I want to start this week’s article with a rant. Just a little rant, and I promise it’s kind of a good rant. I want to talk for a minute about transparency, particularly Behaviour’s development principles regarding Eternal Crusade: “ BeTrue, BeFair, BeTransparent”.
I was perusing the Eternal Crusade forums, as I often do, and I came across a link to one of our previous articles. Being as vain as the next guy, I immediately clicked on it to see what my fellows had to say about the article. The comment that hit me hardest was along the lines of “this is nice and all, but nothing new, we all know this already”. And it was true. For a while I was distraught over this, wondering how we would ever “break” some cool news before the fans knew about it. Then it dawned on me: if you are a regular visitor and contributor on the Eternal Crusade forums, these articles are not for you.
Sure, they might provide some more concrete examples of features you are curious about, or some background information regarding a faction you like; but, if you are already following Eternal Crusade, the chances are you already know this stuff. These articles are for the people who aren’t dedicated to following Eternal Crusade, at least not yet. These articles are for the people who have only heard of Warhammer 40K in passing, the people who want to learn more about the game, about the lore; about where to go for the straight dope, right from the developers themselves. And, knowing this, we can tailor our articles accordingly.
Now this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read what we write, duh. I think these articles have some value, even to the initiated; but, if you have questions or opinions or ideas or anything to say about Eternal Crusade, head over to their forums and speak straight to the devs. They nearly always answer, and often they answer with some heretofore unknown tidbit about the game.
OK, public service message delivered, let’s get to the meat of this week’s article, which is: all about the common misconceptions regarding Eternal Crusade. These are the things that we see popping up on forums everywhere we look, the things that we hear Miguel answer again and again and again in interviews and on AMA’s. The common sort of misinformation genially spread by people who don’t know better…yet. So, let’s educate ourselves a bit.
First, one of the biggest misconceptions is about what sort of game Eternal Crusade is. Is it an RPG? Is it an FPS? Is it even an MMO? The answer to this question is: a little of each, and something new. It has some RPG elements like character growth, development and customization. It has some shooter elements, rather a lot of them actually; a variety of weapons, the use of cover and concealment, it uses third person combat rather than first person, which makes melee combat easier to integrate. It has MMO elements as well, a persistent universe with hundreds, even thousands of players all having an impact on the game world. It also has PVE elements, computer-controlled enemies, raids and dungeons. One of Behaviour’s driving principles for the game is that everything about it should make the player feel like a soldier in the 41st millennium. I think its best described as a 41st Millennium Battle Simulator, but that doesn’t make for a nice simple acronym, so let’s just call it an MMOG, and leave it at that.
Another big misconception is the idea that Eternal Crusade is pay to win. Pay to win is difficult to define, as everyone seems to have different ideas on what it means. If a player can go into a cash shop and buy, with real-world dollars, superior equipment, (and by that we mean equipment that gives them a serious and measureable advantage over players who do not also have this equipment), then that is pay to win. I don’t have a problem with gear that is close to proportionally equal, meaning that trading 10% accuracy for 10% damage is OK with me. A player with access to both weapons is marginally more diverse, his tool box is bigger, but he still has to choose a weapon before he deploys, and must use that weapon for the length of his deployment. More options does not equal more power, there are still situational variables that must be considered. This is further reinforced if non-Founders can get access to items that are similar without being the same. These things are all a part of the asymmetric balance inherent in the game’s design. Miguel likes to refer to these slightly different options as “sidegrades”.
Another type of “sidegrade” are the Founders hero-classes, which have been described as being equal in power to their normal release equivalents, despite having different looks and stat bonuses. Miguel explained this in terms of a Sniper. The release-Sniper might be capable of delivering 100 points of damage per minute, while the Founders-Sniper might deliver 50 points of damage every thirty seconds. While fighting a horde of Termigaunts the Founder-Sniper might be the better option, but if those ‘Gaunts are led by a Carnifex, then the release-Sniper would be the preferred solution. In this example any advantage is going to be situational, and a matter of personal preference. It might even allow players to design a load-out more suited to their own personal skills, rather than be forced to play a style not entirely suited to themselves.
Another way some people see Eternal Crusade as pay to win is through the Free-to-Play option, which Behaviour calls Free-to-Waaagh! This misconception purports that it takes several of the free Ork Boyz to kill a single basic Space Marine. I have heard the ratio pushed as high as ten to one! This is simply ridiculous, and this particular rumor has been debunked several (many) times on the Eternal Crusade forums where we have been told that a single skilled Ork Boy could kill lots of Space Marines, or their equivalents from other factions, so long as said Ork could get close enough to melee with them. This is exactly as it should be, orks are vicious in close combat, and indifferent ranged combatants at best.
The final misconception we are going to talk about here today is the idea that these Founders Packs are being introduced to enable Behaviour to finish the game. When I asked Miguel about this he stressed to me that EC is entirely funded already. An unfortunate choice of words led people to believe that certain “stretch goals” would have to be cut without the Founder’s Program. As Lead Level Designer Steven Lumpkin clarified in a forum post from April 14th:
“Maybe the name "Stretch Goals" is misleading. OUR version of Stretch Goals would not be to add extra stuff beyond what we've talked to you about already- they would be to guarantee certain awesome-but-expensive features from being cut, since there's obviously enough community support for these "stretch goal" features!”
In fact, I believe that these “stretch goals” are now being referred to as a “Features Securement Program”, to clarify that feature creep won’t be an issue in the development of Eternal Crusade.
So, in closing, I want to remind everyone to heed the Call to Muster! Visit the Eternal Crusade official forums here. Register and start voicing your opinions, ideas and feedback. Behaviour is developing this game, but they are developing it for us, and they are always interested in hearing what we have to say. They are giving us all a chance to help shape this game of ours, let’s step up and be heard!