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Games Day '09: All about Warhammer Online's live events with Mark Davis


Mark Davis knows Warhammer Online's live events well. He should, because he's the man behind them! During Games Day '09, we had the chance to catch up with the live events lead and discuss some shop talk with him -- including a look at the newest live event, "Rise of the Tomb Kings," and a little about what goes on behind the scenes.

How long does it take for a live event to be produced? What are some of Mark's favorite moments? What can we expect in the live events to come? And, most importantly, what are we going to find in the Rise of the Tomb Kings? All of these questions, and more, are answered within!

So we have lots of live events in the Call to Arms expansion, beginning with Bitter Rivals...

Yeah, we started off with Bitter Rivals and have had our middle chapter with Beyond the Sands and we're about to wrap up with Rise of the Tomb Kings, the last chapter in the story arc. This event is different, as all of our other events were personally centric and about how the event would benefit you while this event is centered on your realm and how you can help your realm.

The event is very centered around finding out what Destruction is doing down in the Land of the Dead, how they're getting there, what are all of these airships in the sky, things like that. This event is a race between Order and Destruction as they try to assemble as many airships as they can. By the end of the week long event, one side will have more points and have assembled more airships, thus gaining access to the Land of the Dead first.

"Well, this first access from the event is going to give the controlling realm 24 hours of unfettered access to the Land of the Dead. That's huge."

That's the reward for this event. Where other events had items, this event will get your realm the first, and premiere, access to the Land of the Dead. Normally when Land of the Dead is open, both realms will fight over control of the zone for short periods of time. So you'll only have control of the zone for three to four hours, and you're downing a boss when the other realm comes pouring in to purge you and ruining your chances with the boss. Well, this first access from the event is going to give the controlling realm 24 hours of unfettered access to the Land of the Dead. That's huge. You'll have plenty of time to breathe, learn the zone, and not worry about your enemy.

Of course there will be tomb unlocks for this event, like the others. There will be many ways to gain points in the event, like, for example, the Reikland Factory scenario that will be producing airships for Order. The winning side of that scenario will earn points for their corresponding realm. There will be capitol city public quests in the war quarter districts that will also be centered around building airships as well. These public quests will be different, as during their phase II there will be a possibility of a "panic" stage starting, where some randomized event will occur and players will have to help solve the problem quickly. For example, you might suddenly have a squig attack, or some fires will spring up that have to be put out, or maybe a giant starts stomping through the area. You never know what's going to happen.

This will be fun action, available for every tier of gameplay. Everyone can get in on this event and really enjoy it.

So, what's one of the big challenges you face when designing these live events?

The hardest part has to be the rewards for these events. Our goals for our live events is that everyone can participate in these events. We want the same type of fun to happen for a level 5 guy and a level 40 guy. So when I craft rewards, I need to make something that a level 40 has to want and a level 1 has to want. That's challenging. On top of that, I need to make something that looks cool and is attractive, but also has to be something all the classes are going to want.

We probably spend as much time designing the rewards as we do designing the event itself.

What are some of the things you've learned from developing live events?

"You can say, 'I was there for Heavy Metal,' or 'I was there for Beyond the Sands. Were you?' "

First off, live events are popular when we don't do them all the time. It's what makes MMOs great -- you never know what's going to happen next or what will happen when you're not there. These are unique events and they will remain that way.

You can say, "I was there for Heavy Metal," or "I was there for Beyond the Sands. Were you?" Having those unique things for your character is really, really important. It causes great performance for our game. Whenever a live event is going on, our PQs completed goes up, there's increased gameplay, and players play much more often than they would have. Also, it's a great way to introduce features that people may not have tried out otherwise, like RvR for example. If you're a PvE player, maybe you just haven't had the incentive to go out and try RvR. Maybe you never really got into PQs. Live events get people to broaden their horizons and try out new things.

Another thing live events help with is player communication. When you have PQs and quests, players don't really have to talk with one another because it's all on the screen. With live events, people really get together, talk, and share information about what's going on. It's a reason we pop in those Easter eggs in the events -- to get people to share information.

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