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Gaarawarr Gabs with Carrie Gouskos – WAR Producer

April 21, 2010

As Werit, Shadow WAR and Mykiel have already noted, we got to sit down and talk with Carrie during our invasion of Mythic HQ earlier this month.

We’d actually met last year when I hit up Mythic while on my US Tour, but only chatted for a few minutes in the hall during the tour of the office.  So it was nice to finally get to sit down and chat at length with her about the game this time around.

Enjoy!

~Gaar

~Werit, Shadow WAR (Andrew), Mykiel, myself, Andy and Carrie ducked into an air-conditioned (rejoice!) conference room and jumped right in since Carrie was in a rush~

Carrie – Go!!!!

GG – Fine, I’ll leave…

~Mykiel fired off the first question and her answer wrapped up like this~

Carrie – …I actually have specifically targeted certain fixes that I heard people talking about in the game a lot and gone “You know, let’s just fix that and see what happens.”  So, that’s really exciting, to be able to do that.

GG – You just made Advice channel a living hell, thank you…

~Carrie laughed at me, of course~

Carrie – Not necessarily Advice channel.

GG – Everybody’s going to be complaining in-game now…

~The other bloggers dominated the questions after my interjection.  To be honest, I was still recovering from Karaoke the night before.  hehe. ~

Andrew – Basically what you’re saying is you’re really looking to get things refined.  It seems like you’ve mentioned many times that you really want to get rid of bugs.  That bugs annoy the hell out of you.

Carrie – Yeah and then Gaarawarr had to go and say (on Twitter) that I said last night that there are no bugs in Warhammer which is not true.  And honestly, there are bugs in Warhammer that embarass me.

Gaarawarr – You were standing right there (as I typed it out and sent it to Twitter)…

~laughing~

Carrie – You can’t catch tone in that!  I was being sarcastic!

~more laughing~

Carrie – You were drunk so they thought you were just lieing.

~laughing~

~She went on answering people’s questions but was late for another meeting, although Mykiel got one last quick question in~

Mykiel – One last serious one:  Who’d look better as a Witch Elf: Me or Gaarawarr?

Carrie – Oh come on…come on!!!  It’s easy!  Gaarawarr.

Mykiel – We finally got an answer!  Carrie delivers!

~all laughing~

What can I say?  I’m sexy. hehe

~So we took a short break and then came back to do an interview with Andy which got delayed as Carrie came back in.  We had set up the camera to record and had it pointed at Andy and I just couldn’t resist…~

GG – So, does this make this an “AndyCam”?

~all groan~

Andy – That’s better than a “CandyCam”.

GG – The “CandyCam” is after-hours…hey, she’s back.

Carrie – Is it still going?

Mykiel – Our interview with you is done.

Carrie – OK, fine…

Mykiel – I’m just joking…

GG – We’ll pretend you didn’t leave.

~there was another long discussion of which I participated but didn’t really ask any questions.  Damn you Soju!  But we got to talking about PQs and bugs and I had to chime in~

GG – The last time I was here, I addressed that with the fact that, as somebody who runs into a lot of bugs…finds them and wants them to be fixed…the bug report tool is not the most useful thing in the world for us.

Carrie – That’s fair.  Do you want it to prompt you for more information?

GG – Well, for one, there’s not enough character space.  I can’t type out and give you details.  Last time the response was “That’s because you’re a writer and you’ll write out these big long things.”  (Which is a fair response, but still. hehe)  From my perspective, I’m sitting there going  “I want to help you!  You should like that!”  So yeah, a lot of times people just go “It’s broken” and send off the bug report because they know the character limit won’t let them explain it.

Carrie – Yeah, that’s completely fair.

GG – So, when I did my Dwarf PQ Crawl, there were three PQs that were broken, or that we ran into issues with.  Two of them were completely unfinishable.  One I knew enough about bugs and how they happen in PQs to know what bugged it out so we went throught it again and I made sure everyone was in the right spot and we got it to work.  One the CSR guy got back to me about an hour after I filed the Appeal and found what was broken but couldn’t fix it, which was understandable.  The other one was an interactable object that was not interactable for whatever reason when the second stage triggered and they fixed that one for us, but we were past it at that point and weren’t going back.

Carrie – So it’s interesting because you’re right, the bug report form is not very good.  In fact my favorite bugs to write were bugs with the bug report form.  My second favorite bugs to write are bugs with our bug reporting tool which the guy that runs our bug reporting tool does not love.

GG – Oh, of course.

Carrie – For example, when we were deciding how the map in-game would work, one of the things I wanted to make sure we had was the location finder, the x/y coordinate on that, because I played WoW and basically when a new version of WoW came out, if the mod with the location finder wasn’t updated, I wouldn’t play until it was done.  That was one of our basic principles with the UI before, it was like “What could we put in the game that would prevent requiring people to have mods to do stuff?”  When time came to decide how those numbers were to be formatted, we came up with kind of two ways.  We can put the 5×5 digit number that we use in-house or we can transpose it to some arbitrary number that’s smaller so we’re not asking people to put together 5 digits.  We decided to go with the 5 digit number because people will just end up going “56k, 60k” or whatever.

Andrew – Yeah, that’s what they do.

GG – Except for me.  I get all anal and list each digit.  Especially when it’s something small you’re trying to find.  Otherwise, somebody gets there and then can’t find it.

Carrie – However, what we don’t make clear and what we could make clear if the bug report form were a little better is “Give us that location that’s on your map and the zone you’re in” and that’s a good way to establish that link in communication.  And the problem is that we haven’t informed people well enough about that, or even prompted them.

GG – Or built it into the tool.

Carrie – Right.

Andrew – Yeah, it could automatically nab it from where your character is.

GG – Or you should be able to push a button that adds the location to the bug report.

Carrie – So yeah…  Actually, that’s a good idea.  ~jots down some notes~

GG – For me, I look at the way I’m able to interact with a bug tool in a game (or at work, lol) and see it as “This is how much they care about me getting them information to fix bugs with.”  And there are a lot of people like me that feel that way.  So if it’s bulky or sends me out of the game or is difficult to use or doesn’t allow me to give as much information makes it seem as if reporting bugs isn’t a big deal.  So I would love to see a more robust bug tool, just in the sense that there are going to be players out there that very much want to get things fixed and they’re going to give you a lot of information about it.  But we can’t do that right now.

Carrie – Yeah, that’s fair.

~Mykiel cut in and dropped the F-bomb (Fortresses) and after a long discussion I jumped in~

GG – So since Forts may make a return…

Carrie – May make a return, but not guaranteed…

GG – Right, so people talk about the frequency of things occurring in the campaign.  We’re seeing a huge change to the City and how it works but one of the things that people do complain about is that they happen so often and they’d like to see it slow down.  Yes, we want this big, epic thing that we can partake in, but we want the actual RvR to matter too.

Carrie – People complain that it’s too fast but then they also call it “Waithammer”.

GG – Oh, if you’re gonna throw that out…

Carrie – I’m just sayin!

GG – People call it “Waithammer” because what do we do when we get in the City?  We stand around on a BO and we wait.

Carrie – I thought people called it “Waithammer” because of zone domination.

GG – Well, that too, but that’s because we don’t feel like there’s a reason to push the zone.

Carrie – Well, what if you had things to do while you were waiting?

GG – Well, that’s just the thing.  If we didn’t have to stand on a BO or sit in a Keep when there’s no fighting…  People want to be fighting.  So people call it “Waithammer” because they’re waiting for something to happen.

Carrie – Well, just get some of your friends to play the other Realm…

GG – Are you encouraging cross-realming?  😉

Carrie – NO!  Other friends who don’t currently play Warhammer to come to the game and play the other Realm.

~all laughing~

Andrew – If it means you guys having more fun, I’ll start playing my DoK on Iron Rock more and try to rally the troops.

Carrie – I’ll play Destruction on Iron Rock.

GG – So yes, yes people would like less waiting.  But when everyone does come out, it seems like “bam bam bam bam bam” (the campaign moves fast).  On RvR nights, you’re in the City fast.  They want to see more combat and want it to be an epic thing to even get to the City which it used to be with Forts.

Carrie – Right.  So, it’s really hard to jack that back up once we’ve made it how it is now.  Anything we put in place is an artifice to create more busy work and time.  It’s hard to jack that back up when the current player base has the expectation that is like “Wait, this is how it used to work so now you’re making it more grindy/harder?”  That’s troublesome from a PR perspective.  It’s the problem I have with all these economy changes where I go “Man, I wish we hadn’t made everything in our game so frickin’ cheap.”  But to jack up the prices on players that are used to it (being lower)?  We might do it here and there, but we can’t really do it wholistically to everything.  Or if we do, we have to expect ramifications from our player base.  Which we can try to meet in some other way like “Oh look at this thing over here” while we make the campaign take a longer time.  I don’t know.

GG – I don’t think it’s so much about making the campaign take a longer time as…

Carrie – What would you like us to do?  I want your feedback.

GG – Me personally?

Carrie – Where would you insert…you want the Forts back in?  Is that what you’re saying?

GG – Not necessarily.

Carrie – Something like that?  Another thing…

GG – I always enjoyed the Forts.  I never had a problem with them personally.

Carrie – You want another speedbump in the campaign on top of what we have currently?

GG – It’s not so much that I want a speedbump, it’s that I want a reason to go out and fight and I don’t have one.  Yes, I have toons that are RR70+ but I also have lower-level toons and I have no reason to really go out because when we do go out it seems like everyone is out and they’re all just moving around…and we’re sitting in places…  There used to be a lot more of an epic feel to the fighting and to getting things done which really shone through in the Forts.  The Forts became these truly epic fights that I loved showing up for and got me out for every time.

Werit – Well, you’ve been doing the campaign for a year and a half now…

Carrie – Yeah, I think that’s probably part of it.  I feel like there are people that are doing the campaign and feeling that epicness, that rush of people that are pushing and pushing and moving through and “Alright let’s go over here” and “Let’s try to double-cap” and “Let’s head to Thunder Mountain” and whatever.  You know that kind of thing.  I feel that whole thing.  But for the people that have been playing it for a year and a half now, maybe it’s lost a little…

GG – See, I don’t know.  I have been playing for a year and a half but I haven’t been playing RvR all the time.

Carrie – Ah, that’s right, cuz you do all the PQ stuff too.

GG – I go in and out and to me it’s more like…well, that’s why I’m still not RR80.  I’ve never really seen a reason to go out all the time.  I’ve been RvRing a lot lately, but by that I mean I’ve been in a lot of scenarios because there’s a reason to do scenarios now.  But I don’t necessarily want a million carrots out there, I just want it to feel…

Carrie – So you want something to make it feel epic?

Werit – Well, with the campaign, it’s not guaranteed RvR.

Carrie – Right.

GG – And that’s part of the problem.

Werit – I go in a scenario, I know I’m going to fight somebody. But I can spend twenty minutes moving around in Black Crag just to get killed by somebody.

Carrie – Yeah and either you’re part of the zerg or getting zerged.  It’s hard to know the number.  Yeah, it’s a really difficult question to answer.  It is always our goal to make it feel epic, but it’s very hard because there are too many factors that are unknown.

Andrew – Things can’t be epic all the time.

Carrie – Yeah.  At the moment…I don’t currently see any glaring problems with…well, except for the “Waithammer” thing.  I don’t have any action items for Open RvR right now.  That’s not to say there’s not problems.  That’s not to say there’s not things we can improve.  But I don’t have a clear path of what we should be doing.  Don’t get me wrong, the team does.  They go “Oh we should do this” or “We should redo the whole thing” etc…  And that goes into that whole  thing were I go “Guys, we’re spending too much time futzing with something that already has a known existence and people are enjoying it, maybe others not so much.”  I’d like to try to be additive rather instead of messing around with it.  But again, everything ends up being iterative in some way so that comment is probably going to come back and bite me many, many times.

Werit – Remember before Land of the Dead came out, you had to go into Praag and get things?  That was a lot of fun because I could go in by myself and find RvR.  Now, if I don’t go in with a group, there’s really no point for me to go into them.  So I was thinking of having more of the Weekend Events and adding in something that you have to go into the RvR zone for.

GG – I think part of it is you want to feel needed as an individual player.  When the zergs get moving around, since that tends to be the only way that things happen, there isn’t a big feel that you’re needed as an individual player in RvR as much as there is in scenarios.

Werit – I think it’s a great part of the game though.  There’s massive battles and medium-battles in scenarios, but no one-person unless you go to Land of the Dead and gank people.

Carrie – I guess that’s why I just go into the RvR lakes and jump into an open party and go “I am here.  Where is the party at?”

GG – There aren’t a lot of those lately.

Carrie – Maybe on your server.

GG – Well yeah, it’s server-specific, it’s the culture of the server.  A lot of them are closed most of them are Guild/Alliance only because they don’t want the randoms.  And I’ve been the King of the Pug Warbands.  I have done that through lower Tiers on characters that did not have my name in it and have been called out by other alts with “You wouldn’t happen to be Gaarawarr, would you?”

~all laughing~

GG – And I’m like “Why yes, why do you ask?” and they’re like “Damnit!  I knew it was you, you damn Dwarf.  It had to be you!  Nobody herds cats like you do!”  But, so you can do it, but it just seem so…in the lower Tiers it’s a blast.  In Tier 4, herding pugs is just…there’s not enough reason to do it.

Carrie – I think Werit had a good suggestion.  Maybe we should bring Weekend Warfronts to RvR.

Werit – I know a lot of people want more to do.

Andrew – It sucks saying it, but PvE-type objectives are things to do.

Carrie – Well yeah, that’s always kind of the key thing.  That was the brilliance of the RvR in DAoC was that “the best” xp, like if you wanted sweet xp you’d go out and kill the snowcrabs right outside the mile gate or whatever and you would get killed every time by someone ganking you.  It was exciting and thrilling.  “I want this xp but I don’t want to die!”  You sir (pointing at Mykiel) and then I should probably go.

Mykiel – OK.  Getting people out of the warcamp.  Can you do one of two things?  1.  Put an NPC next to the mailbox that constantly reminds people “Don’t worry my children!  The mailbox is safe with me!”

~all laughing~

Mykiel – Or 2. There is a renown/xp/inf debuff in a radius around the mailbox.

GG – Nah, that wouldn’t fix the problem.  People would just walk out of the radius and AFK.  Here’s the thing, so Warhammer currently has a problem with what have been lovingly called either “Warcamp Grinders” or “Freenowners”.

Andy – The Mailbox Guardian Batallion.

GG – Yes.

Werit – I do it occasionally.  I don’t want to run all the way across the zone to defend.

GG – I have no problem saying that sometimes when I’m working on my blog, I’ll just go AFK in the warcamp in a zone that looks like it’s going to flip so I can get some free renown.  But there are a lot of people who..that’s…well, ever since Tier 4 got “fixed” so that it got a renown bonus on zone capture and the tokens were added, that’s when this started and it’s never stopped.  There’s always a warband or two of people just sitting in a zone that’s going to flip.  And I tell people in the lakes that those people probably wouldn’t have come out to help you anyways because they’re probably crafting or AFK.  They would have been standing in Altdorf if there was no free reward.  However, it looks as though, to them, that there are all these people that aren’t helping their Realm and it becomes a Realm issue and it becomes a culture issue.

Carrie – Right.

GG – “Look at all these people getting renown for the work we are doing.”

Carrie – I’ll look at that, but I do also believe that there are certain things that we’ll never be able to regulate.  We are never going to…gah, I don’t know if you should quote me on this…we are never going to solve the scenario AFK situation because no matter what we put in, some jerk is going to find some way to do some thing over here or whatever.

GG – Want me to tell you how I do it?  ~laughing~

Carrie – Jerk.

Andrew – Just go run into a rock or something.

Carrie – Right, we’re gonna solve that.  We’re gonna solve like 80% of the issues.  We’re gonna solve macroing, we’re gonna solve running into walls, we’re gonna solve a bunch of things.  But we’re never going to be able to…we call it, we’re never going to solve the sippy-bird paradox which is where someone puts a sippy-bird on top of their keyboard and it’s (pushing the button over and over), we can’t do that because we don’t want to punish people who are genuinely trying to participate.  There are some people who are trying to participate and they’re slow and they’re running through the warcamp and they get the tick and deserved it or they died and respawned and got the tick and deserved it, that is worth it.  So I do, in some cases, in this case and the scenario AFK case, value the culture of the community monitoring their own.  Know what I’m saying?  Going “that guild is full of people who go for freenown” and “that guy always AFKs in scenarios” and we have people, and I’ve seen this on server boards, we have people who make their whole thing about the fact that they’re…they have this whole thing and it’s “oh, that’s the AFK in scenario guy” and he changed his last name to “isAFK” and all that stuff.  There is a culture and in some places players have to moderate.  We are going to do our best to give you guys the tools to regulate things that are unfair, but it would be us chasing rabbits down holes to attempt to try…oh by the way, I’m the worst with metaphors so I’m probably always using the wrong one, but…we’re gonna be doing our best to give you guys tools but I don’t want to spend six months of development time trying to figure out every special case.  So that’s that, but I’ll look into it.

GG – I think the big thing that affected it when it came out was that it’s just a large chunk of things for not participating.  We don’t mind…I don’t think anybody minds in the lower Tiers where you get a little tick here or there when you’re on your lower-level character.  But when you can get so much, it’s a large percantage of the total renown you could get, for not doing anything.  I think most people would like to see that percentage shrunk.

Carrie – That’s fair.

GG – That would get rid of a lot of it just because then, sure there’d still be people doing it but it wouldn’t be “wow, they got almost as much as I did even though I was fighting in the lake.”

Carrie – Sure.  We’ll look at it.

~Carrie had to jet again, so we wrapped it up here and moved on to interviewing Andy~

A huge thank you to Carrie for fitting us into her obviously hectic schedule.  This one’s for you!  hehe

Check back in a couple days for Andy’s interview where we talk about the PTS events, Core Testers, Volunteer Forum Moderators and more!  Until then…

Have fun!

~Gaar

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Kareem permalink
    April 21, 2010 7:49 pm

    This is awesome 🙂
    i really feel like starting on US servers now , but im not sure the game will work well here in egypt :/

    other thing i always thought warhammer have something like fighting for mines to earn gold for the realm or wood i dont know how to say it without making it sound silly 😀 just something more interactive with no pve for the pve haters just pvp still , maybe kinda like LoTD resorces .

    Love that song btw 😀

  2. Rainbow permalink
    April 21, 2010 11:32 pm

    “” But when you can get so much, it’s a large percantage of the total renown you could get, for not doing anything. I think most people would like to see that percentage shrunk.””

    Just give big reknownbonuses for taking keeps and bo’s?

    x2 or x3 times the rp and reduce the zonelock bonus by the same.

    There is a reason why you feel that warhammer is “waithammer” or “/followhammer”

    2 coordinated wbs’. wb vs wb 1 defending a keep and one attacking a keep is 90% of the time and of victory for defenders. Only viable way to take a keep is zerging.

    The orvr is to laggy to bother.
    The reason why there is so much bombing in warhammer is because of the server lagg. The only skill in orvr is coordination. /guard 1 button spamming for healers and dps and morale timing.

    yaay another Sun Tzu knowitall has spoken! xD
    Nvm thx for everything GG. Always interesting to read your blog!

  3. Lunar permalink
    April 24, 2010 12:22 am

    “Waithammer” zone domination

    Got me thinking. I know the idea I had. Has more then likely been talked about. But a revisit of an old idea with fresh eyes can change minds. I’m all ways looking to kick the idea ball around.

    http://forums.warhammeronline.com/warhammer/board/message?board.id=pts_ff&thread.id=75332

    Lunarstrike -SM Badlands

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