Gaarawarr Gabs with Mark Davis
With The Wild Hunt fast approaching, as well as all the 1-year Anniversary activities, it’s about time I posted my interview with Mark Davis, Live Events Team Lead!
Mark had a lot to say about Live Events and seemed very proud of the work Mythic has done on them. (As he should be, in my opinion.) Live Events, unlike some things, have done nothing but get better with each new iteration. We’ve come a long way since the Witching Night, hehe.
So join us as we discuss how the Live Events Team came about, the ups and downs of Live Events, and what kind of events we’ll see in the future.
When you talk to Mark, you see right away how excited he is about Live Events. He had given us a brief sneak-peek of The Wild Hunt earlier in the day and that excitement had come out right away. If you read the interview I did with Phillip Chan on crafting in WAR, you’ll know that Mark was in the room with us already during part of that interview, and even asked a question as well. I think that helped to put him at ease enough to just start right in talking about what he does without me even having to ask a question.
Mark: Something interesting about Live Events is that, prior to launch, we had no expectation of running Live Events in WAR. We didn’t think they had a place, really. We didn’t have any expectation that we’d need them. It was sort of our mythos on Dark Age of Camelot as well. We didn’t really run Live Events on Camelot either. Back in those days, Live Events were traditionally thought of as: You get a couple Game Masters on every server…they show up and “Forsooth…” act in front of a couple hundred people and it’s a really boring kind of thing. We just didn’t really like it, so we never really embraced that.
But with WAR coming out, we knew we were going to be adding the Knight of the Blazing Sun and Black Guard and wanted to make it a big deal. We wanted to have something that would gate access and have players really excited to log in every day and have them look forward to it and build anticipation. So the Live Event system was devised. And as the success of that was becoming apparent, we were looking at it and going “Well, this looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun. We think the players are really going to like this. Let’s go ahead and do one for Halloween since it’s coming up.”
It had only been a few weeks since we’d gone live and Heavy Metal was well on its way. That’s what I was telling you guys earlier. We may have thought of doing Heavy Metal…we designed that one first…we designed the Live Event Tool and system for Heavy Metal specifically, but we ended up using it for the Witching Night first. Since then, Live Events have not only become something we do, it’s one of the most important things we do. We devote a lot of our time and resources to Live Events and we’ve noticed that, during Live Events, all the things that make WAR great are that much better. The RvR is more exciting. People are going to Public Quests and hitting those. They’re doing Scenarios. They’re chatting in Region and Guild chat. They’re talking and sharing information. Everything just gets a lot more exciting during a Live Event.
So, with that in mind, we’ve focused a lot of our resources and energy…my whole team is dedicated to supporting Live Events. This next one we have coming up, The Wild Hunt, we’re trying to push the envelope. We’re always looking to try to do something new with every Live Event to keep it different, to make sure people aren’t getting bored. “Oh, they’re doing the same thing. Look, a couple new quests. Oh great…” So we’re always looking to push something new and exciting and accentuate the things that make WAR great. The Wild Hunt is going to have a really unique, event-specific dungeon and you’ll have seven days to play that puppy, and it’s really awesome.
There’s something neat about a Live Event in that it’s only there for a limited time. I have to have everything. I’m one of those players that…I don’t really need that shroud, but I want it. It’s gonna go in my bank vault. I’m gonna put it on once, take a screen-shot, and then it’s going in my bank vault. I might need it sometime in the next ten years…maybe.
GG: I’m never going to equip that title, but, just in case one day…
Mark: Just in case you want it.
Mark: Because you’ll never get it again.
GG: I might want to wear it at some point, just for fun.
Mark: Absolutely. That’s kind of the beauty of Live Events. It’s a limited-time engagement and it really gets players excited. The Wild Hunt is going to play heavily on that. There’s a whole dungeon that you can only do once a year with The Wild Hunt. We’ve only seen a couple of Seasonal Holidays: The Night of Murder, Keg End, and now The Wild Hunt.
GG: So this will be a recurring kind of…
Mark: Those are what we call Seasonal Holidays. Players haven’t had to have that distinction yet because we haven’t had a whole year come around yet. They will see their first Seasonal Holiday…I don’t mind telling people this: Keg End is coming back. It’s coming back for the Xmas/New Year’s time period. So, it’ll be better this year, I promise. It will be even more awesome. The Battle Brew Backpack will probably still be very rare, but it’s coming back.
GG: Rare? I got four. 😉
Mark: Did you really? It took me five hundred-ish kills to get mine.
GG: It took me three thousand-ish to get four and, the funny thing is, all four dropped in the last five hundred kills.
Mark: Well, that’s our QA Lead here. He had to kill over two thousand and on the two thousandth kill he got his Backpack. I heard about it every day. “I’m up to three hundred. I’m up to eight hundred. I’m up to fifteen hundred and I still don’t have my Backpack Mark Davis…where’s my Backpack?” And then when he got two thousand, he said five kills later he got his second one. You know what that is? That’s random. That’s what we want.
GG: Kind of related to that, especially with that one, sometimes with the Live Events, things can kind of seem like they favor one side or the other with, maybe, placement of things. I know we’ve had that in some RvR lakes, but actually, in Keg End, there was a big favoritism that I found towards Destruction with the way some of the mobs were spawned. So Snotlings, for instance, this is why I actually got mine all at once. There was a spot where you could train three separate spawns of Snotlings in a small circle, run them all together, kill one, it would explode them all, loot, rinse, and repeat. It was on the Destruction side of something that you had to get through via the RvR lake and you could not find anything like that on the Order side.
Believe me, I looked, hehe.
Then we’ve had issues with some of the RvR lakes where maybe it’s a bit closer to one camp than another. That was kind of fixed a little bit with the Rise of the Tomb Kings Live Event where it seemed sort of equal in the sense that it was far away from both warcamps. People want to know that it’s going to be more…more fair and balanced. But, you know, not care-bearish.
Mark: We think about that a lot. We have made mistakes. I cringed a little bit when you said “RvR lake” because I think I know exactly which Live Event you’re talking about. We had a very huge post-mortem after that particular Live Event. Beyond the Sands was really…a lot of people loved that Live Event…
GG: It was great.
Mark: “Oh my god! The RvR action is insane!” But with every good feedback there were two negative feedbacks we got. We learned a lot from that particular Live Event and we applied a lot of those lessons to Rise of the Tomb Kings, which was our follow-up Live Event. When I said Supply Depots, that was from Beyond the Sands, a lot of people immediately cringed. I was like “Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa…these are not like those other Supply Depots. They’re bigger, there’s a lot more locations, those kind of things.” So we definitely learned some lessons there. So the challenge to doing things in the RvR area…of course, Live Events are supposed to accentuate what makes WAR great, and so we always have PvE elements and RvR elements mixed…we have to work within the existing confines of the game and our own technology. So, let me just give you an example.
I want to place a crate on the ground that both sides want to get. That crate has to sit on a flat piece of ground. I can’t put it on the side of a hill because crates float on the side of a hill. It’s just the way the technology works. Unfortunately, in certain RvR areas, there isn’t a lot of good, flat terrain exactly located where we need it to be: 50% distance from both sides, equal distances. There is no good spot. So we have to find the best spot. It may not be the perfect spot, but it has to be the best spot we can find. So we’re always up against those kind of challenges. The RvR lakes…sorry, I’ll try to keep my Dev-speak to minimum.
GG: Oh, I call it a lake too. So go for it.
Mark: OK, I use lake sometimes with media and they look at me like “You’re fighting in water? Is this Trials of Atlantis?” “Oh god no! No no no no no. It’s not anything to do with water.” But yeah, anyway, sorry, RvR areas. We situate things in the RvR areas, but we also have to watch out for Battlefield Objectives, which are everywhere. We have to watch out for Keeps. We have to watch out for Guard Patrols. Then we also have to consider distances between RvR camps, warcamps. So there are a lot of variables involved. There’s no excuse for the frickin spawn location in the Badlands. That was horrible.
GG: Yeah, it was.
GG: I actually…my Slayer was in Tier 3 and I went to go do it because I really love the Badlands and I think it’s a great place to PvP, and I was so excited about it being there, but it was just…so…
Mark: It was brutal. Yeah.
GG: But yeah. I mean, when you really want to do it, you make it work. But it was hard to get. There was a lot of whining…
Mark: Yeah. I play a lot and I play every Live Event to its fullest so I definitely shared your pain there. We won’t be doing that one again.
GG: Because of those issues where you see…because of the placement issues…I mean, you want as many people as possible to participate in all aspects of the Live Event…but it seems like with the RvR aspects that they can almost, sometimes, limit participation as they gate access to content. Are we gonna see more of a continued focus on having some things that are gated, or are we going to see a switch to make sure that everyone can access all of it, or is there going to be a balance you try to walk between the two?
Mark: We have a few rules, or guidelines, that we adhere to with Live Events. We want to make sure that everyone can participate. To date, every Live Event we’ve done…it may be difficult for some things to be done. Night of Murder, for example. It was hard for Tier 1 folks to capture a Keep, but it was still possible. You could go up to a Tier 2 area and capture a Keep. We know that some tasks are going to be more difficult than others, so we build in sort of a safety-net of tasks. So, say there’s ten tasks, eight will get you the maximum Influence. Ten will get you the Title. Ten’s nice, if you can do it, but everybody needs to at least get that Elite item. We shoot for that, to make sure you fill up that bar, and for the completionists, make sure it’s possible for them to do all ten.
So, you’ll see that going forward. It won’t be a situation where it will be gated by Tier 4 or Tier 1 or Tier 2. Or, if we do…for example, if we ever did explore a Tier-only kind of event, we’d make sure it was only available to those particular Tiers and you wouldn’t even be able to see it [if you weren’t part of that Tier]. We don’t have any plans of that kind of nature.
GG: So you kind of talked about, like the bar, it’s part of Live Events. There’s always the ubiquitous Influence Bar. You’re earning your items…except for Nordenwatch.
GG: It was a nice little mini-Live Event that was a surprise to everybody. It came out of the blue. Everybody I know loved it. I think the people that didn’t love it were people that couldn’t get it to pop.
Mark: Right, yeah.
GG: I think everybody that was playing it just had a blast because it’s one of those passtime “Oh my god! It’s Tier 1 again!” I know we’re gonna see that a couple more times, just because I know my Tome unlocks and I’m missing a bunch and I did everything in there, so I know we’re gonna see that again. But are we gonna see more of those types of mini-Live Events? That little weekend fun-time thing that’s not a huge, week-long thing. It’s not about Influence, it’s about a cool little unique Title or returning to someplace we’ve seen before…maybe like Khaine’s Embrace. That’s Mykiel’s favorite.
GG: Khaine’s Embrace in Tier 1 is the one Scenario where you’re pretty much…it’s rare to get it completed where the team gets to 500. Nordenwatch: You could get to 500. Gates of Ekrund: Almost guaranteed to end in a 500. But Khaine’s Embrace…it was always 295 to 195 or something. You just never get to 500. It was always fifteen minutes of just crazy combat going on. Imagine in a Tier 4 environment with all the ways to Root, Knockdowns, etc, into the bomb… So are we going to see more of those mini-Live Events?
Mark: Absolutely. We actually call those Weekend Events. The reason I call that out, if it matters, is Mini-Events are something else we have, which is what we did for the 4th of July. It was one of those events that didn’t have a Tome page, it really didn’t have any kind of wrapper at all…
GG: It’s just kind of items that show up as loot and you can go have fun with them…
Mark: Yeah, we can throw those up…those are Mini-Events and then Weekend Events last over a weekend, imagine that, from Friday to Monday morning and, absolutely, we have some really cool ones. Some revolve around old Scenarios, previous Tier Scenarios, some that are unique Scenarios like Reikland Factory and Twisting Tower, and some other…stuff….that are awesome.
Mark: Yeah…yeah….You know what’s great about Weekend Events, too? Remember what I talked to you about earlier? The hardest thing about planning Live Events is the itemization, trying to figure out what the items are. I think that Nordenwatch, just feedback-wise, was probably the most positive event we ever ran. We got tons of feedback on the forums of “My god this is awesome. They should do this every weekend.” What was great about that was the hard part [for us] was not in that event. The hard part of itemization and trying to figure out all the Influence…it was a Title. And people loved it.
So that’s a good thing for us because that means we can do more of those. Those are certainly a lot easier development-wise for us to put together. The trick is: How often do we run them? Because Live Events are important, but if you run them too often, they start being a little less of an “event.”
GG: Yeah, it’s not a Live Event, it’s now an expected thing every weekend.
Mark: We are absolutely gonna do more of those. (The one-year anniversary celebration has three of these coming with it! -GG) I had a great time doing that Scenario again.
GG: Oh yeah. I’m somebody who doesn’t always run Scenarios, so all of a sudden I was now queueing for Scenarios again. And it was funny because it popped up when I had been up all night and all of the sudden…we were standing in Altdorf and then “ccchhhiiinnngggg” and we’re like “What!?!?!?!” and I’m opening up my Tome and going “I’ve got a gold tab in my Tome! What the hell is going on!?!?!” and we went right into it. No bed for me, it’s Live Event day! It was awesome.
Mark: Yeah, I described it as it was kind of like coming home because it had been so long since I’d been back in Tier 1. I’m a one-character kind of guy and I hadn’t re-rolled in forever. So to play in Nordenwatch as my main character, 40th Rank character, it was like “Aaahhhhhhhh….”
GG: Yeah, for me it was like “The Ironbreaker has returned!” and now I can do all these fun things like “Oh look! I can punt off the castle wall!”
Mark: That was great and “I can mount my way all around the Scenario.”
GG: Exactly! Being able to ride a mount thru it all as quick as you can do it, and then you still see people in Tier 4 trying to explain how to win the Scenario to everyone else…
Some people had obviously made it all the way through Tier 1 and never learned what the point of the Scenario was.
Mark: It was funny how Tier 4 was just like Tier 1.
GG: “I can’t click the flag! I can’t click the flag!” “You’re not supposed to click the flag…”
Mark: “Kill the dude with the thing…”
GG: That was great. Is there a chance we’ll see Live Events split into different quest lines where one is the catch-all that everyone can do, but the other is for people that only have, say, six-man premades that have to go and do all these different things that are balanced around that group? It would still have the same Influence bar and rewards, but maybe it would offer a different Title or something. Everyone loves Titles and bragging rights and this would create something for those that always say the Live Events are too easy and want more of a challenge.
Mark: I don’t know if what we’ve done in the past is what you’re asking, but we have done some things like that. We just don’t announce it in the Tome. For example, during Rise of the Tomb Kings, we had the player Glyphs. You had to get all four and then we had a fairly difficult monster if you approached it with six people.
GG: The other side was actually more difficult than the monster.
Mark: Yeah, you almost had to bring a warband so you could fight the monster while they killed the players. And we also have secret things we put in as well that may or may not be a group encounter. It may be just one of those things that’s difficult to do but it doesn’t show up in the Tome. Because the Tome is specifically for…like I said, one of our guiding rules is to make sure the Live Events are completable by everyone.
GG: So with the idea of the Glyphs and the altars…
Mark: We wanna do more of that. That was really popular.
GG: Yeah, cuz to do that, to actually participate in that part, you had to have a group.
Mark: So, what’s amazing about that is, in Beyond the Sands we had a lot of group activities and we got a lot of negative feedback for that. “We didn’t like the way this worked.” That was because, I think, at least what I took from it at our post-mortem, was because it was a task. One of the tasks in the Tome said “You must do these three chapters of this quest.” The third one was group-oriented. However, when we did Rise of the Tomb Kings, the task wasn’t there, but the opportunity was there. It was no longer a task. I can still complete the Live Event and feel good at the end of the day when I’ve completed this event, but maybe if I didn’t get all four Glyphs and summon the thing, I don’t feel as bad. So that’s the kind of stuff we’re gonna lean more to.
However, in one breath I say that and in the next breath I say “Wait ’til you see The Wild Hunt, though.” The Wild Hunt has a couple of tasks in it which are very group-oriented, like the dungeon. Granted, it’s not a warded dungeon. It’s not geared to be one of the places where you have to have the perfect group setup. We are going easy on it so people actually have a chance since it’s a limited time. You have to figure it out. There’s several encounters that you’ll have to work your way through and figure out how to play it. That being said, you’re still going to need a group. You’re still going to need to find at least a healer and a tank to go in with you. (To avoid confusion, you do need at least four people in your group to complete the Hunter’s Vale dungeon. -GG) You can’t go in there with six Bright Wizards. That might be fun until you all get wiped, but yeah, you’re definitely going to need a group to do this next Live Event.
GG: So then, my next question is…obviously, with the optional harder content with the Rise of the Tomb Kings, the way you had the Glyph aspect was great. The big negative of that was that you’d spawn the monster, you’d put your Glyphs in, he’d pop out and someone else would tag him and thus get loot rights.
Mark: That’s not the way it worked.
GG: That’s the way it worked in Region chat apparently…
Mark: That would have been a misconception, because we thought of that beforehand and we were very crafty. What we did was, on the ability to use those Glyphs, which basically activates the monster, the moment he activates, he attacks with a light-damage [attack] (one hit point, I think it was) to the person who summoned him which therefore locked them into combat. So the only way you’d lose…which sucks, but…it’s RvR right? The enemy comes in and wipes you out. Then the monster would reset, they’d summon him and then they’d get credit and that’s the part where it was like “Wow, we really got creamed on that one and I just lost all four of my Glyphs.” That was part of the danger element. We wanted that in there with it. It’s RvR, it’s unpredictable.
GG: There was a lot of Region chat saying the same Realm was stealing loot. Maybe they tried to use the Glyphs at the same time or something…
Mark: I was gonna say, that’s what else could have happened. There was no check to see if, when Nate and I are both summoning at the same time, but he happens to summon it just before I do, then even if I thought I did, actually he did and the monster would lock on to him.
GG: But it consumed your Glyphs?
Mark: It shouldn’t have consumed my Glyphs, but…yeah. It sounds like, if that happened, it was a bug.
GG: I should have reported it…but I was on vacation. 🙂 That was the one thing that I didn’t get to do, because usually I get to do everything that has to do with a Live Event because I absolutely love them…
Mark: Did you get your “Death by Pie” Title?
GG: No and I don’t have my… I never seem to die… I don’t get the death titles. I don’t have “Pie Assassin” or “Death by Pie”. I have Tentacle Pie still in my inventory and when I’m in a 1v1 situation, I always forget to use it because I’ve only got like four and I don’t want to waste it but I know it will, hopefully, be returning. But I don’t get to die a lot so I never got my own head sent back to me, I’ve never gotten the stuff that’s…
Mark: You need to die more.
GG: From now on, in Live Events, I’m running around naked!
So anyway, I had gone to do that Live Event with the Glyphs but I didn’t get any. And then I was gone on my US Tour but I got a chance to play one more time on the last day. Luckily people just gave me all the Glyphs I needed for free just so I could unlock all my Tome stuff cuz they knew I love that stuff.
Mark: That was nice.
GG: Yeah. Then I was like “Let’s go out and try it” and we went out, but obviously we got stomped by Destro…
Mark: So Destruction waited for you…
GG: Well, no. We were fighting them off until it popped back up, but they were just watching the timer and coming back with multiple groups of them, and we only had like six of us so we got wiped.
Mark: What we did was, my group (we had about three groups) we hid around the corner at that Battlefield Objective right there in the cave. We sent one person, usually me, to hide behind a rock and watch. As soon as they started the monster, we’d give them about twenty seconds and then pour in and go for their healers and then just kill them all. It was great.
GG: We were vastly outnumbered…
OK, so, during a Live Event, we were joking around, especially with the Rise of the Tomb Kings and the whole build-up around that…what if during, say, the Battle for Praag Scenario, the Tomb Kings NPC just showed up randomly and…maybe even during Keep sieges…just have these random mobs show up flagged friendly for one side or the other in the RvR lakes and in Scenarios during the Live Event? Just to add another factor to the same things we always do as a special part of that Live Event. Is anything like that on the plate for the future?
Mark: We have done things similar to that. We’ve actually put Hero-cons out in the RvR lakes. Sometimes they’ll be friendly, depending on the Live Event. We generally have a mixture, like one side can attack one but it doesn’t con for the other side. I’m a little wary of doing things inside Scenarios, especially something that might be good for the other side, because people kind of get angry when there’s a monster killing them as opposed to a player. I’d much rather get killed by a player than by an NPC. It always makes me feel a little better somehow…for some reason…but yeah, having unique things that seem more random coming up is definitely something we want to do. I wish I could tell you some more. There’s actually an idea that you said that right then I was like “Geez, has he seen my notes?”
GG: I mentioned that, sometimes with the Live Events…you know I’m a Tome-aholic and I love my unlocks, so I know from looking at all my Live Event stuff that sometimes I just can’t figure out where all the unlocks are. And there’s a big Tome unlock community, so it’s not like we aren’t trying. I know I’ve missed some and I may never be able to get them again, but some of these are a little vague and kind of out-of-the-way. Is there any way that we’re going to see some more hints like, maybe, through a random quest that shows up that doesn’t necessarily send you where you need to go but hints at what you need to do?
Mark: Most of the time, I drop the hints to the Community Team when I want something to leak. I’ll say “Hey, you can drop a mention that maybe there’s something over here…?”
GG: Yeah, cuz I know that there’s Keg End stuff that never got found, at least four or five unlocks.
Mark: Yeah, I’m trying to remember, but it’s been so long. I have a hard time remembering two or three Live Events back.
Andy: So I can field an answer to that question, in general. We are actually looking at ways to make the Tome itself more transparent, to make it more user-friendly. And to make it more of a thing where you know what Achievements you need to accomplish in order to get these unlocks. Because a lot of it right now, you see the ??? and you have no idea what’s going on and the only way to find out is by just randomly doing stuff all over the world. So one of the things the Community Team has been fighting for and has proposed to Production, and in a lot of ways the UI Team is the one who’s really over this, so James Casey’s group has actually kind of agreed to all that and are looking at ways to do that.
We’re also looking at ways to do that through the community. Jess is working on a feature right now to actually focus on Tome unlocks and to tell “How do I get this Tome unlock?” So there’s features and guides and things like that we’re working on from a community aspect and we’re going to keep on encouraging the UI Team to make them a little more user-friendly as far as that aspect goes.
Mark: Did you ever find the use for the Aviator Goggles? Did you learn what those were for?
GG: Well, I found the stuff during the Live Event, the chests with scarabs in them in static spots and farmed the hell out of them…
Mark: Are you aware that there’s another use for them as well?
Mark: Here’s a little hint: It’s inside the pyramid. Inside the pyramid, there’s one thing in particular those goggles will help with…
GG: Nice! I’ll do the pyramid with my goggles on. Heck, I want to do the pyramid naked at some point.
Thank you very much, Mark!
Mark: My pleasure. Hope you guys enjoy The Wild Hunt!
So, there you have it folks. Not only lots of information on Live Events, but a heard-here-first hint on what to do with your Aviator Goggles. I can’t wait to try it out myself. Of course, that means I need to stop driving around the country and start playing more. Decisions, decisions…hehe.
Until next time,