Anthony Love and I had the pleasure of getting some time to interview EA/Mythic Senior Producer Jeff Hickman and Senior Creative Designer Paul Barnett, at the Baltimore Games Day. Both Jeff and Paul were great to talk with, well to be honest, we just mostly listened. Their passion for Warhammer Age of Reckoning is inspiring. Inspiring enough to transcribe the interview. (FYI for those of you who have never transcribe audio, it's not pleasant).
This is Joe Iuliani for MMORPG and I'm here with Paul Barnett and Jeff Hickman talking about...
WARHAMMER ONLINE: Age of Reckoning!
and back to coffee.
Well this thing is one, so let's go...
What's great about this place is that it's Games Day. So what you got is our game with all the other people who are obsessed about the Warhammer idea. Some people are here because obsessed because they have read the novels and really like the background. A lot of people here because they are obsessed about the miniatures and the realization of the IP, but there are TON of people who are obsessed about our computer game.
I know, I saw the line all the way around your booth.
Oh yeah, it's crazy.
and what it shows is just how strong and wondrous the idea of Warhammer is that you can do it as table top game, as a novel as a comic, you can also do it as a computer MMO and that's because we are making a hobby. We're not making a computer game, this isn't a wash, rinse, repeat out the door, forget. This is a community; we just had Games Workshop in our building.
That was awesome. Mark Wells.
Mark Wells the CEO came over and Ernie Baker head of the US came over. And we were talking with them and they love the fact that we aren't looking at finishing the game and shipping. We're looking at ten years of total commitment, of constantly putting more time, more effort, more joy, more love into the thing that they hopefully love and they saw the game and more importantly...
That was awesome. Mark Wells.
They saw the squig.
Jeff has a new desk ornament that's so large.
It's the guardian of...
We have so much commitment that a few weeks ago, we get out of the blue an e-mail from a guild, Regiments of Renown, and they basically say, we got something coming for you, we weren't going to tell you, but it's so big we had to put it in freight on a pallet, please watch out for it, it's a surprise.
It won't fit in the elevator.
It won't fit in the elevator. So it comes a couple weeks ago. We open it up and it is the biggest squig you've ever seen. They built it. They made it out of paper mache and foam and they painted it with the Games Workshop paint.
Three hundred pots, like three hundred little pots of paint to make sure they got the right hue.
That shows a lot of commitment.
You hit it right on head. The commitment. That is what it's all about. The time, the love.
There is a lot of love among the Warhammer fans. All the mini gamers, and everybody's got the fervor. There has been chatter going on for well over a year every since it was announced.
There [are] basically two love affairs that go on here. There is love affair of playing MMOs, you go "you know what I like doing, I like logging into a virtual world, I like having an avatar, I like increasing, and getting loot" there's that love affair.
We know how do to that, others know how to do that, Mythic knows how to do that.
There is a second love affair; a very wondrous love affair It's a world you can fall in love with. It's not superficial. It's actually wider appeal and the more you get into it, the better it gets. Our Orcs and Goblins are Greenskins, are fantasti.c When we first started to do this game and marketing said you had the Greenskins People were a little bit nervous a little bit confused There's no girls, they're sorta ugly they're sorta of little strange, but we focused on it and slowly but surely Mythic started building the Shaman, and the Squig Herder, and the Choppa, and the Black Orc and started doing the joyous Orc villages, and the fact that they paint things red to make them go faster, and great big Orc heads, and Gork and Mork, the whole lunacy of the Orc-a-pult, they are so good on our beta.
They outnumber the dwarves.
People are flocking towards the Greenskins.
It's one of those things that if you did it as a straight test and written it down, people who didn't know would go "I don't know, evil's not popular".
They thought, "you know we're going to have a population problem, the good guys are going to outnumber the bad guys", we don't think that's going to be the case.
Talking about the Greenskins, watching the animated demo for WAR, sums up the Greenskins perfectly, all dynamic, jumping in the catapult, thinking I'm gonna storm this castle. The catapult goes, he's taking arrows, and he's screaming right into the wall.
Right into the wall.
It doesn't phase the Orcs at all, if anything, they seem even happier.
They just lost their champion to a wall.
He lands on a pile of Greenskins, That's the great thing they go "more rocks lads, put more rocks underneath the catapult we need to go a little bit higher" and then another one comes out. Orcs are wonderful because they live absolutely in the moment. The only thing they are interested is what they are doing right now and the only thing they want to do is fight stuff. We have to write some jokes for Orcs, the jokes that Orcs would tell every single one of the Orc punch lines "and then I killed it" [laughter] or "I killed all of them" or "I killed 'em twice".
It's totally outlined, in the first public quest you get as a Greenskin. It's simply about getting the dwarves to come out and fight. That's it, there's nothing more complex than that. It may look more complex, but every single thing you do in that first public quest is building up to "here they come let's fight em".
What's great about it is that it gives you purpose... Real life is full things we don't like: taxes, monkeys, donkeys living in your front room that you got to rid of, stuff you don't want to do. Going into our game, you get to escape the world, if you want to play Orcs and beat the living snot out of people in really cool ways.
The donkey thing really doesn't bother me as much.
That aside Um, we can edit that out. One donkey show doesn't make somebody a bad person.