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News & Features Discussion  » Warhammer Online : Age of Reckoning: Jacobs on GOA, Forums and Accountability

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  Stradden

Managing Editor

Joined: 7/08/05
Posts: 6729

 
OP  9/22/08 1:31:05 PM#1

MMORPG.com Managing Editor Jon Wood had the opportunity to speak with Mythic Entertainment boss Mark Jacobs about GOA, forums and Mythic accountability.

Just before the launch of Mythic Entertainment's Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk about the game. We covered a lot of ground in our short interview, and in this half, we talked about talking about everything from the finished product itself to the GOA head start issue to Mythic's decision to forgo official forums and his thoughts on accountability.

I started out my conversation with Mark by asking him a question that I asked both Jeff and Josh before him. Was there anything that got into the finished product of the game at the last minute that you were worried wouldn't make it? His answer was the same as Jeff's. "I'm glad the auction house got in on time," he answered with a bit of a chuckle. "That one was touch and go there for a while."

Read the first part of the interview here.

Cheers,
Jon Wood
Managing Editor
MMORPG.com

  Lethality

Novice Member

Joined: 7/29/06
Posts: 55

9/22/08 1:54:21 PM#2

 He really has his head in the dirt.  He will come around and be eating his words.

 

 

  SteamRanger

Apprentice Member

Joined: 10/24/03
Posts: 919

I don''t have to know how to make a better game, I only need to know where the "CANCEL" button is!

9/22/08 2:21:32 PM#3

Very nice interview, Jon. Well done. I'll look forward to Part 2.

I've heard Mark's logic on Mythic's aversion to Official Forums and I still disagree. Saying that community managers are somehow disconnected is a flippant statement and simply untrue. Many is the time I have seen on Official Forums where a Community Manager would continue pressing the development team until they got an answer to some particular community concern.  Tiggs and Caydiem immediately come to mind. Did they suffer abuse? Definitely. But they managed to keep us informed and make us feel like we were valued as customers. Mark either suffers from selective memory or limited experience. He really should know better.

"Soloists and those who prefer small groups should never have to feel like they''re the ones getting the proverbial table scraps, as it were." - Scott Hartsman, Senior Producer, Everquest II
"People love groups. Its a fallacy that people want to play solo all the time." - Scott Hartsman, Executive Producer, Rift

  Manchine

Novice Member

Joined: 8/01/03
Posts: 486

9/22/08 2:27:54 PM#4

Its all looks good.  Someone made a comment about sticking his head in the dirt.  Sorry I just don't see it.

  brindy666

Novice Member

Joined: 12/10/07
Posts: 13

9/22/08 2:31:48 PM#5

I work in software, I know it's hard to get a release out of the door and on time.  WAR obviously has some outstanding issues - I found at least 10 bugs within my first few days of play and I had to wonder what the beta testers were doing - some of these bugs were blantant and surely quick wins for the developers.   But it is early days and I'm sure the developers will not have had much slack time since the launch, they'll be releasing bug-fix patches for months (same thing happened with WoW).

But anyway... the comment about getting the "auction house in on time", great, but after my brief encounter with it I think it still needs some work.  It's buggy and the UI is frankly a nightmare.  The rest of the game looks amazing and they've really done Games Workshop proud by materialising their vision, but when it comes to dialogs these guys need to get some business oriented UI/UX experts on board to smarten that bit up.

I completely agree with the forums position.  In my opinion Warhammer Alliance is the best forum I've ever used because I know I'm not going to get flamed or banned by a mod for disagreeing with Mythic/GOA like I did on the Age of Conan forum (and then never touched the game as a result).

In conclusion, overall I think WAR is awesome.  They've pushed the envelope in terms of some MMO concepts and stripped out some of the crap that people can't be bothered with.  I can see elements from WoW, Dark Age of Camelot (which I played for ages) and a fair few other games, but ultimately I think they've found the best combination of PvE and PvP in any mmorpg currently available, subscription based or otherwise.  (That said, I don't understand why all the servers aren't Open RvR, but hey ...)

So Welldone to Mythic and I have to extend my congratulations to GOA as well who have surpassed my expectations (given my previous experiences with DAoC).  Oh and let's not forget Games Workshop who own all the back story and lore - this is their vision that's come to light!

 

--
First: DAOC
Current: WAR
Played: PotBS, WoW, DDO, LOTRO, SWG, 9D
Anticipating: Stargate Worlds, Warhammer 40k Online

  ronan32

Novice Member

Joined: 8/19/05
Posts: 1474

I will never play an mmorpg with Microtransactions

9/22/08 2:33:39 PM#6
Originally posted by Lethality

 He really has his head in the dirt.  He will come around and be eating his words.

 

 

 

you have no idea what you're talking about. mythic certainly know what they're talking about and communication with the players is amazing..you don't see blizzard taking time out for stuff like this. Guys like mark are the type of people that deserve 10 million subs and not those cheats at blizzard.

  brindy666

Novice Member

Joined: 12/10/07
Posts: 13

9/22/08 2:34:49 PM#7
Originally posted by LordDraekon

I've heard Mark's logic on Mythic's aversion to Official Forums and I still disagree. Saying that community managers are somehow disconnected is a flippant statement and simply untrue. Many is the time I have seen on Official Forums where a Community Manager would continue pressing the development team until they got an answer to some particular community concern.  Tiggs and Caydiem immediately come to mind. Did they suffer abuse? Definitely. But they managed to keep us informed. Mark either suffers from selective memory or limited experience. He really should know better.

 

But in this situation you get the best of both worlds.  There's at least one developer I've encountered on Warhammer Alliance and that person has been responsive and informative, plus you get the herald and a freespeech forum all in one place.  You just don't get that with owned forums (e.g. Age of Conan, forum fascists ).

--
First: DAOC
Current: WAR
Played: PotBS, WoW, DDO, LOTRO, SWG, 9D
Anticipating: Stargate Worlds, Warhammer 40k Online

  SteamRanger

Apprentice Member

Joined: 10/24/03
Posts: 919

I don''t have to know how to make a better game, I only need to know where the "CANCEL" button is!

9/22/08 2:47:20 PM#8
Originally posted by brindy666
Originally posted by LordDraekon

I've heard Mark's logic on Mythic's aversion to Official Forums and I still disagree. Saying that community managers are somehow disconnected is a flippant statement and simply untrue. Many is the time I have seen on Official Forums where a Community Manager would continue pressing the development team until they got an answer to some particular community concern.  Tiggs and Caydiem immediately come to mind. Did they suffer abuse? Definitely. But they managed to keep us informed. Mark either suffers from selective memory or limited experience. He really should know better.

 

But in this situation you get the best of both worlds.  There's at least one developer I've encountered on Warhammer Alliance and that person has been responsive and informative, plus you get the herald and a freespeech forum all in one place.  You just don't get that with owned forums (e.g. Age of Conan, forum fascists ).

I beg to differ. There is no such thing as a "free speech" forum. With fansites, there is no accountability and some toss around the word "ban" as a fun thing to do. AoC's big problem, apart from having a dismal launch was their attempt to get cheap damage control by appointing volunteer moderators. People had a right to be upset, the forum mods made things worse. Developers will often post on the WoW forums, particularly on the Test Server Forums. The same can be said for the City of Heroes forums. Official forums are an added value to subscribers. The only games that I can recall that don't use them are Dark Age of Camelot, Tabula Rasa, and now, Warhammer. See a pattern here? Heck, even Dungeon Runners has their own forum.
 

"Soloists and those who prefer small groups should never have to feel like they''re the ones getting the proverbial table scraps, as it were." - Scott Hartsman, Senior Producer, Everquest II
"People love groups. Its a fallacy that people want to play solo all the time." - Scott Hartsman, Executive Producer, Rift

  User Deleted
9/22/08 2:53:22 PM#9

Remarkable that he really compares us, the customers, to a Tyrannosaurus. There is no excuse for the lack of official forums. Period.

  Stradden

Managing Editor

Joined: 7/08/05
Posts: 6729

 
OP  9/22/08 2:57:59 PM#10
Originally posted by Yunbei

Remarkable that he really compares us, the customers, to a Tyrannosaurus. There is no excuse for the lack of official forums. Period.

 

He's very clearly not describing every customer as a dangerous dinosaur. In the context of what was said, it's clear that he was talking about the specific people who express their frustrations in abusive and threatening ways.

You don't agree with the call, that's fine, but you're taking that statement way out of context.

 

Cheers,
Jon Wood
Managing Editor
MMORPG.com

  brindy666

Novice Member

Joined: 12/10/07
Posts: 13

9/22/08 3:06:34 PM#11
Originally posted by LordDraekon
Originally posted by brindy666
Originally posted by LordDraekon

I've heard Mark's logic on Mythic's aversion to Official Forums and I still disagree. Saying that community managers are somehow disconnected is a flippant statement and simply untrue. Many is the time I have seen on Official Forums where a Community Manager would continue pressing the development team until they got an answer to some particular community concern.  Tiggs and Caydiem immediately come to mind. Did they suffer abuse? Definitely. But they managed to keep us informed. Mark either suffers from selective memory or limited experience. He really should know better.

 

But in this situation you get the best of both worlds.  There's at least one developer I've encountered on Warhammer Alliance and that person has been responsive and informative, plus you get the herald and a freespeech forum all in one place.  You just don't get that with owned forums (e.g. Age of Conan, forum fascists ).

I beg to differ. There is no such thing as a "free speech" forum. With fansites, there is no accountability and some toss around the word "ban" as a fun thing to do. AoC's big problem, apart from having a dismal launch was their attempt to get cheap damage control by appointing volunteer moderators. People had a right to be upset, the forum mods made things worse. Developers will often post on the WoW forums, particularly on the Test Server Forums. The same can be said for the City of Heroes forums. Official forums are an added value to subscribers. The only games that I can recall that don't use them are Dark Age of Camelot, Tabula Rasa, and now, Warhammer. See a pattern here? Heck, even Dungeon Runners has their own forum.
 

 

 

Personally, I don't see the added value.  I'm getting more with Warhammer Alliance in my view:

- Free speech (imho, though you obviously think different),

- Devs who want to be on the forum, rather than community reps who are hired for the job

- Mythic (and GOA) don't have to pay for an infrastructure to support another service, meaning they can push that money elsewhere, hopefully where the players need/want it. 

- Forum reliability.  The WoW forum was up and down like a yoyo, I don't know if that's improved or not, but it certainly couldn't handle server load when I used to use it.  With both US and EU players on it, Warhammer Alliance seems solid, though I accept that peak usage is probably yet to come.

Cheers,
Brindy

--
First: DAOC
Current: WAR
Played: PotBS, WoW, DDO, LOTRO, SWG, 9D
Anticipating: Stargate Worlds, Warhammer 40k Online

  jakin

Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/27/04
Posts: 237

9/22/08 3:10:31 PM#12

My opinion:  It's a cop-out.

MMOs will always have some variety of out of game community.  If a company doesn't provide an official spot for that community to gather it will gather somewhere else on someone else's dime.

All Mythic is doing in this case is shunting the responsibility for community management off themselves and onto other sites (WHA, this one, TTH, etc). 

I appreciate the fact that no one likes to have abuse hurled at them, I also appreciate the fact that many MMO players of this day and age feel overly entitled to door say whatever they like because "they pay their money".  None of these things abrogate the responsibility (IMO) to provide an official area for the community that will form anyway.

Now when Mythic has a customer-relations problem it will be the third-party sites that take the brunt of the flames, threats, disappointment, etc. (witness the GOA stuff - it produced another whole forum here)  It's poor form in my view to offload problems you cause (and the known consequences) onto someone else entirely.

Do I think it will kill WAR to not have forums - no, of course not.  I do however disagree with the concept and believe that fundamentally it's taking the easy way out.

  Soultice

Novice Member

Joined: 4/11/07
Posts: 100

9/22/08 3:33:38 PM#13

We are entitled to our opinion and we will never all agree.

I do find it refreshing that an actual Dev comes to the forums to answer issues.  Being older and somewhat new to posting on forums, I agree with Mark.

There is no excuse for threats and the use of expletives to get a point across.  IMHO there is no accountabilty for those words that are spouted on forums.  Yet people expect mods, CMs, and company reps to put up with it. Well they don't and they should not have to put up with it. Some will come here and state that the customer is always right or they will loose money.  You are correct as long as the person complaining presents the facts and what did not happen in a reasonable manner, we are obligated to listen to them and do our best to correct a problem, if one is there.  I can tell you a customer spouting threats and expletives in a business establishment will be lead to t he door by security.  Yet in these forums some people forget their manners.

I learned a long time ago you get more with sugar then you do with salt.  Regardless of what is typed, there is still a person with feelings that has to read our remarks.  Dignity and respect goes a long way.

Mark is correct, We as consumers exercise our right with our wallet books.

The choice of having a company forums is the companie's choice and does not betray anyone.  Having read the WOW forums several times, I would never want one myself.

 

  tkobo

Novice Member

Joined: 3/17/06
Posts: 472

Current MMO dev teams = Keystone cops.A pure comedy of errors,sadly its not as intentional.

9/22/08 3:48:23 PM#14

A cop-out doesnt paint it with enough crap...

What we have here ,is a VERY easy to see attempt at lessening the spread of harmful (to the game) information.

Nothing less,nothing more.That they choose to cover it in PR crap, and serve it to the interviewer who just bobs and takes it as gospel, says more than people should need to know about them.

For those perception challenged,they choose to not have a forum,becuase they understand thats where the information they dont want talked about would be........

And of course,this isnt the reason they admit to.No... no... its becuase they dont feel the forums would serve a useful purpose....all the while promoting the forums of the surrogates they use to spread their side of an issue .....

Becuase if they had their own forum, their control over the information would be direct and hence even some of the MMO fans would spot it.BUT with the forums they think work just fine, the forums they support,those  forums hosted by surrogates,they can pretend to have a degree of seperation from the control while wielding it just the same.And some of you will buy it.

Remember this is a  Dev  from the very same company who hired Lum, just to shut him up.And the head one at that.

Barnum had nothing on these guys.Deception to make a sale......

  brostyn

Novice Member

Joined: 1/29/04
Posts: 3120

Cynical? Me? Never.

9/22/08 4:46:24 PM#15

I love WAR, and MJ. He is, however, dead wrong about the "abuse". If you have customers you're going to have those douchebags that take life a little too seriously. It comes with the gig, plain and simple. You can't just ignore everyone, because of a few losers think everything should go their way 100% of the time. That's called bureaucracy, and its ugly, very ugly. Other than that WAR rules, and please make a DAOC 2.

  brostyn

Novice Member

Joined: 1/29/04
Posts: 3120

Cynical? Me? Never.

9/22/08 4:53:32 PM#16
Originally posted by jakin

I appreciate the fact that no one likes to have abuse hurled at them, I also appreciate the fact that many MMO players of this day and age feel overly entitled to door say whatever they like because "they pay their money".  None of these things abrogate the responsibility (IMO) to provide an official area for the community that will form anyway.

 

This type of behavior is not exclusive to the MMO genre, nor teens and people in their twenties.

  Brynn

Apprentice Member

Joined: 12/17/03
Posts: 337

9/22/08 5:50:15 PM#17
Originally posted by brindy666

I work in software, I know it's hard to get a release out of the door and on time.  WAR obviously has some outstanding issues - I found at least 10 bugs within my first few days of play and I had to wonder what the beta testers were doing - some of these bugs were blantant and surely quick wins for the developers.   But it is early days and I'm sure the developers will not have had much slack time since the launch, they'll be releasing bug-fix patches for months (same thing happened with WoW).


 

I was a closed beta tester so I can tell you, we reported many bugs and issues that weren't taken care of. Most bugs were, of course, but the UI was one area many testers made suggestions about improving. The beta forums wouldn't take any feedback other than suggestions for improvement. It was the most restrictive forum I've seen, and I do understand why after having been in Conan's beta forum. That was a nightmare.

  User Deleted
9/22/08 5:57:30 PM#18

Mark's a smart guy, and I really like how he thinks. Whether you believe it or not , having forums are a breeding ground for hateful people with spiteful posts - take WoW's forums for example. Forum's aren't needed, they're a small added convenience that generally not even half of the players will use.  It's added bandwidth and people to hire to moderate them - that's money that could be better spent elsewhere.

Many people shoudl also get it into their heads that quitting is the best way to tell the company off. You waste your time talking about everything you hate in a final post, as there's a low chance someone from the company will read it, and no one else gives a crap.

I am also tired of people threatening to cancel, then a few months later, threaten to cancel again. If you hate the game your playing so much, just cancel already. Unfortunately, many can't, because they fail to realize that even while they may hate many things, they're still addicted, so it's not as bad as they think.  It's those that cancel without forum posts that should really be paid attention to.

And yada yada.

 

  Bunglermoose

Novice Member

Joined: 7/29/03
Posts: 65

Procrastinators of the World Unite... you know, not right now... whenever you get around to it.

9/22/08 6:06:44 PM#19

I think Jacobs' response to the knee-jerk, vitriolic nonsense that spews forth from certain customers' wounded sense of entitlement is spot-on.

The customer always has a right to communicate his disapproval in a professional manner, and be responded to in kind.  What a customer does not have the right to do, however, is be abusive. Your rights end where someone else's begins, and a representative of a company shouldn't have to put up with that kind of nonsense.

Re: Lack of Official Forums. I don't know that I completely agree on principle, since I believe that one of my favorite MMORPGs ever -- Tabula Rasa -- was weakened by a fragmented community. I think an official site would have done wonders for that game.  But I definitely see Jacobs' points about the mob mentality that tends to manifest itself on official forums. And anyway, forum frequenters represent only a portion of a total playerbase.

 

  teddyboy420

Elite Member

Joined: 5/22/04
Posts: 391

Blessed are the forgetful: for they get the better even of their blunders - Friedrich Nietzsche

9/22/08 6:30:20 PM#20

First things first, I have a lot of respect for MBJ (Mark B. Jacobs), the man is an absolute genius of game design, he was directly responsible for Public Quests, which IMHO is a HUGE advancment for the genre, and a hell of a buisness man, and on many, many things I agree with him. But I still don't agree w/ his stance of official forums. Especially when Mythic sends their community people to post on half a dozen community sights around the net, and even Mark himself makes it a point to regularly post on forums. All the people want is a central place to have a direct discourse w/ the developers, and not have to hunt all over the intraweb to find it.

Mark's biggest contention w/ official forums is, and always has been the abuse and straight-up ruthlessness that the anominity of the web provides people w/ to just be mean and say pretty much anything they want. He DOES take it too far though. When the whole grace-period being shortened thing came out Mark went to the VN-boards and posted quite a few times. In more then one of those posts he complained about the horrible, horrible things people were directing at him, which, in all honesty weren't all that horrible. He really doesn't have a problem w/ people expressing their dissatisfaction w/ the game, or what-have-you, he just doesn't like the personal attacks on him, or his employees. It's understandable, but I still say an official forum would do more good then harm.

Take the beta forums for instance. I am (was,now that beta is over) an Elder Tester and participated in the beta for many months before release, and I can say without any kind of hesitation that the moderation on the beta forums were the BEST I have ever seen. It was VERY direct, efficient, and no-nonsense, and you know what? It allowed us testers unprecedented communication w/ the devs b/c there was no trolling, and if anyone did say something they weren't supposed to, the comment was erased promptly, and the person warned, or banned if they were a repeat offender or the comment harsh enough. It allowed the devs to get feedback and bug reports w/ such quickness, that things got done faster then I have ever seen in any previous beta tests I have participated in.

I have no doubt that official forums would be handled in the same way, and if so, would only be a credit to the company. IMO he really needs to relent on this hatred of official forums b/c they would make things much easier on the players, and his community team. It's time.

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