2000-05-30: Gordon “Tyrant” Walton interview with thechosen.com

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Gordon “Tyrant” Walton interview with thechosen.com

Jinx: Thanks for coming

Tyrant: I'm tired and sick so be gentle!

Tyrant: :)

Jinx: haha

Jinx: OK

Jinx: will do

Tyrant: Old too!

Jinx: Shouldn’t it say EA.com_Tyrant

Tyrant: na! I'm only doing that stuff temporarily

Jinx: No excuses

Jinx: All right

Tyrant: no one likes a whiner, you are right!

Jinx: I've been accused of not taking these interviews seriously

Jinx: So I’m going to start right now

Jinx: No easy questions for you

Tyrant: Hit me.

Jinx: To start, did you recently buy one of the 1.3 million Britney Spears albums that were sold?

Tyrant: Britney who? (hope that answers the question)

Jinx: Good answer.

Jinx: Ok, so when's housing going in?

Jinx: Tomorrow?

Tyrant: As soon as we feel the bugs are all killed and the service is ready to handle the load

Jinx: Is that tomorrow?

Tyrant: We have been upgrading our infrastructure over the last couple of weeks even beyond what

Tyrant: we planned for UO:R, and the team has been working on bugs that have shown up on House Test

Tyrant: (thanks to everyone who plays there and helps us by sending stuff in)

Tyrant: My bet is we are about 2 weeks out, but it's only an estimate

Jinx: Ok, not tomorrow. Nice of you to get a PR plug in there too!

Tyrant: We will do it during prime playing time on the weekend btw, so no one has to stay home from work

Jinx: That I like.

Jinx: I suggested that very idea 3 months ago

Jinx: But nobody listened

Tyrant: Our peak loading won't like it, but it is the most fair thing to do.

Tyrant: Maybe someone did....

Jinx: Hehe

Jinx: So its all about fairness then?

Tyrant: Not always, but it is an element I weigh heavily and the team does also when looking at changes.

Jinx: Wait a second, does that mean the castle/keep phase would be on a weekend?

Tyrant: I like to think it's more about "the greater good", but that can get you into trouble too.  :)

Jinx: To me that only encompasses a small part of the population

Jinx: No matter how you do it, Tyrant, people will be pissed

Tyrant: We are currently looking at Castles for only an hour, then larges and smalls the following evening.

Tyrant: There is a fair amount of pent up demand given the delays.

Tyrant: To be clear, larges the same night as Castles, then smalls the next night.

Jinx: Yes there is. People have been patient. Not me, but people.

Tyrant: Patience is not one of the virtues of the UO audience.  :)

Jinx: Ain't that the truth

Tyrant: We keep trying to teach it but we are failing miserably.

Jinx: So, how often do you yell at the Dev team everyday?

Jinx: once a day? twice? once per hour?

Jinx: Is it true you have a bull whip you carry around?

Tyrant: Rarely. They work really hard on the stuff that needs to get done all the time actually. It's just harder than

Tyrant: people realize, we have a lot of "friction" in making changes and getting them published.

Tyrant: No, I do have a cattle prod and a bazooka though.  :)

Jinx: That was just a rumor I heard. :) Define "friction"

Tyrant: Making changes to the code base is tricky, doing sufficient testing to ensure that the fix/feature works as designed

Tyrant: without breaking something seemingly completely unrelated is more than difficult.

Tyrant: And we mess up on these things a lot (as everyone notices). As we try to get better it slows changes down even more.

Tyrant: So we try and strike a balance between responsiveness and quality. We don't get this right as often as we would like.

Jinx: Years of having so many different chefs adding to the soup, eh?

Tyrant: More that it was not designed/written to be maintained. Many parts of the code have in fact been completely re-written by

Tyrant: the Live team, but much more remains. There was no plan for this to last the almost 3 years it has already.

Jinx: Wait up. Two things: When UO first came out, it was said often that the code was "flexible"

Jinx: and could be added to easily

Jinx: Something else said often

Jinx: is that UO is going to last "ten years"

Tyrant: The scripting code can be added to easily, and it has been (where to you think all that new stuff came from).

Tyrant: But it doesn't mean that it was documented or written to be maintained by anyone other than who wrote it in the first place.

Tyrant: Also, no one said 10 years until I got here.  :)

Jinx: Want to go on the record and say 15?

Tyrant: Everyone in EA was surprised at one year and at two years that it was still alive, much less growing.

Tyrant: But they won't be surprised this September, as the picture is a little clearer.

Tyrant: Nope, I think 10 years is very achievable though, ask me in year 8.  :)

Jinx: What’s this September? The third anniversary? Another expansion? The addition of Necromancy?

Tyrant: I'm not telling. But we haven't given up working on UO at all. More people are working on it now than there

Tyrant: were at the peak of UO:Renaissance.

Jinx: I hope you aren’t counting counselors in that number "working" on UO

Tyrant: Nope, I'm talking about developers (programmers and designers).

Tyrant: We just hired a bunch of new designers, all but one of which are players who we will announce next week.

Tyrant: (remember our designers code the scripts the main game systems are coded in)

Tyrant: Even though our execution leaves something to be desired, I hope everyone recognizes we are serious about improving the

Tyrant: game environment.

Tyrant: Including the game features, bug fixing, service levels, website, community relations and even (gasp!) marketing.

Jinx: Sounds impressive

Jinx: But I don’t like the marketing guys

Jinx: I wasn’t asked to be on the inside cover of UO:R

Tyrant: It's all hot air until you see the results though.

Jinx: So you are saying you are full of hot air?

Tyrant: Oops, oversight. We could have bought you off so cheaply?  :)

Jinx: One tower and I'll be your bitch

Jinx: or something like that

Tyrant: Only results count is what I'm saying. We should be measured by our actions only.

Tyrant: Fear is first in that line, sorry.  :)

Jinx: OUCH

Jinx: Ok, so since you are measured by actions, give yourself a grade for UO:R

Jinx: A-F

Tyrant: It's a harsh but fair measure. Why do you think I remain dissatisfied?

Jinx: I just always thought you were a pissy guy

Tyrant: I'd give us a B- but only because I'm in a position for giving extra credit for the dedication of the team.

Tyrant: From an audience perspective, I'd give us a C.

Jinx: Just average? You wouldn’t hear many gaming people rate their company thusly.

Jinx: John Romero gave himself an A+ for Daikatana

Tyrant: We delivered most, but not all of what we had promised, and we should have done better (or promised less).

Tyrant: The reasons why are real, but not important to the audience. It's not their problem the time we took on exploits for

Tyrant: example, or personnel issues, or whatever.

Jinx: Maybe if you explained that, people would be more understanding

Tyrant: We actually thought we had it nailed until the last 6 weeks was the worst part internally.

Tyrant: Maybe, but I doubt it.  :)

Jinx: Ok, enough of this wishy-washy stuff.

Jinx: Back to the important things

Jinx: How far did you get in U9? Past the install screen?

Tyrant: Never played it. Haven't

Tyrant: Not interested in most single player games.  :)

Jinx: Smooth answer

Jinx: very smooth

Jinx: Perhaps you were a politician in another life

Tyrant: Nope, just a programmer in over his head.  :)

Tyrant: in this life that is...

Jinx: How many people you ban today? How many GMs are old enough to drink? How many are old enough to drive?

Jinx: Answer in any order you like :)

Tyrant: On an average day 6-10 people get banned (maybe 50 put in suspension).

Tyrant: I know all but a couple of the GMs are old enough to drink (but not drink and drive).

Tyrant: Maybe all of them now, actually, I'll have to ask.

Tyrant: This is a 21 year state for drinking, you know.

Jinx: I didn’t know, actually. I haven’t had a drink since my AA days in HS actually

Jinx: I plan on visiting Austin in October

Jinx: so you can, ya know, not make it to that luncheon

Jinx: just like the last NYC one

Tyrant: (note to self, vacation in October)

Jinx: haha

Jinx: Ok, I promised you no "Who Wants to be a UO Millionaire" games

Tyrant: I avoid NYC whenever possible, something about being a Texas native I think.  :)

Jinx: so we'll play a little word association

Tyrant: I'm afraid...

Jinx: Come to NYC, I'll show you all the tourist-friendly parts in the Bronx...

Tyrant: yea, right... I'm afraid in Manhattan, but that could just be the taxi ride that causes it.  :)

Jinx: Wimp.

Jinx: Ha, I got to call you a wimp...

Jinx: *prays he isn't banned tomorrow

Tyrant: You can't carry in NYC, that's the problem!  :)

Jinx: Everyone carries. Just not legally :)

Tyrant: haha!

Jinx: Enough trying to change the subject

Jinx: Lets start

Jinx: First word:

Tyrant: It almost worked (grumble)

Jinx: Everquest

Tyrant: Camping

Jinx: E3

Tyrant: noisy

Jinx: Lord British

Tyrant: Nice

Jinx: Carly Simon

Tyrant: 70's

Jinx: Shadowbane

Tyrant: Later

Jinx: IGMs

Tyrant: I'm stumped. Hmmm....

Jinx: haha

Jinx: Have you seen a real live one?

Tyrant: Sure, every day.

Jinx: That rumor is confirmed

Tyrant: In game, only during Trinsic though.

Jinx: Fair enough

Jinx: UO3

Tyrant: Coming soon to a theater near you!

Tyrant: haha!

Jinx: hehe

Jinx: Wing Commander Movie

Tyrant: video

Jinx: cheap answer :)

Tyrant: ok, I'll try again

Jinx: Nah

Jinx: Few more

Jinx: Anarchy Online

Tyrant: Rots of Ruck!

Jinx: ooohhh answered in Scooby voice to boot

Jinx: Dev Board

Tyrant: chaos

Jinx: my thoughts exactly

Jinx: Bay City Rollers

Tyrant: who?

Jinx: hahaha

Jinx: BeeGees?

Tyrant: which era?

Jinx: *Jinx sighs

Jinx: I figured you'd know em better than I would

Jinx: Oh well

Jinx: Spoiled my fun.

Tyrant: darn! Sorry!

Jinx: Last one

Jinx: Ultima Worlds errr something: origin

Jinx: can’t remember the name

Tyrant: different

Jinx: beta date?

Tyrant: when it's ready  :)

Jinx: bah

Jinx: I know you know

Jinx: Moreover

Tyrant: actually, I don't

Jinx: I know that you know that I know that you know that I know that you know the exact date

Tyrant: I know a plan, I don't know a date

Jinx: And you aren’t talking, eh?

Tyrant: It won't go into beta until it meets some metrics and no one can completely predict that

Jinx: ok, forget UWOO.

Jinx: After housing

Tyrant: Factions!

Jinx: and after factions (which look crappy right now)

Jinx: what’s next?

Jinx: (sorry, not hot on factions anymore)

Tyrant: Short term, mostly bug fixes.

Jinx: a hint at whets the next 'big thing'?

Tyrant: We have some other items to add, but think 80/20 bugs.

Tyrant: It's really, really big.  :)

Jinx: ok, a little more of a hint?

Jinx: please?

Tyrant: But quite a ways off.

Jinx: pretty please?

Jinx: sugar on top?

Jinx: E3 girl on top?

Tyrant: You are just trying to make a Tyrant happy, right?

Tyrant: I love saying NO! after all.

Jinx: I'm trying to bribe you for information like any other good fan site operator would

Jinx: Oh well, guess I'll go bribe Jeff Anderson instead...

Tyrant: No go, sorry. We have not finished with UO is all I'll say.

Tyrant: Get him!

Jinx: hehe

Jinx: Well, its vacation time

Jinx: Thanks for taking the time out to chat

Jinx: I appreciate it

Tyrant: No problem, thank you. Now I have to find out what the Bay City Rollers are.

Jinx: (Editors Note: This interview has been edited for your sanity. It was also edited to remove something Tyrant said because he can’t say those sort of ‘bad’ words and still receive a PG-13 rating. I also removed what Tyrant said about the cat population in Skara Brae because it was boring. Tyrant will allow me a follow-up interview after housing goes in to discuss UO:R once its been, like, completed. So figure October or so.)