Greetings Crusaders! My name is Ivan (that’s pronounced eve-ann, not I-van), and I’m the new in-house Narrative Designer for Warhammer 40000: Eternal Crusade. You might have noticed me lurking (and by lurking I mean frequently commenting) on the forums for the past month. I’ve been enjoying that time getting to know you, getting to know all about you <Insert musical segue> but It’s time to come forward from the shadows and allow you to poke me directly. Some of you were brave enough to poke me privately, some a little more publically (you know who you are) but the gist of the poking has essentially boiled down to the same questions: 1) Who are you? 2) What is a Narrative Designer? Now these are both excellent questions, but I’m going to answer them in reverse order (because I’m occasionally contrary). What’s a Narrative Designer, you ask? Well, the for the best definition you’re going to find I’d direct you to Stephen Dinehart’s explanation (you can find that here), as there’s some conflation between the Narrative Designer position, and say, a Game Writer or Script Writer. Now, if you ask me, it is the case that some (not all) Narrative Designers are also Game or Script Writers. The reverse sometimes true as well, but less common in my experience. I’ve met, and worked with, some wonderful writers who simply don’t have either the games experience or technical background to be doing Narrative Design for video games. In my mind the key responsibilities of the Narrative Designer are: A) Act as the Champion of the narrative & IP. B) Be the central contact and resource for all things related to the IP. C) Write and develop story material for the game and work with external writers to adapt and implement their material as it applies to the game and game engine. Traditionally writers develop what I like to call dictatorial narratives; they are the complete and final arbiters of what happens, to whom, when, and why. This, obviously, works fantastically in film, television, and books. In video games, however, a participatory narrative is usually required; something that includes the characters, rather than just talking about what they’re doing and what happened to them. You want and need to feel like you’re part of the story, not just enjoying it passively. That’s where I come in. It’s my job to not only write participatory content, but to also make sure that our external partners material is also adaptable for game play. To this end I’ll be working closely with Graham McNeill and David Ghozland and together we’ll deliver you the best story we can. I work closely with Game Design, Level Design, and our Art department to make sure everything conforms to the Games Workshop IP; I also work closely with our audio department, helping with casting our voice talent, and when it comes time to record those wonderful lines, I’ll be there. So who am I and why am I working on this game? Well, I have a background in film, television, and theatre, but I’ve been a game developer in one format or another for the better part of twenty years. I’ve spent the last almost seven working exclusively for video game developers (and writing my first novel, while picking away at grad school in the background.) When I first made the jump to video games I was lucky enough to get hired on at BioWare Edmonton as part of the Mass Effect 2 team. I worked as a Game Design Analyst, housed in their QA department, working with developers and testers. I had the same role on Dragon Age: Origins and then went to work on Star Wars: The Old Republic as a Story Analyst. In retrospect, it was essentially what I’d expect a Jr Narrative Design role to consist of—as Jr positions usually consist of checking over other peoples work and learning the ropes from the bottom up before you’re actually given the chance to create any content of your own. I was able to help influence and create some things in each game, and to this day I’m extremely proud of those teams and the work we did. I left Edmonton in 2011 and moved to Montreal to work as a Games Writer at Eidos Montreal, and in May 2014 I joined Behaviour as a Narrative Designer to fill out the Narrative team for Warhammer 40000: Eternal Crusade. Now some of you have asked me privately if I’ll be working with Anthony and Graham and the short answer is Yes! The somewhat longer answer is that I've also replaced Anthony on the project. Anthony’s work to date on the project was fantastic, but for personal reasons he was unable to make the relocation to Canada. In my experience it’s very important to have at least one of your narrative personnel on site, and I think working with two on the other side of the world would have been taxing for everyone in the end (especially without an in-house person to interface with them.) We’re extremely grateful for Anthony’s work to date, and I’m hoping you’ll be able to see it resonate in our game (I’ll certainly do my best to ensure the spirit of his creative work is carried on in the way he intended it.) As a gamer, I’ve been devoting hundreds of hours of playtime to MMO’s since EverQuest. Games I've played extensively include: EverQuest 1 & 2, City of Heroes, Earth Above & Beyond, The Matrix Online, World of Warcraft, Rift, The Secret World, Age of Conan, Elder Scrolls Online, Star Wars Galaxies, Star Trek Online, Champions Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Guild Wars 1 & 2, Dungeons & Dragons Online, Neverwinter, Aion, and most recently Wildstar. I’m a completionist, a crafter, and former hard core raider (6 nights a week, 6 hours raids). I’ll do my best to make sure that Eternal Crusade is the kind of game I’d want to play as well; because if I wouldn't want to play it, how can I possibly ask other people to? I’ve been playing Warhammer since 1987 and my first army was a nearly 4000 point Harlequin Masque (back when you could field an army of nothing but Harlequins). Back then I worked at MuchMusic downtown in Toronto and practically lived at the Games Workshop store down the road on Queen Street. After my Harlequins my second love was always Space Wolves… I mean, seriously? Epic. Space. Vikings. How can you go wrong there? (I’m fairly sure at least 10% of the reason I was hired was because I look like a Space Wolf…) I even had my own Leman Russ (with wolves) figure, though he was lost somewhere in the great miniature tragedy of the mid 90’s. I don’t like to talk about that. That brings us to present day: I’m currently working on a White Scar army, because let’s face it, the only thing that’s as cool as Epic Space Vikings, is an Epic Space Mongolian Horde. Chaos guys, Orks… sorry, in the words of the immortal Jeff Probst, I’ve got nothing for you—but I’m still going to make sure you’re awesome, because the Emperor (and Cegorach) demands the best enemies! You’re welcome to contact me about whatever you’d like (that’s game related), and I’ll usually get back to you in a reasonably short amount of time (though unless you've signed an NDA your answer may be stoic silence, sorry). I also invite you to follow me on Twitter: @IvanMakesGames, and, what the hell, you can look me up on Steam too if you’re so inclined @ScorpioSymbol.