Justin Webb, Senior Designer for WAR
As the days go by, and the release date gets closer and closer, strange
things begin to happen. Activity within the Mythic hive shifts,
priorities change, people start catching fire. The
“feel” throughout the offices is a bit different
than normal. It’s still busy, but there’s a funny
taste in the air. People stay later, spirits are imbibed, and prayers
are made to the server gods.
But what’s it like? There are hundreds of articles out there
about MMO production. But not many describe what it’s like at
T-minus-7 and counting. What happens when devs can see, almost touch,
the light at the end of the tunnel? What happens in the final few days
before the launch of a major MMO?
And more importantly, what does it smell like?
WAR Blogger on the Prowl
Tuesday September 10th 2008: 3PM
Lance Robertson [Insider
Note: Lance is the WAR Producer] sends out an email to
everyone in the building. It’s just twelve words…
We need everyone to jump into Empire/Chaos from 7:00pm until 9:00pm.
The call has been made. Sides are chosen. Battle commences …
Instead of Vent to communicate, warbands use old-fashioned shouting.
The eighth floor is a babble of expletives as QA and our Elder testers
school everyone. Adam Gershowitz [Insider
Note: Adam runs the Careers & Combat Strike Team]
makes the mistake of not checking what realm the rest of the Careers
& Combat team is on. He becomes a lone bastion of Order as all
his minions pick Destruction. Despite being a marked man (dwarf?),
somehow his Engineer manages to rank first place in five consecutive
Adam. Are you busy?
Adam: OUT OF
MY FACE CRAIG! EAT MY KNOCKBACK! … Sure, come on in.
It’s the final week before launch. What is your team working
on right now?
We’re playing through making sure the first 10 levels of each
race are fun and that the ability progression feels right.
We’re also taking a hard look at tweaking combat
responsiveness. [He points to the screen] It’s solid and fun.
I’m gonna kill Rob now.
[Insider Note: Probably Rob Hinkle: However, Rob is a Mythic-approved
name – there’s hundreds of ‘em]
C’mere Rob. EAT IT! I’m busy killin’.
JW: Yeah, it
felt very smooth when I was playing just now.
FAIR! YOU HAVE HEALERS!!! GET SOME! … Hold on a second, my
team is trying to **** me.
JW: Erm, I’ll come back later.
I head toward Paul’s office and the refuge of the comfy
chairs. Inside he hands me a large heavy block of plastic. We sit down
and Paul presses a button on the block …
first thing Justin’s had to do is to take some information
They’re not going to get to hear this. I’m going to
PB: No, no
he is. But as a result, he’s going around thinking
“well how do I take notes down?” He’s
come to my office, where he’s nicked my Richard Nixon tape
recorder. Trust the Creative Director to have a piece of wacky
Let’s take a picture of that then.
PB: Yeah, we
can do that.
JW: Do they
even still make these?
of the trade.
PB: So, what
do I think of the beta? I play the version that we take to shows.
It’s a stable version, and its weeks, months sometimes,
behind the actual build. And we’ve been in so much crush and
so many things have come together at the last minute, that when you
actually get to log into the game like I have, its probably the first
time I’ve seen it for seven weeks, so the difference is ULTRA
dramatic, cos I haven’t gone through the preview weekend and
preview weekend plus and that. I’ve just gone Wow,
It’s really great, really beautiful, loads of new icons,
loads of new faces I’ve never seen before…
Erm, I’m just walking over here to stop my dwarf getting
It’s really nice, it’s really pretty.
I’ve got a couple of things I don’t like about it.
But that’s what happens innit?
you’ve been gone for seven weeks …
EVER! … Well, it’s a shade over eight weeks.
JW: Do you
want to know what the absolute best thing about you being gone for
eight weeks was?
You got to go to use my office and sit in my chairs?
Paul's comfy chairs.
JW: No, I
got to steal your parking space.
PB: [ style="font-style: italic;">Chuckles] Thanks a
lot. I’m glad it was some use to you.
What’s it like? Erm … Well we’re in open
beta, which is actually a con word for blatant marketing. We
can’t push this version of the server [points at screen] onto
our open-beta people because, actually, they would object. So what
we’ve done is we’ve bullied everyone into staying
late. So we can throw 300 people at the server in a constrained area
and smash it to death. This is the latest print of the latest build.
Most people who have worked on it haven’t gone
‘ome. And they smell. And are mostly drinking all the alcohol
in Colin Shannon’s office. I’m having a great time
so far … but I am playing a dwarf.
Colin Hicks walks in [Insider
Note: Colin is the Deputy Producer]
[Barnett starts messing
with the interface]
That’s the CSR Appeal window. It’s got the
Knowledge Base. It’s got Frequently Asked Questions. You can
put in an appeal. You can say that Jeff Hickman PvPed you. And erm.
typing] … “Jeff Hickman is mean.
He’s making me stay here all night. Please call HR to come
Erm… I may have been recording this conversation.
… So, seriously Colin, have you seen anything in the last
few days that …
An EA Mythic
PB: I JUST
SAW THE TRAILER! I’ve got the gold master and it played the
cinematic. That was awesome.
have you seen anything in the last couple of days that you
hadn’t seen in a while and ….
The new crafting window! I saw that! That was really nice. The one with
the mushrooms … that grow.
That’s been in for six months.
hasn’t played. He’s been being an internet
celebrity for the past six months. I don’t think
he’s ever seen the game.
Look at that! Noooo! Colin, can’t we have it added back in?
can’t. It’s done. The game is done! We are
literally putting the last four changes in the game right now.
Can’t I have 4.1 changes?
you’d like the game to blow up and break on launch day we can
put it in.
would not be good.
Careers & Combat become afflicted by the red mist. Tempers
flare. Weaponry and ordnance is quickly assembled as the battlefield
switches from Deathsword to the hallways of the eighth floor. There are
many Nerf casualties.
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