Last time I talked to Cryptic it was with Rob Overmeyer about the Strongholds expansion. At the time they mentioned there would be a new PvP mode but weren’t able to get too deep into detail on it. This week I talked to John Hopler and he was able to get much more into the weeds of the mechanics. Read on for what John had to say.
MMORPG: How do players participate in the Stronghold Siege if they are a smaller guild?
John Hopler: You may get one team that is made up or 2 or 3 smaller guilds. The buildings you build on the PvE side carry over to the PvP side. If you don’t have a full 20 man team the largest team’s buildings get used. Or if it is even it randomizes which guilds are used for that map.
MMORPG: How much of an impact will the strength of the stronghold have on the map. Is there an ELO system? What will prevent a team with a rank 3 stronghold being smashed up against a team with a rank 10?
John: There is a matchmaking system. It is not an ELO system. It will take a few matches to sort out guilds based on the scoring at the end of the match. As far as the impact of the guild buildings if you built a lot of PvP buildings that will have a larger impact. It will be a similar system to what we have for the dominion maps but in this case instead of player performance it will be based on guild performance.
MMORPG: This is billed as a MOBA style combat map. Getting into the nuts and bolts of the mechanics how many lanes are there going to be?
John: There are 3. The center lane is the shortest but it is also the most heavily fortified. It has a higher density of defensive towers. It’s not necessarily the easiest route to take.
MMORPG: Once you are in a lane are players locked into them? Are there “jungle areas” to switch lanes?
John: There are. There are areas where you can crossover. There is a central river that divides the map. The map is actually two full strongholds meshed together end to end with a central river that cuts across all three lanes but there are also cross over points on each side of the river in each lane so you aren’t locked into a lane.
MMORPG: Last time I talked to the team about the Strongholds it was mentioned that a dragon might be involved as a sort of tide turner. Can you tell us more about how this mechanic works?
John: Periodically there is a dragon that shows up and starts flying over the map. With that Cult of the Dragon golems also spawn across the map. If you kill them they drop gold coins that you can take back to your stronghold, back to the courtyard and turn in to the gold pile. Every 5 or so that you collect gains you a rank of respect with the dragon. If one guild manages to have more respect after the dragon’s 10 minute phase the dragon will go and attack the other guild. He will destroy catapults and stuff and then will actually go after the guildhall itself.
MMORPG: So every 10 minutes the dragon is going to attack, it’s just whoever has the most rep the dragon will attack the opposite guild?
John: Yeah. It’s going to be a tradeoff. People might say, “Hey are we behind? Maybe we should go after the golem coins and get the dragon to attack the enemy.”
MMORPG: Is it purely on a timer or is there a way to force the mechanic? Say I gathered 50 coins the dragon is definitely going to attack even though it’s only been 5 minutes instead of 10?
John: If one guild manages to max out their respect with the dragon which is 4 levels the dragon will attack immediately. You do not have to wait the full 10 minutes.
MMORPG: Does it do a complete reset after that?
John: Yes it resets after that. You don’t have to turn your coins in immediately so you can play a longer strategy of everyone holding all their coins and then dumping them in all at once. Save it for a later phase. You have to be careful though because if you die you lose any coins that you may be carrying.
MMORPG: Is there any other PvE type mechanics on the map other than the Golems?
John: One of the key components of the game is supply. There are supply depots which are basically control points, one on each side of the river, in each of the three lanes. If you take both of the control points then you control that lane and you can spend supplies to build catapults at the far end to fire at the enemy stronghold. There are also siege engineers. These guys periodically leave each player's stronghold and head up the lanes carrying supplies to the depots. The more supplies a depot has the harder it is to destroy. You can also raid the enemy’s siege engineers and they will drop supplies. The supply depots themselves also have a mechanic where if they are 75% full of supplies they will spawn a quartermaster character that will appear near the depot and help protect it. At 100% supply a guard captain will spawn which is also a fairly tough NPC and he will start heading up the lane and start attacking any enemies he finds on his way to the next control point.
MMORPG: So do they represent the “creep” mechanic?
John: There are similar to creeps but there is not that many of them. One quarter master and one siege captain per depot you control. The siege engineers are more like the typical creeps. They spawn regularly and go up the lanes toward the supply depots. You can also spend supply to build ballistas which are like immobile NPCs that will fire and provide cover for defensive points.
MMORPG: Is there any kind of Meta to the PvP? Guild ranks?
John: We are planning a leader board. There are no real rewards for being ranked at the moment. The big reward for winning the match is rewards at the end of the match. If you win you get much better rewards. Those rewards can be sunk back into your stronghold to help improve it further or for individual players a lot of the rewards will get you special PvP gear. At the end of the match depending on how much you won or lost you can get a crushing victory. The matches reward banners of the fallen which are the PvP gear tokens you can turn it. It also has resource vouchers which can let you get all the different resources you need to build buildings in your stronghold.
MMORPG: What can you tell us about packhorses?
John: We wanted all the buildings you built on the PvE side of your stronghold to carry over and have an impact. Obviously the PvP towers will have a direct impact on the battle but all the PvE buildings generate supplies so you can build catapults and ballistae on the map. Packhorses will appear at these periodically. You can either send them back to your guild hall, you can have them follow you and drop supplies to where you visit. You can also raid the enemies and steal their packhorses. If you kill someone that is leading a packhorse you can kill the enemy and take the packhorse as your own.
MMORPG: How long do you expect these matches to last?
John: In all of our testing we expect the matches to last about 15 to 20 minutes.