First of all, I think out of anyone, I have some sort of residual coming to me for this whole “BioWAAAGH” moniker. No? Did you write for both WAAAGH! and Bio Break? Didn’t think so.
WAR’s come almost around to its one year mark, and it looks as though they’re already aping some of their older live events. Yet fireworks are always cool, and WAR did those exceptionally well, so I’ll let it slide.
Probably the biggest news story in the MMO world this past week — big enough that it even reached me while I was away — was the double-whammy of Mark Jacobs’ departure (read: firing) from EA Mythic, and the proposed BioWare/Mythic merger-of-sorts. To sum up my feelings, to the first I’m disturbed, and to the second disturbed.
I’ve always felt that Mark Jacobs was the kind of guy that I could respect, but I would never, ever want to work for. I’ve known guys like him who are driven, accomplished and pretty talented, and yet have the sort of personality that fills up a room and then some, an odd combination of a thin skin and enough power to do something about what upsets them. Few people can deny that he had an unerring talent for putting his foot in his mouth, going on odd crusades with various forum trolls, and firing not just a few incredibly talented folks. Therefore, some out there are rolling around in the schadenfreude, reveling in his apparent downfall and being insensitive dingbats as internet folk sometimes are.
I don’t want to jump on that bandwagon, for a few reasons. One, I honestly do respect Mark. There are precious few people in the world who have headed up not just one but two successfully launched MMOs, and even fewer who remained in such constant contact with their playerbase in the process. He’s one of those people. Part of his foot in mouth disease came from his tendency to want to converse so much with us players, and as I’ve said before, I’ll take a dev who does that 10 times out of 10 than one who remains silent (working for Blizzard, probably) out of a paralyzing fear of saying something wrong.
Two, a while back Mark took notice of a short blog post I wrote, wrote an encouraging post of his own about it, and linked back to me. Whether he knew it or not, that was one of the most exciting days of blogging I’ve ever experienced — a silly little thing, but it meant a lot to me. I and many other bloggers probably frustrated and elated him as much as he did us, but the truth is that I’ve never seen any dev or company that has done such excellent work in reaching out to bloggers who are passionate about their titles as Mark and Mythic.
And three, it’s been said before and should be again: we have this unfortunate tendency to equate an entire company and game to one high-profile person involved with that game. WAR had Paul Barnett, Josh Drescher and others, but Mark Jacobs was a favorite high-profile target for those itching to take out their frustrations on someone involved with their game. To be honest, it isn’t a fair practice. The buck sort of stopped with him, but as a person who is involved in an organization that ministers to many folks, I understand how people are quite unfair at times in unloading their anger and issues with someone at the top.
As for the whatever-term-you-want-to-call-this-merger thing, I guess we’ll wait and see. Depending on who you listen to, it will be a single company and it won’t. From what I gather, it’ll be a single division in EA but two separate studios, with one guy overseeing both (a bad move on EA’s part, I think).
There’s obviously a lot of discussion about this on the blogosphere, so I’ll point you to a few of the discussions:
- Mark Jacobs
- Josh Drescher
- Epic Slant
- MMOG Nation
- West Karana
- Broken Toys
- Shadow WAR
- Incoming Pull
I was more shaken, however, by hearing that Greg of Tome of Knowledge is shuttering his blog/webcomic factory. I know we’ve had a lot of WAR blogs shut down or move to a general MMO focus over the past few months, and while I haven’t commented on them, each one hit me with a bucket full of icy sadness. In a way, starting my game blogging life in Warhammer’s community meant that I “grew up” with those folks, including fellow WAR bloggers. It felt like a college class of oddballs and loudmouth ranters, and I loved every one of them. It was hard for me to move on, and the biggest consolation I gave myself when I changed from WAAAGH! to Bio Break was that others would continue to hold the flag of WAR and blog proudly about it. Nowadays, the class is mostly empty, but a few valiant souls strive on.
But for WARriors, life goes on, and it’s good to see that Mythic is still plowing forward with tuning Warhammer to its fullest potential.