that’s because I had strong creative leads, amazing tech leads and a great team. This isn’t about me, we work around team dynamics.
I think here we’re a good mix and my management style is pretty hands-off compared to the average game producer. I guess that’s because my belief is in Agile development and empowerment, motivation and team ownership. I’m not trying to be the Creative Director or the Lead Programmer, I trust them for their roles and we build this on mutual trust. In fact, I’m just a pretty face, pointing in a direction, trying to make sure we march in the same direction. I also happen to be a later stage Producer so it’s actually good timing for me to apply some of my experience.
In the end, only time will tell. Either our worst nightmares come true, or our wildest dreams. This being an Eternal Crusade, I can safely say there will be a little bit of both.
MMORPG.com: Do you feel the game needs a course correction or have you come aboard to stay the course?
Nathan: I’m here to stay the course. We will always do course corrections, that’s fundamental to Agile and iterative development. If we didn’t do that, be it due to customer feedback or some game system just turns out to be spawn from the warp, we’d be doing something wrong and pretty much assure our mutual destruction. But we’re transparent about it and we will be shedding light on the updated roadmaps in the coming months. So no, I’m not here to change the course. The purpose is to launch an amazing 40K experience. Nothing else.
MMORPG.com: How far along in the development process do you believe Eternal Crusade is?
Nathan: That’s part of the work we’re going through right now with me arriving and the planning workshops we’re doing with the entire team. I’d say we’re in good shape to do some meaningful deliveries this year but it really depends of how far into the full future vision we go before we determine we’re ready to launch.
MMORPG.com: What is your favorite feature of the game so far?
Nathan: I’d say it’s an Assault Marine with a chainsword descending like an angel of death on you and offering you salvation. We’re all in this for world peace, right?
MMORPG.com: Do you plan on joining the team on the regular developer live streams?
Nathan: Yes, I won’t make all of them but I’ll be on most, also writing newsletters to, blogging and you know, in on some general shenanigans which goes with a healthy game development teams. I have already started trolling the forums, so you can take a whack at me there. I’m known as Oveur, same I used on all of the games I’ve had the pleasure to work on.
MMORPG.com: What is your favorite 40k race in our out of the game?
Nathan: While I am a hardcore loyalist Space Marine, I do have a darker side to me which will remain secret. I also like cannon fodder, such as Astra Militarum but Blood Angels it is, first and foremost.
MMORPG.com: Any last words before we let you get back to your day?
Nathan: I think we’re in for a wild ride of massive destruction. If you’re into that, you know where to find us.