E3 2010: Interview with Warhammer 40K's Mark Downie

Let's face it: At E3, every studio, game and gadget struggles to be the talk of the show, but there's just so much going on that most exhibits and demos get lost in the noise. Therefore, when buzz erupts to eclipse the noise, it behooves the gamer to sit up and take notice. Warhammer 40k: Dark Millennium Online is buzzing strong right now, like thousands of armored, heretic-hunting space bees, especially after revealing the trailer earlier this week. With the previously secretive MMO out in the open, fans are hungry for any and all details about this entry in the beloved 40k franchise.

Fortunately, Massively made fast friends with Vigil's Mark Downie, who was more than happy to spill the space beans about the look of the game, faithfulness to the IP and Warhammer 40k's release window. Buckle up, engage thrusters and hit the jump for the full conversation.
Massively: Do you have a playable demo?

Mark Downie: Not yet, just the teaser video for now. We'll be at GenCon in August, and we'll be launching a community site. I don't have any info on when we can deliver a playable demo. But right now we wanted to let the community know that the game is alive, it's doing well, and we're excited to be working on it.

All that we've seen in the trailer is actual gameplay footage?

Mark: Absolutely.

Is there anything else you can say about the game in terms of features?

Mark:
The MMO is using the same engine we used for Darksiders, so people can expect the same quality of visuals. We're working very closely with Games Workshop on this project, so we're not going to be doing a lot of freelancing and going off on our own. Everything we do is with their cooperation and approval. Pretty much anything that gets added into the 40k universe in our MMO will get added to the canon, part of the war, and will receive the blessing of Games Workshop.

Will there be books or anything revolving around the MMO?

Mark: It's too soon to tell. We'll see where things go -- we can't put the cart before the horse.

It's definitely important to show gameplay and get people excited.

Mark: That was our main goal, and I hope that works.

So what about a time frame for release?

Mark: I should qualify this by saying our primary goal is getting the game right. THQ fully supports us in this regard, and isn't breathing down our necks saying, "You must ship by a certain date!" They are nurturing this project and we are true to this project so that when we deliver it, it will be everything we want it to be and the community wants it to be.

With that in mind, we're shooting for right now to have the game shipped by the end of Quarter 1 of 2013.

I imagine you're making everything as precise as possible to the actual roleplaying game.

Mark: We're absolutely doing our best. Our character and vehicle modelers, everything they work on they get the miniature to use as their model. In fact, it's a great IP to be working on since Games Workshop has done so much ground work aleady. I mean, I'm a World Designer, so what I do is focus on filling in some of the blanks that haven't been a focus of 40k up to this point. We've got so much detail and specifications to go off of. I think fans of the IP will find that the models generally look very authentic.

I know it's two different worlds and two different companies involved, but is there any connection at all with Warhammer Online?

Mark: None whatsoever. Warhammer Online is EA Mythic, it's two different IPs. A lot of our guys are long-time 40k fans, tabletop players, fans galore, so they've got a very heavy investment in Warhammer 40k.

Now the footage we're seeing here, it's pre-alpha?


Mark:
We're not really naming a stage.

So this could change?

Mark: This is all as close as it can feel, game development always brings change, but it's very representative of our intentions. We've been in production on this game for several years already, and a lot of that time was spent experimenting with the look and feel and artistic styles. Again, the models, we know the what style that is, we just have to do adjustments. The environments took a little more work to figure out what's going to match the look of these models and make for a cohesive game world. We've been down that road, and I think we've settled on the look. So I'd expect the game to look very much like this when it ships.

Thank you!

This article was originally published on Massively.