Tag Archives: Hickman

TGIF: Friday the 13th!

It has been one of the those weeks where you just want to crash, but you know you have more work to do. It looks like Warhammer has had a busy week as well.

As most of us know by now, Electronic Arts announced Monday that it would lay off 1,500 employees by April. There hasn’t been any confirmation on exactly how many Mythic employees have lost their jobs, but it’s just not a good situation no matter how you look at it.

The news spurred Mythic’s Executive Producer Jeff Hickman to put up a letter on the Heralds of Ultima Online, Dark Age of Camelot and Warhammer Online.

Hickman basically wanted to let all of us know that, despite the layoffs, Mythic is staying committed to making their games awesome. However, there really wasn’t any meat to the letter. It’s understandable that Mythic hasn’t immediately told us how they’ve been impacted. They’ve got more pressing concerns right now.

Eventually we do deserve to know what’s up with a product we’re paying for. Jaime Skelton, a columnist for MMORPG.com, posted an article today on how layoffs affect gamers. The summary of what players want caught my eye, because it applies quite nicely to how I feel:

Communication. Don’t leave players hanging in the dark, wondering if a game they’ve supported for years may be in the trash bin within a few months.

Honesty. Stop feeding us feel good press releases, and give us the facts. Optimism is good, but not when it obscures a very real chance of bad news.

Respect. Don’t assume that we’re addicts, escapists, or otherwise unconcerned about how we spend our entertainment money.

So Mythic, in a nutshell, just please tell it like it is. Not right now, that’s cool, but sometime.

Anyway, moving right along.

A few days following Hickman’s letter, the producers of UO, DAoC and WAR put up letters of their own on their respective Heralds. Jeff Skalski gave us a teeny tiny peek into what they’ve got up their sleeves for 1.3.3.

I totally heart Skalski for letting us know Keg End and Night of Murder are coming back, along with another live event. Even if I never complete the live event, I still get a kick out of how they bring everyone together.

But wait, this week has not been all doom and gloom and what’s to come!

On Wednesday the WAR Dev team hosted a PTS playtest for the City Siege changes. Then they implemented the changes the very next day. Now, Stage 1 lasts one hour and Stage 2 lasts three hours.

Also, in full disclosure, I started working this week as a News Correspondent for Warhammer Alliance. You should check it out.


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Mythic at GDC Austin

Jeff Hickman, the executive producer at Mythic, spoke at Game Developers Conference Austin yesterday. Gamasutra has a nice article summarizing the points Hickman made on WAR in his talk, which was titled “Out of the box(ed product) thinking for an Online Age,” according to the GDC Austin Web site.

Hickman outlined three of Warhammer’s biggest mistakes, which you can view in more detail in the Gamasutra article. In a nutshell, game’s beginning PvE is too easy, “the game gave players ‘little reason to socialize'” and the game’s economy lacked importance.

Honestly, I can’t say I’ve ever seen someone’s reason for unsubscribing attributed to starting Player vs Environment play being too easy. There’s been plenty of noise made regarding end game content, though, but I don’t see that mentioned anywhere in the article.

I understand why Mythic would consider those to be mistakes, but I don’t agree that they are the biggest. I was also very surprised to see that Hickman made no mention of character imbalance, or the uneven population distribution. Go to the forums and you’ll see any number of people complaining about those issues and unsubbing because of them.

With all the server merges and closures happening lately, how could Mythic not see these as being major problems? Just this week the European server Karak Eight Peaks began transferring players into two other servers, as documented by Skarbd on his blog.

On an interesting and unrelated note, the last bit of the article dealt with how Mythic is modifying the game for audiences in Korea. Hickman says there are 78 pages of adjustments and that animations specifically are up for changes. Also, he mentions in the article that Mythic is “looking at core gameplay elements where our Korean partners are saying ‘these don’t work for Koreans.'”

I am quite intrigued to see how different Warhammer will be for Koreans. I just hope Mythic doesn’t get too caught up in another release to fix what’s already going awry.


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