Monday, February 14, 2011

Q&A with WAR Developer Keaven Freeman

Recently, I did a Q&A with Warhammer Online Content Developer Keaven Freeman.  You may also know him from the Keaven and Steven in the Morning webcast.  We mainly talked about the 1.4 patch and some of the changes we may be seeing in the future.  Thanks for the time Keaven!  Read on for the Q&A.

Werit: What was your favorite part of the recently released RvR Pack?

Keaven: The two things I was most excited for have to be the vanity pets, and the new weapons. Those are from the Packs specifically… If you want to consider all of 1.4.0, then I’ll quickly add Skaven Classes to that list.

Werit: Skaven have been an interesting addition to RvR.  Now that players have been using them a while, have you seen any surprising tactics?

Keaven: Quite surprised, yes. One can never be quite sure the directions players will take this kind of content once they start running with it. It has been very exciting to see how Skaven have been used in ways we never imagined.

Werit: What about Skaven are you happy with?

Keaven: I’m happy that Skaven are being used, and that players tend to enjoy using them. They bring a new element to the battlefield, and that, in and of itself, has been great.

Werit: What about Skaven would you like to see improved?

Keaven: I’d like to see a little more variety and utility in the Skaven; we actually have a number of ideas we’re tossing around on how to accomplish this. As things are now, though, the Gutter Runner’s Spy ability needs to be pulled back a bit, the area it covers is just too large; the Packmaster is already getting a complete overhaul; the Rat Ogre was intended to be something of a “second ram” when sieging a keep, but that hasn’t been quite as effective as originally planned, so that deserves another look; the Warlock Engineer has become more of an offensive character on the battlefield, rather than the defensive utilitarian we thought we had designed, so another look at his Stored Warp Energy might be in order.

Werit: It is known that the Packmaster will be seeing some changes soon. Can you give us an idea of what we might see?

Keaven: We took him back to the drawing board, and, without totally rebuilding him into something that would need to be relearned, broke down his abilities and rebuilt them with a totally different perspective in mind. The revised Packmaster can now be compared more to a traditional healer, who can heal any ally, while still maintaining a nod to the link they share with Rat Ogres.

Werit: The Gutter Runner's spy ability is a bit controversial.  Some players think it is a bit too good due to its range.  Do you think we'll see any changes to it?

Keaven: Spy has been one of the abilities we’ve been keeping a close eye on since the Skaven were let loose. We currently have a modification to Spy in the works. I don’t have a Live date for it, unfortunately, but it should be soon.

Werit: AFKers seem to be an ever-present problem in the RvR lakes. How do you go about discouraging AFK play and at the same time avoid punishing those who just have to take the dog outside?

Keaven: As you know, we recently made very aggressive changes to the auto-AFK system, which have been met with mixed reactions. To supplement these changes, we are getting ready to roll out some ORvR modifications that do a better job of incentivizing participation.

Werit: Thanquol's Incursion was a new idea for WAR and the reaction to it has been mixed.  Are there any aspects of it you would like to see improved?

Keaven: The biggest problem with the incursion is the difficulty of getting two evenly matched groups in at the same time. This imbalance leads to the unfortunately common practice of players exiting the dungeon prematurely. I believe if we fix how the dungeon gets populated by players, everything else will work itself out.

Werit: It's 2011, do you have any personal goals having to do with WAR for the upcoming year?

Keaven: I sure do. Steven and I have been tossing a few ideas around the design pit, and hope to have a proposal together soon to give to James Casey. We have some big ideas for WAR, and are trying to get them worked into the official schedule. Keep your fingers crossed for us!