Thursday, September 2, 2010

MAG Interviews: Thagmor

Thagmor needs no introduction, go to the MAG Forums for two minutes and expect to see his organizational skills on full display. He was the first person to find a viable way to make MAG easier for newer players and to try to give them the "forum training" that MAG never provided. In our interview he chimed in on MAG's Training dilemma, evolving to an MMO and his thoughts on Weapon Balance.

When did you first notice MAG?
Jlongshot sent me some emails shortly after it's announcement.

What were you first impressions of MAG after playing in the BETA?
My very first impression?  **bleep** is going on.  The memory that sticks out in my mind the most was being squad leader for the first time on Elk Bay.  That was quite interesting.  So many buttons so little time to learn what they all do :smileyvery-happy:.

You're a pillar in the MAG community and saw to it to coordinate information on the forums, why?
The forums get bogged down so easily.  Just the amount of information that is being put out by the masses is mind numbing at times.  It was pretty obvious from the very beginning that something had to be done about the learning curve.  The beta testers responded pretty quickly with guides to help all the new waves of beta testers.  It didn't take long for them to be pushed to the depths of the forums never to see light again.  I just took them all, placed them neatly into one thread, and asked for it to be stickied for the sake of new and old players alike.  Then I did the same with developer interviews and then lastly the forum responses.  

I get thank you's all the time from people in game for my summations, all I did was have too much time on my hands though.  The real thanks should be given to people like oHIKARUo and Deadeyes (many others as well) who actually took the time to write all the information down to teach other players, and Zipper/SCEA who took the time to actually support the community as much as they have (and continue to do).

Why are you still an active MAG player?
MAG is labeled an FPS.  I see it more as an RTS though.  The battle field is evolving every second.  Strategies and counter strategies get deployed in a massive game of chess.  Being able to best your adversary in ways other than just reaction time or hand eye coordination.  It's always been a "thinking man's" game, and the intellectual challenge as well as the fun that comes with an FPS makes it one of the best gaming experiences I've ever had.  That and friends, of course :smileyhappy:

You've been pretty vocal about evolving MAG from FPS to MMO, what would be the fulfillment of your MAG Vision?
The economy system pretty much brings all that to fruition.  The ability to purchase weapons instead of unlocking them as a skill and the expansion of the skill tree is the step that was needed to bridge the gap between FPS and MMO.  

To expand just a little beyond that I would like to see some sort of "Map graffiti" when a PMC occupies an opponents territory.  Have Valor defend SVER's map, but make it look like they actually conquered the place.  Put some Valor flags waving high in the air.  Let SVER defend Raven's map, I could just imagine their pretty metal buildings covered with spray paint.  Let Raven defend Valor's map, they just drop in a few metal buildings to make it look more like the matrix (I kid :smileytongue:).  Then you have just added very little to the actual gaming universe but the pride for one's PMC would be felt on every map.

What do you think is responsible for the lower player numbers?
I have always and will always attribute MAG's downfall to lack of training.  You constantly see people lower than level 20 on the battlefield which means new people are still playing the game.  It's just a turnover game at this point though, very little retention of the players that do pick it up.  I would love to see everyone's reaction to their first time playing Domination.  It's ridiculously large and very confusing.  There are things that could've been done better, but that was for sure my biggest pet peeve.  To try and narrow it down to one thing is hard though, I know map imbalance played a big part in people's decision to keep playing.  When I talk about imbalance I'm talking bugs and glitches.  Who wants to attack a Domination map that allows one PMC to defuse gate charges on the opposite side.  Who wants to defend a domination map that allows the attackers to drive around the obstacles put in place to impede their advance.  These things kill the fun in a game quicker than anything else.

What new MAG content would you like to see?
The correct question there would be; What new MAG content haven't we seen yet?  If you include the beta we're coming up on something like 15-20 patches.  The way this game has evolved this is pretty much going to be a whole new game here.  Animation system is getting an overhaul, a whole new skill tree, new weapons, and the second DLC map pack right around the corner.  What more could I ask for?  I guess some sort of (Mandatory) Leadership Training would go a long way to help everyone out.

If there was one change you could make to MAG what would it be?
I've been harping for screenshots to make a come back for a while, and seeing as I've already beat the dead horse of training mode, I'll go with that.

In your opinion, what is MAG's greatest strength?
Valor :smileyvery-happy:.  The support from the community and the developers.  I've never really been part of any online community before, but man these people are passionate about gaming.  The outcry from fans and support from Zipper have been unrivaled.  I think Zipper has set a high standard here for all game developers as far as post launch support.

What weakness hurt MAG the most?
I just got done talking about support to, and now I have to go and contradict myself.  Amazing support but they've neglected major map issues for far too long.  The ability to crawl under AAA's, circumventing Bridges/roadblocks, reviving inside geometry, no mortar or sensory array on Elk Bay.  The average turnover rate for these major game balance issues seems to be 6 months.  I can tell you that I would have a far greater time playing Domination if I didn't have to work Four Times as hard as other PMCs to keep APCs from driving past my bunker.

What's your favorite game mode and why?
Domination of course.  It's MAG.  Every other game mode is just a "wanna be" :smileyvery-happy:.  When you have an OIC coordinating with 4 PL's who are keeping up with all their SL's, there is no greater gaming sensation.  When team work shines it's the greatest joy, when it's lacking it's a pain in the ass.  Either way I'm usually so immersed in battle that it's just an ear to ear grin on my face.

We had a suggestion on our blog that had melee attacks from the front result in a gun-butt attack and knifing to only occur when you're BEHIND an opponent, what's you take on knives being the dominant weapon in MAG?
I hate weapon debates, for the sole reason that they never end.  You "fix" one and the debate just shifts to a new weapon.  Guess the knife is the new LMG.

What one word describes the LMG?
Old News.... didn't you hear?  It's all about the knife now :smileytongue:

Tell us about the breakup of VE.
Harbie left so I left.  The break up of VE occurred after that, so I had no part.

What’s your opinion on the new system that gives us three player slots?
At this point in the game you want what's going to attract the most people to the game.  More choices for a player is easily one of the best ways to achieve this.  Give a player more options and they'll stay around longer.  It's just the nature of this 256 player beast.

What’s your take on the new in-game economy and separating skills and weapons?
It's the first step Zipper has taken to  evolve from FPS to MMO.

Baclavas. Yes or NO?
Whichever.  The character customization isn't very appealing to me in the first place.  If they have the memory to add it, then go for it.  I'd sure take weapons over any of the character customization options in this game though.

One of our most popular suggestions is a water map with boats and water bases, what’s your opinion?
I'm a little sour on the idea of water maps thanks to Confrontation.

When I say Clan Wars what’s the first thing that comes to your mind?

How often would you like to see new MAG content? Are you willing to pay for it?
Every day.  I'm willing to pay for anything that warrants the spending of money.

How do we stop team-killing?
Turn off friendly fire, that's the only way to stop it.  I personally do not want to see it turned off though.  Detour people from doing it by banning them.

Who's you're biggest MAG nemesis, and why?
I would have to say MizzSmartyPants.  She's the deadliest ally I've ever had.  :smileyvery-happy:

Describe your singular MAG experience.
After attacking SVER Acqui map for roughly 7 minutes (in the beta mind you, so the map was nearly unbeatable and we still hadn't crossed the pond) had a young lad chime in asking, "When do we get to parachute."  after trying to explain to him the linear motion of the games mechanics he stated, "All I want to do is parachute, when do we do that.".  A few moments later had someone join the same game late, before deciding whether or not to press start and enter the game he desperately wanted to know what the score was.  I still receive msgs from Jlongshot to this day asking me "When do we get to parachute." to which I reply "Whenever you tell me the score".

What's your worst MAG shame?
I have left my squad/platoon behind to go back and destroy road blocks and motor pools chasing trophies.  Not my finest hour.

Vote-to-Demote? Yay or Nay?
Adding Leadership Training should solve that debate.  You would just move the griefing process of VTK to a VTD system.  Help people learn the system and there will be less instances in which it is warranted to Kick or Demote any leader.

Do the helicopter respawns need fixing?
My problem with Helicopter spawns is the ability for one person with an RPG to take it downI think that was fixed in the beta though, meaning that it has already been addressedI wasn't able to test much though as I've been busy with other things since the beta went liveEither way they need a higher durability from what is currently in MAG.

If you could have one dream "game type" what would it be?
Escalation is on it's way.

People seem to be enamored with a Hostage/VIP/Escort game mode, what say you?
No AI pleaseI've never played a single Zipper game where the online AI worked the way it should have.

What Balancing Issues in MAG need fixing?
All of the above.


  1. Asked for it to be stickied? I seem to recall you BEGGING and trying to bribe me to sticky it for you!

    And I'm only your deadliest ally because YOU started it! :)

  2. The ammount of awesomeness in this interview is too big to be named.

  3. Brilliant comparison of the 'dynamic evolving battlefield' to an RTS. I've always thought so. At the PL and OIC level, the greatest games literally require a ten minute cooldown for the old brain cells!

  4. I'll never forget when I heard over prox, "oh yeah, there's LAGmore from the forums" LOL

  5. so this is the interview with the REAL info, and zade's response interview gets all the attention? C'MON MAG. we gotta do better.

  6. Nice interview. I prefer these to paparazzi postings.