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Reflections on Our Interview With Mark Jacobs

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So here’s big news I thought I shared but didn’t. MMO Radio was picked up by MMORPG.com just over a month ago and rebranded Game On: Epic Slant Press Edition. (And we get to maintain creative control!). That makes us the official podcast for the site, which is quite a bump from what either Adam or I expected when we got started. It’s also taken some getting used to, having that much more accountability, but it’s been for the better and I’m loving it. One of the best aspects to the move is having more accessibility to developers than we’ve ever, or probably could ever, have had before. Enter this last Sunday when Mark Jacobs, now of City State Entertainment, stopped by to talk a bit about Camelot Unchained.

I was saddened that I couldn’t be there and it actually reflects just how new this “greater accessibility” thing is to me. I emailed my awesome editor on Saturday asking if Mark might be willing to join us. I’m used to week-plus turnaround times, and we record Sunday, so I was thinking it would be a few days at best. Within 12 hours, we got the email back that Mark would be happy to join us. I couldn’t be there but Adam did an outstanding job on short notice. Good work, buddy!

I couldn’t have asked the interview to go any better. Mark was a great guest and didn’t seem reserved in the slightest. He talked about crafting, building, sieges, endgame, horizontal progression and more. The man even commented on launch cows from a catapult. Some listeners might expect that frankness with just over two days left in the Kickstarter, but I didn’t.

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A lot of interesting information came out of the talk, too. For example, the role of builders in the siege process. Fear not, crafters, it sounds like your efforts will be could be the linchpin for successful sieges. I loved hearing about how pivotal they will be, that crafters will be their own class, and that the preparations for war won’t be limited to just armor. Crafters will play a central role in building siege gear, upgrading fortresses, and repairing each cog in the war machine. The more I listened, the more excited I got. This could be the game that finally elevates crafters to the role we’ve always wanted them to be in: important, valued, and able to make a name for themselves both on the war field and off.

I also found Mark’s discussion of endgame and horizontal progression enlightening. We all know that vertical endgame’s exist and thrive for a reason and Mark knows it to. He’s seems set to make sure we feel the same satisfaction in progress even without different ranks of Fireball to attain. He also says a lot that’s enthusing for keeping the battles raging, even without PvE spawns to fight over. Resource collection sounds like it will be an important part — but we knew that much. Listen to how he describes it, the position of experience he shares from, and tell me that he’s not prepared to design around the issues we’ve been voicing. That’s reassuring.

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I’m also beyond the point of condemning the man for Warhammer Online, even though some players refuse to let it go. He fell on that sword when the time came and he owns his responsibilities — more than, really, because to hear him describe it, the buck stopped with him. It takes a level of humility to stand before audiences time and again and own his mistakes. In the last section of the show, Adam asks him what he would take or change from his prior development experiences. His answer was great: embracing the small team at CSE like he did at Mythic, designing for the audience and staying reasonable, and not over-shooting just to under-deliver. Their philosophy is poised to create a game that does what it sets out to very well and, if that building video is any indication, pretty creatively too.

Another note: What happens if they don’t make their funding? I was particularly curious about this one since a lot of people seem to be banking their hopes on Camelot Unchained. I was rather surprised to hear Mark frankly say that he may have to re-assess the amount of interest there actually is in this kind of game. If they hit ~1.9M, they’ll almost certainly re-launch their campaign with lesser funding goals. That’s great. I plan on playing the game primarily because it’s bucking a lot of industry trends and could really prove something to the major players out there (WoW is impossible), but I worry that the game not seeing daylight could prove a different, more harmful message.

If you haven’t yet and the game appeals to you in the slightest, consider pledging. They need your support. Even if they don’t make goal this time around, your donation (which may won’t get collected if they don’t hit 2M) could ensure the game comes back for round two.

And hey, if you listen to the show and like it, please drop us a line on the page or leave a review. We’re coming onto the iTunes feed after it’s been live for a few years, so your reviews will honestly help us get the word out.

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