by Cody “Micajah” Bye (Managing Editor) and Garrett
Fuller (Industry Relations)

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by Warhammer Online's Jeff Hickman (Executive Producer) and Josh
Drescher (Associate Producer)

After almost a week of post launch activities, it seems like the new
kid on the MMOG block is here to stay. With href="" target="_blank">
Mark Jacobs proclaiming
Warhammer Online as having the smoothest launch in MMO gaming
it’s easy to see that the href="" target="_blank">WAR
staff is excited about the
future of their game. To really gather the info about everything post
launch related, the Ten Ton Hammer staff sat down with WAR’s
Josh Drescher and Jeff Hickman to find out exactly what the team is
working on and what sort of plans they have for the future. Enjoy!

Ten Ton Hammer: To start,
what's the deal with Bacon Salt? All we’ve been hearing about
for a little while now is Bacon Salt. What’s the story there?

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Shaman's LOVE Bacon Salt.

Josh Drescher:
At Comic-Con, the good people from a company called Bacon Salt,
realizing what there proper demographic was, decided that they should
definitely go talk to all the Comic-Con people and give them samples of
their products. I was on my way to do an interview with a media outlet
and a young lady sticks two packets of Bacon Salt in my hand. All she
said was “Here have some Bacon Salt. It makes everything
taste like bacon.” After that I didn’t really look
at it until we were sitting down at the interview.

It was towards the end of the day, I may have been drinking a little
bit, and I got a little belligerent. I started reading off the Bacon
Salt package rather than answering questions, and I actually found the
reading very interesting. A couple days later, I get a message from the
people that make Bacon Salt, saying “Hey, thanks for the
shout out! Would you like some Bacon Salt?”

Anyway, they shipped a nice care package to the office and Jeff Hickman
promptly stole all of it. So now I’ll get random email
messages from Jeff on Saturday mornings saying things like
“Bacon Salt makes my leftover Chinese food taste
delicious!” or “Bacon Salt is great on my
omlette!” So I’m hoping – like a NASCAR
driver – to get sponsored by Bacon Salt. Thus I’ve
been pimping their product on every interview because, according to
Jeff, it’s delicious.

So the deal with Bacon Salt is shameless fishing for free goodies.

Ten Ton Hammer: (laughs)
That’s awesome!

Josh: And
secretly, now that we’re all done with the project, we want
to get back into non-game development shape. We’re eating a
lot more salads and vegetables. Unfortunately, we’re all
committed carnivores, so we’ve tried using Bacon Salt to
trick our bodies into thinking we’re eating delicious bacon
instead of iceberg lettuce.

Ten Ton Hammer: Is MMOG
development pretty hard on a person’s body?

You’ll find that any sort of exercise regimen that you were
once a part is gone and any sense of eating reasonable meals at
scheduled times goes out the window. You wind up getting up early,
scuttling into the office, and eating Pop Tarts out of the vending


Jeff’s here! Everyone say “Hi!” to Jeff!

Jeff Hickman:
What were you guys talking about?

Josh: I was
telling the Bacon Salt story.

(laughs) That’s a great story.

Josh: And
how you stole all my Bacon Salt.

Ten Ton Hammer: On to
real questions! How are you guys handling the balance between the
casters and the tanks? I know it’s been an issue in the past,
but how do you think it’s going right now in this critical
period with the game freshly launched?

Jeff: I
think we’re doing great. I was just commenting today to the
Combat and Careers Lead Adam Gershowitz that I think we have an
extraordinarily well balanced game. Remember that people often assume
that our game is balanced character on character and players on player.
In reality, the game is balanced around realm versus realm. So any one
player versus another player could get absolutely crushed, but when you
start talking about six on six or twelve on twelve or hundreds on
hundreds, it’s a different story.

That’s not to say that there should be overpowered characters
or anything like that, there shouldn’t be, but I
don’t think there are. I think everyone has tools that they
can play against other characters, some better than others.

Ten Ton Hammer:
What’s the timeline looking like to start putting in some of
the content that was cut from the launch?

You’re crazy!

Ten Ton Hammer:
I’m crazy!

Jeff: I
can’t tell you guys that. I can say that we’re
thinking about it a lot and I can even say that we’re working
on it. It might be sooner or it might be later.

Josh: If
it’s right for the game, if it’s right for the
realms, and if it’s right for the players it might go in
someday. Maybe.

Jeff: Or it
might not.

That’s true.

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community and their concerns is the WAR teams biggest priority.

Ten Ton Hammer: So
what’s you’re biggest priority right now?

Jeff: We are
almost 100% eyeballing the community, listening to what their
complaints are, making lists of things they want to see changed or
improved or added, and planning how to make those changes.

Josh: The
last thing you want to do when you launch a big MMO is have your entire
development team go on vacation for eight weeks in hopes that
you’ll patch all the problems later on. We think that you
should probably continue working, keep an eye on things, and make
adjustments as necessary.

Jeff: Very
good, Josh!

Josh: Not
all of our competitors agree with that philosophy, but it still drives
us forward.

Jeff: Of
course we don’t do everything that players want, but we
listen to what they say and make informed decisions about whether those
things are good for the game or not. If they’re fine for the
game, why wouldn’t we put them in? We want to make the
players happy. That is what it’s about.

Ten Ton Hammer:
Here’s a pretty specific questions about the skills. Dark Age
of Camelot had the speed boost feature that made roaming the RvR zones
a lot of fun. I know you have mounts in the game, but is that the core
travel plan for the RvR zones? Or is there going to be some sort of
speed boost that players can get?

Jeff: There
are two answers to that question. One is mounts. The other is your
guild banner. Every guild banner has an area effect and a speed boost
comes along with it. When you pull out you guild banner, then everyone
around you moves faster when you charge into battle.

I run around with my banner wherever I go.

He’s got one equipped right now. It’s the only
thing he’s wearing.

Ten Ton Hammer: As far as
other abilities go, crowd control abilities are the toughest to
balance. How do you guys think your crowd control abilities are playing
out in the game right now?

Jeff: I
think it’s great right now. There are always going to be
complaints from players when you slow them down or take them out of
combat. But in general, all of our crowd control – or at
least almost all of it – is short duration. They’re
mostly roots or snares, it doesn’t take away their abilities;
it just slows them down. So far, we have very few big gripes about
crowd control in our game.

Josh: One of
the other things you have to bear in mind is the type of people that
you generally hear crowd control complaints from. They’re
typically your melee oriented players that are used to being able to
run around and catch a caster in the back of a group.

Because we have player collision in the game, you actually understand
that it’s not necessarily a root that stopped you,
it’s the fact that you’re trying to get by that
Black Orc that’s standing in front of you on the bridge. You
can’t just run through it. As a result, the crowd control
feels a lot less present because those abilities aren’t going
to do anything worse – especially at close range –
than the characters that are bashing into one another.

If you’re not moving, you’re probably trying to run
through a wall of armor.

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At this
point, the kill count leaderboards are full of classes like the Bright

Ten Ton Hammer: If I go
onto the leaderboards right now, most of the high ranking individuals
are from particular careers – like Bright Wizards in
particular – especially on the kill leaderboard. You talked
about class balance previously, but is there any way to have a
leaderboard that features classes that aren’t necessarily so
“kill happy?”

We’re actually working on some things to enhance the Realm
War pages. We’re hoping to adjust some things in the next
couple weeks as well as continuing efforts to spread the love wherever
we can.

Ten Ton Hammer: What
about the Tome of Knowledge? Obviously no one has gone through the
entire Tome of Knowledge….

Because it’s impossible!

Ten Ton Hammer:
…but is that something that you’re going to expand
in the future? Are new things going to come in every so often?

Jeff: Of
course! Our goal is to continually expand on the Tome either through
new unlocks or new areas that are included within the Tome.
We’re definitely going to be pushing the limits of that
particular feature.

Ten Ton Hammer: We talked
with Mark [Jacobs] about the downtime and the pacing of the game. What
are your feelings about the pace? It seems like there’s
absolutely zero downtime and it’s a very intense game. Do you
think there’s a point of burn out?

That’s a great question and it’s something I
actually worry about a lot. We want to try to balance the amount of
downtime you have with the fun you’re having in the game.
We’re finding right now that we don’t have to force
downtime. Players will actually choose to have downtime.
They’ll take a break and go to the city of go craft or
something else.

But it’s definitely something we want to watch very closely.
What we don’t want to do is enhance downtime artificially
like having players sit down or fly around or all this other crap.

Josh: One of
things we also have going in our favor is that we removed a lot of the
obstacles that would prevent you from doing what it is you want to do
during any specific session. That way you don’t feel like
when you’re finally involved in what you want to do that you
need to play for five hours because it would take you so long to get
back to wherever it is you want to do. To run to dynamic RvR
territories in each zone. To have public quests everywhere. To craft
without having to find an anvil to stand in front of.

As a result, you can get in do what you want to do and get out knowing
that every session is going to have that sort of instant gratification.
It's a lot less prone to building that inertia that keeps you in the
game for twelve hours until you pass out from exhaustion.  

Ten Ton Hammer: What are
you guys doing to speed up scenario queues and that sort of thing? The
time seems to really vary depending on the time of day, the faction
side, overall server population numbers and that sort of thing. Is
there anything that you guys are doing to fix that? Or should gamers
just wait and see if the server populations even out?

Depending on the server you're on and the time you're on, it's all
dependent on the amount of players that are there because it's RvR. We
try to make it as easy as possible for you to do other things while
you're queued up. We also have some plans in place that will hopefully
help the queues and the way you queue up. Some of it also has to do
with the server populations that are still filling up from launch, and
we'll see those scenario times drop dramatically as those servers fill
up more and more.  

It is something that concerns us. We pulled the metrics on them right
now, and they actually look pretty good. I think every once in awhile,
depending on the server you're on, you'll run into some not great
queues. Overall, on average, they're very, very good.  

Josh: It's
also important to remember that you're looking at an abnormal amount of
population at this point. As those servers mature, as the populations
normalize, as people get past their initial character and decide they
want to try some other characters, they'll roll characters on other
servers, they'll make characters on opposing realms, etc. And as people
become more aware of some of the strategic sides of the game on a macro
level, you'll notice that there'll be a bit of a diaspara and people
will begin to fill out and you'll see those queues come down a lot

Ten Ton Hammer: Now that
the game has launched and you guys are through the first weekend,
what's the single thing in Warhammer that you're the most proud of?

Jeff: The
entire game is absolutely fantastic. I play it every night. I love my
game. I'm really really proud of it.  

Josh: I'm
going to go a bit more pragmatic. I'm unbelievably proud of the launch
we had. We knew we had a great game for months and months and months
and months. We were never ever worried about whether people would enjoy
it when they played it. But you're always a little bit gun shy to let a
ton of people suddenly go live on the game.  Will the servers
explode? Will a hurricane destroy your facility? To have a launch as
smoothly as the one we had I think every person on the team deserves
and extra pat on the back for just how awesome the launch was.

I'm actually very proud that my fiance actually plays the game. She's
just loving it. She is not an MMO player. She is not a PvP focused
person. And she is really digging everything in the game. I do feel bad
for Justin Webb because he was the man largely responsible for the
crafting system because she harasses him with questions now about
what's coming down the pipe.  

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WAR will
certainly make a lasting impression on the MMOG industry. 

Jeff: Our
RvR system came together like we always talked about. The thing I love
to see in the reviews right now - and the thing that makes me giggle
with glee - is that Mythic finally put out a game that you can actually
just go and RvR in. Have a good time, and just RvR all you want.

We always said you could do it. And it's true. We just love that. We
achieved something that people have been talking about doing for
fifteen years. And we did it.  

Ten Ton Hammer: Finally,
where do you see the genre going now? What's next?

Josh: People
will be stealing public quests from us. People will be stealing the
Tome of Knowledge. People will probably steal our RvR stuff. That's the
honest answer.

Philosophically, I think companies will be focusing on cooperative and
competitive gameplay. I think you're going to start see games moving
away from the weird things we inherited from pen and paper roleplaying
games like death penalties and item degradation. All the things that we
cut out, people are going to realize that that is the way to go. You'll
see companies move away from the "you're paying to play the fiftieth
level and forced to run through the first 49 of 'em to get there." No
other hobby does that.  

Jeff: You
play our game at level one, and you'll be doing similar things when
you're at level forty.  

One of the things that I want to highlight from what Josh said - and I
really believe in it - is that competitive gameplay, PvP gameplay, is
where it's at. I've always believed that. Dark Age of Camelot took a
shot at it. I think we've crowned that achievement with Warhammer. But
what's interesting - and I think it's a challenge that game makers will
have - is that I've talked to other game makers and have seen them post
things and they always try to break down what RvR is into "The Ten
Rules of RvR." And they're always wrong. Always wrong.  

I look at it and know that Mythic knows how to do it. I can write down
the ten things it is for you. But I just don't think people get it. I
think games are going to continue to struggle with it. But I also think
that it is where it's at.   

Ten Ton Hammer: Thanks
for your time guys!

Jeff: See
you later!

Josh: Bye

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Warhammer 40,000: Storm of Vengeance Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016