Pixelmatic has announced the addition of Stefan Haines as its latest recruit for building the company’s new flagship MMO space strategy game, Infinite Fleet. Haines, a meticulous game designer with years of experience at Relic Entertainment, joins several fellow Relic alumni on the new galactic fleet command blockbuster.
Haines’ impressive resumé consists of stints at three game studios in Canada, over the course of more than a decade. His career started at Relic where he split his time between two highly rated RTS titles: “Company of Heroes” and “Dawn of War.” He went on to spend 9 years at Relic and was involved with more than 10 different projects.
Following Relic, Stefan decided to expand his horizons by entering mobile gaming, with stints at Roadhouse Interactive and then IUGO Mobile Entertainment. At Roadhouse he laid down the groundwork for game economy and balance on Iron Maiden: Legacy of the Beast. The game is rated as the #1 epic dark fantasy mobile RPG and continues to run today - it has even inspired Iron Maiden’s world concert tour of a similar name. Having left the game in good hands, Stefan joined IUGO Mobile Entertainment and was tasked with designing the game economy and progression for the top grossing Lord of the Rings mobile title, “Middle Earth: Shadow of War.” He speaks of this experience as one of his proudest since he had to work under immense pressure to deliver a highly polished product that ended up being extremely well received by the players.
What’s most interesting about Stefan’s design background (especially for gamers), however, is probably how he got into it in the first place. Stefan was one of the top players on the ladder in the original Dawn of War game and was an active member in the community. With his heavy involvement with the game and the community, the developers started involving him for feedback on game balance. Eventually, he was offered the chance to work on the game itself at Relic and needless to say, he took that opportunity in a flash!
Stefan’s career started with a focus on balance design, but gradually evolved more towards economy design. After having been in charge of economy design for 3 social mobile titles, he is excited to bring that expertise to Infinite Fleet. Stefan spoke of exciting new prospects with a player-driven economy for Infinite Fleet, “I want to maximize player dependence on others to create social interactions and keep the economic engine of the game running. I want players to be interacting with each other to build towards something greater than what they could do by themselves - to create that sense of community and camaraderie between players.”
While enthusiastic, Stefan realizes that designing the economy of an MMO game is no easy feat, “MMOs often prove a challenge for developers as players can chew through content faster than expected. Infinite Fleet hopes to address this by focusing on a more modern live ops experience. This game world is intended to be living and breathing, with regular events for the players to engage in as the story progresses and is shaped by their actions.”
Stefan is also keen on exploring another frontier element of Infinite Fleet: the cryptocurrency properties of its game currency, INF. On that topic, Stefan said, “INF tokens create an interesting link between the in-game economy and the real world economy not seen in most games. Third party trading has always existed in MMOs, but the security and legitimacy of these have always been lacking. By utilizing a crypto asset in conjunction with an in-game auction house, players will be able to trade and interact with confidence.”
These words illustrate the vision and understanding Stefan already has for the economy and balance of Infinite Fleet. An avid fan of spreadsheets and analytics, Stefan utilized a methodical approach to game design during his days at Relic, and he will bring this process-driven style to Infinite Fleet as well.