As the popularity of The Division [official site] continues to grow, following a launch week that saw it break all sorts of records, its game director appears to have abandoned the post apocalyptic New York City playground for pastures new. Ryan Bernard, whose CV also includes work on the likes of EverQuest 2 and Warhammer Online, has left Ubisoft to join Hitman developer IO Interactive.
According to industry mag MCV, Bernard's new "gameplay director" role has been created especially for the ex-Ubisoft Massive senior, which will have him overseeing IO Interactive's gameplay, online and world teams respectively. Of the appointment, IO said:
Ryan will focus on expanding on the near-endless possibilities of gameplay that a game like HITMAN possesses. This means heading up the future efforts of three of our very core teams – gameplay, online and world – which will be no small task. Ryan’s contributions to game design over the years show he’s the ideal person to spearhead the coming efforts. We are very happy to add his talent to the pool of great people working at IOI.
As you can read in his preview, Adam voiced his reservations about Hitman's overall execution and criticised its lackluster architectural design. He seemed to warm more to Agent 47's latest outing in his review of Episode One, though, but signed off with the predication that its "piecemeal model might work to IO’s advantage allowing them to refine and reflect between releases."
Having dipped my toe into the beta a few weeks back, I'm of similar mind, thus it makes sense that IO are looking to bolster their ranks as they move forward with Hitman's start-stop model. If players should react badly to certain aspects early on, having someone with experience at hand to steady the ship and steer it towards addressing any such issues should in theory bode well for the game's episodic release structure long term. Then again, as Adam says, we won't know for sure until we see the entire picture.