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Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning: Roland Cox Interview

by Steven Williamson on 28 March 2008, 16:35

Tags: Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, GOA, PC, MMOG

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Big fat loot and performance issues

HEXUS: So if you can come in at the end of a fight, the Public Quests aren’t instanced?
Roland The public quests aren’t instanced, so if there are 40 people doing it or even 80 then obviously the loot will be a lot less great, because the effort will be a lot less. Every 15 minutes or so it will cycle through and there will be times when they’ll be literally 50 people playing, but a lot more common will be groups of 4-10 people. This is when the loot system works really well. Not only that, but around the public quests are quest hubs, where you’ll be able to get tons of XP. You get XP for killing during the PQs, and XP for finishing them.

HEXUS: In my initial play-test, I noticed that XP can be gained extremely quickly. It seems that for every single thing that I do, no matter how small, I gain XP, sometimes huge amounts for relatively minor things, such as some of the easier Tome of Knowledge unlocks. What’s the reasoning behind such rapid XP gain?
Roland There are several answers to that. We’re really proud of the starter area , we think they’re really intuitive, they’re fun, they sell the IP of Warhammer and there’s lots of hooks. Part of the hook is being able to get a sense of achievement within the first hour, that first magical play session. We want people to level up, get some extra skills quickly and your first three of four skills explore the archetype of that character.

After that the curve gets steeper. So the time to get from level 1-2 is very quick, but the time it takes you to get from level 9-10 is not.

HEXUS: So I’m not going to be able to reach level 40 (the top level) overnight, so to speak?
Roland We’re hoping it will take between 200-250 hours. Jeff, the executive producer’s current thinking is that to do all the really cool stuff in RvR (Realm vs Realm) you need to be level 40, so we are seriously looking at reducing that time so that people can enjoy the never-ending end-game.

The value of WAR is not in the levelling up, it’s in RvR - realm pride. It’s like you’re a football supporter with 10,000 other people supporting your team, all striving for the same goal. That’s one of the hooks. As Jeff said, we’ve got 40 levels, 80 levels of influence, guild influence, we’ve got different armour sets, we’ve got a trophy system, so in terms of recognition there’s a lot out there, but the biggest hook of all is the end-game. We’re looking at the timings at the moment and seeing if we need to change how quickly it takes you to reach the top level.

Click for larger image

Click for larger image

HEXUS: You mentioned RvR play. My experience of it so far, from the ‘Capture the flag’ type scenarios that we played earlier, is that the action is extremely frenetic, even with a relatively small number of us on the server. In the presentation Jeff spoke about huge castle sieges where 100 vs 100 players could be fighting furiously to take control. I worry about performance issues. Should I be worried?
Roland We’ve been optimising this game for a long time and we have regular breakthroughs. The city performance now is better than it was a month ago. We were having so many problems in terms of getting the frame rate up, then we had a massive breakthrough and the frame-rate jumped up to 40 frames a second instead of 5. The optimisation team are working on it all the time, it’s really important to us. We haven’t decided yet what the right size will be for these battles, whether it will be 50, 75 or 120 a side. We need to keep it fun and that means that the game has to be playable; and it will be.

HEXUS: Aside from performance issues, what have been the major troubles that the community has flagged up during beta? What really needs to be worked on before release?
Roland We have a good relationship with our community. They might tell us that some PQs are too hard, or not hard enough, or it’s over too quick or the spawn areas aren’t right, or they don’t like the global cool-down period that’s on the skills. So there’s all kinds of stuff. Focus testing is a big part of it and we might ask people to go into the likes of tier 1 and tier 2 as a dark elf and just play it for 10 days and give us all the feedback. We’ll ask them to look at everything, the user interface, the combat, the quests, everything. It’s not just lip-service; we’re really using these guys to make the game better and that's why you've seen a delay. We want to get it right.

HEXUS: Have you released details yet on the payment model that you’ll be implementing?
Roland The monthly fee will be around 14 Euros, but they’ll be quarterly and yearly payment plans also, pre-paid cards and territory specific plans. We’re planning on introducing some new things that we can’t talk about now, but we’ll have news on those soon. We can confidently say that we won’t be more expensive than any other MMO out there.

HEXUS: There was a rumour that you might be porting WAR to consoles in the future. So, will it be coming to Xbox 360 and PS3?
Roland Originally we were looking at doing it on the Xbox 360, but we’ve put that aside, we’ve got to concentrate on getting the game out and making it as good as possible. We haven’t got any plans at the moment to put it onto a console, but common sense dictates that the easiest one to do it on would be Xbox 360.

HEXUS Forums :: 4 Comments

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I'm hoping this game will be great, got high hopes :)
I have never been a fan of games with monthly fee's and have never tried MMO's but this game looks fab. I will certainly try and give it a go. It's just a lot of money to outlay if i don't like it..
It sounds like an interesting game, I've grown up with the Warhammer and Warhammer 40K universes firmly planted in my mind. That said, I'm not a fan of PvP combat for the most part, and until I'd discovered WoW's battlegrounds hadn't wanted to touch it with a bargepole (Eve Online really put me off)
I will certainly try and give it a go. It's just a lot of money to outlay if i don't like it..
Well that's the joy of subscriptions - you don't have to shell out tons at once. Just play for a month or two and if you don't like it then stop paying.