After two great years, Chief Creative Officer Bill Roper is leaving Cryptic Studios.
I would say something about how two years isn’t enough time to really stamp your influence on an MMO, but, um, 2 years is all Star Trek Online had in development (the license was acquired from Perpetual in mid-2008 and all development done to that point was scrapped). Champions Online’s development cycle wasn’t that much longer – although it’s unknown how much of Cryptic’s Marvel Online survived the transition to Champions, if you assume the project was largely rebooted with the Champions IP acquisition, that game, again, had a 2 year development cycle.
I don’t think it’s really that revolutionary a statement that two years just isn’t enough time to kick an MMO out the door, no matter how much engine work you’re cribbing from another project. And while both Champions and Star Trek had strong box sales (with over 1 million in the case of Star Trek, depending on how you parse the usual fishy PR), both have also suffered greatly in terms of retention. Cryptic’s willingness to resort to DLC early and often to supplement their revenue stream hasn’t helped (although an open user revolt of Champions users caused a turnaround in one instance). Cryptic is still slogging away at updating both games (including announcing an upcoming scenario editor for Star Trek users) but second chances aren’t an easy sell with burned MMO players.
So, given Hellgate’s path to greatness (or lack thereof), I’d say Bill Roper did indeed have a chance to leave his mark on Cryptic’s titles. In any event, with the only-barely-an-open-secret Neverwinter Nights Online announcement from Cryptic and Atari (now Cryptic’s owner) soon to be on deck, we should see the return of Jack Emmert. I can hardly wait! And you can hardly wait, too! Really. If you think otherwise, he’ll correct you.