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GDC Europe: Hilmursson On The History Of CCP

GDC Europe: Hilmursson On The History Of CCP

August 18, 2009 | By Simon Carless

August 18, 2009 | By Simon Carless
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More: Console/PC

Elsewhere at the GDC Europe keynote which announced console MMO Dust 514, CCP CEO Hilmar Petursson discussed the growth of the Icelandic EVE Online creator, contrasting 'themepark' with 'playground' MMOs along the way.

In his introduction, Petursson explained that the company is now "rapidly closing in on 500 people". It is estimated to make around $50 million in revenues on 2009, due to the success of space-based single shard MMO EVE Online.

Looking at the company's history, the CCP CEO explained that the company was first VC-funded in 2000, for $1.5 million, which it thought was enough to complete EVE Online in 18 months.

Of course, it was not, and the company ended up signing with Simon & Schuster as retail publisher to complete Eve Online for release in 2003. However, the publisher shut down and CCP took back the rights. The company has now passed 300,000 monthly subscribers of the hardcore but extremely successful title.

Petursson then laid out a couple of definitions -- firsly for the 'themepark' MMO. In this style of online game, you come to check out the more linear landscape and interact with them, but don't really make new friends or change the world significantly.

This was contrasted with the 'playground MMO', which is much more freeform, and in which good and bad things can happen to the balance of in-game power as part of a much larger sandbox experience.

EVE is much more of a 'playground' MMO, where emergent behaviors can really break out, according to the CCP chief. Petursson showed EVE Online's in-game map in 2003, and wove an amusing tale of massive factional war between national factions.

He also showed an animated video of the factional changes in the single-shard EVE Online universe over time, including the startling faction transition from Goonswarm to Band Of Brothers. He declined detailed comment on this event, though, saying: "We very much want to give [the] drama to the players."

Moving on, Petursson discussed the ragged edge of control versus freedom in the game. He asked abstractly: "How much chaos do you want to tolerate?" He said that, conversely, "too much control will stifle the emergence", and that CCP is continuing to carefully monitor this particular edge.

The game continues to add features and free expansions, with a PC-based expansion allowing players to walk around space stations currently in development. Petursson also joked that "the learning cliff" of EVE Online on PC has been reduced to merely a steep learning curve by recent PC expansions that have added 'themepark' MMO-style tutorial missions.

The CCP boss also discussed the Council of Stellar Management. This is a formal EVE Online player-developer community advisory structure that is now democratically elected, a fairly new change.

Petursson quipped that, in terms of electing people to the Council, "even though people scream and shout" in the forums, it makes them "calm and adjusted" in real life, and CCP is learning a lot from this organizational structure.

The CCP boss ended this section of his entertaining talk -- before the announcement of CCP's new console MMO -- by explaining that the company is also planning a web-based social network for PC users of the game.

This allows EVE Online players to discuss in-game events and relationship with each other easily in an outward-facing fashion, and should debut in the near future.

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