MMO Chat: Scott Hartsman

July 7th, 2011

On Feb 7th, 2011, I interviewed Scott Hartsman of Trion Entertainment in order to write a more in-depth article for Gamasutra about MMO Economies. Well, the one interview turned into seven and the one article ballooned into three and, unfortunately, a lot of the interviews got cut from the final articles. So, for your reading pleasure, I'm posting the full un-cut interview transcripts here on Soulrift! Starting, of course, with Scott's.

Huge apologies for the late posting though, keep in mind that this interview was conducted while Rift was still in beta... Still, there's a lot that's interesting here so enjoy! :)

Welcome Scott, take a moment to introduce yourself.

My name is Scott Hartmsan, I am the Executive Producer of Rift and I work at Trion Worlds and we make an amazing amazing game that is in beta right now.

It seems that some comparisons between Rift and WoW are inevitable. The economic systems in particular seem nearly identical. Same sort of crafting systems, same sort of auction house, right down to that three-coin currency. What sort of “originate” versus “iterate” considerations went into the design of Rift’s economy?

The coin economy was just supposed to be easily approachable more than anything else. We wanted something that would – let me just take a step back – whenever we evaluate putting any feature in the game we have to make a couple of important decisions. The first thing is: is this something that is more like a checklist feature or is this something that people are going to expect to see new and exciting and unique. Most of the checklist features – let me give you an example: mail is a great one. Mail works pretty much the same as it does in a whole lot of other MMOs. We don’t have a whole lot of innovation in mail because no one is really looking for a whole lot of innovation in mail. In the way coins exist in the world? Really, no one’s looking for innovation in coins either. So we’re innovating in places like our events and our souls and the rifts themselves. So those are the places we’re putting all the effort into making things new and cool. The rest of it people are just expecting and thinking “you suck” if you don’t have something there. So our coin is definitely one of those.

What about the auction house? The AH system is very similar to WoW as opposed to, for example, the marketplace in EVE Online or the Auction House in Final Fantasy XI.

Again, it comes down to approachability. It’s a utilitarian function more than it is anything else and so for us it was putting in something that the largest number of people would easily understand before we start going crazy with new and exciting things to make it even more complicated or advanced. We’ve got a couple of those spec’ed for over the first year of the game. So it was just about making sure we got the core things people excepted first, then go crazy with new stuff.

How is the design of the economy – not just the infrastructure but also the items you have and how you trade them – how was that shaped by other game design consideration? For example, how much influence did the Rift / Invasion rewards – the stuff you can buy with the Planarite – or the PvP rewards have on crafting and trading; what about the extensive use of Bind on Equip and Bind on Pickup of gear?

So we actually have – and you bring up a really good point – is that we have a number of economies in the game and that is very much on purpose. For instance: the concept of the planar currencies – of which there are a good many – as well as the PvP currencies – of which there are also many – and even crafting and collecting currencies. To us, like I said, the coin currency is nothing terribly important, it’s coin currency, people understand and they get that. Then they can get into the other currencies as they start partaking in other parts of the game.

But all those other currencies aren’t tradable. You can collect it and use it to buy your own stuff and the stuff you then buy is Bind on Pickup. So basically, whether you’re playing a solo game or an MMO, those economic systems work the same way, as opposed to the regular coin system where you’re actually trading with other players. You can’t get rich in Rift by trading Planar currencies.

For some of those things this is true, for others there are plenty of things that are still exchangeable. It’s just that you can only exchange it until the point where someone uses it. That has less to do with suppressing an economy – that’s not the goal at all – the goal is to, like, you have to have a lot of items that are only usable once, by one person, otherwise you never get an economy because there’s no such thing, unlike the real world, where items wear out, items don’t wear out in MMOs. So you end up making a choice which is either you have a system where items don’t have permanence or you have to make a system where items can’t be recycled infinitely. And, of the two, making systems where items can’t be reused infinitely is far far far more palatable to the average person – actually, I’d say the vast majority of people – as opposed to “Oh, I just got my rare item that I busted my ass to get and, oh look, it broke.”

I think Dark Age of Camelot tried to do that, items breaking.

Yeah, those are old MUD things that we used to have in the day twenty years ago of making MUDs. It was a mirror of a pen & paper type system and a way to try to create a healthy economy that way. But, at the end of the day, we’re making games and they have to be fun, we’re not making world or economy simulators.

Unless you’re EVE Online.

Yes, they, that does not apply to. Us, we are not making economy simulators. I think there’s a certain market to whom that appeals and I think EVE pretty much cornered it.

EVE has an unusual way of getting around that because things keep getting blown up.

Yeah it’s fantastic for their system, I am, in a lot of ways, in awe of what those guys managed to pull off. It’s not an audience I would pretend to understand and a lot of what they’ve done is really ambitious.

FFXI managed to get a strong economy even though items don’t degrade or bind, but I guess it works because everyone can switch jobs and end up re-buying and re-selling the same gear over and over as they go up levels over and over. But I guess in Rift that doesn’t work, even with the different souls, because you only go up in levels.

I worked on the original Everquest and EQ didn’t make extensive use of item binding because a lot of what made things fun was finding incredibly overpowered items and passing them down to characters who could use them and pass them around to all your alts forever.

And in Everquest you could also drop stuff when you died?

Yes, but that almost never happened. It didn’t happen too much in EQ. I mean, the threat was always there but more often than not people would recover their own stuff. But just from working on that game we had to… let me put it this way: if there had been the competition for people’s time that there is today, we would not have done nearly as well because it was expected that casters in that game would go two years without seeing a single piece of upgrade. And people don’t have that patience these days. It wouldn’t necessarily fly in 2011, I’ll just put it that way.

You were talking about checklist features like the mailbox. I’m just wondering, on a more theoretical level, do you think that the whole in-game economy – the whole idea of having money and auction houses, trading, even the whole crafting system – do you think all of that is just sort of a “checklist” feature that people will just expect to see in an MMO or do you think trading with other players is an integral part of what makes MMOs fun to play?

I think it’s really important. Don’t get me wrong, for the same reason that I think mail is incredibly important. Just because I say “checklist” doesn’t mean I’m minimizing the importance of including it. If it wasn’t important to include it wouldn’t be there at all. Dev time is the most precious resource that we have, it’s the only thing you can’t get back. So it’s absolutely critical to help create a social environment, for sure. Especially when we have systems like the interaction between our tradeskills. If you want to think of a very bizarre interaction that we’ve created on purpose is the interaction between PvPers and Crafters. If you’re a hard-core PvPer, you’re going to actually be able to level up in our game, but you’re not going to be able to get full gear from it. So we fully expect there to be new kinds of interactions between those two sets of groups which will help the overall economy quite a bit.

Let’s talk more about the crafting. Do you see crafting as part of the economic system of the game or more of a separate “levelling-up” system. If you look at World of Warcraft’s “first aid” side-profession, it’s not really an economic thing: you level it up to make yourself bandages to heal yourself, but you never buy or sell bandages since you have to have the same level of skill to use them as to make them. So it seems like crafting doesn’t have to be part of this economic trading system. What’s your opinion on that?

Yeah that’s the thing. If you look at crafting systems you’ve basically got essentially three top things that people take away from it and the reasons people go after it are pretty different. You’ve got the people who actually are actively interested in playing an economic game, you’ve got the people who just enjoy the fact that they are able to create stuff that they and their friends can use, and you’ve got just the general advancement-type people who see something that needs to be advanced and they go advance it. Then, well, I guess the overall type, is that they’re getting something out of it that they feel is fun. So if you’re looking at stuff like old skool fishing in some MMOs before there were any real rewards for it, people just liked the idea of fishing. Why? Because it was an environmental immersion thing. Same thing for the original Everquest. We had a bunch of tradeskillers before tradeskilling was even terribly useful. But why did they do it? Because they liked it, that was who they wanted to be. It was more of a projection of who they are. So, yeah, I don’t think of it as solely an economic thing, but you definitely can’t argue that it plays an important part once you start talking about having people having the ability to create items of their own.

You’ve also been involved with Everquest 2 to a certain extent. When Everquest II launched it had this really interesting crafting system that was highly inter-dependant. Every type of crafter had to make crafting sub-components for everybody else.

Oh yes, I still have some of those in a bank on one of my first characters.

That was sort of washed away and purified and now everything just uses raw materials. And most of these MMOs these days – EQ2’s new system, WoW, and Rift – all crafting is so isolated. If you’re a crafter, you can make everything you need for yourself. What are your thoughts on interdependency in crafting systems?

A lot of it depends on the kinds of goals for the overall game itself. You have to look up high at what kind of game you’re making when making decisions like that. The game we had launched back in 2004 is obviously very different from what it ended up being in later years and a lot of that had to do with us observing how accessible crafting was as a whole, how difficult it was to get started, and – most importantly – how much power were we letting small numbers of people focus over an entire server’s economy. With that level of interdependency, that is a very complicated game to play. For some of these recipes, you would have to craft forty things – forty subcomponents through different tiers – before you could make the final thing. And when all of those things are dependent on other people what we ended up with was very small groups of people effectively controlling an economy of an entire server.

That tends to not go well unless you are one of those few people. If you’re one of the people on the outside and you’re just not able to get certain things that you need to progress you end up with this server economy where a gigantically disproportionate amount of wealth is focused in the hands of a couple of people. That’s more of a hard-core economy simulation that I can totally see working well for, like we said, like an EVE Online, but at the end of the day we were not trying to make a hard-core economy simulator, we were trying to make a deep world that is a fantasy game and is fun and is social and so while there was definitely some amount of social wheeling-and-dealing going on behind the scenes for people to set up these trade cabals, that’s not the core of our game; that was never going to be that game’s strength. Because that part of that game was not sufficiently entertaining enough to bring in enough people to actually cause the game to be allowed to exist. If we would have been making that game it would have had a fraction of the users that it had at the time.

That’s what it was really what it was about: ensuring that larger numbers of people were able to partake in the activity.

You mention that it was a small number of people controlling a large economy, is that, do you think, largely the result of player behaviour, or because of the economic systems in the game? When EQ2 first came out, the broker system was also quite limited in how you could buy and sell stuff – you had to actually stay online – and also because you can only list stuff for sale. You can only say “I wanna sell something” you can’t say “I wanna buy something.” It seems like if you had a system where you had buyers competing to buy something in addition to sellers competing to sell something that might open up the economy and make it a lot easier for brand new players who say “I need these components, but now I can say I want to buy them at this price and other players can craft them and sell them to me.” Do you think systems like that would make more interdependent crafting systems more viable?

I think it would make a more interdependent system more viable, to be sure. Here’s the thing: crafting interdependency and dungeon grouping are analogues to each other in different action spaces. It’s not that people don’t like other people; it’s that people don’t like inconvenience. And other people are the most inconvenient thing in the world.

Yeah, I’ve always said “the worst thing in massively multiplayer games is the other players.”

*laugh* Yeah! We all say that because it’s pithy and funny, but it is true. I love nothing more than doing really hard dungeons in games. It’s the most fun thing in the world for me. I don’t like the act of putting groups together. Nobody likes the act of putting groups together. Nobody wants to be “that guy.” So crafting interdependency is the same thing. Everyone likes the idea of “oh, this is so deep and there’s all kinds of stuff” but “oooh, wait, now I’ve gotta find ways to get this stuff? Oh this isn’t fun.” So yeah, adding more systems like that I think are a great way to get more interdependency in a fun way. But the thing is, you also need systems like that, I think, before you go putting in something that you expect sufficient numbers of people to actually play with.

Just like the systems for interdependent crafting economy, you talk about player grouping. WoW has this dungeon finder where you can automatically get a group together for a dungeon, and Rift doesn't have that. Why not?

Yep, I know. Because they're not easy to do. I was pretty clear about this a year ago when the subject first came up, "would we have something like that there for launch?" My perspective on it is, I think, a little bit unique, in that I've actually launched two other "Looking For Group" systems in two other MMOs and I think there's a... hmm.

Looking at "Looking For Group" systems is like a spectrum. On one far end of the spectrum you have chat channels and nothing else. On the other far end of the spectrum as it exists today you have World of Warcraft's looking for dungeon: dungeon auto-finder, auto-grouper, auto-teleporter, auto-everythinger. At different midpoints on that spectrum you have systems like the one that exists in Everquest which is largely a search and call out and "who wants to do what"; it was more like a user searching filtering kind of thing. EQ2's simplified EQ's a little bit and then added player roles on top of that in the core system.

But, at the end of the day, the most important thing to take away from all of that is that if you put in all those new exciting ways of searching you will find the same thing that World of Warcraft did [before they automated their dungeon finder]: nobody really uses them. Or insufficient people use them to actually form a group with any reliability or any amount of fun.

So I think what WoW proved is that if you are going to ship a group system it needs to be one that is actually capable of forming the group for you and doing all the important maintenance therein. So my stance on it is: unless you're going to do at least that much, you shouldn't do any of the other things because you're going to spend a whole lot of time developing and then people are going to use them for a week then nobody will use them again.

So that is the very long answer for "Why doesn't Rift have this?"

Yeah because in, like, EQ2, it only works if people actually list themselves as LFG.

Yeah. Instead, that's why one of the things we focused on with Rift were the open world events, the Rifts themselves, the fact that we have the giant zone invasions, and the fact that by default every player is flagged as willing to open group. What we have seen from having that system in is that open groups do form - some of them form, disband, form, disband - others will continue to rampage across the countryside forever and others will eventually do group content, both over-world and in dungeons. It’s kind of our ninja-way of getting basic automated grouping done already. We just put players in charge of it and most of the feedback that we've gotten so far is that people love this feature.

Yeah, I noticed when I first started playing Rift in the early betas I was like “hey, this sucks, I always go to these rifts and I never meet anyone” and then this big button appeared at the top of the screen. I really like that.

Good! I’m very glad! Ours offers some stuff that no other game – as far as I know – are doing. We’ll also auto-merge people into raids, we’ll let you merge two groups together, anything to help draw people together is what we’re really aiming for.

On the topic of information about the economy, on the auction house you only see the price that people are currently listing for items, you don’t have the price history or buyers indication… How much information do you feel is important to give out about the economy? Do you think players should have access to as much information as possible or are there intentional design limitations?

It’s really hard… it’s another subjective balance point. It’s how much benefit do you think you’re going to get per amount of development time that you spend to add a feature. Then, on top of that, it’s how easy and how approachable did you make the entire thing. Because, sure, we could absolutely figure out a way to put the full price history and price graphs for every single item up there and spend a whole lot of money on the storage required to do that and then do a whole bunch of UI to figure out the best possible way to show that feature and then now suddenly we realize that we’ve just made a stock market game. And we go: “Hmm, is that really what we wanted to do?”

I think that the answer is different for every game and I think that, as far as we’re concerned, our over-riding goal is that we want it to be usable and we want it to be approachable by sufficient numbers of people for it to justify its own existence. Beyond that, we definitely don’t have hardcore religion about how much information is too much or anything like that. If anything, I feel like we’re giving people a little too little information right now, but that was because it was “the auction house,” it was more of a checklist feature than something that we wanted to build our game around. But yeah, I would expect us to continue enhancing that over time with some new stuff too.

So, as far as Rift-specific content, the two ideas I thought of were that is seems like it’s difficult to do the price history because Rift uses randomly-generated items – the green and blue items that have randomly generated prefix and suffixes like the typical Diablo. And it’s difficult to do price histories on slightly-similar-but-ever-so-different items that are randomly generated. But what about price histories on commodity goods, like crafting materials? There’s such a high volume of very same items.

What it comes down to for us is if you can do that feature for one item it immediately works for all the items, so for us it doesn’t have much to do with the items, it has more to do with the cost of implementing the feature.

What about having some sort of auto-sort for collectables? I notice Rift has HUGE collections of collectables that have driven me COMPLETELY INSANE trying to fill them all in – pages and pages and pages…

Yeah, we need a “usable” flag in there. We definitely need a usable flag in there for those. I am totally aware of that and agree.

This is going off from Rift for a moment into the realm of MMO design theory… Do you ever feel it is advantageous to add artificial limits to the knowledge players have of the game? In Final Fantasy XIV this was a big issue covered in Gamasutra recently where Hiromichi Tanaka was talking about their market wards system and how by making it difficult to see what other people are selling the item for you create a more fluid economy; he thought it was a good idea to limit that knowledge. Do you ever feel that way?

I don’t buy that. I really don’t. It may work for some reason in their game – no disrespect intended – but I think artificially hiding information like that is something we used to do back in the early 2000s and slightly before, but it’s something where when you really do that some subset of your players will figure out some way to get that information and if it provides a benefit they’ve now just been given a disproportionate advantage in the game. There are some advantages that are fine, but there are some that can be really harmful. If you want to take a step back even farther; remember, some of these MMOs, including one that I worked on, we didn’t even tell you how much mana you had in-game, on your character. We told you how much mana your spells cost and it didn’t seem weird to us at all that we tell you your teleport spell costs 300 mana… well, how much mana do I have? Well, 5 bubbles? A bar? Eventually we just came around and went “ok, really, let’s not go hiding info that is actually germane to people.”

Another interesting thing about MMO economies that make them different from real-world economies is that the money – the coin – is created and destroyed as part of the game system. You kill some monsters, you sell an item, you turn in a quest and money is just created; when you buy something from an NPC or pay the fee for mail it’s actually removed from the world. How does Rift compensate for this? Does this tend to lead to rampant inflation as more and more money is added to the economy?

So what you want to create for the kind of game we’re making – every game will have their own answer – what I would like to see in our game – and we can actually track this through our own economic logging, every server spits out multiple gigs a day of econ logging (and, actually, we’re kind of having to deal with the size of it now) – what we really want is something that is slightly inflationary over time – not crazy inflationary – but you need the average player to be able to feel like they’re making progress and not feel like they’re having to flush away every single penny they spend. So in other words, a perfect Faucet-Drain model doesn’t work where you end up with “oh, for every gold that comes in, one gold goes out! I guess that means we’re doing good!” No it doesn’t! That means your game probably isn’t fun.

You’re setting up your players as heroes, villains, adventurers, in our game, Ascended, they need to feel like they are smarter than your average bear. They want to feel like they are better than… and if they have to pay every penny that they make in nobody feels like they’re making any headway. So you need something that does inflate over time, you need something that does have costs that build up over time, and that’s just part of the normal game lifecycle.

Plus you have to have some pocket change to be able to buy and sell stuff on the Auction House.

Exactly! And it’s nice to be able to treat yourself to things too. Here’s this ridiculously silly thing that I would never ever purchase, but you know what? Boom. There you go. I’m spending 150 plat on this awesome mount. Awww yeah! Why? Because he looks cool.

What about having giant money sinks at the very end? In World of Warcraft I think I got to 50,000 gold and realized “yeah, ok, gold is meaningless.” Once you’ve bought everything, once you have flying mounts on all your alts and all that, there’s nothing left to buy in the game. Some people have suggested player housing for games like WoW, where you might have a limited number of houses and players have to bid for the house, and the more money in the economy the more money gets sucked out through this. What about things like that in Rift?

That in particular – Housing – is more of a question of how do you want your game’s social structure to work and it is with economy. I’ve worked on a game that had them, I’ve worked on games that don’t, it’s a matter of what goes in to which game. Now, are you’re talking about big splurge items, or big limited-edition splurge items?

Well I think I mean unlimited splurge items. Housing for which you pay a monthly fee constantly sucks money out of the economy, as opposed to a mount where you buy it once and that’s it. Unless it were a rental exotic mount?

How enjoyable an experience is it in the real world to pay rent? Nobody wants that. It’s the same reason that people don’t want items that wear out over time. “This is mine.” They want a sense of “me” “mine” permanence. I got this thing. I’m not paying money to rent this thing where it’s not permanent to me. I like the idea of big splurge items a lot, I love the items of big expensive cosmetic items for people who enjoy that kind of thing, I’ve been guilty of doing it once or twice myself. But the idea of things that require upkeep is kind of a slippery slope. It’s very hard to make it feel such that the upkeep feels like it’s worth the amount of fun you’re getting.

Were there any big interesting stories or lessons that you learned from your previous MMOs that guided your design of Rift and its game economy?

Not just my experiences, but being on this team with people who’ve worked on most of the MMOs you can name out there right now. It’s been a combination of a lot of our different experiences. One of the biggest things that we learned is “make sure to design your economy and its internals and how it operates such that we can actually log every damn thing that happens” because one of the big problems with economies is fraud and botting and credit-card theft since the year 2007 or so has absolutely exploded. So we had to make sure we had the ability to track dupes, track stuff on crafting loops where you can just get something into a virtuous cycle because of bad numbers on the tables. And have all of those things such that we can actually observe what the hell is actually going on in our world. Those are the biggest things. A lot of it came down to “how do we operate this?” much more so than what kinds of things would a user see on the outside.

So is RMT – the whole gold selling, gold farming – is that a big concern with Rift?

It is a big enough concern, we can actually track it, but if you’re talking about what different kinds of fraud exist in the world the ones that for us as a developer and a publisher, the kinds of fraud that concern us the most are the actual credit card frauds. Where you go buy gold from a disreputable gold site and they say thank you and deliver your gold and sell your credit card number or start registering accounts with your credit card. It’s those kinds of things where people laugh and go “oh, that never happens.” NO. It happens. It happens a shit load. To the point where, over the last three or four years, I would dare anybody to ask an exec at a gaming company how much they’ve had to pay in Master Card and Visa fines because of fraud. It happens A LOT. Those fines are money that should be going into making games better and instead they’re going into fighting the fact that people are jerks in the world.

What about in-game effects? Some games have problems where bots are spamming or sending mails or the actual way they collect the money in the game is disruptive to other players.

We very intentionally took some lessons from EQ2. EQ2 had a very good spam filter, ours is not entirely unlike that one, it’s based on the same kind of filter that you have on your gmail. Players can help self-medicate the problem by reporting spammers, which trains the filter which causes the spam to go away, kind of removing a market. Same thing for mail; mail is all spam-checked also. Most of the disruptive ways of gaining resources is from playing illegitimately – traveling around under the world, harvesting nodes from under the world, that kind of stuff – yes, we can track and trap all that. There’s lots of different behaviours we can track and trap. We’ve been spending a lot of time on that also. A lot of it is actually non-trivial problems to solve. But it’s just work that we knew we had to do because we are creating a world that we want to stay alive forever.

You can track bot behaviour, but what’s your overall stance on bots or macros?

It depends on what kinds. I think the idea of accessibility macros – we have all different players of all different levels of ability – and you have, for example, back in the day we used to work with the guys at Able Gamers, and you don’t want to make it so people who need a little assistance can’t play your game, but you also don’t want to make it so your entire game is automatable. There’s a reason you don’t hear about a lot of companies talking about this kind of thing officially is that the balance is really kind of subjective. What might be ok for one person might not be the greatest thing when a group of 100 people start doing it automatically. It’s a constant balance, really. I’m obviously not a fan of bots, we do support macros through our own macro system. We don’t mind if you play two clients – we’re not in the year 2000 where if you were playing two clients you were considered cheating – as long as you’re the human being playing both of them that’s fine! Have fun!

Reminds me of the people who play EVE Online with 16 screens and mice taped together…

Yeah! If someone wants to do that, as long as they’re not being jerks, that’s fine. To me it comes down to what’s going to disrupt other players experience more than anything else.

One of the big things in World of Warcraft is the use of mods. I haven’t seen any mods yet for Rift, I don’t think Rift has the same kind of infrastructure for them?

We do not, in fact. That was another thing where mods can be cool but you have to be able to support a whole lot more development work on the inside to make it work the right way. So it just wasn’t work that we chose to deal with for launch.

If it wasn’t difficult – if you could just push one button and put it in – would you want it? Or does it add more harm than good?

No, I don’t think it’s more harmful than good if you do it right, it’s just that doing it right and balancing it correctly and making sure you’re not creating that automated gameplay player for you, it’s real work. So if I could get my perfect system in by snapping my fingers, absolutely. But getting the perfect system is just a ton of work to do it right.

There was one last question I had: why did you break Rift’s beta process into a lot of short betas instead of just one long beta like most MMOs?

I’m happy to explain. So, we have been running a 24/7 closed test the entire time since May, but the beta events themselves are to get what we’ve been showing in front of a larger number of users. But most importantly, here’s what they let us do: they let us rehearse the act of launching. That is something that is priceless. Our first day of beta event was two days of scrambling around, people going “oh shit, we forgot this!” “oh shit, this configuration!” “oh shit, that configuration!” By the time we launch, we’ll have run seven of these things. Already by the 5th beta it’s a checklist of items and betas come up and we’ve launched the last couple a few minutes early. So yeah, to rehearse the act of launching as well as to be able to take it down and let our team just work on it to get new features ready for a large audience again. Because pre-launch is the only time you ever get to do that.

Finally, what lessons have you learned implementing the economy in Rift that you’d like to share or pass on to future designers? Any words of wisdom?

There’s the advice I give to engineers and designers all the time and that is: track everything. Even if it seems that you’re tracking too much. Trust me, you’re gonna be glad you had it there when you need it.

The other thing is: give yourself lots of safeties. We’ve been testing our safeties through our alphas and betas and we have the ability to turn off merchants, we have the ability to turn off the auction house, we have the ability to prevent individual items from dropping, to turn off individual recipes from creating anything, and so on and so on.

So if there’s a bug you can fix it without turning off the whole game?

You can push the button and “click” done. I did one yesterday. Three seconds from the minute it was reported it was that easy. Then we were able to go back in and see that only one hundred people screwed with this, only a hundred out of the six figures of people that had been playing the game, really not going to worry about it since it’s just beta. But we would have been able to take that and turn it into an action plan for live.

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