CCP Games – Interview with the EVE Universe Software Director (Part 3 of 3)

An interview with Erlendur S. Þorsteinsson, the EVE Universe Software Director with CCP Games. This is the final part of a three-part series.

An interview with Erlendur S. Þorsteinsson, the EVE Universe Software Director with CCP Games. This is the final part of a three-part series.

This is the last of a three-part interview. You can read the second part here.


What does a normal day for CCP Explorer look like?

It normally starts fairly early with emails and video conference meetings with Shanghai (Reykjavík is on UTC but Shanghai on UTC+8, so my start of the day is their tail end of the day). I often do that at home from 7-8 o’clock and come to the office at 9-10 o’clock. If there is a deployment then it’s at 11 o’clock, which involves a conference with all the deploying teams as well as Virtual World Operations. Lunch is an important downtime at the office. Meetings, emails, text and video conversations, hallway chats and tomfoolery follow for the rest of the day; the theme is planning and communication. I end the day in the evenings with emails to Shanghai.

How involved (or not) are you in the processes that decide expansion features. Without discussing any specific features of Odyssey, how much input did you have in Odyssey?

I don’t decide on expansion features. I’m responsible for the technical debt backlog, but not features.

How long have you been in charge of deployments? I ask, because when I first joined EVE Online two years ago, a popular player refrain before deployments was “Remember to set a long skill in the queue. Don’t be surprised if EVE is out of action for a day or more.” Since my time in EVE, I’ve not experienced a single problem deployment. The servers either came up early, on time, or at most a couple hours late. Which in my books is a stellar track record. I no longer hear the “skill queue” refrain as often before deployments. What has CCP done to turn this player impression around? What responsibility do you bear in this turnaround?

I’ve been in charge of deployments since 2007, working with a good group of people throughout the years. When I joined CCP in 2007, 24 hour expansion deployments were the norm and the post-deployment phase would sometimes be characterised by instability and unscheduled server reboots.

The “Remember to set a long skill in the queue” thing is still something people say to this day but the fact is that we have been steadily decreasing the deployment downtimes; now routinely do them in approx. 2 hours (we were there a couple of years ago) and rarely have any unexpected server reboots.

To accomplish this we have improved our build systems so we can build everything overnight, every night, in a few hours and deploy in the following downtime; we have a better patching system so we are not afraid of patching on a daily basis if needed; we have changed our final testing so that we do that on Singularity the day before now instead on Tranquility during an extended downtime; we have worked with the development teams to make it easier for them to deploy fixes; and various other things to make deployments a better experience for everyone involved, players and devs alike. The development teams are delivering a better quality product now than then and are very much focused on the deployment and post-deployment monitoring, delivering the needed post-deployment fixes much fast than before.

You just came back from China. Is this a new expansion to your job description? What was your role in China? How does your job now extend into DUST development? Is your DUST liaising still EVE-related?

I took on a new role as the EVE Universe Software Director last year, inter alia responsible for supporting and coordinating software projects that span the different EVE Universe groups, EVE Online, DUST 514 and New Eden Services.

I was in Shanghai this time planning with people at the Shanghai office, continuing on-going technical projects, starting discussions on new projects and preparing for using the opportunity of people coming from Shanghai to Fanfest for further work.

Will you be applying for the Executive Producer of EVE Online position? If not, why?

No. The role of the Executive Producer is to a certain degree a business role, which is not my interest.

You’re exceptionally active on Twitter. Is this something that is part of your job description, or is it something you do because you enjoy it, not because it is expected of you?

It’s mostly because I really enjoy it, but also because one of the themes of my job/roles is communication. These are outlets for a real life semi-introvert 🙂

In order I’m active on Facebook, Twitter, EVE Forums, Instagram and Google+. This is also in the approximate order of from most personal to most business (please note that I need to know people in one way or another in real life to accept them on Facebook).

This provides me both with an opportunity to keep in contact with players but also to keep in contact with CCP-ers out-of-hours and on more casual topics.


Thus the interview was over, and I thanked CCP Explorer for this time and patience.

About the author

Poetic Stanziel

Just a dude who likes to write about games, comic books, television, and film.