Bringing It All Back to the Community - An Interview with Bob Mull
It All Back to
Interview with Warhammer Online’s Bob Mull
Bob Mull, Director of
One of the hardest working but least recognized guys on the Mythic
staff, Director of Community Management Bob Mull, was my first stop at
GenCon Indy 2008. Bob looks after the international community
management teams serving not only Warhammer Online, but also those
hardcore hangers-on playing venerable titles like Dark Age of Camelot
and Ultima Online. But with the launch of Warhammer Online only about a
month away, it’s not surprising that WAR is foremost in
Bob just returned from Dublin discussions about the game’s
worldwide launch with GOA, WAR’s publisher in the key market
of Europe, and my first question dealt with the European reaction to
the recently announced class and capital city cuts. As popular as Games
Workshop miniature properties e.g. Warhammer Fantasy are in the US and
Canada, it’s by all accounts something of a national
obsession in many parts of Europe, especially Great Britain.
“I lived in England for a while, and it’s hard to
go anywhere without running into a Games Workshop,” Bob
Though admitting that the class cuts were met with similar levels of
apprehension across the pond - apparently Brits were particularly fond
of the Dwarf Hammerer - in the end it was all met with the same
grudging acceptance in Europe as we saw in North America.
“Mark [Jacobs]’ office is a few doors down from
mine, and he took a lot of heat over the class stuff. A lot of players
don’t realize that that was a really difficult decision for
him... If you’re following our game for a couple
years and looking at the Blackguard and decide that’s what
you want to play and now it’s gone, I expect that someone
would be upset about that. And there’s really nothing I can
say. I can talk about how it’s better now - how we want to
avoid placeholder classes - but we really don’t want to have to do
With the only real downer of a question out of the way, we continued on
to the more optimistic topic of what WAR is doing for us gamers lately;
namely open beta. As we sat at a crumb-covered table in the
not-so-aptly-named “quiet area” at GenCon, Mythic
was quietly working towards opening the floodgates on open beta
downloads (starting on August 18th) for those that had received a code
at one of Mythic’s Games Days or otherwise. But before open
beta opens, I learned that Mythic has a special preview weekend planned
soon for folks who can’t fly to Leipzig GC this week or PAX
next week to catch the game in person. The upcoming preview weekend is
in effect the game’s first real stress test and a celebration
of the end of closed beta; with Mythic’s goal to beat up the
servers with you and 100k of your closest friends. When will it be? We
know that open beta begins on September 7th, so feel free to speculate
on which weekend the preview will fall on prior to that date.
That’s far from the only bit of excitement Mythic has planned
for the month leading to WAR’s launch. The “Realm
War” is here to stay (and will be ready by launch, at the
latest, for Europe, Bob confirmed) and the ramp-up campaign
“Road to WAR” are two web-based efforts that
players can start delving into now.
So what exactly is Realm War? Bob offered me the clearest, most concise
explanation I’ve seen anywhere outside of Ten Ton
Hammer’s Interview with href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/38964">Scott Stricklin.
But here’s a quick
overview with some clarification added.
Realm War has four components:
1) Character search
- Get ganked by some
greenskins or singed by a sorceress? Look them up on Realm War and see
what gear they’re wearing and the stats of their items.
Though more hardcore players might prefer to keep their equipment
choices on the down low, Bob was quick to note that no tree choices,
morale abilities, etc. will be displayed. Even so, players
won’t have the ability to turn off these listings at launch.
“We really felt that this was one of those things where as
soon as we would allow some players to turn off this feature, it would
become pretty useless to everyone,” Bob explained.
- See how your renown and
all time kills stack up against other players with this feature of
Realm War. Stats will be updated weekly, and though no tome info will
be available for comparison at launch, Bob stated that this was
definitely something Mythic wants to add on to as time goes by.
“What we want to do is just keep adding feature after
feature... we’d rather roll out one thing at a time and
execute very well than roll out a bunch of things and have to fix them
3) Guild Search
- With information
auto-populated by choices your guild makes and individual player stats,
this is the place to get the skinny on a potential new guild or gather
info to get sweet revenge on a rival guild.
4) Realm War
- This is basically your
window on the Warhammer Online game world. See real-time info on who
controls the various RvR tiers of outposts, keeps, fortresses, and the
cities as the forces of Order and Destruction vie for total domination.
The WAR Booth at GenCon
Also under Bob’s purview, the
Online Herald will continue Mythic’s
long-standing tradition of keeping players in the know. Bob explained
that while the game’s landing page is for those relatively
new to WAR. The Herald is just for active players of the game,
highlighting community resources and offering in-depth interviews
shining the limelight on the most influential members of the community.
To lead up to the title’s September 18th launch, Mythic is
also running the “Road to WAR” campaign. Though it
sounds like Bob explained that Road to War allows players to declare a
side and raise armies to “fight” for control of
real-world territories. The outcome will have some in-game consequences
as well, such as titles and achievements for individual players as well
as the ability to affect the starting state of the opposing city
(“But not in a way that affects balance,” Bob
clarified). More details will be provided as we head toward PAX in just
a couple weeks, which is the last fan event before WAR is released.
We closed with a quick discussion of some of the recent impropriety
issues involving customer service personnel in several top-tier
MMORPGs, and though we agreed that it’s hard to stop humans
from being human, Bob feels that Mythic’s policies and proven
track record will help nip any CS misbehavior in the bud fast.
“It’s a select few that have the power to change
anything, and everything is logged... If something happened,
I’d go ballistic,” Bob underscored with a smile,
“but I’m really not worried... I tell those guys
all the time that they’re working on a one-to-one level.
They’re the front-line troops... almost everything else we do
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