At GDC this week MMORPG.com was able to spend some time talking with Erik Mogensen and Jon Gillard from Games Workshop. For those who do not know, Games Workshop has been around since the early 1980s. They have developed both RPG and table-top war games over the last twenty five years and remain one of the top companies in gaming. Both Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 (40k) have become very popular games on the table top platform and continue to make their way into the video game market. EA Mythic is currently working on the Warhammer Fantasy MMORPG and just last week, THQ had extended their contract with Games Workshop to include a Warhammer 40K MMO as well. With both of these licenses coming to the MMO market, Erik and Jon definitely have a busy schedule ahead of them. As Jon and Erik have pointed out, Games Workshop certainly has the fan expectations in mind as these games are developed.
When talking about the Warhammer 40K MMO that is being developed. Erik said the first thing that GW wants for players is "a really good MMO at the end of the day." THQ has had success with its Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War series and seem to be working very well with the IP. Vigil Games is the development studio with the task of building the game itself. GW plans to work closely with Vigil to oversee all aspects of the game. In the end GW will have full approval rights over Warhammer 40K. Erik said they do have a veto power, but he never looks at it that way. When working on a game he said that it usually never gets to that point. The developers work closely with GW throughout the process to present the Warhammer worlds in the best way for both teams. Erik mentioned that the development process is almost always a very positive atmosphere.
GW and Vigil hope to make sure every element of the Warhammer 40,000 universe is somehow represented in the game. As many know, this is not an easy task. Obviously some tough choices have to be made in regards to playable races, game interface, setting, and format (first person shooter, or third person RPG style). Both companies seem to have their sights in the right place as far as delivering the best MMO possible. On a side note, THQ also added the rights to Necromunda and Gorka Morka as part of the contract. For those who do not know, they are side games in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Check out the Games Workshop site for details.
Erik and Jon also spoke about the Warhammer Fantasy MMO being developed by EA Mythic. W.A.R. is much further along in their development lifecycle than the 40K version. We have already seen the Greenskins, Dwarves, Chaos, and Empire armies being showcased. So we wanted to ask about the High Elf and Dark Elf races that we have yet to see. Erik said that the work on the Elves continues along but expects it will be a little while before we see a lot from that race. He expects more Empire and Chaos features to be shown first. One of the things that he was looking forward to is the landscape in which the High and Dark Elves inhabit and how that will be presented on screen.
We did speak about possible tie-ins from the MMOs to the table top games and if there would be any? Erik said that any of the miniatures that were made from different game formats happened very "organically." Nothing was ever done out of necessity, it simply became part of the life cycle. GW seems to try and keep their products on separate platforms so as to not interfere with the different styles of game play. Still who knows what we will see in the future.
Games Workshop has really made the leap into the video game platform and continues to drive the content of their Warhammer IP. With Warhammer: Age of Reckoning set to release sometime next winter and the Warhammer 40K MMO now beginning its development cycle, these guys have a lot of work ahead of them. Still with twenty five years in gaming, I think the fans will have a lot to look forward too. I want to thank Erik and Jon for taking time out of their busy schedule at GDC. MMORPG.com will certainly continue our coverage on both Games Workshop titles as they continue development.