Monday, December 13, 2010

Warhammer Online Producer's Letter: September [Warhammer Online]

In her latest Producer's Letter to Warhammer Online fans, Producer Carrie Gouskos sounds quite excited for what this year has in store for Warhammer Online. More specifically, for those of you who don't know, Warhammer Online actually turned two years old about two weeks back on September 18, with players receiving an endless firework, the WAR double aegis, and a special two year anniversary cloak. Carrie goes on to explain that, for this year, the team is really planning to focus on improving the RvR in Warhammer Online. Given that Warhammer is virtually defined by its RvR experience, this certainly sounds like a good plan!

If you were one of those players (like myself) who player Warhammer Online during its launch week, Mike B. aka Fony also did his latest BFF Report on Warhammer Online, and while getting stuck on that terrain does seem pretty bad, Mike seems to have had fun diving back into this two-year-old game. So check out that BFF Report and remember that Warhammer Online does have an "endless trial" system for players up to level 10!

Also, you can read Gouskos' letter after the jump.

Greetings all,

September is an extra special month here in the studio. As of September 18th, WAR is officially two years old! All players celebrating two years of a Warhammer subscription will be rewarded for their service with extra special gifts; an endless firework, the WAR Double Aegis (it means we like you!), and a special two year anniversary cloak. Any player who reaches one or two years cumulatively (it does not need to be consecutive months), will receive their celebratory gifts via in-game mail.

From month to month and version to version, we've been concentrating our focus on gameplay that will maximize your in game experience, including most recently, the addition of Against All Odds, and the revitalization of RVR in the Tier 2 and Tier 3 lakes. These have worked to great effect, and so we intend to take them to the next level in the RVR Pack, by continuing our focus on Open RVR, as well as creating a new playspace in the Skaven area, and providing new things to do through new features such as play as Skaven, new armor sets and the raising of the Renown cap to 100.

We have recently released more information about these features at Games Day UK. At Games Day, we were able to dive more in depth about the ORVR changes, the playable Skaven classes, the renown changes, and an extra goodie, the Barber Surgeon, who hacks off your face and gives you a new one… for a price. In this letter, I’d like to reveal some details about these features as well as talk about the general direction Warhammer is headed in. I’ll also be talking about a timeline for the rest of the announcements around the ORVR pack, though I’m not going to be sharing the date and prices, as those haven’t been finalized yet.

While the changes we’re making to ORVR represent a holistic attitude shift in our current gameplay offering within a single zone, the campaign itself won’t be changing. Players will need to unlock the zones in order and choose which zone to fight in. All zones, once contested, will begin with each Realm owning one Keep, and the purpose is to take control of the other. The purpose is for players to fight over the Battlefield Objectives, generating Resource Carriers that will travel from the battlefield objective to their Warcamp. Once the resources reach the Warcamp, or if the other side intercepts the resource, those resources will be added to their Realm total. No longer will the win condition be based on waiting out timers after a quick capture of all the zone objectives, instead it will be based on a push-and-pull of resources, and even if one Realm is outnumbered, the longer they hold out the battle, the more points they earn for their side.

Resources gained will level your Keep, and at each level you will unlock mechanics that will help you in your effort to take down the enemy’s Keep. At Rank one, your Resource Carriers will become armored, and at Rank two they will become mounted. By Keep Rank three, you will be granted offensive siege, which will be limited now but extremely powerful. The new vision of siege is that it can really help turn the tide of battle, and as such we want to allow more freedom in placement, so they will be able to be placed anywhere around the keep. Rank four grants you the ram, more siege, and aerial bombers. The ram will be required to take down the outer door, which must happen before taking down the inner door, and then eventually capturing the Keep flag (goodbye Keep Lords!) The aerial bombers is one example of a strategy we’re opening up to melee classes, who no longer will be forced (or able) to “grind” the keep door. Now they all can take the battle inside the keep before the door is down, to help employ new tactics in the attack and defense. Finally, Rank five will offer more aerial bombers and siege, and will hopefully cinch the battle for one side or the other.

These are pretty significant changes to the game, however we’re confident that they will create many new exciting experiences in Open RVR, including, among other things, spreading out the more populated Realm, giving the less populated side new tactics to employ.

At some point during the campaign, players will also be able to take control of Skaven classes. We are bringing four beloved Skaven archetypes to the game, and players will be able to choose to control a Skaven troop instead of play their normal character (but only if they’ve earned them!) These classes include the defensive constructible building Warlock Engineer, the stealthy sabotaging Gutter Runner, the tank, rat-hurling Rat Ogre, and the supportive rat-harnassing Packmaster.  Skaven are some of the coolest creatures in Warhammer lore, and we think you’ll have a real dilemma on your hands as you decide to fight alongside your trusty character(s) or harnass the sneaky power of the rat rat thing thing.

And that’s just the first glance of what’s going into the RVR Pack. As fall has arrived and the end of the year is looming, we’re going to be releasing a lot more information in the next few weeks, culminating in opening the public test server in October, where you’ll be able to check these features out for yourselves. Please help us by testing these features and providing your feedback, as you did with the cities, to great success.

In recent weeks, we’ve been enforcing new restrictions on trial players. While it is important to us that trial players have a good experience, it is imperative that their enjoyment does not infringe on the experience of our paid subscribers. If the trial access can be abused in any way, we will take a hard look at what they are allowed to do. As such, we have made some changes to trial access to servers, chat, and other in-game features. These will only be done in service of our paying subscribers, and we are sorry that a minority of players abusing the system spoil it for everyone.
Additionally, I want to let you know that we continue to work to maximize performance for all of our players. We do not want to limit player populations in the Open RVR areas by force, so we continue to work on the backend to ensure that as many people as possible can fit in an area and have a good time while there.

Speak to you very soon,


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