Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Interview

As promised yesterday, Destructoid has posted the full post-launch interview they did with Warhammer Online senior designer Josh Drescher.
Destructoid: There are a lot of MMOs on the market, not all of them successful, and quite a lot of them have been canceled. What are you doing to make sure Warhammer stays and holds its own against the big MMOs out there, especially World of Warcraft.

Drescher: I'll come from that at a slightly different angle -- what is it that causes the MMOs that fail to fail, largely before they even get out of development? Part of that has to do with [it being] very easy to look at the MMO genre and go, "this is where all the money is in PC gaming at the moment ... obviously the MMO is the only way to go!" So developers that have a pedigree in some other area -- maybe they make console games or real-time-strategy games -- they look at MMOs and they go, "well we'll just make one of them," not realizing just how much more difficult it is to build an MMO than it is to do anything else in the industry.

These are games where you're not working with a team for a year or eighteen months to develop ten hours of content. You are working with a team of hundreds and hundreds of people, for usually two, three, four or even five years in the case of something like WoW, to build a game that is intended to be played forever. You're handcrafting hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hours of content. In Warhammer there's probably around a thousand hours of handcrafted content in the game across the six different races.

That's a ton of stuff to be building, and so it's really easy to dive in and go, "yeah we're gonna make a massively multiplayer game based on football! It'll be real easy." The next thing you know, you're two-and-a-half years in, you don't know what you're doing, your server code doesn't work, you've never worked with thousands of players at once instead of ten or fifteen, the engine that you're working with is designed for first-person-shooters and doesn't scale when you put fifty models on the screen. There's just a lot of experience that we had that made it much easier for us to build this kind of game because we've been in the industry for a really long time.