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Developer Appreciation Week: Paul Barnett

Last year, Scarybooster came up with the awesomely stellar idea of thanking those whom we gamers should praise the most: our game’s developers.  How often do we belittle their work due to minor imperfections from an otherwise great game?  The human mind seems to grab onto the negative much tighter than the positive and Scary wondered what better way to thank the devs other than… well… thanking them?  These doods put in a great deal of work, sacrificed time with their family and possibly health in order to get their products out the door on time, and all too commonly we cite the tiny cracks that make up an otherwise flawless presentation.

Today I thank Paul Barnett and the rest of the Mythic Entertainment crew.

While I heard a great deal about Dark Age of Camelot from friends who would play it at the local cyber cafe, I never got into it.  (“Pay to play a game?  What?  Who’d be dumb enough to do that?”)  It really wasn’t until Warhammer Online started to appear at expos and on youtube/the interwebs that I got wind of Mythic and their zany cast of creators.  Fairly early on I was hooked on their selling points: emphasis on battling players over mobs and that tanks could actually do more than stand there and absorb damage like a thick log of lamb waiting to be blasted, burnt, and julienned. (Black Orc! Waaaagh!)

Nearly every week Paul Barnett, Josh Drescher, or Jeff Hickman would have a video up about something new and tantalizing about the Warhammer IP coming down the pike, and with each video I grew more interested.  The guys were always relaxed behind the camera, joyous and nonchalant, while still providing helpful information about how their game worked and what they had planned ahead.

The amount of time it took to get all those videos edited, animations to play during the audio, and just rounding people up and giving them a basic script to base their humorous rants about was well worth it in my mind, as if it was not for these funny details and insights, I would not have liked the game as much as I did.  If any one thing dictated why I bought the game at launch, it was because the cast behind the camera, most notably Paul.

Searching for Warhammer Online on youtube will likely net you a video with at least Paul in the image, if not he and someone else, possibly wearing white-rimmed sunglasses similar in style to Charlie in the Chocolate Factory with Mike Teevee.  He is an extraordinarily festive and jolly guy, but he’s got a good brain under that hood of his and there is a definite logic to his madness.

Here’s an interview on Ten Ton Hammer posted back when the game was delayed.  Paul and Josh are explaining the creative process, and Paul just goes on a tangent about what people like, how the nearly unseen minutia dictates the feeling, the aura, of whatever product you own.  You buy a giant tv, but you really enjoy how the remote molds to you hand, for example.  The TV is more important, but that remote sparks something within you and you form an attachment with it. 

Those little ideas are all over in WAR and they really did put out a heck of a game when it arrived.  Many features in it are now being propped up by other game companies all over the place.  Public Quests were arguably the best part of WAR and games like Rift and others on the horizon are tapping into the excitement of the same idea.  The Tome of Knowledge was fairly revolutionary, and while other games support Achievements, none were as detailed as the Tome.  Titles for killing the enemy, the specific class, dying to the specific class, clicking on a rock in the middle of nowhere, clicking on people without any gear on, etc., etc.

While the game is not as popular as they would like, there is still a great deal of good in there.  I might not have paid as much attention to the game if it were not for the crew rooting for the game and radiating awesome in front of the camera in interviews and conventions, and while my time with the game cycles on and off, I am appreciative of having played the game and enjoyed my time with it.

Three “WAAAGH!” ‘s for Paul and the rest of the crew at Mythic Entertainment!

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5 responses »

  1. I am going to be controversial and say Ol’ Barnett is one of the reasons WAR flopped so badly.

    Dont get me wrong he did an amazing job hyping the game but looking back he used an awful lot of half truths and just plain lies which left a hell of a lot of gamers disappointed.

    Now this can either be him flat out lying or indeed his dev team that let him down by not delivering. I personally dont mind the guy but I know plenty of people who spit blood when his name is mentioned lol.

    Still its nice to see him getting some love for a change :)

    Reply
    • Haha, no problem, bud! My take on that cluster-cluck of a situation is, most of the designing stuff was done. Might as well put the most lively and personable guy behind the camera to rake out some more cash for the company, and in that case, he did an excellent job. The one negative thang I can comment on, is that his ideas within the game might have held back the majority of polish they needed elsewhere. While his Plungers of the World idea was rockin’, I don’t think they should have sacrificed combat speed and flow, for example. (Aye, someone might have been bad implementing them, but I’m just sayin’.)

      A side note though, I heard the game was in development, as in from idea in a brain to retail, for three years. It was scheduled to ship in two, the last one got tacked on due to beta testing woes. Two years! That is insane for a big title like they did! I give them many teh propz for making what they did in the time. For the time invested, it was a great game. I still like aspects of it, myself. Sadly, I wish they had more time to make it, and if that meant less Barnett happy-time o’ Creation, then that’s what it should have been. Still a great attempt, and greatly entertaining guy.

      Did you know that this was the first time you posted on muh’ blog? I was surprised to see I had to approve your comment! Welcome aboard, bud! Stay awhile, and listen ^_^

      PS. Totally think Mythic should have stuck with the original MMO they had planned about ancient Rome. Looked really cool, had a marvelous aesthetic. I’m sad it got scrapped for WAR in the end, and the Jacobs was helming that project and ended up getting booted due to a different IP.

      Reply
      • Aye I wondered why my comment took a while to publish lol I have been bad for commenting due to doing most of my blog reading via RSS feeders on my phone on the way to work. I’ll be making the effort though dont worry ;)

        As for Barnett I do think the guy is misunderstood to an extent but you cannot deny it was a tad funny how badly WAR crashed and burned after his bumming it up.

      • It’s all good, bud. I know how restricting time can be, but at least you can do stuff on the phone! That’s pretty cool ^_^

        Even after WAR, I still give Paul credit. (Not to say others didn’t deserve more credit than he, but I still think he pulled his weight in the Idea Department.) The dude made a decent amount off an all text MUD he made that he sold to AOL years back, even paid him to make a sequel before EQ rolled in and gobbled everything up. If a guy has the ability to come up with wacky ideas AND the ability to code a game around it that pleases at least hundreds at a time (possibly thousands, I never played it back then), he can hold his own. Add in that he was possibly the main connection to Games Workshop that Mythic had, and WAR wouldn’t even have existed if it wasn’t for him.

        Now was that for better or worse for Mythic? I’ll leave that decision up to you -_^

  2. Pingback: DAW: Recap

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