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Jacobs Interview Part Two - Punkbuster, Capitol Cities and Careers

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Jacobs Interview Part Two - Punkbuster, Capitol Cities and Careers, Page Three


The last subject that we tackled in our interview was the announcement that was neither a pure positive for the players nor a sort of mix of good and bad news: “This isn’t something that I can say that it is really a good thing for the player,” he began. “We’re cutting out some classes. I can say that we are doing this for quality, absolutely. Unfortunately, what I can’t say, and I won’t because I’ve never lied to the player base and while this would be a great place to start, I’m not going to.”

“Four of the classes that we’ve been working on, we just couldn’t get great,” he continued. “We looked at them and we said these careers are just not great… and we tried, and they weren’t coming out well.” This left them with a decision similar to the one that they were left with for the cities, do they continue and try to get it, or do they shelve them? In the end, after looking at the metric data that they have been collecting throughout the beta process, they saw that there were four careers that just weren’t working for the players. “We tried,” Jacobs said, “we tried to see if we could make them better and we just couldn’t make them great. So we had a choice. Do we put in some non-great careers just because they are iconic, or we cut them out and put them in post-launch if we can get them right, or do we not put them in at all?” In the end, whether it’s the second or the third option is still unknown. The four careers that are going may surprise players (and even includes one of Marks personal favorites). The list is as follows: Choppa (Greenskin) Hammerer (Dwarf) Blackguard (Dark Elf) Knight of the Blazing Sun (Empire) This means the removal of two tanks and two melee DPS classes. “I wish we didn’t have to do it,” Mark said, “I really do. Unlike the capital cities [which provided a silver lining in the end], I can honestly say that I really wish we didn’t have to cut them out, but it’s better for them to be cut out than to have classes that aren’t great and that we would spend more time trying to make them great post-launch than we should have to.” In the end, the team felt that adding careers into the game that weren’t up to their standards would have hurt not only the game and the company, but the players as well. Trying to fix classes (that are already in the game) post-launch can cause a boatload of nightmares as players not only of the careers involved, but of other careers as well. Many MMO players have experienced the nerfing and other annoyances that are often involved in a great deal of tinkering with an existing class, and Mythic didn’t want to put anyone through that experience unnecessarily. “We’ve been down that path before and we’ve seen other companies go down the exact same path. We’re not going down that path. We’ve launched too many other MMOs and seen too many other guys go ‘it’s not quality, it’s quantity’… Bad move, especially in an RvR game.” “Of all of the news in this interview, this is the worst. Having to cut these guys out, even though it’s the right decision, I am really sorry that we have to do it. I truly am. I don’t like going to the guys and telling them ‘hey sorry, we’ve got to cut these guys out. They’re just not good enough but that was what we had to do.” In the end, Mark tells us that the classes that were cut were either not different enough, or they weren’t strong enough. “They just weren’t enough fun. We’re looking for exciting, we’re looking for fun.” Whether or not you agree with the decision, it’s hard not to like the fact that EA Mythic… I’m sorry, Mythic Entertainment, is telling players up front about the changes and not keeping them under a PR hat, even though some of these announcements will undoubtedly frustrate and anger some players. “We’ve always believed that it is important to go to the community with both good news and bad,” he said. “Whether it’s the state of the games, or just talking in the forums, we’re professional enough to confront bad news head on and not try to hide it and not try to play games and wait until the last minute when people have already bought the game to tell them. We will not play those kinds of games.” Of course, we only have their word for it and in this cynical time, players will have to trust their own guts. Personally though, Mythic has never given me a reason not to believe them. The last thing that we discussed before ending the interview took us full circle back to the first announcement on the EA Mythic name change and the company’s relationship with the publishing giant. “This has nothing to do with EA,” he said, pointing out that this was entirely a Mythic decision, and it isn’t a directive from the company which many MMO players feel has a dubious history in our genre. “they had zero input in this. This is not something we went to them with and said ‘hey guys, we need an extra few months…’ and they said ‘no, you must ship on this day’. They don’t even know about it. It’s not a discussion we would have with them.” Well, I guess they know now.  

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Jon Wood