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Games Day 2007: WAR and the Common Man

Posted Fri, Jun 29, 2007 by Cody Bye

WAR and the Common Man

Ten Ton Hammer Interviews Mark Jacobs, GM/VP of EA Mythic

By Garrett Fuller

In the final part of our Games Day coverage, we were very fortunate to sit down with EA Mythic’s top man and GM/VP, Mark Jacobs. Mark is an industry legend who has seen it all, going from an independent developer in the early days of MUDs to launching Dark Age of Camelot when 3D MMORPGs were still an uncommon piece of the video game industry. With his experience and dearth of knowledge, Mark keeps an eye on the rest of the marketplace and the trends of the entire industry. In our interview, we discussed his visualization of Warhammer Online as well as some of the trends we are seeing in MMOGs today.

WAR Symbol
The WAR banner flies proudly at Games Day.

We started our conversation talking about the Warhammer Beta and how strong the response was from fans. With over 200,000 applications in just 18 months of development, W.A.R. has now become the second highest Beta sign up in the industry according to Mark. It’s been “absolutely fantastic,” Mark said. “You can check those numbers.” Mark also mentioned that as the numbers continue to rise that “it is a reflection on how far GW, EA, and Mythic have come.”

Following the questions concerning the beta test, I asked Mark about the launch of the game and when can we expect to see full release of WAR. “It will be in 2008, earlier rather than later.” This kind of vague response is no surprise, as it is very tough to pin down a launch date. Thankfully EA Mythic has been very up front about changes they have made and have been forthcoming to the players about why they pushed the schedule back. With most MMOGs, the bottom line any push back is that the companies simply want to make the game to live up to the standards of the development team.

The next topic we discussed focused on the Elf races. “The High Elf / Dark Elf pairing is the lynch-pin pairing for the game,” Mark said. With EA’s help, they were able to improve on the zones and overhaul the work they had done. “EA was like, okay what do you need?” Mark replied. “I told them what I needed and they said yes.”  The support from EA has given Mark the backing he needs to truly perfect the game. With the Elves, Mark mentioned that with the previous two faction pairings (Dwarves/Greenskins, Empire/Chaos) now behind them they have a clear picture on where to go with the third.

RVR
Mark Jacobs walked around the WAR booth, talking with many Warhammer fans.

After answering questions about Warhammer Online, we moved the conversation over to how Mark thinks the game will impact the market. In reference to the MMO market overall, Mark was quick to say, “I’m very happy with what’s happened. I think things are shaping up very nicely and the impact we are going to have will be significant.” Making a reference to the beta numbers Mark was very frank. “If your game sucks beta hurts you,” he said. “If your game is great, beta will help you.” This is very true with MMOs and Mark hopes to have a strong beta which represents Warhammer Online. “Right now our beta is going great. If it continues to go well, we’ll know we have a strong game.”

Next, I asked about beta rewards for players, and Mark is eager to get the response from players. He explained that EA Mythic is working to have a very stable beta for players to provide their best feedback. “This is live folks,” he said in regards to the Games Day players fighting it out in RvR combat. On top of that, Mark spent the day in the booth with the fans asking for their reactions. Not many other game companies will have their top guy mixing it up with the players looking for feedback. He also mentions that they hope to reward the players in beta for all their support.

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