Who the F*ck is Mike Capps?

You may not know who Dr Mike Capps is (if you do, your awesome – if you don’t your still awesome… just not as much), either way you would have definitely heard of his work, possibly played it, had family members addicted to it, or possibly even divorce because of it.

Let’s play a game of ‘jog your memory’.

  • His work has over 1.3 million man hours, and 125 million hours of watched content.
  • It is the 3rd biggest clothing retailer in the world, being beat by Adidas and one other (I could not take notes fast enough).

Still don’t know who he is? Lets try some more.

  • Brought together 10 Million live attendees at Marshmello’s concert.
  • A of the biggest social networks.
  • April 2018 his product made close to $300 million (yes in 1 month). In 2018 an estimated revenue of $2.4 billion, and estimated $1.8 billion in 2019.
  • Gives higher winnings than Golf and Tennis for competitions.

If you are still a no on who he is, then do not fear as these statements above sound completely made up, but I assure you that they are all 100% factual.

Dr Mike Capps was one of the original creators of Fortnite.

I (David Tully – Director of Scenegraph Studios) had the opportunity to attend this event (thanks very much Dominque – LJMU), and was more than made up getting to chat to the man himself, be it only for 5 minutes.

Mike asked “So what do you do?” but before I could answer, he looked at the company name on the work top and said ‘Ahhh Scenegraph, awesome name’. YES!!! He then went on to explain how he utilised the technology for his work on Americas Army.  Our company name is named after a data structure used within games and data science – Scenegraph. Check out wikipedia for more info on what a Scenegraph is.

His Ph.D was obtained for his work in the early development of Virtual Reality (check out our discussion on Virtually Reality here), from NPS (Naval Postgraduate School). During our brief chat together, we discuss some of the work we Scenegraph Studios are doing with Virtual Reality training and simulations, and he discussed some of his work on America’s Army; Virtual reality training for the military some 20 years ago. He did not go into detail much about that work due to the nature of military NDAs (None Disclosure Agreements).

He does not want a knock on the door from good old Donald Trump I suppose.

His work at Epic Games led Mike to work on some great project; Unreal Tournament, the underappreciated Bulletstorm, and Gears of War 1, 2, and 3. We did also discuss the heart wrenching character kill-offs in Gears of War 3. If you have not played it *SPOILER AHEAD*, imagine one of your favourite Game of Thrones character being killed off. RIP Dom!

Mikes work has led him to leave Epic Games to work on his bold new company; Diveplane, an explainable, auditable, and editable Artificial Intelligence system.

Imagine you are training a dog to give paw, it takes a while, but it will eventually do it to get a treat. You can not see inside of the dog’s brain, so you are not sure what is the trigger for the dog putting its paw out. The end goal is to get a treat, but is it triggered by you stating ‘paw’, or is it when you kneel/lean down because that was what you did when you trained the dog. Or is it the smell of a treat in your hand, or that fact that the dog can see a treat. So many different factors which you do not know, or will ever know.

Driveplane allows you to see into the thought process of the AIs brain, query it, and then make the process better or more reliable. There work is being used to help doctors diagnose patients more accuractly, decide on jailed inmates parole dates and whether they are reformed, inform legal teams by analysing law books, and many other domains.

Check them out here get Diveplane link.

What is Fortnite?

Fortnite is free desktop, console and mobile 3rd person shooter style game where the aim is to build a fort in the day time, and defend against zombies in the night time; hence the name Fortnite.

It’s more famous game mode is its Battle Royal mode, where 100 players jump from a hot-air balloon American school bus, onto an island battling to the last man/woman standing. If you have not played it, download it, its free and very good.

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Why did they make fortnite?

There are many factors that went into the development of this new style of business and game play. Epic had made shooter games, some with chainsaw, for 20 years which was working out great but the the used after market was killing game developers. The first few months the sales of a game was great, but users would play the game, then sell the game. Rinse and repeat this until the game was worth nothing and each sale, the original developers would not get any additional income.

Digital disruption was on the horizon with the development of mobile games and their free to play model where users would unlock content through payment systems, or buying a small amount of assets each month. Often users of a game wish to support their developer and are quite happy to spend a small amount each month instead of £50 upfront. The large sum of a game today is often £50, and 20 years ago it was the same price. Given inflation, higher developer fees, higher demand for more content for this upfront cost, it was putting a strain on developers such as Epic, thus their new business model was born; free to play on desktop, of the most played genre – third person shooter style.

Mikes back catalogue of violence driven, high gore content had a large but specific genre of user; males with disposable cash. Mike and his fellow developers have grown up and have kids now, and wanted to develop a game which they could play with their daughters.

Many of their children and other children were playing the game Minecraft, a block world where you create your own adventures and chat online with each other, making it a social affair.

Mike and fellow devs decided to make their own version of Minecraft but with a lot better graphics, for which they did a great job.

Turns our that their plan for a game which can be played by anyone worked; with a gender balance roughly equal between male and female.

The Battle Royale game mode came from a small prototype which became the biggest game on the planet.

The rest is … what they say …. history.

Why did it all work?

So why did it work. Well there are multiple factors which go into this;

  • In America 10 – 17 years stopped going to the mall to socialise because they where all socialising digitally through the internet or phones.
  • With home technology and home computing becoming more readily available, the notion of arcades became a thing of the past, thusly keeping gamers at home.
  • This lack of going to the mall and decision to spend more time at home meant that many people don’t care about getting a car licence, with the average age of people learning to drive going from 16 to 22.
  • Not needing to drive led to more disposable money through not needing to buy a car, service the car, gas (petrol to the UK readers) and food out.

These are just some of the issues why Fortnite grew so fast and became such a global phenomenon. Another reason is the social aspect of it, with in-game chat support. Put this in to context, for a younger person Facebook is lame because it has your parents, teachers, politics and a lot of other boring stuff. Fortnite is one of the biggest social networks on the planet for allowing users to chat amongst friends around the globe freely. Users log on, play the same game, in the same style, loosing more often than winning, all because they are socialising with friends.

At ScenegraphStudios, we play for this very reason.

Fortnite hours of play

1.3 million-man hours is an insanely huge number. This is more hours of ‘work’ than the top 20 America employers combined. Put into years, that is 1,483 years of constant game play. With the game gathering most of its popularity over the last 2 short years through word of mouth, this is incredible, especially for a free game.

An even bigger scale to wrap your minds around is that more than 125 million hours of Fortnite gameplay has been watched. This is 14,260 years’ worth of constant watching.

A big thank you

We wish to say thanks to #TheLanding for hosting the event, especially the compère.

A special thanks to Dominque from Liverpool John Moores for hooking us up with an invite.