At the Electronic Arts developers conference in Singapore, we were given the opportunity to see Warhammer Online in action. Jeff Hickman, Senior Producer, was kind enough to fire up the game, set it to "God Mode", and fly us around the world he's created.
Hickman: Warhammer has been around for 25 years now. It's in paperback books, fantasy role-playing, comics, miniature role-playing, you name it. So, what I want to do today is talk a little bit about from what you would expect from an MMO, what you would expect from a game like ours.
We have all that stuff you would expect - great quests, great adventures you can go on, wonderful locations to be seen in, and to go and see. We have grouping, guilds, all of the stuff that an MMO of this generation is expected to have. It's expected, it's the stuff that everybody has. I want to talk about the stuff that sets us apart, the stuff that makes us unique, and the things that really make us great.
The first thing I want to talk about is what we call "public quests". Public quests are story-driven, area-based, social quests in our game. Simply by entering an area, we pick up a quest - indicated in the top right hand corner of the screen. These are quests that tell part of the story of Warhammer Online. Simply by being in the area you automatically get these quests, and they help you promote social networking within the game. Everybody who is in this area gets this quest automatically, and they participate in it together. So as we are doing some of the quests, everyone else is.
These quests are multi-phased, so as you move through different phases of these quests, as you move through the story, it changes. Each quest takes anywhere from fifteen to thirty minutes each, and when you're done with it, it actually starts over again. So you can participate in these quests as many times as you want.
There are over 300 of these in the games, so as you move through the game, doing all your other types of adventuring, your personal quests, your monster hunting - the other things that you would do - you're encountering these public quests, and getting a chance to build friends and guilds within the game, fairly quickly. Our beta tests that we've been in have shown Public Quests to be an absolutely foundational part of the game. The players absolutely love them.
So we'll move on to another thing. The Tome of Knowledge. The Tome of Knowledge is really something that nobody is doing like we're doing, and in most cases not at all. The Tome of Knowledge started out as a quest log, where we would track our quests in the game. Then we said, "you know what? There's so much more we can do with this."
The Tome of Knowledge has become where everything that you do within the game is tracked. Every monster that you kill, every player that you meet, every player enemy that you fight, every place that you explore, every item you find is tracked within the Tome of Knowledge.
But the Tome is even more than that - the Tome is an unlock and achievement system - similar to the Xbox 360 achievements. So as you're exploring the world, as you're exploring new and interesting things, you're getting these unlocks. Be it XP, titles, new abilities - things to increase your power within the game. Even new items. All of these things can come from the Tome - it's a scrapbook of your life in the game.
So, the next thing I want to talk about is what we call "living cities". We're going to jump over to the Human capital city. Cities are social and economic hubs within our game, it's a place to come and meet other players, it's a place to come and buy and sell items, gold and trade with players, and make guilds, and socialise.
But cities within our game are actually alive, in other words, they grow and age with the game. When you and your realm (the side you have chosen to play) get stronger and are successful in the game, your city actually grows and is successful also. So, you might start the game and your city is a four, but as you succeed within the game it grows, and becomes prosperous, it unlocks areas that you haven't been able to get to before. New dungeons, new adventures, new quests, new monsters to see, new places to go.
The thing you have to be aware of though is, as your city grows and becomes more prosperous, your enemy can see this also. So players on the other side can see how great your city has become, and they'll want it for themselves. And in our game, they can actually go and get it.
Our cities have grand monuments, these are actually adventure areas that you can unlock, you can go in and participate in quests, and a whole lot of different things.