Latest in Gaming

Image credit:

Games Day '09: All about Warhammer Online's live events with Mark Davis pt. 2


How long does it take to put together your average live event?

We usually take about three to six weeks for brainstorming and conception. Then there's the approval process, where I send the ideas to my boss, who sends them to "The Hickman," who sends them upstairs, who sends that to Games Workshop to make sure we're staying true to their concepts. Plus we have to coordinate with all of the other departments, like RvR, the items team, and Combat and Careers.

Then the production side takes another three weeks to maybe seven weeks on top of that. We'll be planning and producing the event usually the version before the live event is scheduled to take place, otherwise it would never be done in time. Then after that we'll have the playtesting and the QA sessions to make sure the bugs are worked out, and that takes another week to two weeks.

So, in short, you're looking at three months of work from inception to the final event.

And these aren't available on the test server, right?

Well... they're not suppose to be available on the test server. They're suppose to be hidden.. *smiles* But we have little breaks where the live events show up on the test server for a couple seconds.

"Just the sheer joy these events provide players should be reason enough for another developer [to make them.]"

It amazes me because in that short period of time when the live event is available, somebody will screenshot all of the objectives for all of the quests and then have that up on the internet before we can get the live event down. We try our best, but it always seems to slip out for a matter of seconds.

We want to be secretive and we want players to have a sense of discovery with our live events, plus they really can't be tested publically in such a short window. Live events focus on the whole world, and getting testing and feedback done is not all that useful to us.

What's your favorite part about the most recent live event?

From a developer's perspective, it was the opening cinematic to the RvR public quests. We did a custom cinematic with an airship flying in and exploding which results in the start of the RvR PQs. That was surely my favorite part, it was glorious!

From a player's perspective, it was the RvR that occured because of the live event. We created a center point for RvR in the event in Thunder Mountain. There were a number of different tasks that centered on this one area and that area was a hot spot for RvR the whole week. From the warcamp landing to the hot spot, the travel time was only about 3 minutes, but people in my warband would be killing others the entire way there. Thunder Mountain was locked most of the time when I was fighting in this event, but the RvR was just hot all the time. Whenever I was looking for a fight, I just went to Thunder Mountain because I knew it would be there.

We had warbands coming in and attempting to camp the area, but they could only hold it for a small amount of time before another warband came in to unseat them. It was a lot of fun.

Many other developers don't bother with live events. Plus when they give out exclusive items, they always seem to show up later and become unexclusive. So what would you say to another developer who was thinking of doing these exclusive live events?

Just look at the metrics. For our game we get more gameplay, more people in the game, and a lot of positive feedback. These events are only a limited time, so players come in and play and the realize all of the possiblities our game has to offer in that limited time. Just the sheer joy these events provide players should be reason enough for another developer.

"Live events gets to take all of that great stuff and put it all together into this nice package of fun."

We even see all of this in the cold metrics. Look server population the day of the event and the day after the event, and the event population will be higher.

Every game has its niche. For Warhammer, it's the RvR, the public quests, the living guilds, the city sieges. You hear us harp on this stuff over and over, because it's what we do. Live events gets to take all of that great stuff and put it all together into this nice package of fun. We bring to the front what we do the best through our live events.

We've got events planned for the rest of the year. We just put up the Northern Watch weekend event, and it was immensely successful. There was only a title offered as the reward, and it was easily one of the most successful events we've done.

Any sneak peeks you can give us as to what's coming?

Ah... well I can't really say anything because we need to go through all of that long approval process first, but the live event in the summer is going to be doing something that I don't think any MMO has done before. Ever. It's that level of magnitude for that event. We're going to challenge what people have come to expect out of our live events, I will say that much.

Ha ha, sweet! Ok then, let's end it out. Order or Destruction?

Order all the way. Engineer, baby! I feel like the combat and careers guys made that class for me. You blow stuff up, you shoot people, you have explosions! What could be better?
The sands of the Tomb Kings are coming as the final release in the Call to Arms live expansion, the Land of the Dead approaches! Massively has your back with coverage from Mythic Entertainment at Games Day '09, so get your WAAGGGHHH ready for RvR mayhem as Massively re-arms for WAR!

From around the web

ear iconeye icontext filevr