Speaking With… Carrie Gouskos, Producer of Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes

Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes is a free to play MMO from Bioware. It boasts a beautiful cel-shaded graphical style as well as 18 player online battles, with three teams of six trying to defeat each other. We sat down with Carrie Gouskos, the producer of Wrath of Heroes, to find out some more about this promising looking game.

You’ve mentioned previously that the game will feature 6 vs 6 vs 6 battles, so clearly there is this team vs team vs team aspect to the game. Will there be a guild-like superstructure that is going to sit on top of the 6 vs 6 vs 6 multiplayer?

Yeah, in our plan there absolutely is. To be quite frank the key to having a community come and stay in is “I want to come back and play with my friends”. That’s the glue that keeps people coming back, so that is something that we will have. Right now we’re looking at the concept of guilds and the concept of clans and trying to find a way to marry them because in some ways our game is very much a dynamic action first person shooter, while in other ways it is an MMORPG. So we are trying to marry these features.

Is there a lot of passion for Warhammer in the team? Do you often get out the kits and tables and play the actual games?

There’s actually a Warhammer table right next to my desk. As well as the giant Warhammer table we have a gaming room, we have painting nights… and days. To be quite frank, I really like the 40K tabletop, but I love Warhammer Fantasy Online. Almost everybody at the studio has a relationship with the tabletop in some way; we have four members of staff that used to work for Games Workshop, so we have a lot of in-house love and knowledge, and we visit Games Workshop frequently. They’re one of the most focused companies in terms of the focus, their passion, and dedication to what they do, about making miniatures, about the hobby itself. It’s inspirational, and it is very much in-line with what Bioware represents in terms of cultivating the fans and the customers and the hobby and the love: it’s about the respect for that that we are trying to keep intact.

How are Games Workshop at telling you about what they are going to do with the lore?

We have a great process by which we submit everything: art, sound, script, words, website, video, everything goes through Games Workshop. They are very good at going “that is not our IP”, or letting us know when changes need to be made – “that’s not orkish enough!”, I’ve seen that written on a note! It’s actually a process that has been going on for a while now, we’ve been working with them for six or seven years, so we’ve got it pretty much down to a science now. Obviously for really big things we’ll go out and see them. I’ve been to Mecca, and it is beautiful – I’ve seen them making the miniatures, I couldn’t take pictures but it was beautiful, let me tell you.

You’ve said previously that you are sharing assets with Warhammer Online, is that all you’ll be sharing between the games?

Warhammer subscribers will be treated like VIPs in our game because these games are so related. We’re taking a franchise view, so, like I said, assets, bugs, a lot of things can be shared in terms of development. When it comes to treating subscribers they are going to be treated as VIPs. In some ways we think this (free to play) game could be an entry level point for Warhammer Online. So when someone comes in and says “you know what, this is cool, but I want more, I want something complex, something richer” then they can become a subscriber. They will get access to Warhammer Online plus whatever we decide to give to Warhammer Online Subscribers. We haven’t finalised what it is yet, but we want to do them right because they have been loyal to us for so long, and we really value those guys. I’ve been working on Warhammer Online for about five years, so it is a huge part of my life, so it is very important to me to preserve the community and make sure that they’re happy as they can be.

Are you going to ask the community what types of heroes to include in the game through competitions, or promotions?

Wow, you’re really good, that sounds like something we would like to do, wink wink (laughs). Probably, yeah.

Free to Play has emerged as this whole new branch of EA – do you work with the guys at Need For Speed World or Battlefield Heroes and compare notes?

Absolutely. I’m on my second trip to Sweden (where Dice, makers of Battlefield, are based) this year and I went to Vancouver about a month ago. You hear people say “oh EA they’re so big, grumble grumble”, but what they don’t realise is that because it is so big there is such a wealth of resources, and such brilliant minds (to work with). I went to Sweden and I just wrote for three days because I kept finding people that wanted to tell me everything that they had experienced on Battlefield Heroes and Battlefield Play For Free. They were so willing to share what not to do and what worked really well, so that’s one of the best things about EA. As the big company we can go talk to other (game developers) and have a relationship. So Need For Speed, we’re sharing a room with them right now, and we’re constantly jostling each other. Obviously it is a big company, so not everybody is connected, but when there needs to be (a connection) I can grab my lead designer and tell him to go talk to another lead designer and make sure that they’re able to have a conversation.

Are we to expect at some stage the announcement of a HeroLog, like Need For Speed’s Autolog, which allows you to integrate with all of your friends?

(laughing) Warlog? You know I actually like the name Autolog even though it has the word auto in it. I think Autolog is one of the most tremendous features, and I would love to announce that we are using it… but we aren’t yet. It is a great feature, and we want to use Autolog. Not to pimp another game, but I don’t know if you have seen SSX, where you can vote down other people that you’re sick and tired of seeing? What a great feature to have, because you always have the one friend that is always beating you… We haven’t actually coalesced the leaderboards and social side of things yet, but because we’re able to talk to those guys we want to take the best of what they have got and make it all work together.

How can people get involved with the game?

The game is in sign ups for beta now, with the beta coming very soon. The way to sign up is go to www.wrathofheroes.com and sign up for the beta. We’ll start inviting people in to the beta within the next few weeks.

You heard the lady – if this sounds like something that might interest you, head over to the site and sign up for the beta, it is free afterall. We aim to bring you more coverage of this game over the coming months, so, as ever, keep your eyes on newbreview.com.

Wed, September 14 2011 » Interviews

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