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Perspectives on MMO Design and Production

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    Contents Copyright 2009-2010 Arnold Hendrick

About Arnold

Who is this  Arnold Hendrick guy?

I am a 25+ year veteran of the computer game industry with design and/or producer credits on over 20 titles. While game design is my love, game production became my business. I understand and sympathize with the design dreamer in all of us. However, when it comes to business, it is necessary that professionalism, rationality and logic triumph.

My academic training is in history. I view events, people and products through an historical lens. I like to analyze and see patterns, yet remain sensitive to the “quirks of fate” (i.e., dumb luck). A lifelong gamer, I played wargames and RPGs before computer games existed. I play games to this very day, generally MMOs (I pride myself on a playing knowledge of most major and random minor MMOGs) as well as various social/mobile/tablet games.

I am detailed-oriented and a compulsive organizer. This has regularly moved me from my original love, game design, into game production. In the past, like many inexperienced “executives” in the industry, I caused and endured a lot of crunch time. After some particularly painful projects in the mid 90s I sought “a better way.” I learned CMM at Carnegie-Mellon (now CMMI) and the PMBOK from PMI. I studied project management and got my PMP certification. I have tried many processes, from structured waterfalls with UML to the current darling, Scrum (I am also a CSM – Certified Scrum Master).

From a resume standpoint, I began in computer games as a “designer” for Coleco in 1983, then in 1985 became the first non-programming game designer at MicroProse, where I stayed 10 years. This is generally considered the “glory” years of MicroProse, where luminaries such as Sid Meier created Civilization (the game, of course). After a few more years at a successor company (Interactive Magic, later iEN), I moved from solo console/PC games into MMOs. I joined Kesmai in 1998 as producer of their Air Warrior product line. When EA closed Kesmai in 2001, I became part of its struggling successor company Castle Hill Studios. More recently from 2005-2009 I detoured into “serious” MMOs and virtual worlds at Forterra Systems. Government contracts and platform-oriented development provided entirely new insights into software project management. Late in 2009 I moved to the Seattle area to join The Amazing Society as Senior Producer.  The studio, owned by Gazillion Entertainment, created from scratch a Marvel Superhero Squad Online ( This is a AAA quality MMORPG on the web in 3D (using the Unity engine). The game, a combination of free-to-play and subscription, reached over 2 million users and averaged well over 100,000 players each month during its first year of rock-solid operation.

Wide experience in game development is very useful. Much can be learned by experiencing the entire development cycle of initial concept to running the live team of an aging product. It is enlightening to see games go from initial design to gold and beyond. I have iterated on project management practices many, many times. I have lived through dozens of game projects from start to finish, and another dozen or two that faltered along the way. Unlike many others, I still love working on games.

Current RW Location: Eastern suburbs of Seattle, Washington.

Contact Email:, with a cc suggested to