Get to Know a Dev Introduces: Game Designer Doug "Elidroth" Cronkhite

Get to Know a Dev

This month's Get to Know a Dev is all about Game Designer Doug "Elidroth" Cronkhite!

Elidroth on his way to work

Greetings Norrathians! My name is Doug "Elidroth" Cronkhite .

I'm a born and raised native of San Diego, CA, and have lived here most of my life, with the occasional stint in such glamorous places as Oklahoma City, OK, and Palmdale, CA, with a couple years in Los Angeles, CA as well. My work experience has been wide and varied, from an Air Traffic Controller, to a Network Engineer, and now finally in the best job I've ever had, a MMO Game Designer.

So how did I get into this crazy world you may ask? Like all of you, I'm a gamer. I've been playing games since the original Pong system, and MMOs since Ultima Online. Sometime back in mid-1996 I heard of this new thing brewing called EverQuest, but like most people I didn't think much of it. UO was like OMG fun, and I couldn't imagine anything cooler. Then somewhere around beta 3, I got an invite into EverQuest and life as I knew it changed. Seriously... EverQuest became a 2nd job for me, except it wasn't a 'job' as I loved every single minute of it. I'd come home from my 'day' job as a Network Engineer for one of the largest financial software companies in the USA, and login to EverQuest where I'd spend the next 6-10 hours immersed in this wondrous 3D world of ours. And so it went for the better part of 7 years.

Somewhere around the beginning of 2004, I was in need of a change, badly. While I was a very good network engineer, I wasn't enjoying it at all. Fortunately, I had plenty of other hobbies to help take my mind of things at work. One of those hobbies was high-performance driving days at local race tracks. It was at one of these track days that I met Brad McQuaid, and this is where things took a turn. I knew who he was, and because we shared an appreciation for fast cars and motorcycles we hit it off pretty well. That night at dinner I asked Brad if his new company was in need of any IT people. He said no, but that I should keep in touch.

Flash forward to late 2004. I get an email from Brad telling me he has a new toy that I should come see. So off I go to the new Sigil Offices. Sometime during a ride in his new Ferrari, I hit him up again for IT positions, as I was REALLY burned out on the network engineering thing. He again said he didn't have anything, but that if I was really in need of a change, he had some entry-level game design jobs opening up and that he could get me an interview. He couldn't promise me a job, but he'd open the door. After talking it over with my wife, and even though it meant a roughly 60% pay cut, I jumped at the chance. It wasn't until early 2005 that I got the phone call telling me they wanted to offer me a job, and I was off to work on Vanguard.

Most all know what happened at Sigil, and I was actually one of the people caught up in the big layoff, and I found myself out of a job. Fortunately, it didn't end there. After the dust settled, Brad once again stuck his neck out for me and put a bug in Clint Worley's ear about me. It's not an exaggeration to say that without Brad, I wouldn't be where I am today. Anyway, I interviewed with the EverQuest team, and was subsequently offered a position as a designer at SOE. Talk about coming full circle. I was now a designer on the very game that got me truly hooked on the MMO genre in the first place. My '2nd job' had now become my 'real' job, and the rest of the story is still being written today.

I started out as a simple content designer. Fortunately for me, the basic data structure was much the same as what I'd worked on in Vanguard (no surprise there really), so I was able to adapt and get up to speed quickly. Over time as people have moved up or onto different teams I've assumed more and more responsibility, until today where I'm one of the main systems designers and am currently in charge of Alternate Advancement. While AAs are my main focus, my job as a systems designer on this team entails a great deal more. Game balance, raid design, and team training are all a part of the job. It's incredibly challenging, but without a doubt the most enjoyable career I've ever been associated with. I truly enjoy coming to work every day.

Outside of work, life and hobbies have been pretty varied. For most of my life, I've been flying model airplanes, and in the past have taken that to the very highest levels of competition, competing in the World Aerobatic Masters on two different occasions, placing in the top 10 both times. Of course, gaming in all forms has always been there as well. Some things you just never outgrow. Obviously there was the car racing, but in the past 10 years or so, I've gotten pretty heavy into motorcycle racing, with my latest being a 2005 Honda CBR1000RR SuperStock bike. By far, however, my greatest achievement to date is my (currently) 5 year old daughter. It doesn't matter how stressful a day I have, when I come home and hear her yell "Daddy!" and give me a hug it's a good day!

-Doug "Elidroth" Cronkhite

So now that you know a bit more about him, let's get started with the questions! Please post your questions for Doug "Elidroth" Cronkhite to this thread on the forums.Submissions will be open until February 11, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. at which point we will select the best questions and have Doug "Elidroth" Cronkhite answer them! The results will be posted on the forum and website.

Let the questioning begin!