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Rise of Nations Heaven » Forums » RoN General Discussion » Interview with Graham Somers
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Topic Subject:Interview with Graham Somers
TheGoodEvil
Member
posted 04-28-04 05:31 PM EDT (US)         
TheGoodEvil
I am going at a different angle here with ya Graham, I want people to know who you are what you do and why you do it.

Graham Somers
Is that why you’ve hung me up by my feet?

TheGoodEvil
Firstly what is your official title?

Graham Somers
It doesn't exactly roll off your tongue, but my title is: Community Relations Manager. Sounds impressive doesn't it? Essentially I get to be the voice of the community here at BHG, saying things like, “Ratings decay would be cool to have!”. I also get to be the voice of BHG in the community, through forum posts and our website.

TheGoodEvil
What made you decide that BHG was the rite place for you?

Graham Somers
A number of things made me want to join the team here. First of all, I had the chance to play Rise of Nations at E3 in 2002, and it looked like a game with some serious potential. I went through RoN withdrawal after E3, so it was certainly something that I enjoyed playing!

The next thing would have to be the people. The team is composed of gamers, very talented at what they do, and they want to make great games that people like to play. They are a very nice group of people, willing to listen to feedback and ideas from anyone.

Lastly, the job they were offering me sounded like something I'd have to kill to get. I love web design and tinkering with websites, and I also love RTS games. I get to play around with both of those things all day here. I'm incredibly lucky.

TheGoodEvil
What game has had the most influence on you? Please be honest you already work for BHG they won't fire ya

Graham Somers
Without a doubt, that is Age of Empires. It was the first game that really introduced me to an online multiplayer community and the challenges and fun of online gaming. I still talk to several good friends that I met while playing that game, and I also spent many hours working on Age related websites. That also allowed me to get to know a few of the folks at Ensemble Studios, such as Mike “Archangel” McCart, their Community Relations guy. They are definitely a great group of people, and I’m still a big fan of their games.

TheGoodEvil
Is what you are doing now what you saw yourself doing 4 years ago?

Graham Somers
Only in my dreams. Four years ago I was starting to study Graphic Design full time at College, while tinkering with websites, gaming, and sleeping as little as possible. I was trying to turn my hobby of web design into a paying job of some sort, to support my gaming.

TheGoodEvil
Take me on a trip through an average day at the BHG offices.

Graham Somers
People usually roll into work around 9:30 – 10:00am. There is a coffee machine by the bar, along with an amazing array of teas, so that’s where most people gather in the morning to chat about the latest games, or movies, or TV shows, that have caught their fancy. This is the spot where we have our company meeting every Tuesday morning to discuss the latest, such as what kinds of cool things the art department is working on or who won the latest Big Huge sponsored event.

After that it’s down to business. Generally you catch up on e-mail in the mornings, and start tackling your latest task. I also have to catch up on what’s going on in the forums.

At lunch, people usually take off to their favorite local restaurant. (mine is a pub called The Stil) Occasionally during lunch, we’ll have a big MP game of whatever the latest greatest shooter is (Counterstrike is a old favorite, and we also play Battlefield) or we try out a cool Xbox game.

There are various meetings that happen throughout the course of a day. Although there are many separate teams here, such as programmers, artists, designers – and each of those teams is broken down into several sub-teams – each works very closely with the other so we’re constantly working on keeping each other updated. That’s a part of game development that I didn’t fully appreciate, how much each team depends on the other.

Afternoons are also when people usually get together for a daily game, of whatever game we happen to be working on. A small group will play everyday and give feedback on what they liked and didn’t like about the experience.

That’s a pretty general look at a day here. People go home around 5:30 – 6:00pm, unless we’ve got a deadline of some sort coming up…then it can be quite a bit later.

TheGoodEvil
How many sites do you frequent on a day to day basis?

Graham Somers
I visit as many websites as I can during a day. I try to get to every Rise of Nations fan site at least once during the course of a day and the major gaming news sites as well. This doesn’t always happen though as occasionally I’ll get swamped with work on our website, or get hauled into doing something else entirely, such as capturing game footage for a movie. That’s when it’s great to have people like Rohag and his newsletter or even just an e-mail or IM from a player who’s organizing an event or wants to talk about ratings.

TheGoodEvil
You were a Webmaster for HeavenGames, did this have any impact on your new career? How so?

Absolutely. I worked on a site called Age of Kings Battlefield before joining the HeavenGames staff, and both places gave me a lot of experience dealing with developers, players, tournaments, cheaters, and all of those kinds of things that a gaming community has. I’ve experienced things from a player’s perspective, from a webmaster’s perspective, and now from a developer’s perspective. I can definitely relate to all three, having been there myself, and do my best to communicate clearly to all three groups in my current position. It always helps to have walked a mile or two in someone else’s shoes.

TheGoodEvil
Last question as I know you don't really like to be attacked with questions, please give some insight on BHG's upcoming game!?!

Graham Somers
I really wish I could, but saying much of anything about our next game will get me fired, and then shot. All I can tell you at this point is that it’s going to be an RTS game of some kind. With Thrones and Patriots heading to the shelves, everyone is rolling up their sleeves to start on this new project with a lot of great ideas and enthusiasm.

Something that we’re all very excited about is the fact that we now have a dedicated programmer, Stuart “DiscoStu” Jeff, to work on the multiplayer portion of this new title. We didn’t have a programmer to deal with that one part of the game for Rise of Nations, so this will definitely help to make that part of the game truly shine.

TheGoodEvil
Before we end this I'd like to announce to you that you have been chosen by the community to recieve the "Best Patriot of the community" award for always being direct with the fans, not letting the community sour like other new games, and always trying to help! You will soon recieve a plaque and a CD with the names of everyone that wished this award to you!

Graham Somers
That is truly cool. My sincere thanks to you and all of the other members of the RoN community who have shared their time, ideas, and energy with us.

TGE

[This message has been edited by One_Dead_Angel (edited 04-28-2004 @ 05:52 PM).]

AuthorReplies:
Adder
Fallen Angel
(id: The Adder)
posted 04-28-04 06:06 PM EDT (US)     1 / 8       
Nice interview!

Adder |
"I would like to wonder if Adder always acts like a stuck up asshole?" - Coldviper
DGC
Member
posted 04-28-04 09:08 PM EDT (US)     2 / 8       
word
ReadyMan
Member
posted 04-29-04 00:51 AM EDT (US)     3 / 8       
Graham Rocks!
DGC
Member
posted 04-29-04 02:14 AM EDT (US)     4 / 8       
Does anyone know when can we expecting the announcent about this new game?
TWC_ShaDowZ
Member
posted 04-29-04 04:47 AM EDT (US)     5 / 8       
Respect!
Great interview.

To be forgotten is worse then death.
One_Dead_Angel
Seraph in Absentia
(id: One_Dead_Villy)
posted 04-29-04 08:04 AM EDT (US)     6 / 8       
I think most game companies announce a game when the game is pretty much done and in a playable state, and the general look of the game is already set (and they have screenshots to show for it that reflects the final game more or less so folx dont go off and complain about how its so different from the final or that it sucks or whatever etc etc) and just have a lot of treaking and balancing to do. Basically 1 year to 1.5 years before release date. So if i had to guess, I wouldnt expect an announcement for their next game until spring of next year.

[This message has been edited by One_Dead_Angel (edited 04-29-2004 @ 08:08 AM).]

TWC_Spad_
Member
posted 04-29-04 07:02 PM EDT (US)     7 / 8       
WoW!! Great interview, this is why i will always be interested in a game put out by BHG. They are the complete opposite of SSSI, INCREDIBLE fan support!! Keep it up guys!!
wooooowooooo, finally a company that has some brains!

will yall need any beta testers for this "new game"?
*cough* i'd love too *cough*

lol!!
Man, this just makes me want to go out and buy T&P right this instance to support those dudes!!


-Spad

Sea Biscuit
Member
posted 04-29-04 09:37 PM EDT (US)     8 / 8       
you guys are just great. you consistantly reply to any lame message that we post. it is just such a blessing to be able to talk directly to the team who put the game on the shelfs while we play. noone could ask for a more down to earth, fan friendly and attentive team as you. I sure hope you keep up the excellent work. It is ALWAYS exciting to see BLUE posts on heavengames... I told you that 2 times now. these sites are half the fun of the game!!! being able top influence the development of somehting we enjoy so much is such a joy. I cant tell you how much greatness you bring to this forum. not a single other game did i ever see devs mingling with the players... this is why rise of nations is so special. i really enjoyed this rts... hope to see more.
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