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Warhammer Online's Mark Jacobs • Page 2

On population balance, server stability and more.

Eurogamer: By that we take it you're all ready to go on Thursday, then?

Mark Jacobs: Oh absolutely. Oh my God. We just added more servers. The Europeans, obviously, are doing extremely well. I'm looking at our [US] server populations now and they're just filling up. It's great. They are filling up rapidly and only one server - out of all the ones we have up there right now - has a minor queue on it. And if you played these other games, especially WOW day one, then everything was queued and it took hours to get in. We've got a minor queue maybe maybe 30 minutes [long], on one out of all the servers here in the States.

Eurogamer: Are you expecting them to fill up, and do you have more in reserve if they do?

Mark Jacobs: Oh, we've got plenty. One of the really nice things about working with EA is that we've worked very closely with them to set up the exact number of boxes we want out there to fit the number of servers - and customer service - we have out there. We could sell out every box we have in the United States and have plenty of servers to take care of all that capacity, with a little bit of spare capacity as well. So we're in really, really good shape.

You saw the press release that went out: we're shipping 1.5 million units, so that's a lot of servers! We need a lot to support that kind of volume in both North America and Europe. And we're good to go.

Eurogamer: Excellent. So, er, which side should we join? We were going to be Destruction but everybody seems to be flocking there...

Mark Jacobs: Yeah, there's a lot more going to Destruction, as we knew they would in the beginning. Looking at the Warhammer IP we figured the guys coming in early would be your hardcore guys, the guys that have been following the IP for years, or even decades. We knew they would go to Destruction. But one of the things I've been telling players is, "Look, just wait a bit." My guess is that when we get into the Standard Edition folks, and the folks who don't know as much about Warhammer, then they are going to start to go to the Order side. They have the High Elves and the Dwarfs and the Humans, which for a lot of players are quite comfortable.

And we've already seen that. We tracked it on the servers and they've started with a much larger percentage playing Destruction and then it's already started to ease out on day two, and we expect it to ease out even more on day three, and by launch it will ease out even more.

Eurogamer: What happens if Destruction does become over-populated? Have you got some balancing tricks up your sleeve?

nomarauder

Destruction! But without a Marauder. 1/10.

Mark Jacobs: Oh absolutely. The first thing you want to do is not overreact, right? If you react too quickly then you just make matters worse. And the second thing is, even though Destruction outnumbers Order by 10 per cent - and that's all we're talking - it doesn't mean they're going to win. If we see two things happening then we'll start to put in measures. Those two things being balance and that side winning constantly. If Destruction is always kicking Order's butt and they have a population imbalance then we're going to try to change things.

We're going to do things like give people bonuses for playing Order. We're not going to immediately go, "Thou shall have the Sword of Slaying!" That's just bad, right? That's just dumb. On the other hand, what you do say to Order people is, "Hey, if you come in and play Order you get this bonus to [Realm Points], or this bonus to experience." If that doesn't work, then we can look at doing: "OK, you now get your damage bumped up, or you get your Body bumped up." And so we know to do a number of things if necessary. But not in the first few days. No, you sit back, you watch what's going on in the first few days - the first week - you get all the statistics; just because it looks bad doesn't necessarily mean it is.

One of the advantages of being on a side that's a little bit smaller is it's a lot easier to get into Scenarios. So a slight imbalance - obviously you never want it to be two-to-one because that would be horrible, but a 10 per cent difference means when you're trying to queue up for Scenarios you're going to get in faster. I think I ran about six in a row without stopping.

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