I'm pleased to bring you the second part of our interview with Destin Bales, Live Producer on Warhammer Online. If you missed part one, give it a read before you go any further. We hope you enjoy the second part of the interview. Let us know what you thought overall in our forums.
Tamat : In relation to economic skills, is there really a place for PvE in an RvR focused game? Shouldn’t we just ditch the economy all-together and focus efforts on the RvR battlefield?
Destin : While RvR sets WAR apart, we recognize that some people thrive in a PvE setting and are very interested in the economics of the game. We’ve provided a unique play environment where players who prefer to focus on killing monsters and making money are also influencing the overall campaign. For a successful RvR war, economy does play a role. Players will soon find that Keep ownership and enhancements will play into the economy, because they have associated costs. If a realm were to “ditch the economy all-together,” as you put it, they would be missing out on an opportunity to advance the WAR.
Tamat : Support, both in-game and through forums, e-mail, and other means is always on the mind of players. Is the team comfortable with the level of support staff they have currently, and what ways are you bringing in more visibility to the community so they know there is someone watching out for them?
Destin : It’s critical to players that they know they are being heard and understood. It's equally important to developers that the players understand the direction the game is taking and why decisions are being made. Customer Service and Community are the go-betweens on these issues.
Customer Service is very important to us. From the beginning design of a concept, through its implementation phases, the CS team is discussing potential areas of concern and player impact. Once something goes Live, we work on resolving key issues. We proudly continue to offer the highest level of support to our WAR players as we have for our other games.
Tamat : We’ve seen very little community content support on the official site beyond the basics. Some official sites from other MMOs cater to the community so much that the community hardly has a chance to build their own useful features. Will we see more on the official site that supports the community, such as guild support or in-game monitoring tools?
Destin : That's a great question. Honestly, while we always had high hopes for the website, we spent most of the game's development cycle focusing our resources on the game itself, making sure that it was worthy of having an interesting, interactive, and complex website. Now that we've launched (and hopefully met those expectations in your eyes!), we have definitely thrown some more resources at the web. For example, coinciding with live version 1.0.5, we have launched the RVR section of the website that will allow players to monitor from outside the game what's going on with the RVR on their server. You can see who owns battlefield objectives, how the campaign is progressing, when and what guilds have taken keeps, etc.
But this is just the beginning of what we're doing. We're planning a lot of cool things, allowing players to monitor much more information, and providing them with more tools to interact, communicate, and keep track of what's going on in the game. I wish I could give you more hints, but that would spoil the mystery! Web updates will be timed to match with the game's versions though, so you will know when the web has gotten cool new functionality by reading the patch notes. Stay tuned!
Tamat : Let’s talk expansion content. While no expansion has been announced yet, I want to be able to play a Skaven or a Lizardmen, or some other more interesting race that goes beyond humanoid features. What can you tell us about any future content updates, whether it's through major expansions or free upgrades?
Destin : We are currently in the early stages of pre-production for our first expansion so it's too early to tell you much about it, except that it’s going to be amazing!
We have some other major content updates coming up next year too, so stay tuned early in the New Year for some exciting announcements.
Tamat : With Wrath of the Lich King recently released, how will Warhammer continue to compete, and what have you done to prepare for this eventuality?
Destin : We are always aware of our competitors and feel strongly that the best way to beat our competition is to continue making the best game out there. One of our strengths is our proven record of responding to what our customers care about.
I can’t even scratch the surface of how many things we've already added to WAR based on customer feedback, but a few of the big ones are character moves, improved chat channels, queue anywhere for scenarios, and even small things like changing our Heavy Metal Live Event tasks so they could be completed any time after they were introduced for the benefit of our casual players. We also know players want open RvR to be more consistent and meaningful and we’re working on ways to do that as well.
Moving forward we'll continue to compete by emphasizing our strength in RvR, continuing to listen to our customers, and improving the game.
Tamat : If I were a new player to MMORPGs and noticed the Warhammer Online box on the store shelf, next to the Wrath of the Lich King box, why would I pick up the WAR box and not the WOW one?
Destin : First and foremost, Warhammer offers the following game play features that no other MMO has. RvR, Public Quests, Tome of Knowledge, city sieges and zone control battles on a massive scale.
Furthermore, Warhammer is a player-driven game that is different every night. The more you play, the more experiences you’ll have. Our end-game is player initiated and moves on forever, just getting more and more exciting the longer you play. Once players get a taste of the Warhammer world there’s no going back.
Tamat : Destin, I can't say how appreciative we are for giving us such a large amount of your time to answer our questions. I hope you had as much fun answering them as we did asking them!
Destin : My pleasure. We always enjoy the opportunity to share information on how the WAR is going and what exciting additions we have under development.
I'd like to thank Chad Robertson, Adam Gershowitz Stuart Zissu, Brian Wheeler, Lori Hyrup, Rob DiBiano, Carrie Gouskos, and Ellisa Barr for their contributions to this interview as well.