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Launch Interview Part One: Jeff Hickman

Jon Wood Posted:
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WAR - Launch Interview Part One: Jeff Hickman

Recently, MMORPG.com Managing Editor Jon Wood had the opportunity to sit down in separate interviews with Jeff Hickman, Josh Drescher and Mark Jacobs to talk about the launch of Warhammer Online, the game that they have both been working on diligently for the last three years. In today's Part One Jeff Hickman answers the questions.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to sit down in separate interviews with Jeff Hickman, Josh Drescher and Mark Jacobs to talk about the launch of Warhammer Online, the game that they have both been working on diligently for the last three years.

I asked both Jeff and Josh of them the same set of questions about the game and its launch. In Part One, Jeff Hickman answers our questions, Part Two will give us Josh’s answers to the same questions and Part Three will give you an overview of my one-on-one conversation with Mark Jacobs about not only the launch, but EA, Mythic’s future and more.

In Part One though, It’s Jeff Hickman’s turn to answer our launch questions:

How do you feel now that this stage of development is over for Warhammer Online?

Jeff’s answer:

“I feel fantastic,” he answered. He went on to talk about the fact that he, and everybody in the building, is feeling a bit ecstatic. They are excited, he tells us, because they feel that they have made an awesome game. He told me that he is enjoying the ecstatic feeling that seems to be going around.

All in all, and for all of the enthusiasm that he clearly has for his title, you can literally hear the exhaustion in his voice.

Did anything make it into the game near the end that you thought might not make it?

Jeff’s Answer:

Jeff told us that the project had been run on a very strict timeline and that the focus for the end of development was difficult to decide on. In the end though, it was the Auction House feature that wasn’t where they wanted it to be two months out. They had to think about how they wanted to proceed and even considered (at least for a short time) not having it in at launch (Which, Jeff admitted, would have been a very bad thing as the auction house plays such an important role in the game’s economy).

He said that going in-game now and seeing it in the game and watching people use it, putting things up and watching them buy things, feels great.

“Our plan came together,” he said. “We planned it out the way that it is when you play the game now, it’s what we talked about three years ago (in general).”

Is there anything that didn’t make it into the game that you’re looking to add in the next few updates?

Jeff’s Answer:

While he couldn’t give any timeline details, he was able to tell us a little bit about what features they hoped to add in the future including additions to the Tome of Knowledge (crafting, competitive aspects, etc.).

“Most of our primary systems,” he said, “RvR, Public Quests… The way that we put all of those together are pretty much exactly how we wanted them to be. We have some more cool things that we will do, but our systems are right where they’re at.”

He expanded on this by talking a bit about wanting to improve character customization by giving players more options, more trophies and the like.

Were there any announced features that didn’t make it into the game and we don’t know about?

Jeff’s answer:

“There’s none of that for us,” he said, “The things that we said were going to be in, or announced wouldn’t be in (the classes and capital cities, for example) are or aren’t there.”

Basically, what he was saying was that if they said previously that it would be in and didn’t tell us otherwise, it’s there. He did admit that there are probably a few things that might have been said early on that just didn’t make it (This is almost inevitable on some level). The example that he gave me came from a while back when the plan was to have the character models change as they progressed…. Orcs would get larger, Drawf beards would grow… Somewhere along the time this idea got tossed. As Jeff pointed out, it was really cool for those two races, but what do you do for Empire? High Elves?

He did assure us though that there wouldn’t be any big surprises as may have been the case with other releases.

There has been some concern among head-starters that Destruction populations are going to dwarf (excuse the pun) Order. What can you say to this?

Jeff’s Answer:

It’s something that they saw coming and there are a number of steps that they are taking to prevent this:

  • Servers are capped by realm so that in the long run, it’s going to be hard for a server to be truly unbalanced.
  • Hardcore fans (those who pre-ordered or got the CE) were expected to “hit Destruction really hard”. They also expect that to balance out after launch as the standard edition players hit the servers today.

What makes Warhammer stand out the most (especially from World of Warcraft, which some people accuse WAR of cloning)?

Jeff’s Answer:

“Nobody said this is a revolution in MMO making,” he answered. “This is evolutionary. There are some thing that we do that are fundamentally awesome. Take RvR for example. Some people could claim that it’s just another PvP game, but it’s not... It’s game changing. Public Quests… I think 100% that while they are evolutionary from quests that other games have done, the way that we’ve integrated them into our game and the things that we do with public quests are outstanding.”


Jon Wood