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2000-05-30: Gordon “Tyrant” Walton interview with thechosen.com
Gordon “Tyrant” Walton interview with thechosen.com
Jinx: Thanks for coming
Tyrant: I'm tired and sick so be gentle!
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?
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: 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: Ok, so since you are measured by actions, give yourself a grade for UO:R
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: 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: 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 :)
Jinx: Enough trying to change the subject
Jinx: Lets start
Jinx: First word:
Tyrant: It almost worked (grumble)
Jinx: Lord British
Jinx: Carly Simon
Tyrant: I'm stumped. Hmmm....
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
Tyrant: Coming soon to a theater near you!
Jinx: Wing Commander Movie
Jinx: cheap answer :)
Tyrant: ok, I'll try again
Jinx: Few more
Jinx: Anarchy Online
Tyrant: Rots of Ruck!
Jinx: ooohhh answered in Scooby voice to boot
Jinx: Dev Board
Jinx: my thoughts exactly
Jinx: Bay City Rollers
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
Jinx: beta date?
Tyrant: when it's ready :)
Jinx: I know you know
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
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?
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: 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.)