Gods & Heroes Interview

Gods & Heroes is an MMO that was can canceled by Perpetual Entertainment. There was no warning given and now a lot of people have been left to their own devices or re-allocated to work on Strek Online. We were recently given the chance to talk with the associate community manager for Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising. Below is the interview:

What was your job in working with Gods & Heroes?

I was associate community manager for Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising. I posted on the forums as Andrew_James. Easily the most creative and well thought out forum persona. That underscore gave everyone headaches when trying to type me PM’s.

Were you given any notification that the game was going to be canceled?

Not really. I would say I had a bit of a heads up the morning it was being announced. But really Gods & Heroes was being worked on right up to within an hour of the cancellation.

How has the community reacted to this?

Well, unfavorably. I received a lot of emails from community members in the days following pointing out various threads and wanting to know if I was still with Perpetual Entertainment. I think the biggest questions I saw were about the OTHER project, Star Trek Online and its status.

Most of the community members I’ve talked to however have been very nice, I think it’s kind of cool knowing that we got to play and be a part of a game that may never see the light of day. They realize that and I hope they are able to find another game that suits their needs.

So you don't think that a really bad and bitter taste has been left in the mouths of the community towards the company itself?

Sure of course there are some hurt feelings over the demise of Gods & Heroes. There were many really excited folks about the game, myself included. I think though that as a company Perpetual Entertainment hasn't really put out anything we can judge them by. When Star Trek hits the shelves and people see that it's an amazing game, we'll be able to say whether Perpetual Entertainment and crank out quality software.

How close was the game to being done?

Content wise the game was 100% complete. As in we had all the features and game play content implemented that we intended to ship with. What was left was bug squashing and polishing.

Was 'bug squashing and polishing' even taking place?

Oh yeah, the team was cranking out bug fixes right up until cancellation. We had just pushed out tool tips for all in-game items and equipment a few days before the cancellation and the beta community seemed to really enjoy the latest patch.

Why was the plug pulled?

Budget, plain and simple. MMO games are huge investments and for a new company to take on two of them at once is a pretty big undertaking. I think at the end, we had a pretty awesome game however we couldn’t implement the features and content that the game needed to be competitive in the market because of budget and time constraints.

I do hope one day the game gets to see the light of day, it had some truly amazing moments unlike anything I’ve seen in the genre. The writers who worked on it really came up with some great stuff.

What were some of your favorite things the game contained?

Some of my favorite moments were the unexpected quests and minions you could get by just exploring. There were lots of little things hidden away in the game. I am one of those players who doesn't bother right clicking on an NPC unless they have the little quest giver icon over their head so imagine my surprise one day when I was goofing off in Rome and ended up in a taverns back room where I found a man locked in a cage! He didn't have a quest icon or anything but I right clicked and read his game text, this led to a series of clues as to the where about of one of Rome's most infamous criminal. After some exciting quests and a bit of detective work, I eventually convinced the criminal to
join my cause as a minion!

Moments like that, little things that surprise you and kind of defy the way we perceive an MMO should play as. There was a little cave on tutorial island where you could kill a strange sea creature and turn in his head for a piece of story. No real experience or loot reward, just a fun extra bit of story line.

How many people were laid off?

Not really sure to be honest. I believe the majority of the Gods & Heroes team was laid off with a few moving over to the Star Trek team. It was a big round of layoffs for sure but hopefully the game team had luck finding new work.

How often does this happen in the gaming world (meaning how often do games just get canned without warning)?

Personally this was my first game I ever worked on, so it would also be my first cancellation. Talking with some of my former co-workers I would say this type of thing is fairly standard. It’s the nature of the business, especially with these large scale online role-playing games.

Who should be held responsible for this?

I don’t think anybody should really be responsible for this. It was just bad conditions all around and I’m sure if Perpetual had the money they would hire us all back up and make Gods & Heroes the game it deserves to be.

What will the company do with the engine, the code, and the game that was almost finished? Has it all just been trashed?

The server engine, code, all of that stuff has been shelved. The game may actually see the light of day so there wouldn’t be any point in trashing 3 years of work. I know I have a couple copies of the beta client CD’s sitting out as decorations, last week I went down to a Best Buy and saw the pre-order CD’s still sitting on the shelves. They really need to get on top of that, however it would make an excellent collectible if your into that sort of thing.

Are people just laid off, or will they be re-allocated?

I don’t know exact numbers, I am pretty sure the majority got laid off with a couple of folks being moved over to Star Trek Online.

What is your experience with MMO's?

I’ve played them all really, I am a huge MMO player. My big ones right now are World of Warcraft, Everquest II, and Vanguard. Vanguard gets the most of my time right now, well that and Guitar Hero.

Why do you like Vanguard so much?

Wow this is something I get into a lot of debates over. I basically grew up on Everquest, I got it the day it came out when I was 13. That was something else, it was this huge fantasy world that you could explore and discover. I thought that kind of gameplay got lost after World of Warcraft came out and suddenly it set the model for how an MMORPG should play, but then I discovered Vanguard and was really have a great time immersing myself in this other world.

What are your thoughts on SOE (Sony Online Entertainment)?

I could write a book on this, and anybody who knows me or has read my editorials would expect me to write some scathing, angry piece here.

Let me share this. I was a hardcore Star Wars Galaxies player, “was” being the key word. I stopped playing that game about two years ago, a few weeks after the Trials of Obi-wan expansion came out. I’m sure you all can guess why I stopped playing.

SOE was Gods & Heroes publisher and partner and in my time spent there I learned a lot about the nature of the business and about SOE. I think they are a wonderful company who really wants to make great games. They have the experience and business sense to know what really is best for the games under their belt.

So yes, I still am bitter and want my old Star Wars Galaxies back, however I know that if SOE didn’t do what they did, we might not even have a Star Wars Galaxies today. They have learned from what happened in the past and I think we see that happening with Vanguard today. Vanguard has improved ten fold since SOE came into the picture and I see them really working hard to support that game,

What's next?

School work! I am still in college so I’ve always had to take that into consideration. However I am looking at what opportunities I have here in the bay area and have a couple dozen resumes floating around. I’ve had a few interviews but no luck yet. I’ve decided to stay in the gaming industry (no dress code requirements) so hopefully someone needs a community manager!

PS LGR extends a special thanks to our old buddy Titas.

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