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Games Day Chicago 2011 – The Transcript

August 1, 2011

Games Day 2011 was in Chicago this past weekend and BioWare-Mythic was there to make a presentation and do a bit of a Q&A for those in attendance…

…like Artiee who was awesome and recorded the entire thing as best he could.  Thanks man!

So, since he was kind enough to record it, I offered up my transcribing services.  I’ve got a teeny bit of experience in that regard when it comes to WAR.  

(Also, a lot of transcribing audio comes down to taking what the people are saying and interpreting/translating it into something that can be understood when read since literal transcriptions can leave things a bit confusing at times.  Having heard a lot of what was said in person when I was at the studios last month, and knowing a bit more than what was said publicly, should help me to make things a bit clearer for anyone that was confused by what was purported to have been said by people on the forums before the recordings were posted.)

Anyway, hopefully this helps give everyone a clearer look at what is coming for WAR in the next few patches.

Enjoy!

~Gaar

The Presentation

(GG – The recording sounds like it started in the middle of a statement, which happens sometimes.  I can’t speak as to what came before this, but it sounds like they were just talking about things they were giving away at Games Day.  I’m starting with the beginning of the presentation, for clarity’s sake, as they seem to say it again later anyway.)

James Casey (JC) – We’re here for the BioWare-Mythic Warhammer Online Presentation.  What we’re going to do is do introductions.  We’ve got three people from the team here.  We’re going to go through them, say who they are, what they do with the game…a little history there…then we’re going to go through a recent history of the game, what we’ve been doing, what we’re doing now, and what we’ll be doing in the future for the game.

(GG – Keep in mind, this is a public presentation that can include people who have never played WAR, or just haven’t in a long time.  They did a recap like this at Games Day Baltimore last year as well.)

JC – Before I start, how many people currently play the game?  ~pause~ How many people have played the game?  ~pause~ How many people have not played the game? ~pause~ OK.  Good.  That’s fine.  I did say, for anyone that came in late, there is a notebook and pencils going around where we’re taking people’s names and e-mails so if you had an account, or have an account now, and want some game time, we have some free game time…a free month…that we’re giving away after the fact.  We also have some T-Shirts throughout the talk and we’re going to do a Q&A at the very end of this.  So feel free to stick around and ask any questions about what’s going on, what we’re putting into the game, that kind of stuff.  I think that’s it…we’ll start.

So, I am James Casey.  I am the Producer of Warhammer Online.  This is Steven Engle.  He is one of our Designers.  He does a lot of C&C (Combat & Careers) for the game so he plays around with your Classes.  So if you have any questions about why your Class isn’t The Best Class in the World (TM), he’s the one that will be answering them.

??? – Is that a torch!?!?!

Steven Engle – I hate Artiee.  That’s why I do anything.  “What are you playing, Artiee?”  I hate you.

JC – And we have Will Austin, he’s one of our Artists working on Warhammer Online.  If you’ve seen the new Mourkain Temple, he’s the guy that put that in recently.  For those that haven’t played in a while…this won’t be news for those playing right now…this is some of the stuff we’ve done within the last six months to a year.

End of last year, around December, we did Patch 1.4.0 which was a very big Patch.  Not only did we introduce our first paid “Boosters” to the game, but we re-did Open RvR and re-did a lot of things to the game as a whole.  We changed our Renown Ranks and went all the way up to 100, so we added some more power to the game.  We introduced a playable monster-race called the Skaven.  And we let you change your looks for tokens with the Barber-Surgeon.  We added a bunch of cool hair-styles that we did for…I guess it was Taiwan at the time…so people that didn’t have them at the beginning could now change to them.  And we’ve added some Vanity Pets that we’ve been cranking out and releasing on our EA store, or Origin as it’s now called.

Patch 1.4.1 went right after that.  We did some changes to our Armor Sets.  What we did is we wanted to make the progression of Armor Sets seem a little better, especially with the release of the Armor Sets that came with our Boosters.  So we shifted them a little and made a much more natural progression with our armor so the power curve is a bit better.  We added a Claim Window to make it much easier to get anything you buy off (Origin) in-game so you didn’t have to rely on getting in-game mail which expired after 30 days, which was usually annoying.  Especially if you had a new character and you didn’t want your item right away.  You had to throw it in your bank or not forget to get it.  Now, you can get it any time.  If you happen to misplace it and it’s not a one-time-use item, you can get it as many times as you want.  If you lost that horse, that’s fine. You can get another horse.  It’s not going to affect anybody, so we’ll give it to you.  And we did a bunch of game optimizations that were kind of behind the scenes to make it run better to ensure that in Open RvR and some of the places where there are going to be a lot of people, it runs smoother.

That brings us kind of into the beginning of this year and the last two Patches which we’ve done on about a three-month schedule.  In 1.4.2 we did some additional changes to power.  With the Boosters, we had introduced the Skaven and had also introduced Renown Rank 100 and there was a bit of a difference between what the power levels were between people at 80 and 100 and people coming into the Lakes.  So combined with some changes to how we did the Tiers…you can actually stay in Tier 3 now up to Level 39 so you can basically be on par with people before you go into Tier 4, the big Lakes where all the people do the Open RvR.  So we changed some of that power.  We did some more pets.  We did the new Mourkain which changed the Temple where it’s at and made it an inside battle so there’s a lot more strategy there.

And then in Patch 1.4.3, which was our latest, we introduced a new Live Event, which is a yearly thing where we put out a set of quests.  Usually some stuff in the world to do and in this case we introduced a new Scenario set in one of our popular locations from Altdorf City.  There’s the College of Corruption is what it’s called, the Bright Wizard College from Altdorf, and now both sides get to fight in it.  And one of the nice aspects of it, much like the Skaven where you could actually play as the Skaven, is in this Scenario you can actually become a living embodiment of Flame…the Aqshy.  And you get to play as that in part of the Scenario.  We did some RvR Accessories to kind of tweak some of the armor adjustments we had made and kind of give you a bonus to the high-end armor.  And then we allowed a new service on (Origin) to allow you to change your name.  So, people that had been stuck with a name for a long time…or wanted to escape their reputation…they could pay for a name change.

Now, what is probably most important to people who are actually playing the game…what are we doing now and where are we going.  So the current is we’re working on Patch 1.4.4.  The current date for that is going to be 8/30 (August 30th).  There is a possibility that due to some of our other game schedules we might move that back a week, but currently it’s scheduled for the end of August.  What we’re looking at here is we’re going to make some changes to Open RvR.  Those who have played know we did a big change to the environment of Open RvR where you have to take the Keep in the Zone.  You have one, they have one, you take theirs, you move on.  One of the things that people found was that it was sometimes hard to defend a Keep.  Especially if you don’t have enough people or it seems like the battle is just inevitably going to go that way.   So what we wanted to do was put in a way so that if someone was trying to take your Keep, if you could find a way to take down their Ram…basically, fight them back to a certain point…it’s going to give you a buff.  Kind of an incentive to wipe them out and push them back to give you time to make an offensive back either at their Keep or take some of the Battlefield Objectives.  It’s kind of a way to turn the tide for people doing Keep defenses and make it so then they can take the Zone and push toward the other City.

We’re also making some changes to Ranged DPS.  We’ll talk about that a little more in detail when we do the Q&A if you have some questions.  We’re also making some fixes to the Warcamps, the guards.  When we did what are called Weekend Warfronts, which are Scenarios that change every week, some of the Scenario Quests that are out there that said “Hey, run Isha and get some rewards”…well, Isha may not be running during this Patch because we change up the Scenarios every Patch or it may just be there for the weekend.  This will make it so there’s always quests for whatever Scenario is running that weekend so that you don’t always have them sitting in your Quest Journal waiting for it to pop.  Finally, we have our generic bug fixes and Tome work which we try to fit in every Patch and we’re going to do another Scenario Shake-Up.  What we do is we get out on the Forums and find out what are your favorite Scenarios, what of the current crop do you like, which would you like to see return, and we kind of filter them in.  And one of the things that’s proved pretty popular the last few weeks is we have the Gates of Ekrund Scenario, which traditionally is a 12-on-12 battle, but we ran it as a 6-on-6 battle and people are very happy with that given the size of the Scenario so that will make a return as well.

Finally, we have a Live Event called The Wild Hunt…which is a whole zone (dungeon) on its own as well as a whole slew of quests…that will make its return this year.  It will be open for all Tiers and you can go back into the Dungeon again.  That’s the end of next month, that’s everything we have planned there.

Going on to Patch 1.4.5…the first one’s probably the most interesting one of those and the one that we’ll spend the most time on here in a second…we’re currently designing as part of this cycle how to bring the Fortresses back to the Campaign.  For those that aren’t familiar with the game or haven’t played it in a while, the Fortresses were the end-cap to the Campaign in our end-zones in Tier 4.  Unfortunately, when the game released there were some issues with the amount of people that would basically pile on in those zones when it would get to the end and we had to disable that content and spread it out over the Campaign before you got to the City.  We never really found a good way to bring them back as part of the Campaign.  We made a lot of optimizations to the server, just the code in general, to make battles handle a lot more people.  But still, the problem could remain that you could get a thousand or two thousand people in one area and it just comes to a stand-still.  So I’ll talk about our plans for Fortresses in a second in a separate slide.  What we’re doing, how we’re trying to put it back in and avoid some of those issues potentially.

We’re going to have more targeted C&C changes.  We’ll take some feedback during the Q&A as to what people would like to see in that fashion.  And we’re also doing some more Play-as-Monster designs.  Right now, we’ve played as Skaven and we’ve played as Aqshy, but we’ve doing a lot of work with monsters to allow more of them to be Play-as-Monster types.  And we’re toying with how to make Play-as-Monster have a little more progression so what you’ve done as Play-as-Monster kind of holds over.  Whether that’s Achievements, Titles, being a stronger Monster the next time you play it, that kind of stuff is what we’re working on.  And finally, we’re going to look at Open RvR again because we’re going to probably do that every Patch as people have loads of feedback on that on the Forums and from talking to people and the e-mails we get.  One of the things we’ve kind of touched upon is when we changed Open RvR at the end of last year, we were looking at a lot of things that people had suggested and a lot of feedback and a lot of stuff that we did actually play-test and a lot of people really didn’t like the idea that it was, instead of PvP it was PvE sort of..RvE against the NPCs because they were guards at the Keeps, guards at the Battlefield Objectives…they felt that kind of took away from the actual fighting.  Unfortunately, taking it all out left people wanting them back.  So it’s a weird dynamic there “We don’t really want it but it’s a little too easy without some of that there as a roadblock if we’re not right there and we need to get to the defense.”  So we’re trying to figure out how to put them in without them being just this gigantic roadblock to doing Keep Attacks with defenses and make them kind of a strategy element to the Open RvR Campaign.

New appearance armor, we’ll get to that in a separate slide.  It’s kind of cool.  It’s uh…I’ll get to that in a second.  And Grovod Caverns, which we’ve kind of been teasing…it used to be just this set of tunnels under the ground and it had some bridges and admittedly the bridges didn’t work very well and they kind of caught up the traffic and so it was never a very popular Scenario.  So what we did is we had a few people basically take a look at it and we let Will free in it and he took out the bridges and made a lot of modifications and threw a lot of cool stuff in from what we did with the Skaven.  I’ll show you some screenshots of that in a second as well.  We’ll be bringing that back.

Beyond that, we’re looking at places to do alternate Scenarios.  One of the things that we want to do is take existing portions of the game and make them more useful.  For example, the College of Corruption Scenario I told you guys about earlier took the Bright Wizard College, which really just people in Altdorf went and saw and for the most part was probably just Bright Wizards doing quest chains and things like that.  It was just kind of…eh, it’s a landmark…and we made it a place to battle over.  There’s lots of places in the game where we can basically take the fight.  There’s wing-Zones in the middle Zones of the RvR areas like West Praag, Cinderfall, those type of places…there’s the Isle of the Dead…there’s a lot of places right now that are traditionally PvE that only one side sees that we can take and make into a PvP experience.  Since that’s the core of our game, we want to embrace that so that’s what we’re looking at.  We’ll talk a little bit about that in the Q&A.  If you guys have any suggestions about places in the game you’d like to fight, feel free to throw them out as well and we have a discussion going on our Forums as well.  I’m saying “as well” a lot…

Steven – Yeah…stop.

JC – It’s better than “in that regard” which apparently I say a lot too.  (GG – Don’t you mean “which apparently I say a lot as well…” hehe)

Towards the end of the year…later, later…we’re looking at Crafting and we’re going to open up some suggestions on that.  The reason we’re looking at Crafting is we want to take what is admittedly not the best Crafting system and we want to add some functionality to it.  Put in some things we don’t have right now, fill in some gaps in it, add some new systems to it and make it a little more fun and useful to players of the game.  We also have a system where we can do upgrades to equipment and we’re looking at how we can put that in.  We also are trying to use as many assets that are either already in the game or in our stable of assets that just haven’t been seen and we just need to find out how to get them into the game.  There were some things that we’ll never use.  I know we usually get a question at these like “Will we ever see the other Cities?”  Probably not.  Those assets were really never completed and we just don’t have that capability.  But, we do have some assets that were connected to those and we’re trying to figure out if we can use them and put them into the game and let you see some things that are really brand new to you as well.

So I’m going to talk about Fortresses.  This is our current design for the Fortresses.  We’re still fleshing it out.  There’s going to be a few things that we change that during our play-test may not go so well.  There might be some great suggestions from the Forums.  There might even be some things you guys want to throw up at the end of this to kind of get our design juices flowing.  But here’s what we’re looking at first.  This is a typical Tier 4 Campaign.  You’ve got the three Zones you have to take and you have the Fortresses capping them on either side.  Right now, the Fortresses don’t do anything but kind of be there when you’re running through them to the City after you’ve taken the other Zones.  We want to have them do something but we don’t necessarily want to have it be just as you push toward a City.  So what we’re going to do is we’re going to put a Relic in either Fortresses that has been split in two parts.  It’s very similar, in theory, to Relics in Dark Age of Camelot if you’re familiar with that game as well.  It probably won’t be called a Relic, I’m just using that because it’s a very easy terminology for people.  We’ll probably call it something else and it will be very Lore-specific and it will fit in with the different Keeps, etc.  But for now, we’re just going to call it a Relic because that makes it very easy for us to go through the demonstration.

They’ll start at either side.  Each half will be there.  Nothing will happen if they’re just in their neutral state.  One thing though, we want to be able to do Relic Raids at any time.  It’s not “I pushed your Campaign to your Fortress, now I’m going to take your Relic and do something with it.”  No.  This is an alternative way to fight.  You’ll be able to do these at any time.  You’ll be able to just go “You know what?  They’re kind of pushing over here.  Let’s go take a Relic and disrupt what they’re doing and see if they’ll come fight us over here instead.”  And bring off some of those guys and split up people and use it as kind of a strategic element as well.  Once you do it, you have to defeat the Fortress Lords which will make a return.  One of the interesting aspects that we’re looking at for this is we’re going to use our Play-as-Monster in there to allow players on a Fortress Defense to take on the persona of the Fortress Lords and play them.  Basically, become buffed up, fight to defend the Fortress and hopefully win something from defending it.  If there’s nobody there (on defense), the Fortress Lords will just fight on their own but if you take over and become the Fortress Lord you’ll be able to put a lot more strategy into it and make it a little harder than if the Lord was just there on its own.  If you defeat it, you take the Relic and you run.

The fun part is you get to run across all the Zones as a group, hot-potato’ing that Relic back and forth.  So you’ll take it from the Fortress to the first Zone…you’ll run across that…take it to the next one while passing it back and forth because it’s a very powerful artifact so you can’t hold it too long for any given time.  We don’t want a solo person just to take it the entire way and just hide every way you can.  We want it to take a group so that people can come and find you and there will be fights and fights and fights.  You keep going and make it to the next Zone until you finally make it back to your Fortress and you profit.  When you finally get the two halfs of the Relic together, you’re going to get a Realm-wide bonus.  We’re still working on the exact details of that and what that will mean, but basically your whole side will get a bonus towards the Campaign that they’ll use wherever they are.  That’s the basics of the Fortress.  We’ll come back to this, if you have any questions on it, at the Q&A.

Wow…they did not come out very good…do we have lights back there?  See if they’ll come out a little better.  There we go.  Did that help any?  (GG – Slide of Grovod Caverns)

Steven – It’s a cavern, it’s going to be dark.  If you look right there, that dark spot is really cool.

JC – Unfortunately, you can’t see it very well.  The idea is that there will be multiple levels to it.  There won’t be bridges like there were before that you got stuck on.  There will be a chasm with bridges but they’ll just be the normal kind you run across and they won’t disappear or blow up or that type of stuff.  And then there’s a lot of (??? no clue what he was trying to say, maybe “accoutrements”?) of the Skaven.  The Skaven Bell makes an appearance in there, we’ve got some Skaven turrets (??? sounded like “turds” but I’m gonna go with turrets.) and there will probably likely be some Skaven-play as well.

This is what we call Tier 7 Appearance Armor.  One of the things that we put into our game is a lot, a lot of different armor.  They’ve gone up in stats.  They’ve gone up in looks.  And what these represent, and why we call them Tier 7, is these are going to be the most ornate, the most detailed armors we put in the game.  But, we’re not looking at them as the next Armor Set.  It’s not going to replace the high-end Doomflayer or Warpforged.  It’s not going beyond that.  This is going to be a set of armor, likely gated by the Relics in the Fortresses and doing that successfully, that you will then be able to purchase and you’ll be able to use their appearance on your existing armor.  So if you want to take your Doomflayer and make it look a little better, you can do that.  If you want to make your Warpforged look like this, you can.  I took four of the pictures up there so you can just get an idea of how ornate they are.  We’ve got the Engineer, the Shaman, we actually have the Chosen…and I can return to some of these and I believe I have all of them on the hard drive so if there’s a specific one and you want to see it, I can try to pull them up for you.

(GG – We got to see all of these sets in various formats on our recent trip to the studio.  I was a big fan of them personally.  However, art is and always will be a subjective thing.  Some people just aren’t going to like them.  Luckily, they’re completely optional since they’re appearance-only.  Not to mention the fact that your look is up to you now anyway with the appearance slots.)

These are some of the specialty pets that will be going on (Origin) I believe at the end of August.  For Order, we’ve got a dancing bear that basically follows you around and drums as he goes.  He’s quite adorable.  And then he sits on his butt and drums a bit while he’s idling.  And for Destruction, we have Tzeentch familiars which are very demonic and very cool just to hang around with you as you run around.  We’re still deciding what, if any, they’ll have in terms of effects like we did the speed pets and the scrounging pets or if these will be part of the other packs where we just do multiple pets.

So, as a recap, the last year we focused on our expansion…our Boosters…we put in a little more content out there that people hadn’t seen and revamping our Open RvR because that was one of our big points that we had not hit up to that point.  And we wanted to make sure they had a positive impact so that is why you saw in the subsequent Patches that we did some changes to them and kind of tweaked them, used feedback from play-testing them and everybody that was playing them to make them better.  The current Patch tweaks that Open RvR Campaign a little bit and it also does some more C&C love, especially for the Ranged DPS at this point.  (GG – This is what was completely misquoted on the Forums.  C&C is Combat & Careers.  CC is Crowd Control and was NOT mentioned in the presentation at all.)  And we fixed a good number of bugs.  Going forward, we want to focus on getting the Fortresses back in, doing some new Scenario designs, basically using a lot of stuff that we’ve either had in reserve, needed to finish, didn’t have resources for and get them out there for you.

(GG – Thus ended Artiee’s recording of the Presentation.  Next up, the Q&A recording which sounds like it starts just as the previous recording ends.  Good times.)

The Q&A Session

JC – Now we’re going to open up the questions.  We can go ahead and turn back on the light whoever did that, that would be great.  You guys want to come on up?  Who has questions?

Mad Audience Member – You call this new stuff.  It’s old stuff re-vamped.

JC – Some of it is, yes.  Right.

Mad Audience Member – Where are the new contents at?  The game is slowly dieing.  We’ve only got 400 players on each server.  There’s only 4 servers left.  (something something dark side…)  Why don’t you add a new race?  A new map?  You guys added RvR Accessories.  LotD (Land of the Dead) is completely dead.  No need for TotVL (Tomb of the Vulture Lord).  But I’m saying like, the game is dieing.  You need new content.  And you guys are bringing back old stuff.

JC – We are putting in old content that has new purposes to bring people there and give them something to do.  We do have some new content that we’re putting in.  To be honest with you, we don’t have the resources to do a whole new Race or Class or stuff like that that basically means an entire 40 levels worth of stuff (armor, weapons, accessories, etc).

Audience Member – So where do you see the game heading?

JC – We’ll continue with the die-hard people that enjoy the game, continue to cater towards PvP and Open RvR.  People that enjoy that.  Put more content in there.  Whether that’s…like you were saying…some of it is old content but in a new way so that it’s new stuff to do.  Some of it will be new content to give you extra stuff to do.  We’re going to continue to cater to people that enjoy this game.  If we can get more people to play it…we get tons of people doing the Trial all the time.  If anyone hasn’t played it, it’s a Free Endless Trial where you can play the first…quarter of our game basically…for free as long as you want.  Continue to do PvP in Tier 1 as long as you want.  Feel free to just go to our web site and try it out.  We get tons of people from that.  Games like this we’ll continue to support as long as we have people playing it.  We have Ultima Online which is at 14 years now and still cranking through people.  We’re still putting content out for that.  We’ve got Dark Age of Camelot which is actually going to have their 10th Anniversary this year and they’re continue to crank through people and we’re continuing to put out content for that and we’ll continue to do the same for this.  Which is why we hold these things.  We want to come out and show we’ve still got support behind the game.  We’re not going to be able to do things like…people say “Put in Cities”…we can’t put in whole brand new Races and Careers…things like that.  But we’re going to continue to do stuff that hopefully you guys will find fun and hopefully keep people playing and keep new people coming in.

Audience Member – I’m a retired player.  I played in the beginning.  For me, the most compelling battles out in the field were the open, not in the Fortress, but running around in a group and fighting with other warbands in the middle of the field.  I got to 40 and the fights became “I’m standing in a Keep for an hour”.  You guys made some changes that I probably haven’t seen but do you have any other plans to get the battle…I mean, I like the Relic thing because you’re pushing people back out onto the field which was the best part.  Do you have any other thoughts?

JC – One of the reasons we did some of the Open RvR changes which I hinted at earlier when we talked about 1.4.0 was because there was a zerg-mentality.  Whether we fixed that…I think that’s kind of debatable.  Some people still just like to play that way.  But, the idea behind that was we wanted to…instead of it being this weird bit of big zerg thing, we made the Battlefield Objectives kind of strategic, you build up your Keeps now and then you actually use those resources to attack another Keep and take it over so the battles are a little more focused.  And the reason we’re continuing to add more content that’s RvR-focused whether it’s Scenarios or places we put in like the Fortress is to do just that: we want to keep people engaged in those battles because those are very important and are what people like.

Audience Member – You guys opened up the Land of the Dead for RvR and stuff.  Do you have any plans to do Sylvania?

JC – We actually did some work and I know we had some assets that we were trying to…that’s part of what we’re pointing towards with new assets that we’re trying to get in.  We do have some stuff for Sylvania that we just need to figure out how we can fit it in, get it in there.  We want it to do two things.  We don’t want to do content that only a few people are going to see or that you only see once.  We want to do things that are going to be repeatable and enjoyable so that you come back and do it more than once.  If we just did another LotD where you kind of progress and get your stuff through it, there is a potential for that Zone that we can still look at and that a lot of people have pointed out and we’ve been looking at internally where we can take Land of the Dead, take some of that content, and make it fresh and make it part of the PvP/Open RvR experience.  Like we were talking about just the Library in LotD would make a great Scenario on its own.  Some of the actual Tomb of the Vulture Lord would make some great Scenario play.  I know people are getting into that…well, what if we open up the whole area at any time…that kind of thing.  There’s things we’re looking at to make content more accessible in that fashion.

Audience Member – On a matter of Open World PvP, I played DAoC for ten years and the objective there was always the…you know…it wasn’t so much always to kill people as to capture the Fortresses and I felt like the one way they did that really well at end-game was by not having those jump-in twenty minutes before work battlegrounds.  I always felt that, while those are great, when you can spend ten minutes to get a thousand Realm Points versus an hour out in the field where you’d MAYBE get a thousand Realm Points then that one has become obviously the superior one and it drives people into it.  In a game like WAR, which is totally focused around…I always viewed it at its heart to be the successor to DAoC…I always felt that having those Scenarios at the end-game for a big return versus an hour out in the field for potentially nothing…you know, 8 versus 8 in DAoC and 6 versus 6 in WAR…by adding this new 6v6 Scenario do you see the hardcore 6v6 people just abandoning roaming in an effort to get quicker returns and potentially, yes it would beef up competition but at the same time the last time I subscribed I went out into the field with a bunch of my friends and we did have some excellent 200 on 200s, but as far as that one group roaming, there was none and I feel that maybe with the addition of this that occasional time would turn to nothing and everyone just sees the immediate advantage of this.

JC – There was definitely less of an emphasis on the battlegrounds in DAoC.  I know they didn’t come in completely.  We added some additional ones in DAoC as we went along.  I actually worked on DAoC for quite a while as well.  There wasn’t as much of an emphasis on the battlegrounds.  They were there.  They were fun.  I think the core element became just the roaming around.  We’d like that to be the case in WAR.  We tried to gauge it but there are enough people that like the idea of “I just want to get in, play for my 15 minutes, and have fun.”  Now, what comes up as part of what you were saying is the Reward versus Time type thing and that’s something that we’re trying to tweak and trying to make sure it’s correct.  If someone really likes Open RvR but they feel that the Reward of doing something else is better, unfortunately we find that they’ll do that other thing that’s less enjoyable which seems counter-intuitive except that the Reward becomes the Big Thing in their head.  So trying to find a good balance of that is tough and we’re trying to work on that.  If people have suggestions for that, it’s a great idea for a discussion I can put on the Forums.  But things like that really…we see that in a lot of things.  The idea that there’s a Reward out here will make things play a lot different than what you’d expect.  Apparently they feel the Reward is more enjoyable…or at least the long term.

Audience Member – I’ve played a lot of MMOs since DAoC trying to find the thing that will fill the gap in my heart.  Recently I played Rift and people kept saying “This is like an evolution of DAoC and the way that it’s played”.  I won’t comment on that but I will say that so many people were upset with Trion Worlds because they felt their game would have been so much better if they’d just employed like one Keep for their battlegrounds.  Like DAoC style, one Keep.  I used to always love the battlegrounds when that was put in.  It was my go-to PvP location.  If no one’s there I can kill some mobs and get more XP.  Has that ever occurred in WAR where you possibly re-design the Scenarios to be more like…you can still get that 10-15 minutes and it will be just like the end-game only faster-paced, more central, easier to get into, faster because there’s no waiting to get in their Keep.

JC – I can’t really comment on Rift because, to be honest, I didn’t really play it.  I know Steven enjoyed some of it.  We actually had some people that worked at Mythic that (now) work at Trion Worlds and helped out on Rift as well.  (GG – Another misquote from the Forums.  He was saying they used to work at Mythic, now they work at Trion Worlds which actually makes three games but those people were working on Rift as opposed to the other two.  Which explains why their instanced fights are called Warfronts…)  But anyways, the point is, as far as things we want to do like you’re talking about…we actually had some discussions on the Forums and we’ve been throwing around ideas…that falls into the same idea as alternate Scenarios.  Taking concepts from the game, whether it is just a Keep take or, to be honest, making an instanced encounter that’s like a horde-mode where it was just one Realm against a bunch of PvE so you had a time-frame…very much like an instanced version of a Public Quest in that way…doing different things with the content that will give those people that just want that 15 minutes of fun versus the wandering around but kind of keep the essence of what the Open RvR still is.  We do have plans for that.  I don’t have anything specific that I can share with you.

Audience Member – I’ve got a couple.  I’m a Day 1 DAoC player and played WAR for a while, etc.  I think one of the problems with instances in games since DAoC is that their instances were a single-static instance.  It wasn’t a timed event that was team-based.  It was, you go in there and it’s RvR in miniature.  That’s what was great about it.  The timed instance, you have a specific goal, it’s not the same.  It’s repetition.  You’re in there whacking the mole to get your points, the time is up, you go back in and whack the mole.  It’s a personal preference thing.  Longer, bigger question:  Is Mythic looking at any games in the future?  Are they developing anything else in the future or is it just WAR and that’s it?  I’ve been to Mythic headquarters, I did personal player meets, met all the old people back in the day.  It was a great thing then but now it’s kind of…

JC – I’m trying to think of how to answer this without saying something I’m not supposed to.  We are going to continue to support our legacy products but that is not all we are about.  We’re constantly looking towards things in the future.  We have done some things in the past but we’re continually looking at ways we can embrace what’s going on with the markets, what is fun and enjoyable.  So, yes, you will some new developments eventually.  I can’t give out any details.

Audience Member – One more minor question.  DAoC Origin Server.  They talked about pre-New Frontiers which is what ruined the game.  Any chance of that ever coming about?

JC – I would say probably nil.  I was around there and it was a very interesting time.  For those not familiar with it, we did a lot of changes to the core game in DAoC over the years where, just like any game, it kind of evolves.  Just like any game, people still had some fondness for how the game was played in the beginning versus how it eventually became and one of the things we wanted to do at one point was to bring back a server that was very like it was when the game was launched.  Unfortunately, because of a lot of things that were going on…there were resource conflicts, there were a lot of things going on with other games, there was a lot of stuff and I don’t even remember it all.

Steven – Yeah…there was…we were trying to launch WAR…trying to balance out two projects at the same time.  The Origin server, I remember it as Red Dragon because that was the original proposal, I remember doing a lot of the work on that.

JC – So yeah, we weighed a lot of things.  It was a lot of internal things.  It was a lot of things like if we thought we would get enough people on it to be viable, what would the resources be, and ultimately decided against it.  I really, at this point, do not see that coming about.

Audience Member – What was behind the decision not to have a presence on the show floor in an effort to bring back those lost players?

JC – If you did notice in the little booklet thing they said they had a booth for us, that was a mistake.  Usually when we’ve come to these in the last few years we’ve done it in this kind of format because when we’ve done shows where we’ve been on the floor it was a very odd thing because people would be going around doing their thing and they’d come in in trickles and you’d get just a little bit of what people would hear.  They’d never get that kind of overlap.  In these situations, we can get those people that are interested in one place and we get people that ask specific questions that then bring out other questions and they’re like “Hey, I’d kind of like to hear about that” and they didn’t even think of asking it.  We get a lot more interaction by doing it as a presentation and a Q&A and giving out stuff in this format versus the random one.

Audience Member – Don’t you think you’re missing somebody though?  Like those people that have no idea you’re even here.

JC – Potentially.

Audience Member – Some of the kids that are here that love Warhammer…just walking past the booth…not even playable, just the one guy at a table with T-Shirts and stickers or something.

JC – Potentially.  It’s a good idea.  We just kind of…as far as getting to the people that play and getting them information, we found this worked out a lot better.  But yes, I agree with you.  It also depends on the event and the clientele…and I agree with you.  Yes, there some people that have not heard about it even though it’s this event (Warhammer Games Day).  But, when we’ve gone to some of the bigger conventions…it depended on where we were going…we’ve always found at Games Day that we’ve got a lot of good feedback through these concentrated efforts.  In fact, they wanted us to do two sessions but then when you start spreading people out and giving them choices of which one to go to, you never get quite as good of an interaction.

Audience Member – Kind of what he was going off of, if you’re trying to get new players, Tier 2 and Tier 3 are dead and a lot of the people that play the Endless Trial get this sense of a lot of action, because there is a lot of action in Open RvR, and then nothing until you get to Tier 4 and if it’s a new player that could be two weeks, or even longer, of game-play and they lose interest completely.  Any thought of extending the Endless Trial to Tier 2?

JC – We’ve gone back and forth on several ways to approach that.  There’s two different schools of thought.  One of the things that the Endless Trial that did work was that we concentrated everyone in the first Tier into one Racial Pairing and we kept everybody in a confined area so there was always a good population and people didn’t feel disconnected.  We didn’t necessarily keep them from the rest of the world in Tier 1, we just concentrated people there because people have fun together.  We looked at potentially doing similar things where we concentrate where the action is in Tiers 2 and 3 and we’ve also looked at how we can potentially do Tiers 2 and 3 as part of the Endless Trial or have ways you can go in there.  Both have their advantages and disadvantages and both have problems.  Much like we did with the Endless Trial, we found that people that were playing the Endless Trial…especially the people that just kept on playing it…became very, very powerful so we had to make some changes to kind of tweak that and we need to do the same kind of thing if we were to open up Tiers 2 and 3.  We don’t want to do it where people get to be the best at Tier 2 and 3 and the people just playing through on their own and just leveling up are just decimated by them as well.  So there’s a lot of things that kind of play into that but we’ve looked at both.  We haven’t made a decision as to what would be best in that regard.  Did you guys have thoughts on that?  Which do you think would be better?  Concentrating people who are playing the game into more populated areas or…

Audience Member – I don’t know if there’s enough of a population.  If you made the Endless Trial go through Tier 2 would that just halve the amount of people in Open RvR in Tier 1 and then it’s not enough?  But then, if you just cap it at a low Tier 3 level you would assume the twinking wouldn’t be possible.  I’m not sure about that, but I’m not sure if the population numbers would allow the spread out of people.  But I would assume also that subscribers would have a lot more fun doing their alts again.  People really just play in either Tier 1 or Tier 4.

JC – We also toyed with keeping people who actually played the game, allowing them to stay within Tiers so they could actually play…some of the people say their best fights were in certain Zones and they went through them too fast but with a population they’d love to stay in Tier 2 or Tier 3 and play at certain Keeps or in certain Zones.

Audience Member – Couple questions.  One is along with what he was saying.  Is there any possible plans to look at opening up the rest of the Zones in Tier 1 on the Endless Trial if you’re not looking at having them go to other Tiers…or even rotating the Zones?

JC – We looked at rotating them as one of the thoughts when we first did it.  It presented two problems in that we didn’t want to have a bunch of people go into Tier 1 and then we open up the next one and it kind of shifts people over and then these people become a lot less and there’s more over here.  It also could become confusing to people.  It felt much more natural if everybody had the same starting area that was very familiar.  We let people who are actually paying go to any of them they want to and do any of that content.  One potential problem to opening it up to everybody is we do spread out that population more, especially the Trial users, you want to keep them playing with people and trying to get them used to what the game is about.  If we send them off into who knows where in the Dwarf/Greenskins area and they kind of get lost over there, the more chance there is they might not come back and actually have some fun.

Audience Member – Do you guys have any plans as far as advertising at all?  One of those banner ads or gaming ads or?

JC – We get this one every time too.  Unfortunately, at least at our level, we don’t get to make those decisions.  We get to suggest the same thing that you guys do.  That the more people we get out there seeing the game…that’s one of the reasons we made the Trial endless in the first place was that you just get more people playing and have more chance of people getting into it.  We did the Endless Trial, we made it a streaming client so that players could actually get into the game much faster.  It was like a gig download versus 6-8 gigs before that.  So we’ve made a lot of accessibility things that we can do on our end, but unfortunately, a lot of the marketing budgets and that type of resources, the advertising, ultimately comes from above us.  We continue to say we’d love to get more and more people in through advertising, unfortunately, that’s a higher-level decision.  Sorry.

Audience Member – I’m one of the new subscribers.  I did the Endless Trial and everything and I just started playing.  I liked when I was able to go to the Greenskin Zone and Elf Zone and play the stuff there but a lot of Public Quests especially there were some that just had too high a level of difficulty.  I mean, the population of those areas are dead and I know that and I go “Oh, but I want to play that instead of going to the Chaos Zone.”  Have you guys considered re-balancing some of the difficulties for those underpopulated areas so that if someone does enjoy the single-player content and is going through they can succeed in it.

JC – We’ve been credited because Public Quests are a very popular feature of the game and a lot of games have done similar mechanics to WAR.  One of the things that, unfortunately, they require is population.  So, over time, and I know we’ve done at least two big pushes that I can think of, we took our existing Public Quests and we shifted a lot of the difficulty down.  We made them doable by duos and trios, potentially solos on some of them so if it was normally an easy to medium one to begin with, it became something you could probably solo.  If it was a much harder one that probably took a group or two before, we took it down to maybe 3-4 or 2-3.  So we have done a lot of that and there might still be some that just seem really, really tough.  If there’s specific ones, feel free to send feedback on them and we’ll take a look at them.  We’d love to continue tweaking it to make it as successful as possible for people but yeah, we’ve done that and we’re not adverse to doing more to make people enjoy it.

Audience Member – I’m also a new subscriber with about a month of play.  One of my favorite things in Tier 1 was Scenarios and I was kind of disappointed when I got to Tier 2 and Tier 3 that those just aren’t coming up at all.  I spend hours, 8 or more, in a queue and they never pop up.  I talked to some people and it seems like the main reason for that is everyone is terrified of leveling out of the (Tier) without having a high enough Renown Rank.  Has any thought been given to make the XP gain in the Scenarios toggle so that people can turn it off when they don’t want it?

JC – We actually had some discussion, both internally and on the forums, on this about what we could do in Scenarios not only to change them up, make them more fun, but one of those has been as that suggestion and either lowering the XP gain in general…that kind of harkens back to making the Reward of it not mean that I just need to do this to farm, farm, farm and grind but just that I want to do it for the big fun and not necessarily because I then get too much and level out and I want to stay and have fun.  So, alternatives there are looking at a way that you can just stay anyways and play, lowering the XP or turning it off, or being able to play without the Rewards.  Those are all things we’re actively looking at.  I’m not sure if we can say how we’re going to implement it specifically, but those are the things we’re looking at.

Audience Member – My main question is…you’ve gotten lots of ideas from here and other Games Days in the past…how often do you present these ideas to your people above you and they throw it back in your face?  It seems like you guys like a lot of the questions and have tried it and it seems like there is a wall there that you can’t get past.

JC – It’s actually gotten a lot better as we’ve gone along.  I know, especially in the beginning, there was definitely a lot more…bureaucracy I guess you’d call it…in that some of the ideas we got were kind of like that.  There was a lot more layers of management so it was like everyone wanted to have their little piece of it.  “Well, ultimately I’m responsible for it, so I wanted to weigh in on this.”  and they don’t really take everything into consideration that, hopefully, we do.  So there were things like that.  Some of them would come up and they’d say no.  We’d try to argue it and they’d still say no.  It happens.  But, it’s got a lot better I’d say in the last year, year and a half, and basically we’ve shifted management around so that I’ve got a lot more responsibility as the Producer so that I can make those calls and not necessarily that…he needs to be involved or he needs to be involved…let’s make the good decisions.  There’s sometimes that even ourselves we’ll look at something and say that’s really, really good but then there’s all these other things that will domino-effect on it so we kind of go ehhhhh…probably not.  We have to find a way to pare that down and make it workable and sometimes that means we do lose ideas but then some other good pop up.

Steven – It’s also not our IP, so…

JC – Yes, there are the small occasions where we will have ideas and we just throw it out there and they (Games Workshop) will go “Yeahhhh…that’s not gonna work.”  And sometimes we try to sneak little things in there and they throw it out.  Like we really wanted to name the Barber-Surgeon “Toddy Sween” and they said no.  So he became…what did I end up calling him?

Steven – I don’t know.

Audience Member – But he is Toddy Sween.

JC – No, he’s not Toddy Sween.  That was the original name for it but we changed it to…it was another pun and they didn’t care about that one as much.

Audience Member – That gentleman talked about how there’s kind of a lack of population sometimes and you can’t do stuff.  Do you think it would be feasible to do like NPCs or something like that to try to help players out?

JC – We had similar stuff and one of the reasons Open RvR had some of the guards and NPCs was to make sure there was that bit that was always there.  That’s one of the reasons that we’re going to go back and tweak it and put it back in because we want to have…we don’t want it to be that “Oh, I’m the lone guy.”  We want to make it doable.  We looked at some things we could do but population is one of those very sticky wickets so anything we can do or any suggestions people have on that we’d be glad to hear.

Artiee (for Mykiel) – Any chance we can get Endless Dyes on the Ordnance store?

JC – We actually were looking at some of that and I know that tied into a little bit about what we want to do with Crafting going forward.  Whether it would be Endless Dyes on a merchant or not, I don’t know.  We also want to increase the amount of stuff you can use for our alternate currencies whether that’s Ordnance or Skulls of the Fallen, LotD (scarabs).  The RvR Accessories were just one more thing we could put out there and put on a store and let you use stuff for and the more we can let you use some of that alternate currency and get a use out of that is a good suggestion.

Artiee (for Mykiel) – Any chance of ever getting to be able to dye our weapons or shields?  Or different designs?

Will – I would have to look into the fact of doing weapons and things like that, but it’s more or less on the fact of our development time for doing that.  Art-side, for each Armor Set we’re doing a tint for every single item in the set…an entire Armor Set is 5-7 pieces…that is each a print-out sheet that basically says “Dye this area A” “Dye this area B”.  We’d have to do that for every weapon and shield or restrict it to just one color.  But the point is we have to go in for every single one.  I think it’s more or less on the point of time and what we want to apply our time to.  As James said, with how we are, we have our resources and we have to use our resources as wisely as possible.  Is it a capable thing?  It’s something you can wrap your mind around.  But could we do something more like editing content and helping to find what we can to bring more refreshing and entertaining content to you?  That would probably be more in our time priorities.

JC – I think it’s feasible.  I think if we wanted to look at it as a long-term goal that’s something we could do but the ability to dye the weapon or the shield would not bring us enough return on the investment for the amount of resources that, unfortunately, it would take.  Because it’s not as easy as saying “Turn on a dye bit for weapons and shields” because there’s a lot of back-end stuff that goes into making that little bit of making it dye-able work and weapons and shields were just never set up that way.

Rivs – What about Guild emblems on our shields?

JC – That’s another one that it’s just a system where they don’t…you’d have to put the stuff in to display it properly and go through and make sure it worked on all the different shields.

Artiee – And of course my favorite is the Tome Unlocks.  Exploring…are we going to get more of those or the ability to actually finish some because you took out content out of the game and you can’t finish them now.

JC – Actually, one of the things we’ve been doing is we’ve been trying to do…he’s asking about the Tome of Knowledge because it’s a lot of little things that you just do in the world with little quests you can do or find and discover.  There’s a lot of them.  Some of them don’t work as great as possible due to bugs that have cropped up or changes to other things and we’re trying to work on as many as we can in every Patch and we’ll always have a few in there.  If there’s specific ones that you know just aren’t working and you really want to get it fixed, send us a feedback or get on the Forums and tell us and we’ll be glad to make sure they’re either in our queue to look at and get them up or get them in our queue to look at and get them up in case we don’t know about them.

We’re probably out of time.  What I will do is…I want to make sure that people get shirts if they want them and we’ll probably be around for a few minutes right after if people have any specific questions.  Thank you all.

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. August 1, 2011 3:06 pm

    Awesome work Gar, and another thanks to Artie as well. That was me asking about guild emblems on shields, that would be cool. Eh?

  2. August 1, 2011 6:51 pm

    I’m going to need a pot of coffee to get me through all that. That’s a lot to read tomorrow morning.

  3. Tullkas permalink
    August 2, 2011 3:27 am

    eh, not a single Combat & Career related question? Im disappointed. Lets hope for some on Gamesday in Germany.

    • August 2, 2011 8:43 am

      A lot of the C&C stuff was covered in our recent trip to the studio. Most of the time at these types of conventions, it’s general game direction that’s covered as opposed to C&C since it’s usually either past players or new players in the audience.

  4. August 2, 2011 7:36 am

    Thanks for taking the time to get it written up. It’s really appreciated :)

  5. Rainbowcookie permalink
    August 2, 2011 11:01 am

    Awsome! Even thou I don’t play war any longer I am really getting hungry to play when I hear about the fortress(es) returning!

    I have really thought about the (commercial) part of the q&a during the past months. I would really like Mythic to steal a bit from some free to play games. (League of legends) is a excellent example.

    I would also like to see theese things.
    They are not expensive to make and require very little effort once its going.

    -Weekly casts on whats happening in the game.

    – Direct links to in-game streams or videos of pro teams fighting keeps, warband fights, 6v6 fights, dungeons etc etc.
    -Weekly or monthly tournaments with casters (everything announced on the homepage) with the reward of having your statues where currently weekly rp farmers have their statues.

    And for my last wish. Make the community get a good place to announce tournaments, warband roaming areas, pve runs. (Like Today we are roaming praag. Looking for opponents) Make the community come up with creative ideas of what to do. Doesnt have anything to do with rewards. But make the explore possibilities of what to do instead of zerg keep farming or premade scenarios.

    Cheers from a big fan of your blogg and the game!

    • Rainbowcookie permalink
      August 2, 2011 11:03 am

      Baah after rewriting some parts and some copypasting the post got far more messy then I intended :D Sry

  6. Adells permalink
    August 3, 2011 1:13 pm

    Gaara , do you have some super secret screenshot of the new vanity set ?

    • August 3, 2011 8:27 pm

      Ummmm…Mykiel took some while we were at the studio but I believe James Casey said he was going to try to get some up on the Forums soon when I asked.

  7. Adells permalink
    August 4, 2011 9:17 am

    ok…..
    Next step , Persuade Mykiell to show me this screens…..

    • August 4, 2011 2:19 pm

      Too late. James Casey already posted them on the forums. :p

  8. John Henry permalink
    August 11, 2011 4:30 pm

    I spoke with Will for a couple minutes after the presentation, and told him I thought the 6v6 Ekrund was a great direction because a lot of players (bar RDPS) liked Eternal Citadel. I told him a 6v6 Grovod would be great, too, and his response was they were still trying to determine scenario numbers for that. It seems like it is a reasonably sized map. I also asked if we’ll ever see Ironclad again, and he thought it was a great scenario but they couldn’t get around the problems that it experienced when it was first launched (AoE healing and no LOS).

    • August 11, 2011 5:32 pm

      Yeah, I really enjoyed the Ironclad but it did have some issues. I thought they were fairly easy to overcome if you knew what was happening, but it did make it overly difficult for some people. I’d love to see it come back for a weekend, even with the issues. If people don’t like it, they can queue for something else. :p

Trackbacks

  1. Mythic Presentation & Q&A | In Da Jibblies
  2. Mythic: Neue Infos vom Games Day Baltimore - WAAAGH.de
  3. Kurznachrichten: 01.08.11 - WAAAGH.de
  4. Gamesday Warhammer Online News « A High Latency Life

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