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Gaarawarr Gabs with James Casey

October 1, 2009

(My apologies for not getting this posted sooner.  I’ve had it finished, but with my IRL move, I just never seemed to get it transferred over and posted here.  ~Gaar)

For those that don’t know, James Casey is the Team Lead for the User Interface and Tome of Knowledge Team.

So, if the Tome of Knowledge is my Holy Grail, that makes James the god I worship, hehe.

By now, everyone knows of my Tome-aholism, so you can imagine how excited I was to get a chance to sit down and talk face-to-face with someone in charge of putting all kinds of Tomey goodness into the game.

Oh yeah, and there’s that UI stuff too.  :p

Enjoy!

~Gaar

James:  So, what’s your favorite Title?

GG:  “the Mighty” because that’s the one I worked the hardest to get. 10,000 Gnoblar kills as a Tank.  I mean, I love a lot of them.  I love to wear “the Tease” and “the Flirt” while running around…   (ed.  Lately, I favor “the Sneaky”)

James:  I always run around as “the Flirt” but, if I have the time, I get “the Devioblidevannihilator”.

GG:  Yeah, everybody loves that one because it’s just this big, long thing.  I do have that one. I’m looking forward to finishing my…oh! I have “the Natural Disaster”…

James:  Nice!

GG:  …which is awesome, for getting all the PQ Armor Sets.  People see that one and they’re like “What?”  I really need a way for my Title to just be random though, just randomize your Title.

James:  That would be a nice one.

Andy:  Isn’t there an addon that does that?

GG:  Well, someone started to make one because we had all talked about it on the forums.  So they had done a bit of it, but I’m not sure how it ended up.  I would love it because I’m up to over 250 Titles now and I’m really trying to break 300, but it’s so hard because you really want to show them all off.  We used to be able to do that in Star Wars Galaxies.  We could make a macro that switched between all of our Titles so when we were running around, it would just switch all the time.  So you’d be fighting someone and they’d be like “Who is this guy!?!?!  It’s not stopping?!?!!”

All laughing…

James:  It would be interesting to randomize it or even allow yourself a way to pick a certain amount of them that rotate, almost like the Bragging Rights [tab] but for Titles.

GG:  Yeah.  I think the way the addon worked was it would change them when you zoned and I think they were going to work on a timer.  It was definitely interesting, but I’m not sure how much they got done.

James:  It’s definitely an interesting idea.

GG:  So, yeah…I definitely love the Tome of Knowledge.  It was actually the main…when I first heard about WAR, I’d heard about RvR and I was playing an RvR game at the time…

James:  Which one?

GGPirates of the Burning Sea. So, I was kind of like “I’m already playing an RvR game” so there was no real reason to look for another one.  But I lived in San Diego at the time and I went to Comic-Con and headed over to the Mythic booth.  I walked up to a guy and said “Show me Warhammer Online.”  So the guy showed me stuff and it was a lot of stuff I’d done before so I wasn’t too excited, but then he goes “…and then there’s this book that tracks everything you do.” And I went “OK, I’m in.”

All laughing…

Because, to me, I was always the guy that did all the little quests…

James:  Yup.

GG:  All the little things, explored everywhere, got all the armor items, you know.  I was a huge, huge rare collector in SWG and did all kinds of decorations and things, so, to me, in-game, that was the biggest thing and all of a sudden here was something that put it all into one place.

James:  Yeah.  I think that’s something that Microsoft did really well with the X-Box 360 and they did the whole Achievement thing.  I mean, they tapped a market there that just…I don’t even think they realized just how good that was going to be.  I mean, it’s incredible.

GG:  Everybody likes to feel like the effort they’re putting in is getting them something.  So, like the Achievements in the Tome…and just for, not even bragging rights, people are always like “Well, prove it!” and there was no way to do it, but with the Tome there is.  So, yeah, the Tome of Knowledge was the major draw for me.  It’s awesome to be able to talk to you about it.  🙂

James:  So, any suggestions you have, or questions, comments?

GG:  Well, obviously the Tome is very PvE-oriented, for the most part.  Sure, there’s some things you get through RvR and we know that there was a comment made at one point where we may be getting more of an RvR section, almost like the Dammaz Kron addon or something like it.  Are we still going to be seeing that, or is it something that’s been pushed off for later?  I mean, for the RvR population that doesn’t care about the Tome, that could almost get them into the Tome as a whole and I’d love to see that happen.

James:  Yeah, you will still be seeing that.  I can’t give you a firm date on when it’s going to occur, but we definitely have plans to expand what the Tome represents for RvR.  It’s a combination of things.  We want to make sure that there’s a dedicated section.  We want to make sure that there’s more stuff that you can get out of it, Achievements that you can do RvR-wise, let you track more stuff, let you see that, and that’s all in the works.  Will it be sooner or later?  I can’t really tell you at this point, but we have been actively working on it.  It’s definitely something we want.

GG:  Flavor text.  Fluff.  Things that you can sit down and read.  With the Tome of Knowledge, I see some there, but it still feels like it’s a bit short because it’s supposed to be the story of your character in the world.  So it feels like there’s some aspects that still need to be in there…

James:  Like what?

GG:  “You’ve achieved Rank 10 on this date in this area.”  Key moments in your character’s progression.

James:  So, it’s more of a journal of your achievements versus you’ve got an achievement?

GG:  Yeah, so almost like how the Guild screen shows the Guild progression but it’s tied to your Tome so you can always go back and look and find out when and where you did major things.  So, when you’re bored and waiting for a Scenario, you could be reading/reviewing it.  And then the Dungeon crawlers would love it because they’d be able to say “World First” and back it up with their Tome.  Personalization adds some flavor to the Tome because then it truly is a story about your journey.

James:  That’s a good suggestion.  Thinking about it, I can probably guess why they didn’t do some of that stuff to start with, just because of the bandwidth involved.  Storing that much data would be kind of monumental.  You’ve seen some of the things where you notice longer loading times, which we’ve taken steps to reduce…

GG:  Yeah, I haven’t got to test that yet, but I heard it’s like night and day.  I heard my 3,200+ Tome unlocks will just load right in.

James:  Yeah, it’s much better.  The initial load will still be a little longer than someone without as many, but once you start zoning around, you notice a big difference.  So, I’m sure that went into it.  Now, that being said, I don’t think it’s a bad suggestion.  Maybe not everything in the Tome would be that type of drilled-down thing, but you make certain life events able to have data stored about them.  I don’t think that’s a bad idea to look at and investigate in the future.  It’s a good idea.

GG:  Cards.

James:  Yes.

GG:  The ubiquitous Card tab.

James:  Yeah…

All laughing…

James:  Well, there are a lot of things that, obviously, we wanted to do at Launch and one of them happened to be…we wanted to have other reward types.  So, there were a lot of ideas thrown around and, I’m pretty sure we talked about it before, but the idea was that if we had other rewards you could almost make it like a card game where you could get those things and it allowed you to have a meta-game within the Tome and things like that.  Unfortunately, over time, we just haven’t had the ability to go back and focus and finish the design on it because of other aspects of the game that have taken more of our resources.

It’s still there, we’ve got a few designs that we’ve kicked around with what we want to do, but it’s something where, if we finish that off, it’s all in there, so we can hook it up in that regard but we need the end part to be perfect.  If we do this, we don’t want to go “OK, we’ll utilize this” but then nobody does it and we just haven’t gotten to that point.  It’s something we’d still like to do at some point and we still have that mechanism for adding additional reward types.  I guess we could have left out the tab at some point, but that’s kind of a hindsight thing.  We had the intention of doing it more right away but then we had other priorities come up, which you see with a lot of our patches, things are subject to change in that regard.

So, it’s still there.  It’s still kind of a tease.  We still have some designs for it, just nothing that’s been green-lit at this point.  I would say you won’t see anything there for the foreseeable future.

GG:  Obviously, there’s sections where you can kill X number of monsters and if you do that for all the similar monsters, it unlocks a new Title.  Are there plans for, maybe, doing things like that but then that unlocks another set of unlocks that were hidden before?  So that people who really get into the Tome meta-game…you’ve unlocked stuff, but say you have to unlock these certain Achievements and Exploration areas but then, when you get a certain combination of them, then all of  sudden a new Achievement section opens up that you didn’t see or have access to before.  So, you’re like “Wait, what’s this?” and it says “You’ve started down the path to…” whatever.

Andy:  Yo dawg, I hear you get unlocks with your unlocks…

All laughing…

GG:  Well, you know me, I love my Tome unlocks.  I love me some Tome unlocks…

James:  Sure.  I don’t know that we have anything specific planned…I know we have things where we’re trying to do more stuff with how unlocks interact in the future.  We’re always trying to get stuff in Live Events and technically all that stuff is driven off of unlocks and the Tome of Knowledge.  So, we’re trying to work on ways where you can have sub-tasks and do things like that where certain things are available and unlock others.

(The Wild Hunt Master Huntsman page was a recent example!)

Directly what you’re asking about, we probably don’t have any definite plans.  I think that’s kind of cool.  We did it to a small degree with some of the obscure things out there.  I mean, there ar some things out there that if you do certain things, unless you do them, you can’t do other unlocks in the Tome.  We tried to be kind of restrictive on it because we didn’t want too many things that were really obscure, because as it is, some people are like “How the heck do I do that unlock?”  I mean, some of the Achievements are built like that where they were almost a quest series in that regard.

GG:  Oh yeah, like the Witch Hunters in Tier 1 Nordland.

All laughing…

That’s one of the coolest unlocks because you’re like…you could be watching them walk around but never click on one of the townspeople and then you do one day and all of a sudden the unlock pops and you’re like “I’ve got to find out where the rest of these are!”

James:  Yeah, but definitely in that regard, we don’t have something that’s like “Hey, I’ve collected all these books that are scattered across the world” and then it says “Hey, why don’t you do this?”

GG:  Right, cuz I know a lot of people look at that and go “What if we get all of this?  Is it going to do something?”  Almost like National Treasure.  It’s almost like a treasure map that you didn’t know was a treasure map.

James:  Yeah, so you’d finish off a set of unlocks in an Achievement area and that one gives you an unlock that is the first one in a new section, for example, which is not a bad idea for some stuff going forward I think.  It’s kind of a cool goal to go “Hey!  What did I just unlock?”

GG:  Yeah, so I have to follow this up with a question…so I try to do everything and I keep everything because I never know when I’m going to need it…so, obviously, there are certain items that drop in the game where, if you find the secret person or you get X number and you click on them the right way, things happen.  I have a bank vault full of Easter Egg items like this and, for the love of Grungni, I can’t find where these things are!

James is laughing at me at this point…

I love the fact that it is very vague.  I like that you can choose to keep it and go explore, or not.  I don’t have any room left though…and some of them have some flavor text and, yes, that makes it so much easier, but so many don’t.  And I mean, SO many do not.  Is there any way we can have flavor text as a little more of a hint added to some?

James:  Sure.

GG:  Or maybe even make some hints more readily available.  I don’t want to give stuff away for free, we all want to work for it…

James:  Right.  We had that conversation internally.  Do we make them a little easier to understand?  Do we give you more flavor text perhaps? For example, in the Bestiary, if you hover over some of the tasks, it gives you more of a description of where it is and kind of what you have to do.  So, do we make that a little more directed just to give people a better chance to go “Oh, I found this here and that kind of relates, so that’s cool.”

We did try, at least initially at Launch when we were doing a lot of these items, to make sure that…I think they’re all white items and not trash in that regard…we tried to keep to some kind of building scheme so that at least they stayed similar.  I don’t think we succeeded in getting all the flavor text to the degree where it would all be useful and you could go “Oh, hey, I should probably keep this or collect more of those.”

In that sense, actually the best way to probably do that is to submit feedback or even bugs that say “Hey, I have no idea what this item does.  It looks like it’s important.  There’s no flavor text.”  The more we have like that, our guy in the Tome Team can go in there and make a quick change and we can just push that up with the next version and that gives more information for you guys.

GG: So, that begs the question, is it truly definitive that only the white, bind-on-pickup items are Tome unlocks or are there some white items that are disposable/sellable, or maybe some grey items?  There’s grey items that have no sell price, there’s grey items that have a sell price but look like the others.  I mean, I can literally go through my bank vault and…

Andy:  A lot of those are itemization bugs too.

GG:  Right.  But we have no way to know that as players and we want to know.  That’s why I’m curious.

James:  We probably need to do an audit to see if some of those things have slipped through the cracks.  For the most part, we tried to make them white.  We tried to make them bind-on-pickup, but as you said, there’s some out there that are not that you say “Hey, I can sell these” and you do.  So, we probably need to do an audit to get that a little more clear in the players’ eyes because, yeah, if you don’t have a set standard, it’s like you said…

GG:  Yeah, cuz there’s definitely Easter Eggs that give you things that are grey, but with no sell price.

James:  Absolutely.  I’m in the same boat sometimes and I know most of the items that were made because I either tested them or made them, and even then, it’s like, I’ve got this grey Mote of something…that sounds cool.  Wonder what it does?  It’s grey though…I don’t know…

GG:  Yeah, like the Unstable Squigling and nobody knows what you’re supposed to do with it…

James:  Yeah, so, I think in that regard, I do see that as an opportunity.  Something we could do an audit on, even from our QA people, and go from there and say “Let’s tweak these up.”  And we talked about that even recently, so I think that’s a great idea. But I can see, as a player myself, I get confused by a few of those too.  It’s like “…yeah…this is a Dwarf dagger…cool…”

GG:  Yeah, I got a Marsh Axe…I got an unlock but I also got an axe in my inventory…am I supposed to keep it…?

James:  It’s like “Yeah…sure…”

All laughing…

Yeah, I don’t think we want to go to the route where there’s like a definitive level for those type of items or even a definitive flavor text that says “Hey, this is a Tome item” or anything like that.  But the fact that if they at least had a standard format that we used on some of the items that it’s at least 100% across the board.  I would definitely agree with that.

GG:  OK, how about a UI question?

James:  Sure.

GG:  Auction House UI.  A big complaint from a lot of players is that when you do the drill-down, say for crafting materials, unless you’re specific about the name and toss in level requirements, you can’t really find stuff.  Are there any plans on trying to make it more streamlined or redoing it altogether?

James:  It’s actually a combination of things.  It’s kind of a complicated beast in that the Auction House is more than just a UI feature.  It has a lot of server code, our back-end database, things like that.  So, it sounds easy to throw a in new search, for example.  Unfortunately,  it’s a lot of code work and database structure before we can do that.  We can’t just go into the UI and say “Hey, we’d like to search by this.”  We have a number of bugs in that regard as in it should have more searches for this and this, especially with some of the more recent things.

We also include in that we have a bug about the specific thing you mention where you don’t seem to get anything [back from your search] unless you’re very specific.  That’s also a search engine thing where it’s just not pulling the database quite right.  I’ve got all those bugs together and I’ve been working with our Ops Department, which actually handles a lot of the database side of that.  It’s just a matter of getting the chance to correct those.  But we do have all those things set up, we have them listed, it’s just a matter of getting the time to do it and we realize how frustrating that can be because if you can’t find what you want, it becomes a not-quite-as-useful tool for people.

GG:  So with the Auction House, you have Alliance and Guild-only auctions.  You have the ability to set that.  Is there any way we can maybe see it send out a notification to those in your Alliance/Guild that someone put up items just for those people that gives you maybe the basic information about the items?  Otherwise, there’s not really any way to know that someone’s listed stuff unless you just always make a habit of go checking or someone’s always spamming your Alliance/Guild chat about what they’re selling, neither of which is enjoyable.  Maybe even being able to browse your Guild/Alliance Auction House from your Guild page but not be able to buy anything from it.

James:  Yeah, I can understand that because even if it’s a news feed type of message when one of these items is put up for sale and you can filter the Guild news by that, I could see that.

GG:  Yeah, because then you’d at least know to go to the Auction House and hit Guild-only and go shopping.

James:  Yeah, absolutely.  Great idea.

GG:  Especially when people have different schedules.

James:  Oh absolutely, because if you don’t go on or check the Auction House regularly and someone’s putting it up there and you may need it…

GG:  Yeah, it also gives more of a benefit of being in a Guild or an Alliance than just a chat channel.

James:  Yeah, I agree.  I just have to check with the server guys to see what messages we’re currently doing on that.  It should be relatively easy once we get that, so I’ll ask them about that.

GG:  So, while we’re on a “social” topic.  Friends Lists are like…I can’t…I don’t know why, but I play an MMO and my Friends List only has room for 40 people?  This is supposed to be this Massively-Multiplayer thing and I can’t add people onto my Friends List because it caps at 40. So, it’s like, with Star Wars Galaxies you didn’t have a limit on your Friends List at all…

Mykiel:  Just stay within your social group…

GG:  Well, I’m in an RvR game, my social group is my entire Realm.  There was a time after the server transfers where, if it had allowed me to, I’d have had 200 people on my Friends List that I literally would have contacted every couple of days because I needed to know where they were to coordinate RvR.  I don’t have the ability to do that, I also can’t label things like “Here’s this person, what guild are they in?” or “What crafting do they do?” etc.  And I even talked to people in the addon community and I’m like “Can I make an addon that does this?” and they’re like “The API won’t allow it.”

James:  So, let me ask you a question first.  As far as the cap on the Friends List would go…if it was removed, would you be ok with having the list be client-side only at that point?  Like, if you went between computers, you’d only have that set of friends there versus on the server.

GG:  Well, to me, it’s not that big of a deal.   If it’s on my client, I can export it to a file and copy it to another computer, especially since I’m usually just on one computer anyway.

James:  Yeah, I’m just thinking aloud because we keep a certain amount of data there on the server.  So maybe we add a secondary tier where those are all client-based.

GG:  I would think the benefit would outweigh the negative there because now I can truly track everybody plus with as many people that have alts, keeping track of all of them and who they belong to is a nightmare.  If I could label them, it would be great.

James:  We’ve been discussing a lot of those types of things in that regard.  We’ve thrown around adding maybe comments to players that are tracked client-side so you can say “This guy’s on my Friends List but only because he’s a jerk and I’m tracking him.”

GG:  Exactly.

All laughing…

James:  Whatever the case may be…sometimes…you have to be honest, people use Friends Lists for different reasons.

GG:  Yeah, I want to know which zone NOT to go in because they’re there and I don’t want to deal with them.

James:  Yeah, so there are definitely some possibilities there.  We’ve been throwing around a lot of ideas on increasing the functionality of the Friends List, make it more like a Buddy List, and hopefully you’ll see some of those things soon, without going into specifics…

(The new Buddy List-type Social window was just introduced in 1.3.1.)

We’ve even talked about some of the things you’ve mentioned.  As far as the cap thing, I don’t think we really discussed that as much, but it’s something I can bring up in our conversations.

GG:  It’s been a big thing in the last two games I’ve played because they were RvR games, but they had the tiniest Friends Lists.  So, someone like me, the social person who wants to really coordinate and communicate with lots of broad groups of people and know what Guild/Alliance they are in, I need to know that stuff to really get a cohesive picture, there was really no way for me to do that which makes it very limiting.

James:  One of the things, and I’ll use an example outside of our game so you can know where I’m coming from or at least about some of the thoughts I’ve had recently, do you use X-Box Live?

GG:  Not really, but I’ve seen it used.

James:  They kind of have some good things on there that I would love to see changes implemented for as well.  For example, they have a suggested friends, in essence, based on people you’ve grouped with, so we’ve looked at that as well…

(This went live in 1.3.1 as well.)

We’ve looked at all kinds of things that make for a good social atmosphere with the tools.  One of the things that I think I would actually love to have on X-Box Live, and it comes down to…it’s almost like the commenting thing that you mentioned…I have like fifty-something friends on X-Box Live.  I play with like four of them.  I really want a way to tier my friends.  I want to say “You know what?  These guys I care about.  They should always be at the top of my list.  If they’re on, I always see them and know that they’re on.”  Then these are kind of my “Hey, these are my acquaintances.”  Hey, if I want to, I want to say that I’m offline to my acquaintances because I don’t want to be bothered by these people.

GG:  There was a system in SWG where you could make it so that if I put you on my Friends List and if you had me on yours, I could ping you and find out exactly where you were.  But, if I put you on mine, but you don’t put me on yours, all of a sudden, this is an acquaintance relationship.  So maybe for your tier system, that would tier it up a slot or the number of times you group with them gets tracked…

James:  Yeah, so it’s like you’re leveling your friendship.

GG:  Right, you’re almost playing a friendship game, but in a sense, it automatically controls your list so that your main friends you play with all the time are up at the top, but you still have access to the others you want to communicate with and you can almost watch someone drop down and it reminds you “Hey, I need to talk to this person and see what they’re doing” and when you do, it pulls them back up your list by your interaction.

James:  I know we’ve been talking about some things like that where if there’s some way we can make that list a little easier…that’s where I’ve been taking some of my inspiration from is some of these systems like AIM and Trillian that are essentially Friends Lists like X-Box Live or whatever and some of them do some really cool stuff and some of them have some opportunities just like we do.  So it’s like what can we do?  We have some of those in the pipes and hopefully you’ll see them soon.

GG:  Totally derailing the conversation, but this just came to me.  Another blogger had commented a long, long time ago that it would be cool to see kind of a Dev Diary in the Tome where when you get to a new zone or see something…not for everything, but just for unique pieces of art or cool statues…so you actually unlock a Dev Diary entry that explains “This was put in because of this” so it’s almost like an explanation so that people can see how and why things are in the game.

James:  You’re talking about like a commentary track?

GG:  Almost, yes, but in the Tome as maybe additional flavor text but truly about just the development of the game.  Then, when you’re exploring the game, you’re not just exploring the game world, you’re exploring the making of the game as well.

James:  Yeah, because you’re going to get some insight into like “Why exactly does that look that way?”

GG:  Exactly.

Andy:  It would be cool to have that be an audio track actually, if we could figure out how to toggle a “Hey, you’ve unlocked a commentary track.”

James:  There would be some distraction to that.  The audio track, the biggest issue I’d see there would be bandwidth and adding additional audio to what is already a large download or a large install.  I like the idea, but it would almost have to be…in fact, the feature as a whole almost sounds like it would have to be built into the game ahead of time.  Because, even if we went back and did this for a lot of things, trying to get the exact idea behind some of these things would be tough.  I mean, some developers aren’t here that did certain things.

GG:  Right, but there are some things you could do as kind of the introduction of it and then as the game matures, because despite what people say, we’re going to see the game around for years, so every time things get added it would almost be like a cool little commentary added in.

James:  I could see how it would be kind of cool going forward with new stuff, kind of pepper it in.  Like I said, the hardest part would be trying to do it for existing content at this point.

GG:  Yeah, but it’s one of those things where I’d almost want to see it just for new content as opposed to not at all.  So, if you can get some for old stuff, that’s cool.  Sort of a “You’ve unlocked a Classic Commentary” because you found the story for something already in the game.

All laughing…

It’s just another thing, but there’s so many people who want to know how and why the game gets made the way it is.

James:  I can see that as being on any certain thing that you get, maybe there’s almost like a Post-It note on it so you can say “Hey, I unlocked some information about this” and you bring it up and it gives you that information and it doesn’t really break the existing Tome in that regard, which is kind of cool.  Definitely worth investigating, especially with newer features I think.  Heck, you could even do it with some of the Live Events.  I know we’ve done a few times where we’ve done Dev Diaries on the Herald about certain events but I don’t think we’ve done it every single time…

GG:  But then it’s hard to find those and not everyone sees the Herald.

James:  Yeah, I agree.  Having it there versus in-game…yeah, so either you say that in the Live Event thing, either we have a way to link you to that story and it pops up real quick or we have a built-in version of that text that is easily accessible.  So, I can definitely see that as a possibility.  I’d hate to do it just as a web-link only because people do play full-screen and things like that become an issue, but then having a built-in, almost a mini-browser, with the text of it would almost be the easiest way to go.

GG:  So, UI question again.  Is there any way we can see the chat boxes streamlined so that they maybe remember old channels you’d created or joined so if you make new windows on occasion, it’s easy to get them set up the way you want them to be again with all your preferences?  That way you don’t necessarily have to have all these chat tabs up all the time, you can just delete and re-create the tab when you need it and it’s already set up for you because you stored the settings before.

James:  So, like a Favorite Channels where it’s like “Oh, here’s my dropdown of all the channels I’ve made.”

GG:  Yeah, and there’s kind of an addon that will set up channels and join for you each time, but you don’t always want to have to rely on addons to do things and they don’t always do what you’d really want them to.  And there’s also a lot of things related to this that you can only do with slash commands.

James:  Yeah, it’s actually one of my pet peeves where, as we get time, I’d like to see some of the slash commands we have in there be in the UI versus just as a slash command.  Because there’s things in there that people don’t even realize that you can do necessarily or where you can do it, so making that more intuitive is definitely on my agenda as well.

Mykiel:  And can we get a /hug command?

All laughing…

GG:  There’s no hugging in WAR!!!

Andy:  You should take that up with Paul and Games Workshop.

James:  Yeah, I’m pretty sure that there was probably a conversation about that where they were like “That doesn’t really fit with the WAR theme” but I can understand why players would want it too because I’m consistently going “Yeah…why can’t I do that?”

Mykiel:  I don’t even want the animation.

James:  Right, it’s just an emote at that point.

Mykiel:  I have said it so many times and it’s like “Hey Mykiel…where you going?” and we’re on defense and I’m like “OK guys, I’m gonna step out and give someone a hug” and I run out and do whatever I need to do and then I die and I’m like “Ahhh…they got me.  They didn’t want to get hugged.”

GG:  It’s just flavor stuff, to have more fun.

James:  Well, it is.  It’s flavor, it’s fluff, but to a degree, I see some of the argument of “Well, it’s war!” but yeah, that’s fine, but in wartime there’s also…

GG:  There’s always that crazy guy that does weird things on the battlefield.

James:  Well, yeah, we have a roleplay sever and you’re not at war with your Realm-mates.  So there’s no reason you can’t hug them because it’s not like you want to hug them to slip a knife into their back.

GG:  Well…not always…

All laughing…

OK, so then, my ultimate Tome question is:  Do you know, roughly, the possible number of Tome unlocks one person could get?  I know that there are unlocks that only one side can get that others can’t, things like that, but is there like…is it something you keep track of or is it that you just add stuff in and no one really knows?

James:  I can’t remember the last time that I looked at that number.  Umm…

GG:  Because I know you can’t get everything, it’s just impossible.

James:  Yeah.  You can’t because there are definitely a few that are locked out by Realm obviously, because you just can’t do those things.  In fact, there’s some Bestiary things that are like that for the opposite Realms.

~sighs and thinks for a moment~

I can’t remember.  It’s definitely like five or six thousand…a little higher than that maybe.  There’s so many in there.  It boils down, though, to true unlocks versus some things that are unlocked via the Tome, too.  Because we have a lot of things that are unlocked through the Tome like map stuff or PQ stuff, then you have stuff that’s Achievements and then Bestiary and then you have stuff that’s who knows.  There’s a lot of things that Tome system ends up being.  I know it’s several thousand but I honestly can’t remember the last time I looked at those numbers.  We have a spreadsheet that has every unlock ever made…

GG:  Nice!  That’s like my Holy Grail…

All laughing…

James:  That thing is much more than several thousand, that’s quite large.  Umm…as far as an actual number, no, I can’t think of it off the top of my head.  If I get a chance and I can get like an average, maybe I can get with Andy and have it be a Grab Bag thing, but I know it’s rather large.

GG:  Well, I’m nowhere near getting to the end and I’m around 3,200, so I’m just curious as there are definitely people that would like to know.

James:  Yeah and I wish there was…or at least that we’d spent a little more time on making that more robust in that you could almost know kind of where you were in that progression.

GG:  Yeah, but then it’s always going to get a little bigger…the carrot’s always going to move.

James:  That’s the one nice thing about the achievements from X-Box in that regard.  You know your end-point in that.  In this case, it’s a little more vague.

GG:  Well, you kind of know your end-point because you know “These are all the beasts”, etc.

James:  Sure and at that point you pretty much get a good sense of it in some sections with things like that and then when you start getting 3,200 and things like that you’re like “I’m probably better than most people…”

GG:  It slows down a lot…

James:  Oh, absolutely…

All laughing…

I would hope so, because then you’re in that mode where you’re like “Well, I got 1,000 and now I’m at the 10,000 and then…”

GG:  Yeah, well, some of them aren’t even up to the 1,000s because as an Ironbreaker it’s hard to kill fast.  When I did the 10,000 Gnoblars that…took a bit.

James:  There’s one in there that one of the guys that used to work on the Tome really wanted to get:  the Title “the Exploiter”.

GG:  Nice!

James:  It’s in there, but it’s for…I wanna say it’s for salvaging but the amount of times you have to do it is ridiculously high.

GG:  Well, I just got one for destroying items.  We were talking about this because I was in my Guild chat going “Woohoo!!!!!” and my guildies are like “Did you get a good piece of loot?” and I’m like “No, I just got the 10,000 destroyed items unlock and Title!” and they’re like “Dude, you suck.”

James is laughing at me…

To me, that was great, because, we talked about this earlier, you can’t throw away a stack and have it count.  I break them all apart and throw them away.  So, I don’t even sell junk loot on my toons.  It gets collected and mailed to my IB and when I’m standing around waiting for stuff, I’m splitting things into singles and discarding them over and over.

He’s laughing at me again…

James: Do you remember what the Title was?

GG:  Not off the top of my head, no.  Because it was more that I’d got it and I was just glad.

James:  Sure, that you’d got to that point.

GG:  It wasn’t something that was going to take over one of my other Titles that I love.  But yeah, each Title is awesome.  I’m always like “Oooo!  I got a new Title!”

James:  I got to tell you, that was definitely one of the funner parts of working on the Tome, from when we started and going forward, just coming up with some of the Titles and things you can put on them to try to be descriptive, sometimes humorous, and things like that, it’s a lot of fun.

GG:  Some are prohibitive to the way I play.  Like, at some point, I’m going to have to sit down and force myself to do certain things to get certain Titles, but I’m not there yet.

And he’s laughing at me again…   /sigh

But then I’m also doing the crafting profession and I’m liking it but really I’m just breaking stuff down so I can get the unlocks and once I get it, I’m going to switch to the scavenging and work on that one and once I’m done with Talisman Making, Scavenging, and Salvaging, I’m becoming an Apothecary again.

James:  Yup.  And you will have the most crafting titles eva…

All laughing…

Andy:  There’s probably a Tome unlock for that…

GG:  Probably.

Andy:  One thing I’m actually excited for, for the Tome, is that we have actually got a new Title in the game just for our Core Testers.  So, we are working on…

GG: …”the Masochistic”?

All laughing…

Andy:  No, no!  “the Self-Flagellators”…

All laughing…

GG:  “Crash Test Dummies”?

More laughing…

Andy:  Actually, before Adam left the UI Team, he put “the Oracle” Title into the game.  So, that will be a very exclusive Title that only a small number of people will have obviously.

James:  And I’ll have to remember to put that in the “Exclusives” section.

GG:  Oh!  There’s another question…

James:  We’re trying to do an audit on that.

GG:  Thank god!  Because the very first option, whatever the generic catch-all is, has like 180 of my Titles and I’m like “Are you kidding me?” because there’s all these other places they could go and it’s just not organized.

James:  Yes, there are a lot in our category six which is Achievements and we need to go through and go back and say “Well, that’s not really an Achievement, that’s more of a Killing, or that’s more of an Exploration, or…”

GG:  I would actually like a Live Event option.

James:  We were actually discussing that as one of the Title things.  Either putting things like that into something that’s more exclusive where we keep things that are non-Tome stuff.  Because when you do something for a Live Event or for Marketing…

At this point, Jess walked in and asked a question and we totally got derailed from our conversation and ended up in one that had comments like “Oh wait, that would be same-Realming…” and “That would actually be an interesting server: Male vs. Female.”  Yeah, you don’t want to know…

GG:  Any chance we can get Titles for completing multiple Live Events?  So like “You have fully completed five Live Events!” and you get a different Title like “the Eventful” or “the Party Planner”, I don’t know…yeah…that last one sucked…nevermind, hehe.

They’re laughing at me now…

GG:  We definitely want to thank you for taking the time out to talk to us!

James:  No problem at all.  I like talking about this stuff.

Thanks again James!  Andy kind of snuck him into the lineup at the last minute, so I really appreciate that he took the time out of his day on such short notice.

Honestly though, I could probably have spent all day talking Tome stuff.  From little things like where some of the more hard-to-find unlocks are, to how many Titles are possible to get, to…well, everything.  lol.

Although, there’s something to be said for the mystery of the hunt…

Until next time…

Have fun!

~Gaar

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Radishlaw permalink
    October 2, 2009 4:46 am

    Nice interview, but there is still a burning question:
    even if I can’t /hug, at least I should be able to /sit or /sleep or /lie right? At some point it was in the server even. I wonder what caused them to be removed from the game. Do Games Workshop not want their IP to be used in sitting or something?
    In fact I don’t really remember anyone sitting at all. Even the emperor is standing 1 inch in front of his throne.

  2. October 2, 2009 6:10 am

    Nice interview. No new posts?

  3. October 2, 2009 10:46 am

    I enjoyed that a lot, though a re read is on the cards, when I am back at work again.

    Though some interesting things came out of it. Like I begin to see why they have so many stupid data errors, if they manage stuff on spreadsheets.

    Also their database issues on the AH, seem strange given the capabilities of any of the top of the range databases on the market. I can’t imagine their using ISAMs.

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