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Preparing for WAR: Mark Jacobs on Launching Warhammer Online
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Preparing for WAR: Mark Jacobs on Launching Warhammer Online

September 22, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 6 of 6

In terms of basic interface, and the code-like chat commands, do you think there's room for MMOs to get more streamlined and friendly? Facebook and other social services are becoming so prevalent, I think people would respond well to a smoother social experience in-game.

MJ: Absolutely. I think we've done some of that, and I think there's going to be more. The MMO genre is relatively new, compared to the game industry. People have been making computer games for decades and decades -- even PC computer games started in the late 70s or early 80s. You've got 30 years of PC computer games, but you only have true MMOs for 11. Online games were well before that, of course -- I made my first online game over 20 years ago, but true MMOs have been 11 or 12 years.

We've got a long way to go before we even catch up. I think there's a heck of a lot of ways we can streamline the process more, making it more intuitive, and I think we've done some of that. We've tried to do things, like the tome of knowledge, to make the whole game come alive -- everywhere you go, everything you do is recorded, and you unlock things constantly. That's a very different dynamic.

The other thing we've tried to do, and this requires taking a holistic approach to the entire game -- if you look at MMOs historically, there's always been a lot of downtime. You want people to stay a subscriber, so there's lot of downtime, and they can't spend all their time leveling. You can see it in every MMO. If you look as a designer, they're putting this in as a timesink, and that's another timesink, and that's another timesink. We've tried to streamline that and strip it down to the bare minimum.

I mean, we don't want people to die in an instance and then immediately pop back up where they died. But the way we've designed it, as a first-level player, you're surrounded by things to do. And even as an RvR player, if you don't want to wait until you can get into open RvR, you can right there start doing PvP things. We don't make you travel half the world to join in; it's right there for you. Your PvP is right there; your RvR is right there. All the areas have public quests. We're trying to take the serious downtime out of the equation. We don't want you sitting on your butt.

Doesn't that start creating difficult amounts of necessary content?

MJ: Yes, which is why we've spent so much time and money on creating so much content and so many classes. But also, our endgame is RvR. When your endgame is PvE, when you're done, you're done. "I've done all the quests, now what?" Well, you can play another class -- fair enough. We have 20 other classes. Most other games don't have that many.

But in an RvR game, you level to the top, and you can still do RvR, and you can still get rewards. And since it's RvR, it's different every night. When you're playing against a monster, you know darn well that even if the AI code is really clever, it will react the exact same way. Players are different every time.

You could go into RvR with your same group, and have a different result -- not because the designer said there's a 99% chance you won't get this thing, and you have to do it a thousand times before you get the item. It doesn't work that way. You could fight a group as good as you are -- or maybe better, or worse. It's like football -- on any given Sunday, any team could beat any other team.

Obviously, if you're level 1s, and you're going up against a bunch of level 40s, you're not going to win. But when you're close, or even, guess what? All sorts of interesting things can happen. And not because we've dictated it, but a lot of it is going to be skill and tactics. That's what makes it challenging, and that's what makes it compelling long-term, just like it was in Dark Age of Camelot.

Article Start Previous Page 6 of 6

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