by Cameron "Aelryn" Sorden

While nosing around the Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning booth at PAX 2007, Ten Ton Hammer found EA Mythic game designer Carrie Gouskos and convinced her to come spend a bit of time chatting with us about the primary feature she's working on for Warhammer-- the Tome of Knowledge! You might be asking, "What is the Tome of Knowledge?" Well, if you keep reading, Carrie would love to tell you!

TTH: Why don’t you start by telling us a bit about what you do at EA and what you’re working on?

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Cameron chats one on one with game designer Carrie Gouskos.

Carrie: Sure. I’m the designer of the Tome of Knowledge, a very particular aspect of the game which supplements your progress, regardless of how you like to play, and also provides additional challenges for you. One of the major ways it does this is to provide information about the things you encounter. For example, the first time you encounter a Squig you’ll get a bestiary entry in the Tome which explains what a Squig is, tracks that you’ve killed it, gives you a bit of XP for making your first kill of this monster type, and now you know what it is.

As you start to kill more and more Squigs, additional information will appear in the Squig entry in your tome. You get a lot of details, a lot of flavor text, and you’ll open up interesting objectives. Once you’ve killed a certain number of Squigs, your Tome might provide a new Squig-related task or quest for you. For example, “Kill Squeeg the Squig.” Then you have to find Squeeg somewhere in the world and kill him for your Tome’s reward—maybe an item, maybe a title, maybe a skill.

TTH: So it’s mostly a tool to get new objectives, then?

Carrie: What we’re trying to do with the Tome of Knowledge is provide lots of ways for each player to play and lots of bonus things to do. We provide a checklist for the player, saying, “Here’s a list of all these things you can do. Do you want to do them?” We’re trying to put stuff here for everyone and make sure that new objectives get unlocked in the course of normal play, whether normal play for you is PvP, PvE, or just exploring. We’re trying to anticipate all the crazy things players might do and reward them for it. The Tome tracks your achievements and gives you extra incentives to play, the way you want to play.

TTH: How do these objectives (like the monster ones you mentioned) work within the Tome?

Carrie: The way we have it set up currently, the objectives come in tiers. The first unlock is always a picture of the monster, a little bit of information about it, and a bit of XP. Depending on how rare the monster is, there are a certain number of subsequent objectives—I think the standard is 10 for very common monsters. The second unlock, revealed after you complete the first, will give you a simple task and tell you what the reward is for doing it. The third just shows you your objective and leaves you to discover the reward yourself. Don’t think things will be easy just because we give you your objectives though. They won’t always spell things out for you. You’ll have to figure stuff out.

TTH: What kinds of special titles can players expect to receive for completing objectives?

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Players are rewarded for exploring the landscape as well as slaughtering their foes.

Carrie: One of the things we’re trying to do with the tome is maintain that Warhammer playfulness. Someone asked me once if we would have achievements for staying alive a certain number of levels without dying. I said, “Sure, we’re definitely looking into that. But who’s to say that we’re going to reward you for that? Maybe we think you’re a coward for never dying through all those levels. We might have some fun with you and give you a coward title.” We’d also like to do things like give players titles for doing stuff you wouldn’t normally expect—standing in one place for an hour, or dying hundreds of times before level 10. Brainstorming titles for the silly off-the-wall achievements has been one of the most fun things to do on our team.

TTH: How will players keep track of all of these objectives?

Carrie: You get a notification on-screen each time you receive a new objective, and from then on the objectives sit inside the Tome for you to look at. We’re trying to keep the Tome as unobtrusive as possible. As much as I’d like everyone to love it and use it, we understand that some players won’t care about the objectives, so we want to make it available but not too “in-your-face.”

TTH: How is the Tome organized, exactly?

Carrie: The Tome is divided into a couple of different sections, one of which is the bestiary. That’s the one we’ve been talking about the most and the one that has the most going on, just because you interface with monsters so much. Then there’s a section called History and Lore which has a certain number of objectives per zone, with more in higher level zones, and those might be little things you find in the world—climbing to the top of a mountain, or discovering a hidden path. Completing these objectives gives you a little bit of lore along with whatever the reward is, and you can go back and read those sections any time.

TTH: Well, it sounds like you’ve got a great feature in the Tome of Knowledge that’s sure to keep players busy for a while and give them lots of fun stuff to do. Thanks for talking to us today!

Carrie: Thanks for having me!

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016