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Games Day '09: Lands of the Dead design discussion with Gabe Amatangelo and Jeff Skalski pt. 2


Now you guys have a really interesting design going on with Warhammer, regarding the City Siege system. You've basically built in your own cap on the game's system, which is very different from other MMOs in the market. What's it like designing something like Land of the Dead with that restrictive cap in mind?

It's challenging. Sometimes it feels like we're splitting hairs, but we planned to do this type of stuff earlier on, so we left some space to design in. We wanted to make sure this was a free expansion that all players had access to that runs parallel to the tier four campaign...

Gabe: It compliments many different areas of our content. It compliments many types of players with many types of gear and gives them new objectives to achieve. But the top end, yeah, it's definitely a challenge, and that's the one campaign. We have three campaigns. The Warhammer world just has so much stuff in it. There are so many other armies and other things to be inspired by to make new content.

With all of that other stuff in mind, where would you like to take Warhammer if the decision was solely up to you?

Gabe: There's alot. You know, when we explored the RvR gated "Darkness Falls" dungeon, we explored a bunch of different things. We explored Mordheim, we explored Skavenblight, and then we fell across the Tomb Kings. This was perfect for us, as it allowed us to explore a bunch of different gameplay dynamics.

But still, I think Skavenblight is a very cool element. Then you have the whole Vampire Counts dark world...

We still got Sylvania and getting out there to do. Personally, from a visual standpoint, I'd like to see Lustria. I think it's an environment we just don't have in the game at the moment, which was one of the reasons I was really excited about Tomb Kings. I like having a completely new environment and it's a setting we don't have at all in our game.

Gabe: And it also really depends on what we want to get out in regards to content. Is it a dungeon, is it a new open zone? That affects where we go with it. If it's a dungeon, oh well then we should go to Skavenblight as it's a underground thing over there. If it's a whole new mini-zone, then maybe we go to Lustria. Of course I'm talking in broad general terms, but that's the stuff that directs where we take it.

Is there anything that got left out of this expansion that you wish would have made it in?

Jeff: We accomplished alot, but there is that one thing we had to cut back on, as we needed to get moving with production, and that was being able to bring the Tomb Kings in as an ally in the RvR siege. In the early days of the design, we were thinking about giving the assistance of the Tomb King and his army out during city sieges.

Gabe: There were several ways we strayed away from that and one was certainly production issues, but another was that we wanted the campaign system to be the campaign system. Land of the Dead is gated by the campaign, but it doesn't hinder or affect the system in any way and we wanted to leave it like that.

The one for me was that we wanted people to be able to access Land of the Dead from level one. But, well, we just couldn't do that. We pushed it back to level 25.

Jeff: But the majority of our players meet that requirement anyway. The other other thing that we wanted was for instances to be able to let more players in. So there's six man runs right now, but there was this "other one" where we wanted to get that number higher, but we didn't get that in.

Gabe: *evil laughter* Not yet.

Now one of thing some of our commenters are going to point out as a problem is the power leveling. You can be level 25, then get bolstered to level 36 in Land of the Dead, and you gain level 36 experience at level 25. Why did you guys decide that?

Gabe: Well Darkness Falls was very successful as an alternate spot for power leveling. So we went and followed that form and put it into Land of the Dead.

The other thing to note though is that you can lose control of the Land of the Dead, and that will cause power leveling to spike. It's another carrot on the stick for players to gain control of the area. So I don't think it's going to be a problem, I think players are going to enjoy it.

Jeff: It gives you another track, an accelerated track, and it happens right at 25 for a reason as it's in that lull between tier three and tier four. It's going to be that extra push that will get people into tier four. We've done many things to help ease that lull, like new epic questlines and boosted quest experience, to get people into tier four.

So, ok, let's pretend I'm a newbie to Warhammer. Why should I come and play your game?

Jeff: If you want PvE content, we got the public quest system which is a trendsetter in the industry and I know we're going to see more of it pop up.

Oh yeah, Runes of Magic already jumped on that.

Jeff: Oh yeah, we know, and it's cool. It's just a good system because it helps get people together. From an PvP standpoint, our game was built for realm vs. realm combat. You can do it from rank one in our game. There are scenarios, there's RvR areas, they're dynamic, there's a lot of variety. We slowly introduce the player to harder and harder mechanics as they advance through the tiers, like keeps, and outer walls of keeps, and city sieges. To me, that's why players should come. If you want PvP then there's no other place to go.

Gabe: With Land of the Dead specifically, it's the pyramids and the necropolis. There's no other setting like that in modern MMOs. It's the action RPG elements and working together to overcome them as a group as well as individually. There's just nothing like it. You like Zelda, you like God of War? Then check this out.
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!

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