Exclusive Warhammer Online "Call to Arms" Interview - The Slayer and the Choppa
Over the last few weeks, gamers have been plowing through Warhammer Online’s
live events, eager to unlock the Choppa and the Slayer. With a whole
slew of events still planned in the “Call to Arms”
live expansion, Ten Ton Hammer sent our resident WAR fantatic, Garrett
Fuller, to talk with Executive Producer Jeff Hickman. These two mythic
(harhar!) personalities discuss the introduction of the Choppa
and Slayer and what players can expect next out of the Mythic
Ten Ton Hammer: What type of trends are you seeing from players who take part in the live events? Are people finishing them too soon?
Players have been scambling to unlock the Slayer and the Choppa.
Our indicators show that that almost everybody, about 90%, of our players are on track to complete the Bitter Rivals event to gain early access to the careers. So we are seeing players who have already completed it in quite a large number. If you go in game and you listen to people talking about it in general it’s not like this rabid “I gotta do it!” Everyday is like, “Hey did you finish the event for the day?” You see players discussing it and it is a nice flow.
Ten Ton Hammer: With these new classes, what is going to happen with this class mix? Players are asking, why should I play a Marauder now, because the Choppa is so good at its job. What is going to happen with these classes?
Jeff Hickman: I guarantee the same thing happens with these classes as does with every other class. We’re going to introduce it, we’re going to get a big rush and then we’ll get a big slow down, and then the core players who really love the Choppa and Slayer will stick with it and the other players will go back to what they were playing.
In answer to the question of what does this mean to the Marauder, or you can apply that to what does this mean to my Witch Hunter? What does it mean to any melee DPS class? Each one of these classes fills really the same role. If you think about it they are all melee DPS classes.
The thing is it’s about personal taste, personal play style. For example, I play a Witch Hunter. I am not going to go play a Slayer, even though the Slayer accomplishes the same goals, like killing individual targets or fighting in close. It is just not the career for me.
Witch Hunter is the career for me. Just like I would not play a White Lion, they play differently and they feel different and reality is that they are all balanced very carefully. While the Choppa or the Slayer may be better in a certain situation, the other melee DPS classes are better in other situations. It just depends upon what you want and what your play style is.
Ten Ton Hammer: I agree, people are definitely stuck to their core choices.
Jeff Hickman: Absolutely.
Ten Ton Hammer: One of the big questions with the melee classes is the knock backs. A friend of mine said that with the melee classes you feel like you’re constantly running back into a fight after getting thrown around. Will the new classes have the tools to keep them in the fight instead of constantly being bounced out of melee and forced to run back in?
Jeff Hickman: Absolutely, I think it is a careful balancing act. If you look at the other melee DPS classes or any careers in the game each one of them have certain tools that can help them in a crowd control situations. When you look at the game, we are constantly tweaking and looking at crowd control.
The word I am looking for is “Immunity Timers.” You know, immunity from crowd control, making sure that if it happens to you once, it isn’t going to happen to you again in the fight that you’re in. We did a lot of tweaking of that in 1.2 and already since I have been playing the last couple of days, I see a massive difference in the amount of knock backs, stuns, which on a certain level is necessary to the game, but certainly not fun to have happen to you all the time. So 1.2 did a lot to address that, but yes the Slayer and Choppa definitely have tools to deal with that kind of stuff. Keep them in the fight!
Ten Ton Hammer: Tell us a little about the patch overall. What else besides the classes is coming with this patch?
This Choppa definitely wants a piece of you.
We want to give the players choices and different ways to achieve the goals they are trying to achieve. The Zone Domination system, well, I was in a great fight last night where we capped a zone, got to the fortress, all through Zone Domination, and we actually ended up beating the fortress lord and capturing the campaign. That piece is so important in giving the players choice in the important things that they do. If you look at the patch notes that we just put out, there are probably thirty to forty pages of bug fixes and class balance fixes and it really shows our dedication to continuing to improve the game. Beyond that, leading up to the next patch, the Tomb Kings patch, we have another really cool event called Beyond the Sands and then that leads into the Tomb Kings Land of the Dead dungeon. Man, I got a walk through of it yesterday, it is unbelievable! I cannot wait to play it. The players are going to dig it!
Ten Ton Hammer: With RvR being such a great part of Warhammer Online, have you seen a drop off in players willing to take part in PvE?
Jeff Hickman: I can answer that easily. We pull metrics every single day, they come across my desk every morning at 9 am. They show where players are PvEing, where players are PvPing, what are they doing, what is the mix, what are the rewards and all that stuff. We definitely see a trend, but not in the way you asked the question. It’s not PvP players who are looking at the PvE game and going I don’t have to do that anymore and go and PvP instead, it is actually a more continuous choice.
There are three types of players, there are some players who simply will not PvP, they just won’t, so we give them an opportunity through our high level dungeons to play in our game, in an end game situation without having to PvP.
Then there is the player on the completely opposite side who won’t PvE, they will only PvP and we give that person a more in depth experience, actually because that is what our game is about. It really is about PvP. They have a lot of opportunities to do a lot of great things in PvP.
Then there is probably the majority of our players that lie in between those too. Tonight I am going to go RvR, tomorrow night I am going to go PvE. That is actually me. I am a massive RvR player, but one or two nights a week I go do a city dungeon or run Lost Vale. So when we talk about RvR people often misunderstand the reason we call RvR what it is and set it aside from PvP. It’s not just realm vs. realm two sides, three sides, it is the integration of PvP and PvE into an all encompassing game. The Tomb Kings dungeon is actually the culmination of that. This is a dungeon that is part PvE, part RvR and has everything. Whoever you are you can go and enjoy this dungeon. I don’t think we see a falling off, I think we see a wide spread and a lot of differences each night. It all comes down to who you are and what you like to play.
Ten Ton Hammer: Are we going to start to see the other cities make their way into the game? Will we see the Elf or Greenskin and Dwarf cities at some point?
Now it's time to go kill some Tomb Kings.
Ten Ton Hammer: Do you find you have more players on your RvR servers as opposed to say your roleplay servers? How do they stack up?
Jeff Hickman: I think we have a good mix. I think we have more Core servers than anything else. We have RvR servers, but aren’t all of our servers an RvR server? You can get such a great PvP experience on every single server that having a server a full blown RvR server may not be as impactful as in other games. I think our RvR servers are very popular, we just don’t need as many as some other games because we have RvR everywhere.
Ten Ton Hammer: How will MMOs start to shape up in the future? Will all games eventually be online and multiplayer?
Jeff Hickman: I think it will be very similar that it has been from a budget stand point. If you look at the last ten years, there are going to be some very big MMOs out there. There will be some big companies that have the funds, team, and resources to make huge MMOs. But there will always be small games out there as well. Games like Puzzle Pirates, these smaller niche MMOs that are really successful.
I think the next 3 years are going to be very tough from an economic stand point. If you look at MMOs, they are by far the most difficult game to build. Simply because they are the hardest to get to work, from a technical stand point. You are putting thousands of people in a world together and make it all work and feel right. It is phenomenal. Most MMO companies fail before they get to that point. Add the difficulty of making an MMO to the economics right now and I think we will see much fewer MMOs over the next 3 years than we have. I also guarantee in the next few years you’ll see some big games come out, we know of big companies working on MMOs. Bethesda is working on something, Trion, 38 Studios, Red 5, not even mentioning Mythic. You will see small to large companies working on games right now. Many of which will have success.
Ten Ton Hammer: WAR is now seeing the trend of players go back up. You are doing a lot for players in the game as well as players coming back to the game, where do you see the game growing from now?
Jeff Hickman: My hope is to continue to expand the things that make our game great. We have always been outspoken and up front about the core pieces of our game that we point at which we point at and say that is us. Its RvR, Public Quests, the Tome of Knowledge we definitely have a list. There are certain things that do really well, there are some we need to improve on. No matter what we are going to stick to that core. We have some stuff in the works for the end of 2009 already that are going to knock your socks off, for high level game play. It is focused around RvR, it is focused around what makes us great.
We have plans for public quests, how do we take them to the next level? We are already seeing other MMOs implement them, as we predicted years ago. How do we stay ahead of that curve? We want to do even more with them. The Tome is awesome, and we keep expanding on it. We keep expanding on all of these pieces of our game, and I think what we will see is people finally start to dig into the systems that up until this point have not had a huge impact on the game. The one I will point to is the living guild system, the leveling of your guild. There is a lot planned for guilds. All sorts of different rewards and things for guilds which we saw a little in patch 1.2, with mounts for guilds and new crafting stuff. So what will we look like in a year from now? Bigger, better, and continually focused on the things that make us great.