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The MMOG Nation Broadcast #10
Sun, 22 Jun 2008 04:14:00 GMT [download/play]

The first real landmark in the MMOG Nation Broadcast's history accompanies a unique recording from my visit at EA Mythic. During my visit to Virginia I had a chance to chat with Paul Barnett about this and that, an experience I found most engaging and amusing. Carrie Gouskos, the designer on Warhammer's Tome of Knowledge, joined us near the end of the discussion to add her unique insights to the conversation. Paul was nice enough to let me record it all to share with you. We talk about Warhammer, the process of making games, and the value of strong ideas. Check it out.

Unfortunately this podcast also requires a bit of explanation because of how it needed to be edited.

- At one point early in the podcast there's an abrupt cut; Paul received a phone call.
- Near the middle I say something like "I want to know about the cards", which seems very random. Earlier I'd been shown that the folks making Warhammer are playing some sort of meta-game involving a deck of cards. Employees can apparently accomplish goals / do things that can earn them cards. I wasn't told what the rules or purpose of the game was - indeed, I'm only theorizing that there *is* a game, because no details at all were shared with me as an outsider.
- Paul randomly pulled Carrie into the room for that quick Q&A session, which is why she sort of appears spontaneously in the room.
- The loud noise at the end was Paul and I putting the piece of the Blokus game away; sorry about that.

To be honest I'm a bit nervous about this one because I'm not sure this is interesting to anyone that's not me. Shawn did all the editing here, so my hope is the end product is interesting to a broader audience. I really need feedback on this one though: did you enjoy it? Let me know.

Related links:
Massively Goes to WAR
Paul Barnett Face the Nation Recap
Carrie's View of my article about her Tome

God Save the Queen

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Episode 10 Discussion Thread

'Blokus of Reckoning' by animagnum
Submitted on 2008-06-22 10:56:40 CST
It sounded like you guys were playing with Legos, but I guess it was the Blokus game.

What a bizarre interview -- thanks for sharing!

'Best podcast interview I have listened to' by telstar
Submitted on 2008-06-23 02:25:12 CST
Hi Michael,
I have been listening to your podcasts for a couple months now and I have to say that this casual interview with Paul was the best interview podcast I have heard. By the way, I am having the same trouble finding my niche MMO as well these days. I left AoC, WoW and EQII. I picked up on Vanguard again and am having a blast. I listen to Luper and Beau on VoV podcast regularly as well as MMOG Nation and Massively Speaking.

Anyway, just wanted to say - nice job on the interview. It isn't often that you get that personal and casual with a game designer. I thought your comments about the players wanting to be assured that this isn't WoW 2 is right on. This is a big concern for me because I think Warhammer is going to be great but I really don't want to be let down again after the AoC hype.

Maybe Warhammer could send out some new videos to show what the graphics look like now. I love the art style but if it looks like WoW, it's going to turn some people off.

If we don't like Warhammer... What will we do all Winter? Hopefully Paul got your point and will make an effort to get us excited about Warhammer with some new videos.

Thanks for the great work,

'Interesting.' by Akely
Submitted on 2008-06-23 05:12:07 CST
Many of the things Mr. Barnett says makes a lot of sense. I'll try this game just to see how it feels.

'Innovation....' by Kasil
Submitted on 2008-06-23 15:29:53 CST

Nice job, always good to here from the developers of various games in regard to what they are thinking. I found one aspect of the interview to be particularly interesting. As Paul discussed the uniqueness of "The Tome of Knowledge" and "Public Quest" and you brought up the point of them being picked up by WoW or other games. His response appeared to be, you can "see it" and possibly "simulate it" but you can't understand the essence of it. "We, as in EA/Mythic, can only do that". I found his response to be silly and totally off base.

First off a lot of people continually claim that Warcraft is a complete rip off of Warhammer. Well given Blizzards success with both the Warcraft RTS and WoW I would have to say they have pretty well nailed it.

Secondly from what I have heard the "Tome of Knowledge" is nothing more then a combination of XBOX achievement points the LotRO quest log which has been improved and extended. So given Paul's logic would not Microsoft only be able to truly understand and leverage this new aspect of online gaming? Of course not, what they are doing is taking a good idea and improving on it. Sure they have a passionate person behind it, yes the "Tome of Knowledge" looks very cool, etc but this does not preclude Blizzard or any other game company from doing the same thing and possibly doing it better given that if they choose to do so they will have the benefit of everyone else's previous experience.

What I think is much more of a limiting factor is what technical decisions have Blizzard and other companies confined themselves to. Is there a technical architecture in place that allows you to implement a "Tome of Knowledge" or "group questing"? Warhammer online had the benefit of designing the system with these functions in mind where WoW would need to retrofitted to support these new features.

Anyway great interview. I always enjoy hearing your perspective on massive games, etc.