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Company of Heroes Online

As the lead designer of Company of Heroes Online, an MMO-RTS hybrid from Relic Entertainment that is free-to-play with microtransactions, Wood stated that Relic's goal with this title is to craft an "AAA" quality game and successfully integrate it with a free-to-play business model. During interviews and appearances at E3 2010, he emphasized the title's destructible environment, versatile tactical elements, and customization of equipment and hero units.

 Wood speaking about Company of Heroes Online at E3 2010

He also noted that all items that can be purchased with real money can also be earned in-game, and declared that it would not be possible for users to “buy their way to the top.” Wood pointed out that Relic released a version of Company of Heroes Online in China before bringing it to other regions, because the free-to-play business model is highly successful in China. He stated that free-to-play business models and online games in general would become more important in the future.

 

Death

On September 3, 2010, Wood was killed in a car accident on Whidbey Island, a location north of Seattle, Washington. The other driver involved in the accident, Jordyn B. Weichert, lost control of her vehicle, drove over the center line of the highway, and crashed head-on into Wood's vehicle. The Washington State Patrol speculated that Weichert was under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Law enforcement also stated that Weichert wanted to remove a sweater or jacket; while doing so, she allowed a passenger, Samantha R. Bowling, to take the wheel, which resulted in the crash. Wood's wife Erin was also involved in the crash; she is six months pregnant but survived. Erin, Weichert, and Bowling were hospitalized for their injuries; Wood and two male passengers riding with Weichert died at the crash site. Weichert will almost certainly face charges of vehicular homicide following her release, and it is possible that Bowling may face charges as well.       
 
Erin Wood stated in an interview that Brian's last act saved her and their unborn child's life. When he saw the out-of-control Chevy Blazer coming straight for them, Brian swerved right so he would take most of the impact. The bigger Chevy SUV continued with it's momentum over Brian's smaller Subaru wagon, crushing the drivers side and killing him, while his wife survived with non-fatal head injuries. The policemen told Erin had it been a head-on collision, neither of them would have survived.

Response

On September 7, 2010, Relic released a statement about Brian's death. They also informed users that a memorial trust fund was available for users who wish to give financial support to Erin and her family.
 

We are all deeply saddened by the loss of Brian Wood who was killed in a tragic traffic accident last Friday.  Both Brian and his wife Erin were struck by a car on Whidbey Island in Washington State.  Erin, who is six-months pregnant, survived the crash and has since been released from the hospital to be with her family.
 
Brian was the Senior Designer on the Company of Heroes franchise and a key member of the Relic family. Everyone here has a tremendous amount of respect for Brian and he will be greatly missed.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Brian’s family during this difficult time.

- Relic Entertainment

Update: In memory of Brian Wood, a memorial trust has been set up to help Erin and her family through this difficult time.  Please visit http://www.brianwoodmemorialtrust.com/ for more information on how you can make a donation.
On September 13, 2010, the Today show, a major network news show aired on NBC in the United States, covered the story of Brian's death, and the sacrifice he made to save his family. NBC has made the video of this segment available on their site.
 
Erin Wood also sent an email to video game site Kotaku, thanking the video game community for remembering Brian fondly and giving the family support through letters and donations. Kotaku posted the contents of her message on September 15, 2010.

Hello.

My name is Erin Wood, and I wanted to send a request to please pass along my most sincere and heartfelt thanks to the gaming community for the overwhelming support provided to me in the past two weeks. I asked coworkers of Brian how I might best send my thanks, and they recommended sending them to Kotaku - hence this email. Any way you can help share this with the community would be much appreciated.

Brian always told me about how close-knit and wonderful the video game community was, but I had no idea until this tragedy just how special a group it really is. From all the articles and comments, to the emails and donations, I am simply stunned and so touched by the love, kindness, and generosity shown to me and my family. As everyone knows, the last 10 days have been the most difficult, dark days of my life. But this journey has been eased tremendously by the thoughts, prayers, and well wishes received from friends, family, and strangers living all over the world. It is so meaningful for me to hear about how his work and enthusiasm for the industry has touched others. Brian was completely and utterly devoted to the game industry, and was pretty much living his dream every day. He woke up every morning excited to be working in such a creative, demanding field. It was such a joy to be married to someone who was absolutely passionate about his professional life.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the compassion and support. It is so appreciated, and has been a light to me in this impossible situation.

Warm wishes,
Erin

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