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UOForums Interviews Josh Kriegshauser (Aka Speedman) from Everquest!


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Speedman/Josh was kind enough to agree to do an interview with us

 

Here's the questions we asked him and the answers he gave.

 

[Generic questions]

 

What has been your most memorable accomplishment in your career?

 

Making Technical Director before 30? J Getting hired by Origin is probably the most memorable accomplishment as it was my first gig in the game industry. It was an amazing experience: I got to meet and work with the people behind the names on the forum that I idolized. The whole experience was surreal.

 

What was your favorite part of UO?

 

The memories. I started playing when the game came out in ’97 and immediately loved the experience, even though it was painful at times to see thieves steal my ore or die to a PK yet again. The risk made the reward worthwhile and the time investment required made things like getting your first boat that much more amazing.

 

Are you a crafter/pvp'r/role player when you do game?

 

I love to roleplay in-game and enjoyed (in my later years) being a member of an awesome RP guild on Pacific. However, I’m an alt-a-holic, so I had a full crafter and several character to try out many different skills. And a red, but he didn’t come out to play very often.

 

What games - either out or coming attractions - currently catch your eye?

 

On the MMO scene, Star Trek Online, DC Universe Online, Free Realms to name a few (and maybe a few unannounced ones that I can’t talk about yet). For console games, I’m a HUGE Guitar Hero/Rock Band fanboy. I’ve also really enjoyed playing Braid, Assassin’s Creed and the Prince of Persia series.

 

What was your first project in the gaming industry, and how did you get it?

 

Origin hired me in late 2003 to be a server programmer on UO. I had spent a lot of the previous two years getting back in touch with UO and, being a programmer, decided to poke and prod it a bit to find out how certain things worked. I developed some hacker tools that would let me inspect and perturb the datastream. Having that Matrix-like view into the UO world gave me some insight when Origin was looking for a new programmer to join their ranks. UO was having some definite bandwidth problems at the time and I knew the cause. I promised the interview team that I’d have the problem fixed in two weeks if they hired me. And I did.

Did you go to school for your skills? If so, where? What was the experience like?

 

I’m mostly self-taught. I started teaching myself how to program in BASIC on a TI-99/4a at the ripe old age of nine. My dad bought me a C compiler for Christmas one year. In high school, I rewrote the school’s DOS-based grade tracking program in Visual Basic for Windows. When I finally did get to college, I probably could’ve taught some of the courses. I finished programming assignments before they were scheduled to start. In my Operating Systems class, I actually started writing my own OS and an emulator to debug it on. I couldn’t get enough programming. I still do personal projects like an AI that plays Tetris and a solver for Minesweeper.

 

For gamers out there that would like to do what you do in the industry... what would you suggest they learn and/or train for?

Well, for programming, it has to be your passion. Learn to recognize algorithms in everything and exercise yourself by writing programs to do anything. Whenever I hand out a résumé, I attach a list of personal projects that I’ve done throughout the years and they always come up in the interview. In school, definitely focus on Computer Science or Computer Engineering and excel in your programming classes. Find a school that is top-rated in your discipline. Unfortunately, most game-targeted school programs tend to generalize rather than specialize (on programming, for instance). Don’t be afraid to get books and teach yourself things. I started programming by typing in code listings from books for simple games and then making tweaks.

 

What do you look for in a game?

I’ll only work on a game that I enjoy playing (or could enjoy if it’s an unreleased game). I like to play games that have a good story, continuity, puzzles and can be played in short intervals.

 

Do the ethics and or morales of a game affect your choices?

Absolutely. I’m a family man and my kids see what I work on. I’ll only work for a company where my kids can play the games that come out of it.

 

To date... which one person has had the biggest influence on your career? A mentor so to speak.

 

My dad has been the biggest influence on my career for his encouragement in my younger days. He saw that I enjoyed programming and didn’t let anything stand in my way. Every time I release a new product I try to send him a signed copy as a souvenir.

 

Before a expansion release or a big patch..

How many hours/week do you spend at your work then?

 

I’m pretty rigid with my no-overtime rule with my team. Like I said above, I’m a family man and late evenings or weekends at work means less time with my wife and kids. Of course, there are some exceptions, but I try to keep them few and far between. For the last expansion I logged only 16 hours of overtime (two Saturdays). Most of my programming team logged 8 hours or less.

 

Any special times of year you like best in your branch? (More than holidays)

 

Expansion Launch day. It’s exciting and a good break in the routine.

 

[EQII specific Questions]

 

What do you like best about the game today?

 

Exploring the new content from The Shadow Odyssey, our latest expansion.

 

What do you like the Least?

 

Having to pull out a chart to figure out how to get from point A to point B J

 

What's your favourite race? and class?

I play a Barbarian Shadowknight and a Half-elf Fury at the same time. It’s a fun combo.

 

What kind of servers run the massive EQ2 worlds?

 

30+ quad-core linux boxes per world, plus a powerful Oracle DB head.

 

What would you say is your favourite feature in EQ2? Be it a client feature, ingame feature etc.

 

I did the Quest Sharing feature and worked on the Voice Chat feature. I’m really proud of those systems.

What is the most difficult part of your job?

 

Balancing new features and bug fixes

 

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Reading positive feedback about changes that I’ve made.

 

EQ2 has several locations which are spectacular to just sit and look at, which is your favourite?

Flying through Kylong Plains is awesome, but the first time that I saw the skydome for the Void (for The Shadow Odyssey), I was amazed.

 

EQ2 clearly has a very active forum/community, how important do you feel an official forum is for an MMO?

 

Immensely important. The community is the life-blood of the game. They must have a place to communicate with each other and with the developers.

 

[Personal questions]

 

Queen Mum asks:

What is your favorite type of cookie?

 

Anything with chocolate

 

Favorite Hobby?

For non-computer related, I really love bicycling. I try to commute to work by bike.

Favorite Movie?

So many good ones! The Lord of the Rings movies, the Star Trek movies and the new Narnia movies are up there.

 

Favorite treat?

 

Junior Mints!

What was the very first computer game you played?

 

Space Quest (the original EGA version) by Sierra On-Line.

 

Which is your favorite season and why?

 

Summer: long days, nice weather, lots of playing outside with the kids

 

What is your favorite color?

Blue

 

What is your greatest extravagance?

 

I spend way too much on LEGO kits, especially the Star Wars kits with 1000+ parts.

 

What is your current state of mind?

 

Happy

 

If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?

 

I wouldn’t!

 

What is your most treasured possession?

 

My family

 

Who is your favorite hero in fiction?

 

Gandalf the White, from Lord of the Rings

 

What is your greatest fear?

 

Fear.

 

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

 

No Problem, Woot

 

What is your motto?

 

There are only 10 types of people in this world: those that understand binary and those that don’t.

 

Many thanks Josh! Great interview :)

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