WAR - Press Conference Coverage
On Wednesday evening, MMORPG.com Managing Editor Jon Wood attended a press conference for Ea Mythic's Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. Today, he recaps the information for us in this article.
On Wednesday, a number of press outlets were invited to take part in a telephone press conference with the guys from EA Mythic who were there to talk about their progress to this point in development.
While a lot of what was said was information that we have reported on in the past (there were a number of outlets there that have not had the same opportunities to cover the game as we have had), but there were some gems in there on subjects like the lorebook, sieges, updates and more! Within minutes of joining the call, I could tell that this was going to be another typical Warhammer event, making best use of the controlled madness that is the Warhammer promotional team of Paul Barnett, Jeff Hickman, and Josh Drescher. This time, they were joined by Adam Gershowitz and Destin Bales. The game, Josh tells us, is still in closed beta and they have been testing mid-level Elven content. Paul was quick to point out that it wasn't an open beta, that it is a targeted beta (which prior MMORPG.com articles can describe). With all of the fuss recently over the semantics of beta naming, what seems like an innocent mistake now might come back to bit them, so I suppose it's better to continue to clarify now.
Right now, they are testing the high-level campaign as players fight between Altdorf (Empire)and Inevitable City (Chaos). The next question that we will deal with here had to do with RvR. While we all know that RvR was invented (and trademarked) by Mythic, the question asked how RvR in Warhammer would differ from RvR in Mythic's other game, Dark Age of Camelot. "We know what we're doing," Paul answered quickly in his typical spit-it-out style. "We actually understand how RvR works." In the interest of a proper answer, Jeff stepped in. "We learned a lot of great stuff with Dark Age of Camelot," he said. He went on to explain that issues like balancing realms, populations and classes. "What's fun, what's not," he continued, "what players enjoy doing in short bursts, what do they enjoy doing in long bursts. Most of what we're doing in Warhammer is derived from Camelot so some of the stuff are things where we said 'if only we could do this when we were making Camelot', but we couldn't." He also said that while the basis for the system lies in Camelot, they are also doing things a bit differently with Warhammer. "Where Camelot was one frontier with a set number of keeps and zones that you could fight over... Warhammer is really three different battlefronts, battles raging across the world. Not only in open world RvR... but also in scenarios." He went on to tell us that there are over 30 scenarios in the game and at least one in every zone. The culmination of all of the RvR in the game though, is the city sieges. Essentially, it allows you to really hurt your enemies. From there, the conversation led into siege weapons. Now, Siege weapons work a little bit differently than most everything else in the game. I don't want to describe them as mini-games, because that isn't the case. The catapult, for example, takes numerous factors into account, including wind. Paul referenced golf games as an example of how this works. They also talked a little bit about boiling oil. Boiling oil can be tipped onto attacking enemies who are, for example, maybe trying to use a battering ram to knock your doors down. Jeff told us that his wife, who plays the game, really enjoys tipping oil onto the attacking men. "She giggles with glee," he said.
The next question had to do with organization and how players would be able to organize large-scale battles and the like. The answer (alliances) led into talking about the way that the game is designed to slowly introduce, even players who might not be used to working in groups, to the idea of group combat. Public quests (there are over 300 in the game) were used as an example of one way that the developers are trying to encourage players to come together and work together toward a common goal. PQs, as they are referred to, bring a large group of unassociated players together to work toward a common goal. You don't have to be grouped up, but everyone in the area is still working toward a collective goal. The developers hope that this will be a conduit for people to start working together on other aspects of the game as well. From there, Josh talked a little bit about guilds and alliances. "Conveniently, the maximum size of an individual group is the minimum size of one of our guilds. So, the group that you join coming out of a public quest brings you directly into forming a guild and once you've formed a guild, you can start to accomplish more and more significant things in the world. Eventually those guilds can get together into larger groups called alliances. We have a lot of structures within the guild system that we will be talking about in the coming months that will really make it very easy and intuitive to handle those large group alliance level strategies and plans. We wanted to make sure that it wasn't going to be a second full time job participating in a guild or an alliance." Jeff also pointed out that the in-game messaging system will keep players updated and in the loop about what's going on. The next question that we're going to talk about is near and dear to many players' hearts. End-game content. The question asked who this was being geared toward, hard-core players, or more casual players. Jeff responded by saying that in the end, it was both. The game isn't so much about what you can do, it's about how long it takes you to get there. City sieges, for example. While they are certainly about a massive number of people coming together to attack a city, it isn't the same as a high-level raid. While you can't just walk into a city by yourself, you don't have to be tied down to a group. You can just join the throng. The next question had to do with how long it would take players to reach the highest renown rank. The answer is simply that it will take a lot of time. While the game was designed to move through levels relatively quickly, renown takes time to build up. The system is based on Realm Ranks in DAoC. It is here that they want people to spend their time, killing people and taking their stuff, essentially. That is, after all, what the game is about. From there, they talked about how PvE will fit into the feeling of WAR throughout the game. Destin Bales came on the line to answer. Public Quests, PvE close to RvR areas, RvR quests, PvE battles, zone control. In short, there are lots of ways that PvE players can contribute to their side's cause. Everything contributes to the war effort. "WAR is everywhere". Guilds were next up on the block. What's new for guilds?"Guilds are critical to the overall success that a player is going to achieve in the game," Josh answered. He went on to tell us that one of the directives from Mark Jacobs in the beginning was that guilds could not just be static things, which is why they call their guilds "living guilds". "From the moment that you form your guild, everything that you do in the world helps to drive your guild to greater and greater success." It turns out that guilds, like individual characters, will be able to gain experience and advance as entities. Everything that you do, helps your guild to advance. From there you can unlock, as an example, the Guild Banner System. Not only is it a flag that denotes your guild (and is customizable), but it will also have benefits. The flag can be planted on a battlefield, giving AoE buffs to players. Guilds can also claim keeps. When you do, you can hang your flags from the walls and guards will walk around wearing your guild symbol, etc. So what's being done to keep 200 man guilds from being exponentially more powerful (and getting there faster) than a smaller guild. While they will move a little bit faster, there are mechanics in place to keep things more balanced than the numbers might indicate. This was done in an attempt to keep players from just making giant guilds in order to advance more quickly. The last question that we're going to talk about here had to do with whether or not players could progress solely by using the RvR system. The answer right now is that yes, you can, but the progression is slow. They are currently looking into making sure that this balances out a little bit better. RvR can and does allow players to gain renown, experience, loot and other things that many folk associate with PvE play, so the mechanics are indeed there. In the end, the developers were trying to be pretty clear that players have a multitude of options available to them in terms of play style and advancement. As Warhammer moves closer and closer to launch, we here at MMORPG.com are looking forward to learning more about the way that this RvR game operates and we will continue to follow this game's development until launch in Fall of 2008.