Journal du developpeur : des capitales 100% RVR

Ecrit par Zatvopop, le 27-04-2010

Mythic viens de dévoiler sur WAR Herald la toute dernière lettre du développeur. Dans celle-ci, Keaven Freeman nous explique les différentes étapes qui ont conduit l'équipe de développement vers cette nouvelle version des prises de capitales et des diverses difficultés rencontrées.

Bonne lecture !


It was a dark and stormy night. Rivulets of sweat made tracks down my brow as I sat, hunched over my keyboard. A flash of lightning caused a silhouette to appear in my doorway; startled by the unexpected visitor, and the sudden manner with which they manifested, my fingers stumbled on the keyboard as I gasped – heart skipping a beat.

"Good evening, Keaven."

The form stepped closer, allowing the light from my desk to illuminate his features. The elongated shadows of the room cast a macabre unnatural pallor on the man's face. This would not be good news.

Thus was my induction into the house of pain ... er, I mean... RvR-Driven End Game revamp of the Capitol Cities.

In a key team meeting, a rousing speech was intoned, encouraging us that we could, in fact, rebuild the cities; we had the technology; we had the capability to make them better than they were before – better, stronger, faster. And so, with banners raised high, and WAAAGHs all around, we ran once more into the breach.  Make no mistake, however... this has been a grueling, nose-to-the-grindstone, experience. Before we did anything, we made a backup of every element of the existing material to ensure we had a safety net should things go horribly wrong. With the backup in place, we held our breath, closed one eye, and pressed our trembling finger to the scary 'delete' key. Now we had a clean slate; empty streets, and quiet buildings; proverbial pins dropping in the distance. It was a good feeling; A very good feeling.

/steeplefingers, excellent.

Under the leadership of (RvR/Content Development Lead) Mike Wyatt, (Content Developer) Corrie Treadway and I rolled up our sleeves, and lead the charge in laying the groundwork for the new city experience. Numerous discussions on player experiences, desires, expectations, and tactics were had; all with the intent to evoke the thrill of the original cinematic.

The biggest issue we ran into was creating a layout that didn't engender Realm Avoidance. Following the path of least resistance ultimately leaves opposing Warbands circling the area from opposite sides of the battle field. While such behavior may lead to an eventual victory for one side or the other, exciting game play, it is not. To help temper this trend, we implemented capture points that unlock in a cascading pattern – meaning, one or more capture points opening up upon the successful capture of another. Additionally, while both sides have the same objective at the macro level (the successful securing of the city), at the micro level each side takes turns in being the aggressor. This allows for a more focused push-pull, skirmish feel, rather than a free-for-all, circling buzzards feel.

There's a reason we've been calling this an RvR *driven* revamp of the cities. There was a calculated decision to keep some PvE elements in the design. Let me explain ... We very much wanted to create an experience that both made the players the stars of the show, as well as maintained that WAR "part-of-a-bigger-picture" feel.  There was a lot of back and forth on exactly how we would balance those aspects, and I truly feel we've created an environment that will allow everyone to have a good time. For example, the idea of "capping a point" has to be different when you're standing in the middle of the enemy's city – this isn't a remote outpost after all, it's the Capitol City. In this revamp, players can't simply stand around a proximity detector to capture a point. Oh, no. Inside the city, there are battlements, barricades, age ol' defenses that have stood throughout the ages. These must be removed. To burn them away, with the winds of magic, or to bash them to the ground, with sword and board, would take much too long – your King is impatiently waiting for the road to be made clear – your job, as the front line offense of this invasion, is not to tear down stone and mortar, but to eliminate the defensive foothold, create a secure perimeter, and keep back the opposing army as you protect your Sappers – those fragile souls, whose only job in life is to carry, and set off, kegs of gunpowder where their Captain instructs. When successful, these Sappers create an explosion powerful enough to ensure you will control that point for the foreseeable future. This kind of RvR-guided PvE weaves the unexpected, spontaneous nature of RvR with the predictability of PvE in a way that gives the player a richer experience. It becomes less a matter of who has the bigger zerg, and more about who has the better strategy. And it is that kind of thinking we want to nurture. War isn't always about who has the bigger hammer; sometimes it's about where you hit.

One problem with creating a cascading capture point system is that it's easy to (albeit unintentionally) remove so many options from players that they start to feel painted into a corner; telling the player they have to follow a specific path, or unlock points in a specific sequence, when the natural layout of the field doesn't necessarily support that artificial necessity ("But I can *see* the Palace from here. Why do I have to the *other* side of the city first?"), can build frustration and leave them unsatisfied with the experience. We identified this right away. While an argument can be made that capturing as many strategic points in the city as possible is a built in thematic need, there also has to be some balance to real-world game play mechanics, and player expectations. A few configurations we tried just didn't make sense: Some sacrificed too much game play, leaving them so simplistic it didn't seem like the Defending Armies were even attempting to mount a defense ; others sacrificed too much immersion, being either overly complicated, or convoluted in a way that the Story of the encounter just couldn't account for. After a little trial and error, we managed to find a balance that gives the players some strategic options within the city to play around with, without making it so unbelievable (through being either needlessly complicated, or overly realistic to the point of mediocrity) that it loses its wonder.

Another aspect of the part-of-a-bigger-picture feel, we've been trying to instill, is how the Kings interact with players. For the most part, the Kings have bigger fish to fry, and generally ignore the players, beyond encouraging their own armies, of course. When the battle is brought to the feet of the Defending King's throne and the Attacking King calls on him to do battle, however, he has little choice but to take action. Again, we didn't want to rely on the old PvE standby here; we wanted to continue to make the players feel like they were part of something; that their actions matter in a real and measurable way, on both sides of the conflict. To that end, we have the Champions of the Kings. When the two Kings clash in battle, they look around them for support. Seeing the players ready to serve, they issue their blessings to a select few; to those most deserving, or those most capable, the Kings infuse power above and beyond anything they may have experienced before. These player Champions become the key in this final conflict – how they fight, and how they lead the rest of their comrades, will directly shape the outcome of the King Fight.

With their player Champions standing beside them, the Kings stand on the precipice of fate; their destinies having hurled them both headlong to this point, this place, this fight; clenched fists, and grinding teeth, the two breathe in the crisp, still air that only exists in that moment of calm before disaster; knowing only one will walk away from this place, only one will claim victory for his god and people – who will it be? Who will win, and claim the spoils of war? Whose Champions will wield the power of their god, gifted them by their King, and levy the destruction through divine wrath?
That is an ending left unwritten; unsung, and unknown, even to the mind of the Changer of Ways – Only *you* can create that ending...

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