Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Interview
As I promised yesterday, I had more to post in a second GamesDay article. While I went up there and had a chance to enjoy GamesDay as a whole, my primary purpose for going was to get a chance to play Warhammer Online and to get more information on the game to bring back to everyone. While yesterday's article focused on my actual in-game experience, today's will look at the time I got to spend with Jeff Hickman and Paul Barnett. Also, there was some interesting information that came out in the presentation that'll be shared.
First things first, I wanted to talk about the 30 minutes I got to spend with Jeff Hickman, Senior Producer and Paul Barnett, Creative Director. I got to the booth a bit early and was able to watch some of the early PvP battles while I wanted for my 10:30 interview time. As the time for the interview came around, Jeff, Paul and I went right outside the main hall and sat down in the convention center lobby. So, what was the first question I asked? Could it have been about the awesome public quest system? How about more information on the Tome of Knowledge? Maybe I wanted to find out just why the forces of Order were pretty much trashing the forces of Destruction in the PvP battles.
Nope. I started it off with a simple question that I promised a guildmate I would ask, and one that would actually take the interview down an interesting course – I asked Paul if he was “available” (the answer, for those wondering, is that he is not).
Sure, after that, we spent a bit of time talking about the game, with the foremost thought on my mind being the “vision” that Brad McQuaid had back in the Everquest days. Thankfully, the Warhammer Online team is not being held to any sort of rigid vision like this, at least not in the oft-attacked way the term was used in the days of Everquest. Meaning that, while the actual project does have a vision and goals in mind, none of those seem as if they will cause decisions to be made that will make the game less fun. Take quests, for instance – as Paul put it, you could walk up covered in bear blood, wearing stuff made from bears and all that, and some NPC will give you a quest to go kill more bears. Not in Warhammer Online – the guy will instead give you the reward and talk about how he really hates the bears, how he is happy you killed them and such.
Also, as was said throughout the day, Warhammer is about killing. Not about doing all sorts of non-combat things that other MMOs feature, not about sitting in the back and tossing heals and not even about doing dances in the game. As the section header explicitly states, there won't be any Michael Jackson dancing in the game. There are gloats and such for after you kill people, sure – the game is, after all, about killing your enemy, collecting trophies from your slain enemies and things like that. Really, the team's main goal is to pay homage to the Warhammer license, as stated by Jeff. What does that mean for the game? First of all, there aren't going to be pop culture references peppered throughout the game – I was told about a poster in the office that actually says that there will be none of these. Also, the world is going to have immense amounts of depth. Some of these things, such as details on some bricks in a sewer, may not be understood by those outside of the entire Warhammer universe, but as time goes on in the game, those new to the universe will learn just what these things mean.
Now, as I previously said, the interview did take an interesting turn after my first question. While I was able to really get Paul and Jeff talking on some key areas of the game, we often had fans come up to us as we were doing the interview (it was hard to find somewhere private in the center). While this could have been seen as a bad thing by some interviewers, this gave me a unique chance to see that Jeff and Paul are two guys that really enjoy what they are doing. We had, for example, some fans come up and let us know they had come all the way from California. Jeff and Paul chatted with them for a moment, and then our interview continued. This was far from the only time we had people come up to say hi or talk to the two guys. My personal favorite was the guy who had come up from Florida. He walked up to us, wearing a “Will waaaaaagh for Beta” shirt, video camera in hand. See, he was “sick” today, and that's why he missed work – Jeff and Paul gladly helped him with this after he asked for them to film a few moments about how he was indeed there and sick.
The way that these two acted around the fans seemed to make it throughout the entire team behind the game. Take the guy that helped me out in my time actually playing, Matt Kurz. Yesterday, I mentioned that he did the voices for the Orc Choppa. Well, for the voice when you go berserk, Matt actually got really into things and ran down the hall with two axes, then roared into the microphone. The rest of the team on the floor was getting into the game, too – cheering on their side and, while I'm not sure, they actually seemed to be taunting the representatives helping out the other side at points. Of course, this might be because the employees were all jockeying for a chance to get on the lone computer set to be used by employees for playing in these battles – I'm not sure. However you look at it, though, every member of the team seemed to truly enjoy being there and really seemed happy to be playing a part in the production of this game.
So, after the interview and my time on the game, I was ready to head upstairs for the presentation. The presentation didn't so much focus on talking about game features or anything like that – it was assumed people already knew the basics. Instead, this was a chance for us to see many videos showcasing the 16 classes already in the game. While watching each minute long or so video, Jeff and Paul talked a bit about the class being shown. There was less on the actual way these classes played and more on the design that went into them. As a result of this presentation, though, I do have multiple quotes from Paul to share – ones I couldn't actually use throughout this piece. So, here they are, in all their Glory:
Bright Wizards: “Bright Wizard is an unlicensed nuclear weapon – absolutely nutty”
Engineer: “They can make a keg of beer...get completely blasted, and then get super powers”
Witch Hunter: “Clint Eastwood meets the Spanish Inquisition”
Squig Herder: “They have squigs. That's great. They order them around. That's great. Then they have crazy ass squigs, that's even greater.” and “...it's like a nice cuddly meatball with teeth.”
Anyways, after the actual class presentation, there were some questions asked. One person brought up the idea of the “Holy Trinity”. For those that aren't aware of this, it was a term used more in the Everquest days that referenced the requirement to have a Warrior, Enchanter and Cleric for any group, leaving only three spots for anyone else. It has evolved now into more of a “Tank-Healer-Crowd Control” type thing, but still has the same feeling. The Warhammer team really doesn't seem to subscribe to this theory, however, saying that each of the classes will be needed in the group for different things. They've also fixed it by making it so that every class can do noticeable damage while helping to fulfill their main role, be it Tank, melee DPS, ranged DPS, or support.
Also, for people that are concerned, you'll not be forced into any one style of gameplay. You can level up through most any method you choose, be it questing, PvE grinding, PvP killing or any combination of those. However, you'll also not be forced into just one style of play when helping your side to take control of a zone – killing monsters, doing quests, PvPing...pretty much anything you can think of to do in a zone will help to capture it. The team's main goal is to make the game fun for any type of player, but to also encourage the players to go out and do whatever they may be in the mood for on any given day.
In the end, I was happy that I had this chance to attend GamesDay. I wanted to thank Jeff and Paul for their time in the interview and to the rest of the team for showing me that it is possible to have just as much fun while making the game as those that want to play it will have when they get their chance to jump in the world.