Mark Jacobs, GM of Mythic Entertainment, just published the following message about Warhammer Online, talking about past, present and future improvements in the game. here’s the entire message:
Its only March and its been a very hectic year already for us here at Mythic. The last six months have seen an awful lot of excitement and change here at the studio. Weve launched another successful MMORPG but this time in the face of the worst economic conditions that most of us have ever seen. Weve done some things that we are very proud of, some things we regret and some things that we are very excited about going forward. As Ive said about Mythic throughout the years, we are not perfect but we will always try our best to create great games. So, without further preamble (or simply ramble), heres my Winters End State of the Game with a quick peek at the past, the present, and a much deeper gaze into the near future.
Right now we are in the middle of our first LIVE expansion for WAR. As part of that, we have just released our biggest patch yet for WAR. While I am a long-standing member of “There is no such thing as a miracle patch” club, this patch cycle (1.2) and the one that will follow it (1.3) represent a huge number of changes, bug fixes and additions to our game. Given the proximity of these two releases, I think it is pretty safe to say that these represent one of the largest (if not the largest) amount of new content, tweaks, adjustments, etc. to any MMO over the course of several months. The team has worked very hard on this and the scope of this patch cycle demonstrates Mythics willingness to continue to work on WAR as it stands now and not focus resources in other directions. While the 1.2 patch, like big MMO patches in every game, came with its own warts, overall it was a big win for Mythic and the WAR community. I would be remiss if I didnt talk a little bit about our next patch, 1.2.1. Currently, the 1.2.1 patch already contains 400+ bug fixes in both content and systems and we hope to add even more fixes to this list. Additionally, 1.2.1 also contains the initial Keep Upgrade system (more on this below), more improvements to T3 in terms of content and experience and the Combat and Careers team will give some extra loving to the Archmage, Shaman, White Lion and Marauder, another Live Event and much more. Currently, this version is slated to be released next month. Since 1.2 launched, weve already had a number of hot fixes and we continue to make adjustments to 1.2 on a daily basis even as we prepare for 1.2.1 and 1.3. RvR has never been more active and exciting in the game and we have a lot more coming down the road some of which I shall address now. We have also launched our first ever public forums and so far, things are going great over there. Were getting a lot of feedback and the discussions there are quite spirited and at times, quite helpful.
One of the things that the team has been doing since we launched is gathering player feedback from a variety of sources. Whether it is blogs, in-game feedback, public tests, our own experiences as players or through the forums, we have been looking at what people are saying about our game. So, I would like to take the rest of this SotG to address many of the key concerns. So, without further delay, heres an “Eleven Enticing Enhancements” list for WAR.
1. Client/Server performance in RvR – We will continue to work on ORvR performance from both a client and server standpoint throughout the game focusing on both frame rate and client stability improvements. While on the server side, we have made a ton of progress on fortress takes and overall game stability, we need to keep working on overall client performance and we intend to do just that. We will also continue to make improvements on game interactions and ability responsiveness in large RvR battles.
2. Bug & Polish – Ive written before about our need to spend more time on both bugs and polish as they are two sides to the same coin. Patch 1.2 contained many hundreds of bug fixes and we arent stopping there. Bugs are a priority and always will be throughout the this game’s lifespan. In terms of polish, we have already made improvements to UI, Guild Window, Warband UI, Art, Animations and other areas that need polish. The Ward System will be receiving an overhaul to make it more understandable and accessible. Again, this is only the beginning and more improvements are in the works as we continue to polish these and other areas of the game.
3. Open RvR in general – As the core of our game is RvR, we will keep refining all the systems to help encourage people to join the RvR action, especially those that have never participated in RvR before. We hope that the Zone Domination helps bring players together by encouraging defense (and attacking) of BOs and Keeps. We are also working on a new ORvR Influence bar which is filled by killing players and unlocks higher Renown ranks in T4. We also want to improve XP, Renown and Influence Rewards for fighting other players apart from those bars. Additionally, we are working to implement a new RvR ToK section which tracks and rewards RvR and especially ORvR. We are also looking at implementing a “Nemesis” system which tracks the top 20 enemy players that kill you and which will give you rewards for hunting them down.
4. Keeps in general – Getting the balance right for Keep attacks and defence has been quite challenging. We want to encourage players to get involved in the ORvR action and while we have done a lot of things already, we want to do even more. Our current plans include putting in a Keep Upgrade system that encourages guilds to claim and upgrade Keeps. These upgrades would be usage upgrades, not just visual upgrades. We are looking at giving interesting and useful things to guilds who upgrade Keeps; defence improvements, guilds rewards, etc. We also want to put in more attacker options, more attacker abilities, and experiment with new types of siege warfare. Down the ramp (a pun a day and all that) a bit, we are also working on putting in an additional ramp to the Keep Lord room in every Keep and Fortress in the game. Finally, we are working to refine the experience in the Fortress so that Fortress attacks happen more often and attackers have a better chance of winning (get Conqueror gear into the world).
5. Keep Defense – We have improved Rewards for Keep Defence in 1.2 and we will continue to improve Loot, XP and Renown for defending keeps as well as giving Loot rewards (gold bag) to guilds that successfully claim and defend Keeps through Zone Capture.
6. Battlefield Objectives – They are getting a lot of attention in the current patch cycle (1.2/1.3). This includes tying in the BOs to Keep takes in a more meaningful way. We want to make BOs more relevant and necessary from Keep take to Zone Capture progression. Our first step in this was the Zone Domination system, but we are looking to do more than that. We also plan on improving the rewards for BO defence.
7. Zone Capture – This is a major part of our ORvR system and we want to continue to refine it. This includes what we have already done to make Zone Capturing more straightforward and understandable, improving the Zone Control UI to give more information about Victory Points and where they are going, and the new Zone Domination System. We will continue to tweak and improve Zone Capture through the current patch cycle and beyond.
8. Zone Capture rewards – Along with improving the mechanics for capturing a zone, we want to improve the rewards for doing so. We will also fix the problem with Renown and XP in T4 Zone Captures. It currently is awarded only on campaign capture, but we will push this down so players are rewarded at the Zone Capture level. We also want to give specific Zone Capture loot rewards that include access to a select piece of Conqueror gear after a certain number of Zone Captures.
9. City Raiding for fun and profit – The City Raid experience that we currently have in the game will also get some additional work. Our primary goal is to add more RvR opportunities throughout the entire Raid. We are looking at a number of options and possibilities under consideration for more “RvR” and less “PQ action”. For example, players will no longer be able to bypass other players in City Selection and you will no longer have City Instances which are 40 vs. 0! Defenders will be allowed to remain in the City the entire time its contested, but not in the large PQs such as Bright Wizard College or the City Dungeons. We have a couple of other things in the works as well that well talk about as we get closer to 1.3s release.
10. Career Balancing – Patch 1.2 contained a lot of changes, tweaks and adjustments to careers and we will continue this process with the 1.3 cycle and beyond. Our primary focus over the next few months will be the Crowd Control concerns and we will continue to investigate and fix issues we find with this type of ability.
11. Scenarios – While controversial for some, Scenarios are a major source of enjoyment for a large number of our players. We will continue to experiment with, and improve, the Scenario experience. This includes adding new Scenarios temporarily for events, adding new permanent Scenarios, and continuing to refine the Scenario play experience.
So, those are the primary things we are going to focus on over the next few months and beyond. I would now like to talk a little about the Tomb Kings. The work that the team has done so far on this area is nothing short of fantastic. For those that played DAoC and have fond memories (and/or the occasional nightmare) about Darkness Falls, this area will seem both right at home as well as something new and exciting. As the art team did with WAR, they have nailed the Tomb Kings shut (sorry, couldnt resist). The area already looks great and will only get better over the next few months. The team has also been working on certain improvements to PQs and doing some rather, ahem, interesting things, within the Tomb King area to make sure that the players have a quite memorable experience while dropping by for a visit. So, take your shoes off, feel the sand beneath your feet and if you feel the sharp edge of a blade touching your neck as you go through some of the areas, well, whats an eternity or two between friends?
Well, that just about wraps it up for this State of the Game. I hope that you agree that we are focused on the right things and that you are excited about the things we are working on. On a personal note, Id like to extend an invitation to all our players to try out our forums and give us your opinions there. Weve got a lot of things coming over the next few months and as always, we want and need your help and feedback. With our PTS and our official forums, were giving you a great opportunity to both help us make your stay in WAR ever more enjoyable.
As required by lawyers everywhere throughout the universe, heres the usual disclaimer that this letter is a guide to what we hope to include in this upcoming patch cycle and not a guarantee of any kind. Personally, Im waiting for the day that we contact extraterrestrial intelligent life and the first thing that they say is not “Take me to your leaders” but rather “Take me to your lawyers!”
As always, I thank you for your support, patronage and interest in WAR.
– Mark Jacobs
VP, GM Mythic Entertainment