In today’s Warhammer Online interview, we talk to Associate Producer Josh Drescher and Senior Designer Justin Webb who team up to give us a set of answers. This edition includes questions about the launch delay, longterm appeal, individuality and why they believe they will succeed where other MMOs have failed in recent years.
Answers by Josh Drescher (Associate Producer) and Justin Webb (Senior Designer)
Questions by Dana Massey
WarCry: Your big headline recently was the decision to push back launch. This is not the first time WAR has been delayed. Why do you believe this release date is one players can expect you to meet?
EA Mythic: MMORPG fans have come to expect top tier titles to launch smoothly with finished, highly polished content across the board. This second adjustment of the launch date is intended to give us the time we need to make sure we deliver a product that meets those expectations. We’re all but finished with feature and system integration right now, but Mark Jacobs (Lead Designer and GM of our studio) wanted to give us months, rather than weeks, to polish, balance and tighten things up prior to launch. As a result, between the December relaunch of the WAR Beta and the second quarter launch of the game, we’re going to be able to focus the entire team on making sure everything feels perfect, looks perfect and plays in a way that will blow gamers away.
WarCry: With Dark Age of Camelot, you made a game that was not only initially successful, but continued to entertain players for years. What are you doing to make sure WAR is not only a top seller, but retains players for years beyond its launch?
EA Mythic: The secret of our success was, is and shall continue to be RvR. As a developer, you can try to keep players busy with expansions and the like, but if you don’t give them something independent of Shiny New Models and such to care about long term, players will lose interest over time. The Realm War that RvR provides offers players an organic, persistent challenge that keeps them engaged for years, rather than months. The War is truly eternal. The threats never go away. The opportunities for glory never disappear. A year, five years, ten years from now you’re STILL going to want to attack your enemies and burning their city to the ground will STILL be exciting.
In a lot of ways, it’s like professional sports. Season after season, you remain excited about the chance that your team could achieve victory. Nobody wins the Super Bowl and then decides that once was enough. Accomplishing that just makes you hungry for more. And losing doesn’t drive you away from the game – quite to the contrary, it triggers a curious meta game where you fret and argue with fellow fans over what went wrong, how to change it, etc. Failing just makes you want to try harder the next season.
WarCry: While most of the focus in the genre has been on WoW, only one MMOG has launched in the last couple years and had any kind of success. What have you guys learned from the recent history of this genre to make sure your game succeeds?
EA Mythic: Well, I suppose the first thing I’d have to say is that I disagree with the assertion that only one MMO in the past couple of years has experienced success. The fact of the matter is that the VAST majority of MMOs – both pre and post-WoW – made money and continue to make money today. To be sure, there have been failures here and there, but we’re a shockingly profitable genre overall. UO has been around for a DECADE and continues to make money. DAoC has been around for over six years and it continues to make money. And while I can’t speak for our noble competitors, but I’d be deeply surprised to hear that any of them are keeping games active that aren’t profitable in some fashion. So while it’s true that in the Western markets only WoW has achieved WoW-like numbers (thus far), it’s a mistake to regard that as the sole measure success.
With that being said, the Number One Lesson WoW Has Taught Us All ? is that you cannot, under any circumstances, launch a buggy, incomplete or unpolished product. It’s as simple as that and, to be honest, it’s great for the entire genre that it happened. Players deserve complete, polished products. They deserve fully-realized gaming experiences. They deserve stability. People who play MMORPGs are passionate, dedicated, engaged and willing to give just about anything a chance. Recognize that, respect that and then deliver a game that isn’t crap and you’ll be rewarded by the fans.
Which is why we’re taking the extra time necessary to make sure that WAR delivers on its promises and rewards the good faith and abundant energy of the fans. They’ve given us the opportunity to succeed and we’re not going to let them down.
WarCry: Players always say they want individuality, but you guys also talk a lot about silhouetting so that others can immediately identify the class just by the look. How do you make sure someone still looks like their class, but is also a unique snowflake in the eyes of the player behind the wheel?
EA Mythic: The colossal amount of armor that the artists have created for each career clearly shows an increase in “bad-assery” as a player progresses through the game.This armor is still definitively “of that career” and preserves the classic GW silhouettes of that career. There’s also plenty of extra “hats” and “shoulders” to create extra diversity. Kudos should be given to the artists for coming up with so much armor that is instantly career-recognizable.
In addition, players will also be able to attach trophies to themselves in many different places. Given the large number and types of trophies and trophy slots, this will create a staggering number of potential visual combinations for each career. Players can change the colors of their armor too using dyes. If you add this all together, the possibilities for “look” diversity and “being a unique snowflake” are immense.