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Unity scores Mike Capps, Epic's former president, as an advisor

The ex-Unreal Engine man has formalized his cordial relationship with the company -- he'll be spending a week a month advising Unity.

Former Epic Games president Mike Capps has joined Unity as an advisor to the company's recently installed CEO, John Riccitiello. In that role, he will help drive the direction of the popular game engine's development, and communicate the company's vision to its developers -- and help the new CEO understand their goals.

Unity tells Gamasutra that Capps will be be spending "approximately" one week a month advising the company. He's begun the role immediately, with a trip to its Copenhagen offices, where the lion's share of Unity's core engine development takes place.

A call from Denmark

He expanded on his role on a phone conversation from Copenhagen, following his first day on the job.

"The team here has a pretty clear idea of the direction they want to go in, but there's always a gap between where you want to be, where you are now, and how you want to get there," says Capps. With that in mind, Capps says he will "provide advice on how to take the steps to go in the direction you want to go."

He spent his first day "meeting with the senior engineering team" and seeing how it's structured.

"It would have been very easy for me to be the guy that the CEO sends over, and a bunch of doors get slammed in my face. It's been the exact opposite," he said. Capps found a motivated, excited, and open team: "It's completely, 'We all want to do better. Here's what we're doing now. Any suggestions?'"

A high-powered interpreter

Capps sees part of his job as "translating" between Riccitiello and the engineering team, given his experience in both fields; he's an experienced programmer and a technologist as well as an executive.

As Riccitiello communicates "his goals for the company," says Capps, "I'm coming here and saying the same words, but in engineering-speak." The translation will be bi-directional; Capps will also advise Riccitiello.

Capps expanded on Riccitiello's goals for Gamasutra: "I think he sees a lot of potential in this company to do more -- not just more profitably, but to fulfill that democratization mission more. You want someone pointing far north and saying that we can go there."

"The company is, I won't say 'transforming,' but it is growing and maturing at the same time. My hope is maybe to be helpful there -- maybe with old war stories, or suggestions on how to do that most efficiently."

Though Riccitiello -- as a former EA CEO and a long-time game industry executive -- has much experience working in development, Capps allows "he hasn't built technology himself. He's always been fairly far from the metal at those companies, so it's useful to him to have someone like that."

Capps' qualifications

Capps first popped up in connection with Unity at GDC this past March; he spoke at the company's press conference at the invitation of Riccitiello. At the time, Capps praised Unity's tech for its ability to empower small teams to "now touch the dreams everyone had" for creating high-quality visual experiences.

"His knowledge and experience with engines is phenomenal and it's incredible to have him on our team," Riccitiello wrote in a blog post, while Capps wrote that he's impressed with the Unity exec team's "excitement, optimism, and commitment to the democratization of game technology."

Capps spent a decade at Unreal Engine developer Epic Games before leaving his active role at the company in 2012 and formally severing ties the following year. While he's best known for his tenure at Epic, it only makes up half of his career, he notes.

Since that time he has focused on parenting, but also served on the boards of Sphero and Remedy, and as acted as an advisor to others, including Kabam. He's also served as an informal advisor over the years at Epic, he says -- across a wide variety of game projects both internal and external.

For more on Unity's future, don't miss Gamasutra's GDC interview with Riccitiello

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