Editor's Note: The
following interview is the conclusion to the Warhammer Online interview
that ran a week ago. Before you read through this article, make sure
you check out the first
part of the conversation to make sure you didn't miss anything.
After you've finished that come back here to read Mark Jacob's final
In the MMOG industry, few names are bigger than Mark Jacobs. If you're
not familiar with the man, he was once the leader of an incredibly
successful independent MMOG studio that went by the name Mythic.
Eventually, the small MMOG development house caught the eye of one of
the world's biggest video game companies, EA, and the small studio was
integrated into the larger corporation. Mark became a VP of EA and
remains the general manager of the newly dubbed EA Mythic.
Cody "Micajah" Bye
and John "Boomjack" Hoskin playing through WAR at the Leipzig GC.
Now Mark has his sights set on getting his latest upcoming MMOG,
Warhammer Online, polished as thoroughly as possible before he ships it
out the door in March 2008. At the recent Leipzig Games Convention,
Warhammer Online was the recipient of Ten Ton Hammer's Best in Show
award, which was certainly earned and not just given away. I asked Mark
how his team had felt about receiving the award.
“Fantastic!” Mark said while he laughed.
“Terrific! Seriously, it was great. Awards are always nice,
and even though everyone says that they don’t pay attention
to awards, they’re lying. Realistically, if you have a pulse
and care for your games, you’re going to appreciate an award.
Usually it’s the people that don’t win any awards
that say it doesn’t matter.”
“One thing I said before Camelot launched,” he
continued, “was that when we went to E3 in 2001, we
didn’t win a single major award. We were totally skunked. The
two games that won all the awards: Anarchy Online and Star Wars
Galaxies. Six months later, at the end of the year awards we won almost
every one. When I look at these awards, I take one of two stances. If I
win, it feels good. If I don’t win, if the company or
journalist shows why we didn’t win it and presents us good
reasons, that makes me happy and sad. Happy because they spent the time
to give us a fair evaluation and make my game better. I’m
only sad if the crew giving the awards just didn’t like the
game and didn’t tell us why.”
“However, I do hope we win more awards going
forward,” Mark added. “It’s really a good
way to judge what you’re doing because you can tell that
they’re paying attention to what you’re
As a journalist and an advocate for the MMO gamer, it's often my duty
to ask developers questions that they know are coming but would rather
not have to answer. Sometimes these are questions that they've heard
before with other games, and Mark knew my next question before the
whole thing even spilled from my mouth. In the Warhammer Online forums,
there were a few individuals that were concerned about the lack of
females for the Greenskins and the lack of male Witch Elves.
"This is the gender question isn't it? My simple answer is
‘anhhhh,’" Mark said, making a frowny face. After a
bit he smiled and laughed. “Y’know what? The lore
is the lore. There are certain things about Warhammer that make it
uniquely Warhammer. It’s the same thing with Greenskins.
Gamesworkshop has always said that there are no female Greenskins. They
are fungi. They’re grown. Am I doing justice to the IP if I
go and make female Greenskins? No. We’re allowed to add and
change things, but I think there are certain core things that are so
uniquely tied to the IP that I say, ‘Why should we change
it?’ This is the IP. It’s like going into Lord of
the Rings and saying, ‘Instead of that sword, can I have a
lightsaber?’ You just don’t do it.”
In Warhammer Online,
Greenskins can only be males because they're actually a fungi.
”For those who get upset with it,” he continued.
“Sorry, that’s the IP. We don’t have a
slavish devotion to every aspect of the IP, but there are some core
values of the IP that so define it that I am totally supportive of them
[Games Workshop] when they tell me I can’t do
It sounds like Games Workshop and EA Mythic have a very tight
relationship with one another, but I figured there had to be some sort
of sequence that the EA Mythic team had to go through to present the
idea to the GW individuals. It couldn't be as simple as simply calling
the guys on the phone and presenting the topic, could it?
“We just ask,” Mark said. “It’s
really simple. I was friends with the folks at GW prior to all of this.
We’ve always been very open with each other. If we are going
after something that’s a bit farther askew, we’re a
bit more cautious about how to approach them. We want to make sure we
really understand how things are and why we’ve decided to do
this before we even talk to them about it. However, if we’re
looking at something that’s a little more open to
interpretation, then we simply ask up front.”
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