Skip to main content

WAR: "we can't schedule for sh**"

And WOW is "flawed genius" - Barnett

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Speaking at the Develop Online conference today, Paul Barnett, creative director of upcoming MMO Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, admitted: "When we launch these games, we can't schedule for sh**."

Englishman Barnett was giving a talk in his usual barnstorming stand-up style on the lessons Mythic Entertainment had learned while making WAR. He promised that this time the game's launch date, which could be as early as September, would stick.

"We're nearly there, God help us, the fifth time we schedule it it's going to work. Lesson one: don't trust your schedulers," Barnett said. "Add more time."

Unlike many of his peers in MMO development, Barnett was happy to discuss WAR's soon-to-be-rival game, Blizzard's World of Warcraft.

"I believe WOW is a work of flawed genius," Barnett said, explaining that he discouraged his developers from playing it, lest they be too influenced.

"When you dismantle [these works] you can never be sure whether you get genius or flaw," he said. "The reason I don't play other online games is that they're corrupting, they are cancerous, they change the way you think."

He gave the example of a change in quest structure in WAR, away from the WOW norm. "That one change took three months of meetings, because the people I was up against were corrupted by the gaming experiences they'd had.

"They weren't capable of thinking sideways because they knew the answer, and it worked, and resulted in a game that is very successful.

"You can't be the Beatles. If you try and be the Beatles, you'll end up as the Monkees," he finished.

Continuing his musical theme, Barnett argued that the games industry was more like the music business than film.

"People will lie to you relentlessly and tell you that we're the movie industry, this is a lie perpetuated by people who work in cubes and never see the day star... There are things we share, but they're all bad things - we can't schedule, we run over budget," he said.

"I actually think we're more like the music industry. Games are made by small teams of core people helped by other people. 400 people played instruments on Sergeant Pepper. Build your band," he advised.

He gave the example of GoldenEye a game developed by "a group of lads put in a shed," without interference from Rare management.

"Like all great bands, computer people make their best games before they learn to make games properly," he said. "Before they learn what they can't do. Like Oasis, when they made good songs rather than just proper ones."

For more of Barnett's pithy, outspoken performances, check out some of his developer diary videos on the WAR game page, and watch out for more coverage of the game soon.

Read this next