Producer Destin Bales of Warhammer Online was on hand at PAX this year to provide a brief update of the game and what Mythic Studios has been doing. No big reveals, no sneak peeks, but a lot about their one-year anniversary and what they were doing for it. At PAX, they had an area with comfortable couches and coffee tables with the WAR logo on them, covered with buttons, which disappeared quickly into swag bags.
"It's our one-year anniversary and we are celebrating all through the month of September," said Destin, "and the Wild Hunt is the largest live event we've ever done."
"Live" in Mythic's lingo is a scripted event that runs only for a short period of time, and this one is no different except that it is larger than anything they have attempted before. It runs all through the month of September to celebrate their one year anniversary and features XP and Renown bonuses all month, as well as a new dungeon that's open to all tiers. "The dungeon scales," said Destin. "There are four different versions for each of the four tiers and will only be available for ten days." Three-day weekend events will also be running during the month of September. One of their most popular events, the Northern Watch which is a Tier 1 event will be scaled to all four tiers and will be repeatable over the weekend.
Beyond that, the studio has been working on improving the current game and concentrating on career balance as well as improving the Tier four experience. "We've been doing internal and external focus groups and making sure that the game experience is good for our current players," Destin informed me. Players felt that the capital city raids were too PvE-centric and they are currently refining the experience. We also chatted about what seemed to be an easy fix but in actuality, took countless hours of programming; the bottleneck in Keeps. There was only a single ramp to the top and is a choke point. The addition of a second ramp to provide two ways in and out of the Lord Room took six months to complete and was rolled out in the last update. "It's not just architecture to consider. There are pathing points, adjustment of AI, etc. Just making sure everything works that as it should!"
In the works is also a Hireling system. "The goal is to help players play with each other," said Destin. "It's a level up / down system and one player becomes the other's hireling for a period of time while they are playing together."
Destin also spoke of the opportunities they have now, being under the EA umbrella. "We're rolling out the 8th Ultima Online expansion, the Stygian Abyss and it's got a new career, Gargolyes." Not that they take away too much from them, but it is still a learning experience and the benefits of cross-pollination with a company such as Bioware that is also under the EA umbrella is immense. Some of that is sure to rub off for the Warhammer Online expansion in the works.
What else was in the works then? I wanted to know. There was a list:
- Crowd control. Every career has some form of it. Whether it is single target or AE.
- Making sure every aspect of RvR is interesting and varied. A delicate balancing act for sure.
- New user initiative - looking at quests and encounters. Some love for the newbies.
- Tier 3 could still use some love
Players that came to see them at PAX also got some nice goodies:
- Razored Skinning Knife - Sharp as a harlot's tongue and twice as dangerous.
- Shroud of Imrathepis - Linens taken from the burial shroud of Prince Imrathepis, protecting its owner from harm by regenerating minor wounds and injuries.
- Chompin' Teef - Exclusive Steel Jaw customization option for Orc Choppas.
- Snorri's Spikes - Exclusive Spike Mohawk customization option for Dwarf Slayers.
Continuing game improvement, some love for the PAX attendees, bonus XP and Renown for the month of September, lots of passion for the game and opportunities with EA to be incorporated, things look rosy for Mythic and we gamers can hope for better and yet better things to come.