What prompted you to step back from the creative side of things and move into operations?
Jack Emmert: I think just happenstance, really. We originally had a game broken up into different disciplines: Design, Production, Art, Programming. And each discipline had a single lead. I was the Design lead on City of Heroes. When we started working on two projects (CoH and City of Villains), I became the creative director and managed the two leads on each project. Later, when we worked on Marvel, we followed the same pattern. You can imagine we had lots and lots of conflicts – after all, where does one draw the line at art or design? Production or design? There was no single head or lead for everything. We moved to a more vertical structure with Champions and STO – namely, a single Executive Producer would be responsible for the vision of the game. And then I managed the EP's. Inevitably, that meant I was now responsible not just for design, but also art and production.
I still advise on design issues, though I'm now figuring out what that means. In Champions, I sort of set everything up and handed it off to Bill. On STO, I contributed to the initial vision and then commented a lot on it during the last stages of production. In each case, I made a lot of mistakes! I'm still learning how to best contribute without interfering or disrupting what our teams do. We hire a lot of talented people and I really don't want to be the out of touch executive swooping in.
What does being the Chief Operations Officer at Cryptic Studios entail?
"I also manage the EP's of each project (Champions, STO and still to be announced projects)."
I interact with Atari on all matters of development – schedules, expectations, descriptions. I also manage the EP's of each project (Champions
and still to be announced projects). I also oversee audio and animation; these are core departments whose resources are spread out amongst all games. And also our Art Director, who advises each project. I do a lot with our finance staff – making sure they have headcounts, etc. And HR – to make sure we've got good tests for our various positions. Oh, I also try to communicate with the company about the direction of our games and our methodology. I'm trying to formulate where Cryptic is going after looking at our two MMORPG launches. How can we improve. What mistakes did we make, etc.
Champions Online appears to be moving to an "every-other-month" approach for free content updates. Will Star Trek Online follow this path or forge another?
Jack Emmert: STO
plans to have quality of life fixes coming in constantly. And we'll have a big update (we call them Seasons
) every 3 to 4 months. We found that was a good cycle in the CoH
days. Something super cool we've done with STO
and we'll definitely do for Champions
is post a calendar with all our upcoming updates (http://www.startrekonline.com/calendar
Thanks for your time.