Phantasie - Producer Interview
Posted Etaew (PC) and viewed 743 times.by
- Could you introduce yourself?
- How did you get started in Trion and the games industry?
- What reponsibilities do you have on Trove?
- What are some of the challenges involved in switching projects?
- What are some of the differences in working on Trove compared to Defiance?
- Where does the name Phantasie come from?
- Outside of work what do you get up to?
My name is Rich Barnes, or Phantasie on the forums and in game. I'm a Producer on Trove, though I also pick up some engineering tasks when I have time. I've been a part of the Trove team since November.
I was fortunate in that I got a job as an engineer in the games industry immediately after I finished University. I had alot of experience with consoles (I started programming on the PS1/N64), and several years ago Trion was building up a team to help complete the console version of Defiance. It seemed like a great fit, and I jumped at that opportunity (especially since I got to move to sunny San Diego). That was in 2012, and 4 years later I'm still here (though now I'm at our Bay Area offices).
Being a Producer means you have a fairly wide range of responsibilities. Given my engineering background, I help out with a lot of things related to technology. And of course there's scheduling and planning, task management and tracking, and dealing with bugs. I love the game too, and play a lot (multiple level 20 chars/226 Mastery), so I do my best to help on the creative side of things as well!
Switching projects is never easy. It's a bit like going to a new school - everyone knows each other, and you're the odd person out. Fortunately the Trove team is great - everyone is super friendly (as I'm sure you can tell from the Friday Twitch Livestreams); they were more than happy to answer all my (many (many)) newb questions :).
The toughest part is learning all the day to day things that a team that's been together for years takes for granted; Trove is a huge game. One example would be when we run the game locally. We run in whats called dev mode, and have access to many (many) commands to make testing easier. For example, I can spawn any item in the game with a certain slash command - but you need to know the relative folder location, and design name (which isn't always the same as the in-game name) of the item to spawn.
Most of the team has these memorized. It will take me forever to memorize them all, but I do know this one :)
(I wonder how many people will try that command on the live servers now!)
The number #1 difference would be iteration time, which is much quicker on Trove since its a PC only title. While I love consoles, the challenges of certification and patching across multiple console platforms is tricky, and means you need to schedule patches weeks out. With Trove, we can fix a client side bug at 5:00 PM, and roll out a patch at 7:00 AM the next day. One one hand, its adds stress since things move very quickly, but on the other hand its satisfying to see positive change so fast.
I also really like the community involvement with Trove - specifically how people can get their own items, mounts, etc into the game. Its fun seeing that, and then meeting the players who made them.
That said, there are a surprising number of similarities. The code base is in C++ for both projects, various libraries/code are shared, and a lot of concepts and design patterns are the same, since programmers switch teams or help out other projects frequently. So from a tech side, its not to bad to get up to speed.
One of the first Role Playing Games I ever played was Phantasie on the Commodore 64. I was young, and had just finished reading The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings (loving them, of course). Phantasie had some tie ins to those series: "J.R. Trolkin's" castle, "9 Black Knights" with "9 Rings", etc. As an impressionable kid, I thought these tie ins were amazing. (though I suppose, in hindsight, they were rather obvious rip offs :) ). I continued to use that name on BBS'es, AD&D campaigns, right through to MMO's!
I was worried when I made my Trove character that someone would have taken it, but luckily that wasn't the case!
Well, I'm not just saying this, but I do play a lot of Trove - three or so hours a night, and my consecutive day count is at 61. So that's certainly my #1 game right now.
I'm also working on my own game (purely as a hobby). Its a 2D RPG, visually a SNES era JRPG but with more western RPG systems. Its programmed C#, and runs on both the PC and XBox 360. The most recent addition was doing a time of day/lighting shader system - it looks pretty good!
Apart from that, I'm fairly active outdoors - hiking, jogging and cycling. One of the great things about the Bay Area is that you can go from one of the most densely populated places in the US to extremely remote areas in < 20 miles! Plus I’m Canadian, so I’m a big hockey fan (and player). There’s a few guys on the Trove team that get together at the local arena for pick-up games every week.
Finally, I also did a similar interview for Etaew when I was on Defiance if you want to read more. It is here: http://www.defiancedata.com/page=476/developer-interview-phantasie
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