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CCP: "We're definitely staying" in the UK

Yohei Ishii praises Newcastle studio's Unreal expertise, and explains multi-team design philosophy

EVE Online developer/publisher CCP has emphasised its investment in its new Newcastle studio, and the importance of the new team's input into the Unreal engine as it prepares for ambitious console MMO Dust 514.

Speaking to at the GameHorizon conference in Gateshead last week, senior director Yohei Ishii, CCP's senior director of Business Development, revealed that the government's lack of assistance for the UK games industry would not affect its presence here.

"We set up shop before all that stuff, so we're definitely staying here," he said. "It's a really nice studio, it's not something that we just threw up. We're really into this for the long haul, just like our games. We might be kinda crazy, but we have a lot of patience."

Ishii praised the group of ex-Midway developers' experience and ability in using the Unreal engine, and how important they were to CCP's upcoming massively multiplayer console shooter Dust 514.

"As we were rapidly growing the company, we saw we needed to hire more engineers for Dust, but also for Eve projects. As luck would have it, the Midway Newcastle studio was let go, and we dashed in here because we knew they were great Unreal engineers. "They were really the core Unreal team that was rewriting the code for all the studios within Midway. So even though some of the titles that were launched, maybe they didn't do as great as hoped, but the technology behind them was actually really strong. So we came in here and grabbed up the top engineers and programmers, and that laid the foundation for the studio now."

Ishii also confirmed that CCP was continuing to grow, with 150 vacancies currently being open across the company. "We're hiring in all our studios around the world."

While the total CCP headcount is now around several hundred strong, with teams split between America, China, the UK and Iceland, Ishii was adamant it would not become unwieldy and impersonal.

"We take what's called an agile enterprise scrum approach, and it basically is a kind of discipline process of having small teams. That includes engineers, designers and artists and that kind of thing in small groups. It allows us to bring in new people and have them immediately join the team and start contributing to what's going on, and then shift those teams around depending on the need.

"We're getting big, but we're still only 550 people. That's like one megastudio for a big publisher, and we think we can still instil this culture, we can hire people who actually want to work at CCP as opposed to people who think it's just another job."

The full interview with Yohei Ishii, in which he discusses the risks of making a console MMO, microtransactions and working with Microsoft and Sony, will be published on next week.

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Alec Meer: A 10-year veteran of scribbling about video games, Alec primarily writes for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, but given any opportunity he will escape his keyboard and mouse ghetto to write about any and all formats.
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