I <3 Bandy Belfords

I shit you not, "Bandy" is a sport. Similar to ice hockey.

This will be the final set of questions from my Q&A with the Careers and Items people, Nate, Steve, and Sean (i.e. “Item Guy” or “The young one”), that I might have left over from my live blogging that took place on-site. As well as an interview with Andy Belford, the last of our interviews while there.

I’ll start with this absolute GEM of a quote from Nate Levy. We were talking about add-ons in general, and how it relates to class/game balance. I’m a huge fan of add-ons as anyone here should know, and have a perverse pleasure when participating in the numerous threads that pop up every week to “Ban nerfed buttons and auto-focus, zomg!”

“If there is something an add-on does that is grievously bad for the game, then we can just stop the add-on from being able to do it. Not rebalance the game for it.” 

SW: Justblaze: Are shadow warriors getting a mirror for SwtW?

MT: No immediate plans for that. We’ve been tossing around a lot of things in general for specifically the ranged shooters. We don’t have anything to share right now.

SW: Nynth: Engi/Magus/SW seem to be in the most need of a clear role? (What is your guys intended perception of their role in Warhammer and how well do you see them fitting into that spot)

MT: As far as performance, in a lot of ways and to be totally honest, they’re not far off, a little under but not far off. They feel much farther off because the BW or Sorc are way higher above. It’s something we need to take from both angles, bring some down and some up and meet in the happy medium.

SW: Are there any plans to change, modify or adapt them (the SM and BO mechanics) in any way in the future?

MT: They are a little more limiting than we had originally wanted, but I don’t have an answer for you right now.

SW: When I’m looking at the 3 different trees of the SW class, they don’t have a niche for them. Instead of having a role, it seems they were designed with the delivery of a role, all DPS. Whereas, the other careers, like the BW has a DoT tree, and AoE tree, etc… where the SW is short medium and long range. Because of that, it seems like the class has been unable to perform because they don’t have that niche to fall into.

MT: Well, part of the reason we did that is we wanted to have multiple RDPS careers that did played differently. The BW is choosing a focus, whether it’s spike damage or DoT, or AoE. With the SW, we wanted you to pick more a playstyle instead of actual ability, so it’s kind of. You start off at range because you’re RDPS, the enemy runs at you. What do you do? Do you stand your ground and shoot them? Do you start moving back or just whip out your swords and say, “Come on, bring it”. So that’s why we did it the way we did. Because we wanted it to feel different.

SW: WarAyleen: Marauders are now able to use real dual wield. How will mutation procs deal with this? Will they remove, proc, or replace?

MT: Procs stay the same. As will graphic art.

SW: Seed issue?

MT: They are still rare, but they do drop.

SW: Are RR requirements for crests going to be added to prevent people who aren’t even close to using from getting them.

MT: We’ve held off on putting those requirements for a couple of reasons. One, he will be able to use it eventually. Two, breaking it down is a perfectly valid form of getting something out of it. And three, he still participated in the kill, so he gets as much reward as anyone else that did. To say it should be limited to people who can only use it right now, really you could apply that to any other part of the game. Think about us doing that, and it would be pretty miserable on the whole. You could see world drops in PvE a level above you, and you couldn’t roll on it, that wouldn’t be fun.

SW: So if you do it one area, you’d have to apply it across the board.

MT: A lot of that is from the perspective of them seeing, I can use that right now, why didn’t I get it. It’s because you weren’t the only one who participated.

It should be said that Nate and James are probably the most two laid back guys in the company. Every question you ask them is met with a very relaxed, “Okay”. Even when faced with questions that were tough and complete left fielders, they didn’t stir more than a golden retriever on Prozac. At a point or two, I wanted to check them for a pulse, just to make sure they weren’t incredibly well crafted replicas.

So, we ended our interviews and day, to talk with Andy Belford. Our time was VERY limited at this point, the day was almost over, the diligent workers at Mythic still had a ridiculous amount of things to do, and our recording device was starting to die. So, Here’s the little bit I was able walk away with from the skull of Mr. Belford.

SW: The last couple PTS events I’ve been to, it seems there’s been a steady increase in the number of players coming out to participate. What do you think is the main reason for them coming out? What is the main reason for the increase?

AB: I think the biggest draw for the players is the chance to interact with the dev team, whether just me, or Carrie showing up and playing, or Nate Levy, or any of the people coming out. We don’t have any illusions that there isn’t a sense of coolness. Me having been a player and gamer like everyone else, being able to interact has always been a cool thing. These are the people who make and shape the worlds that are so important to me and I’m so invested in.

SW: You think the word is just getting out, and the opportunity is there, or do you think there’s some other factor?

AB: I think players are recognizing the fact that we make ourselves very available to the community. We pride ourselves on the fact that we have regular interaction with the community, and we really, for the most part, don’t’ pull any punches. We’re not giving people BS answers. We’re not trying to, of course some things are no comment, or we have to give the PC answer “We’re always looking into things like that”, but for the most part, when we can give an answer, we don’t dress it up, we say, “This is the answer”, and are very forthcoming. Not only that, players are recognize that developers are human. We enjoy talking to people, we’re being casual, and don’t have a stick up our butt. I feel like players appreciate that and I’m very proud to be part of a team that is like that.

SW: (speaking towards the oracle program) I just had a conversation with someone on the forums about this very thing. I had to explain to them what the system is, and who we actually are. I had to explain that we’re only there to represent our selves, so I think there is a general misunderstanding, for whatever reason, among the populace of what it is that we’re there for.

AB: It happens.

SW: They see a green name and go, “Ooohh special and different”.

AB: Anytime there is something that kind of denotes, or sets somebody apart from the rest of the crowd so to speak, it can foster feelings of resentment, or why are those people more special than me. People think that the core testers have a direct impact when it comes to making design decisions and things like that, where it’s not the case at all. Like I said earlier, these are players, like anyone else, only they have shown an exceptional ability to communicate and be a member of the community.

SW: Lately, I’ve noticed there’s been a huge resurgence, or a new-surgence you might say, of other WAR bloggers. The meta-game community. It’s been interesting to me as I’ve seen so many pop up, just within the last two months, that it’s been astounding. Why do you think that has come about?

AB: There’s a few reasons. A larger more over-arcing reason is that the new generation of MMO gamers are very socially driven. They feel the desire to share experiences with everyone else, and to help enrich the community by doing so. It’s amazing; it’s part of the social networking revolution. Facebook, Twitter, blogging, even down to lesser known things like raptor and other mediums such as that. Before launch, Warhammer had dozens of dedicated blogger, that have sense, maybe not blogging only about Warhammer, but moved on to a general gaming blog. Which, I view that as a contribution of the blogging community, we inspired people to write about our game, and while they may not have stuck with the game, they have stuck with the community. They have enriched their community.

As for the recent resurgence, I think it’s great. We’re at a point in the community’s development, that we can really pay the extra special attention to the bloggers. Really encourage and foster that environment for people to share their experiences in game, to talk about the game. Whether positive or negative, or being critical or whatever, that’s fine, they’re talking about it. They’re sharing their experience with the rest of the community. I’m very proud to be part of the team that leads the charge on that, and to have a producer like Carrie. She whole-heartedly embraces the community and encourages us to do everything we can, like this visit, to get the information out there. In years past this would have been solely for things like the media, gaming websites, new sites, and things like that. It’s that extra special attention we can pay to our community that gives me a lot of satisfaction in what I do.

SW: What would you say is your primary method of getting in contact with the player base and the community?

AB: I don’t have a primary. I have multiple that I use extensively. The forums are the first that comes to everyone’s mind. Yes I’m out there on the forums; I’m posting on the forums, conveying information from the development team to the forums. I also hang out in IRC channels quite a big. Regularly in the Iron Rock and the Badlands channels, I use
Twitter. Facebook I kinda try and keep personal. But Twitter I’m often using to talk about what I’m working on. Sometimes too much criticism because they feel like my time could be better spent in other places. I’m one of those people that loves social media tools. I love interacting with people; I am a people person, that’s why I’m working in this job. I love talking to the community, I love being out there with them.

SW: What do you think is your most successful tool?

AB: Like I said, the most looked at is the forums. But, I feel like things that are old school like IRC are just great, because it humanizes you to a point. You can be in there talking to your players. Not just about the game, but talking about everything with the players there. They start to view you less as on a pedestal, and more as this guy who has a job, and has the same passions that I have about this game.

SW: You can have fun with this question. Are there any people that you wish you could just permanently ban, from the forums?

AB: Oh boy, um. Everybody…

Gaarawar: Everybody, you heard it folks.

Laughter

SW: Everyone!

AB: My job would be so much easier if it wasn’t for the people!

No, no, that’s definitely not the approach I take. Honestly, I don’t view trolls in the manner of, I want to get rid of them. I think everyone deserves a voice, within reason. Some of the more vociferous and inflammatory trolls out there are just that way because they really do care that much about the game and the community. The challenge of my job is to see that, and separate the wheat from the chaff and find out what is the valid concern and the underlying intent behind it. Obviously if someone steps over the line, we have to foster an environment where the rest of the community feels like they’re safe and that they can not be exposed to really ridiculous behavior. So, we tolerate a lot on our forums. People get a lot of chances before we close the door on them, and I don’t think that will change anytime soon, because we want everyone to have a voice in their game.

I think that as a whole, my conversation with Andy really gave me some insight into how it seems we have one of the best gaming communities available. Obviously, wherever I go is the best, but on top of that, it’s very clear that Andy and Mythic through him have some very strong and right-minded ideas about how to best coordinate its players.

I’ll end this whole thing with a classic statement.

Steve Engle: Man, I feel like a god-damn Mogwai. “Bright light, bright light!”

Bloggers: Throw some water on him! Feed him after midnight!

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About Shadow
Making serious business out of internet spaceships.

2 Responses to I <3 Bandy Belfords

  1. Kesarin says:

    Re: Standing your ground and shooting them – sucks, since almost all of our skills require that 5 foot window which disappears lightning-fast because of lag. Not everyone (read: me) is good at kiting and keeping MDPS at bay. 😦

    Also, regarding crests: in scenarios, you don’t have to be anywhere close to the kill, or have done a single point of damage, to get a chance to roll. And yeah, breaking them down is worthwhile, but considering the rate of higher crest drops (i.e., royals), it really kills to see some level 31 win the roll in an sc while a much higher RR person can actually use it *in its present state*.

    Sorry, I’m just bitter today – some of these answers are going to take some time to get used to.

  2. It makes me want to boil a kitten when I see a rank 31 win royal. The worst case scenerio of this was a few months ago there was a really nice crest dropping SC, or what WOULD have been a really nice crest dropping SC.
    3 royals were won by a single rank 30, one royal by a 40 in anni gear. Warlords were spread out among everyone. Except me of course.

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