Questions by Brian Perry Jr.
Answered by Richard Duffek WAR Community Coordinator
Onrpg: Since most of our readers are familiar with the basic premise of Warhammer Online, I would like to dive right into the community aspects of the game; specifically as to why you decided to do not only a video podcast but also have these little cell phone video updates usually showing a lighter side of the office.
Richard Duffek: With everything we do, we want to show how incredibly passionate the team is about making the game and provide an insider’s look at its creation. Anyone can send out stuffy sounding press releases or release highly polished talking head video that shows their company in the best of lights. With the Video Blog, we want the community to see what goes into making this game, warts and all, and to see how much fun we’re having behind the scenes. Plus it gives us more opportunities to put Paul in front of the camera, which is never a bad thing.
The Podcasts give us an opportunity to provide detailed, instructive and entertaining information to the community. Reading a second or third-hand interpretation of a quote from an interview that took place during the fourth day of nonstop press interviews at a major convention can lead to confusing or conflicting information about core elements of the project. The Podcasts let us provide definitive, specific information to help clarify things we feel are important. It’s also a chance to do some goofy stuff if we are in the mood.
Onrpg: After scouring the internet I pulled up an interview where it was mentioned that the “open beta” will not be something that everyone with a modem can participate in. Why was this decided, and do you anticipate any negative repercussions from your community due to it?
Richard Duffek: While it is true we won’t have the “everybody and their mother” open beta as you described, it certainly won’t be as restricted as our current closed beta. We’re planning to have a LOT of people in our beta test before all is said and done. If you really want to get in, there will be a way. We just don’t plan on allowing the uncontrollable chaos that comes from letting everyone within remote proximity to an internet connection download and “test” the game. It’s hard to keep the signal-to-noise ratio at a reasonable level when you are letting everyone and their mother download the game and try it out.
Onrpg: Fairly recently the release date for Warhammer Online was pushed back to Q1. Were there any specific reasons you can share with us that lead to this?
Richard Duffek: It is really comes down to the fact that the team has learned an incredible amount over the past two years and saw ways that they could improve upon some of their earlier efforts. There were things being done in the Empire and Chaos zones that made the game really come alive and brought the fact that there is a war going on home to the players. We wanted the extra time to go back and revamp the Greenskin and Dwarf zones based on these learnings.
Based on the response to the beta and builds we’ve been showing off on the road, we did the right thing. We knew we had the makings of a good game, but we want WAR to be a GREAT game. So we made the decision, as painful as it was, to push the release date back and make the game as glorious as possible.
Onrpg: Most people agree that Dark Age of Camelot was and still is among the best PvP (and RvR) MMORPGs on the market. How is that experience carrying over to Warhammer Online?
Richard Duffek: RvR is what we do best. The experience Mythic has from creating DAoC is a big part of what will make WAR one of, if not the, best RvR games on the market. We’re taking what we learned during the process of DAoC, the good and the bad, and kicking it up a couple of notches for WAR.
Onrpg: Will anything happen if one side gets a severe population advantage over the other?
Richard Duffek: Next Question! Population imbalance is always a concern for RvR-based games. There is an ebb and flow to things and populations do (and will) fluctuate based on any number of factors (patches, new content, momentum, zombie outbreaks, the price of tea in Zanzibar, etc.). That is why it’s important to expect it and plan accordingly. One of the first things to recognize is that you can’t really STOP population variance, so you need to develop ways to prevent it from hurting the game.
This is one of the major reasons that Scenarios are going to be so important. By providing controlled, balanced RvR via the Scenario system and by placing heavy importance on the outcome of those Scenarios, it will be possible to mitigate a great deal of the “harm” population imbalance can cause.
Onrpg: Collision detection in a PvP setting is something that almost anyone who has played a front lines-type character has been begging for since the creation of the genre, yet has been denied by other companies due to “technical limitations”. How can we expect it to work within the game?
Richard Duffek: Absurdly well! Collision detection is a feature we’re very proud of because it can have a very positive impact on the RvR experience. First of all, it eliminates the irritating behavior of a target running through you to either stay out of sight or to execute positional attacks. It seems like a minor thing, but it dramatically improves the overall feel of combat.
Second, it will add a much needed tactical layer to combat as players will be able to create formations on the battlefield to maximize the effectiveness of their party. They will be able to create walls of protection and attackers will need to find ways to deal with this. No longer will people be able to zip through a ten-foot Black Orc with an eight-foot shield to take out the little Shaman in the back.
Onrpg: Many eager players got their chance to try the game hands-on at Games Day 2007 in Baltimore, and have been posting their experiences with it. Have you been taking anything said by them either at the event or online into considering?
Richard Duffek: Most definitely. I have a presence at almost all of the WAR Fansites on the web and I’m constantly reading and gathering feedback, especially after any live gathering where people tried out the game such as Baltimore Games Day. This information is then relayed to the dev team to consider and address.
Onrpg: How closely are you working with Games Workshop, and have there been any major disagreements or “ah-ha” moments where everyone had the same thoughts at the same time?
Richard Duffek: Everything we do concerning WAR is done hand-in-hand with Games Workshop. Absolutely nothing gets put into the game that they haven’t signed off on. The closest thing we’ve seen to actual “disagreements” generally come in the form of amusing cultural differences. I was, for example, not aware that the phrase “follow through” has a rather scatological meaning in other parts of the world. One of the guys from GW was surprised, and a little confused, when we kept trying to use it as the name of one of the Dwarf Hammerer’s abilities. Needless to say, we removed that one from all of our documentation.
Onrpg: Is it more difficult working with an established intellectual property or an original one?
Richard Duffek: Both options have their own pros and cons. With an original IP, it’s your world; you’re free to do whatever you want in it. If you want 20 foot tall green bunnies with pink ears and horns, you can do that. It doesn’t matter as there are no ‘rules’ or guidelines to prevent you from doing it; you’re creating the rules and guidelines as you go. The downside of course, is there is no established fan base in place, and you might not find many people out there who like 20 foot tall green bunnies with pink ears and horns.
With an established IP though, you have that established fan base. If you make a great game out of that IP, there are people out there foaming at the mouth to play it. However, their expectation are going to be high, and if you mess up the game they’ve been waiting ages to be made, they’re likely to hate you forever.
Onrpg: Many game companies are churning out MMOs with the hopes of it lasting two or three years to make a quick buck, only to spurn their fans. How will Warhammer Online be different from this?
Richard Duffek: Mythic isn’t new to the online game genre by a LONG shot. We’ve been making online games for over 15 years. We’re not here to make a quick buck on the whole “MMO fad” like the companies you mention. We love this genre and we love MMOs, both making and playing them. With WAR, we’re not trying to make a game that will make us a quick buck, we’re making a game that our players will love, for years to come.