The Human Side of WAR

Ten Ton Hammer Interviews
Jeff Hickman and Paul Barnett at Games Day 2007

Garrett Fuller

What is it about gaming that makes us all love it? What draws
us into an MMO, a table top war game, or an old school,
pencil-and-paper RPG? What makes us tick? Remember the first time you
logged into an MMO, the first time you played an RPG with your friends?

Whatever the feeling that game gave you was, you were hooked.
You got “It”.
It, as they say, is something that
you either get or you do not. How many times have gamers said,
“You don’t get It?” 
Perhaps we
say that because many people don’t see style="font-style: italic;">It our way, and
it’s exclusive to our own personal feelings towards a game or

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alt="Jeff Hickman" title="Jeff Hickman" name="photo_j"
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Jeff Hickman

At the end of Games Day, I had an opportunity to sit down with
Jeff Hickman and Paul Barnett, the Senior Producer and Creative
Director for EA Mythic, respectfully. We didn’t discuss
the game in a normal way, instead we discussed style="font-style: italic;">It. The passion and
vision these
guys have about Warhammer and what they want players to feel. Paul was
subdued for a change; he talked about that strong emotional connection
the managers, team, and hopefully players will all feel when Warhammer
Online is launched. This is not your typical Paul and Jeff interview;
this is about human nature, about emotion, and about why Led Zeppelin
and the Ferrari all play an important part in the making of Warhammer

First off, we discussed the Warhammer team and how they have
grown from 60 to one 170 people over the past year. These individuals
all share a passion for making the game, and because of this,
management has been faced with trying to convey It as that passion.

What is that vision you ask? What is style="font-style: italic;">It? Paul explained
that many video games are “fire-and-forget.” You build them,
you ship them off, and you forget about them.  “We
want this game to be a hobby,” he said. For many, a hobby
builds skill, commitment, and imagination. “A good hobby does
those things and our hobby does that in spades.”

When he explained this ideal, he talked primarily about the
fans, how happy they are to play games, wear t-shirts, and think about
what they will do this week or next week in their hobby. This level of
passion among the fans builds those three elements: skill, commitment,
and imagination. So naturally that is where the development team is
focused. They are not just creating a game; they are building a hobby
for fans.

When talking about MMOGs Jeff stated, “A lot of
people are hitting the market, but they are not hitting the
mark.” He said they are still producing games with a rock
solid foundation but then he asked the question, “Where is
the glory?”

To explain his question, Jeff used the analogy of a car. Here
is what he said:

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alt="Paul Barnett" title="Paul Barnett" name="photo_j"
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Paul Barnett sporting a Ten Ton Hammer his

“It’s like, if I’m going to make
a car, I get the four wheels, I get an engine, and I get a steering
wheel, probably a seat and what do I have? I have a Yugo.
It’s a car that works. It is a foundationally functional car.

“What is the difference between a Yugo and a
Mustang? A Mustang is an engaging, interesting drive that is full of
character. It has emotion attached to it because of its history. It is
a vehicle people want to drive because of the emotion behind it.

“What is the difference between a Mustang and a
Ferrari or a Mercedes? Those are glorious cars to drive. Why?
It‘s that feel. It’s that touch. That is what we
need people to understand. EA Mythic is no longer in the business of
making a game; we are in the business of making a hit game that is
engaging and glorious.”

Jeff continued to talk about Warhammer Online as a whole and
why they are putting so much polish on the game. However, his
definition of polish is very different from what others have stated
about it. “Polish is not the frosting on the cake, polish is
everything that you do,” he said. They want the polish to
exist in every part of the game, not just as unimportant lens flare or
an extra dollop of color in a particular zone.  

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016