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Three years of Massively: Celebrating the alumni

Shawn Schuster

Over the past three years, we've seen plenty of faces come and go through the doors of Massively. I can honestly say that I'm proud of the current team and it's been a pleasure working with such a diverse crowd since I started.

Some former writers went on to work in the industry itself, either on the community or development side of things. We wanted to spotlight those Massively alumni with this article detailing their accomplishments. As an added bonus, a few of the former staffers answered some questions regarding their new gig. Follow along for more!

Michael Zenke -- Editor-in-Chief (September 2007 - February 2009)

Michael had an impressive resume before he helped launch Massively, but building that solid foundation for the site made my job that much easier when I took over for him in early 2009.

What is the title and job description of the position you took after Massively?

Associate Game Designer at SOE Austin, working on the DC Universe Online project.

Do you still hold this position? If not, what do you do now?

I do. I'm on the systems team; that's the team responsible for stuff like items, achievements, collections, and all the other crunchy number-related stuff you see in-game.

What surprised you the most about working in game development, versus writing about it?

The sheer amount of time I spend staring at an Excel sheet. Dead serious -- Excel is probably a system designer's best tool. You concatenate strings, do math, organize thoughts ... all in tiny rows and rows of a mock DB. Other than that, the thing that surprised me most was the passion. Gamers play games because they love them, and that's why game designers make them. It's not for fame or fortune that these people kill themselves to get a game in your hands -- it's all done in the name of fun.


Adrian Bott -- Contributing Editor (March 2008 - November 2008)

Adrian started out as a games journalist in the mid 80s for a Commodore magazine, eventually moving on to design popular tabletop RPGs for Mongoose Publishing. When he came to Massively, he was a seasoned vet and his work proved that. He left to work as a content writer for NCsoft, penning much of the story in Aion.

He now works for MMO and virtual world developer Virtual Fairground.


Joe Blancato -- Contributing Editor (February 2009 - April 2009)

We can't claim too much of Joe's awesomeness from Massively as he was fairly awesome before that. He worked at The Escapist, WarCry, Giant Realm and founded a few sites of his own in the process.

What is the title and job description of the position you took after Massively?

I took a community management gig at Cryptic Studios. My official title was Online Community Representative. I was responsible for working with both the Champions Online and Star Trek Online communities before launch. I gathered beta feedback, had a bunch of fun with our communities, did my best to manage expectations and wrote a bunch of stuff for our websites.

Do you still hold this position? If not, what do you do now?

I don't actually. Just after Champs launched, I moved over to a marketing role at Cryptic. Now I'm a Marketing Specialist. Now, I help the teams announce upcoming projects and help keep our players informed about what's coming next for both games. I put together (with a lot of help) the informational pages for our updates, manage updates on the websites and handle our social marketing efforts (Facebook and Twitter, specifically).

I also chip in on metrics, longer-term marketing strategy, asset creation/management and work with our community team to make sure our public-facing departments are on the same page. A lot of what I do now is gathering a lot of disparate elements and forming them into something digestible for our customers.

What surprised you the most about working in game development, versus writing about it?

Two things!

1) How similar what I do now is to what I did when I was in editorial. It's very much a different side of the same coin. I still do lots of writing, data mining, developer interviews, fretting over website design philosophy and so on. That's the stuff I liked when I was writing about games, so it's been a pretty great fit for me.

2) How much has to go right for a game to get made. Especially in the MMO space, it really is a miracle that a game can make it from concept to ship. The first few months at Cryptic were really eye-opening, both personally and professionally. A lot of stuff I used to take for granted ("how hard can THIS be?") turned out to be very intricate and complicated. Once you're on the other side of the curtain, you notice all the machinery. It's complex and impressive, but definitely overwhelming at first.


Kyle Horner -- Contributing Editor/Columnist (November 2007 - April 2010)

Kyle was among the very first to have his words on Massively and he stuck with us for two and a half years. In addition to being a news blogger, he also maintained a weekly column and started the very first game-specific column as we know them today. He went on to write for GamePro before landing a gig at Turbine as a content designer.

We look forward to seeing what Kyle has in store for us at Turbine!


James Egan -- Contributing Editor (April 2008 - February 2010)

James was the EVE Online lead on the site for most of his time here. EVE was always his passion and it only made sense when he came to me one day saying he'll be leaving the site for a position at CCP.

What is the title and job description of the position you took after Massively?

I began at CCP as an EVE Online Community Representative after about two years at Massively, where I'd written a great deal about the EVE player community. In fact, this is what caught CCP's attention and led to them offering me the job. Some EVE Online players may also know me as CCP Shadow.

But what does a Community Rep do? I think the misconception a lot of players have is that people on the Community team are forum moderators when the job involves so much more than that. While being active on the forums (*under breath* smacking down the occasional troll) is one aspect of the position and maybe the most 'visible', ultimately the EVE Community team is focused on keeping our fingers on the pulse of what our players are doing or discussing, as seen across forums (official and unofficial), blogs, and social media. We convey what is happening to the rest of CCP either company-wide, or by talking to people in a specific department. Likewise, we inform the player base about things that are happening in EVE Online via news announcements, the forums and Facebook, and we oversee the dev blog process as well. CCP Fallout and CCP Quell are both quite active on Twitter. The EVE Community team also runs contests and events, and I believe most of us will be there at the next EVE Fanfest, too.

As became clear in my time at Massively, the EVE Online player community has become very active and I loved writing about this – I especially enjoyed the player interviews I did here.

Since the community is now the focus of my job, it means that every day is something different and, although some days bring their fair share of challenges, it's been a great experience. I've certainly had a lot of fun doing this job so far and I think that EVE players have noted this.

Do you still hold this position? If not, what do you do now?

My hire as an EVE Online Community Representative was temporary, so I'd learn the ropes quickly and then assume my current role, which is the DUST 514 Community Manager. For those who haven't heard of DUST 514, this is CCP's upcoming console MMOFPS which extends the EVE setting beyond the EVE Online client and into the console world. So while EVE Online's capsuleers struggle for dominance in space, DUST 514 mercenaries will wage battles on the surfaces of EVE's worlds. Snipers will cut me down if I say much more about the game right now, though.

I remember when Michael Zenke, Massively's Managing Editor at the time, was telling me that CCP announced an FPS tied to EVE Online and I was pretty excited about that – I play a lot of shooters and EVE was my main MMO -- still is. Little did I know that I'd eventually go on to work for CCP and be involved with that game, later revealed as DUST 514.

I still work with the EVE Community team on a daily basis – and always will, given the connections between EVE Online and DUST 514 *glances upward at the snipers* -- but as our ranks grow, I'm shifting my focus over to DUST 514. Actually, I'll be moving back to Shanghai quite soon, which is where I was living when Massively found me. We have an office there where much of DUST 514's development is taking place and I'm looking forward to heading back to my old stomping grounds for a while.

What surprised you the most about working in game development, versus writing about it?

Oh, it's a different world... although my day-to-day work is still quite writing-intensive. Keep in mind I can't comment on what it's like to work in development as that's not what I do at CCP, but in general, working for a game company is so much different than what I'd pictured. There's a lot I could say here to answer this question, but I think the first thing that really hit me was the sense of being a part of something greater. Since this is the first game company I've worked for, I can't say if this is the norm – but I was immediately taken with CCP's company culture. That's something I never fully appreciated when I was on the outside looking in. When I was in Atlanta for my interviews, the day I was officially hired was when the whole office was gathered in the cantina for World of Darkness presentations and some barbecue. Even though I didn't really know anyone there yet, it was a very friendly environment and I felt welcomed right from the start... that I was going to be a part of all of this. It was also very cool that some people I met knew who I was from my work at Massively.

Talking to people in the company about EVE, DUST 514, and World of Darkness since I grew up playing White Wolf's pen and paper RPGs, this really drove the point home – I was going to be working with people who are intensely creative and passionate about the games CCP makes.

This was always one of the things I enjoyed about working at Massively as well, that it's not just about earning a paycheck – the writers at this site really care about what they produce. Truth be told, I wouldn't have been offered my current position had it not been for the work I did at Massively and the positive reception from my readers. So thanks to Massively for giving me a shot in the first place (especially Elizabeth Harper and Michael Zenke), and to the readers for your support in my time as a writer for the site. And of course, props to Brendan Drain for picking up the torch and running with it, you're doing a kick ass job with Massively's EVE Online coverage!


Seraphina Brennan -- Columnist/Senior Editor (March 2008 - October 2010)

Sera started as a columnist on Massively, contributing the insanely popular Anti-Aliased for two years before being promoted to Senior Editor in March of this year. Her work with Massively's community revolutionized how we interact with our readers. From an IRC chat channel to our Steam group, Sera put the readers first, often spending her evenings live-streaming her gaming sessions for others to watch and learn from.

As detailed in her final column, Sera recently took a community manager position at Turbine. It hasn't been said which game she'll be working on just yet, but we look forward to seeing Sera's contributions to the popular game company's community.


As you can tell, we're insanely proud of our former writers and we cherish the relationships we've created with them over the years. We always look forward to their ongoing work in the industry and wish them nothing but good luck.

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