“See this grin on my face? I love talking about this game!”
After spending an hour talking to David Williams about FireFall, it’s easy to see why. As one of the lead designers at Red 5 Studios, Williams spends much of his time adding to a post-apocalyptic vision of Earth. But his passion for the game runs deep, sprawling into eSports and beyond.
After I’d caught up with everything the team is planning for Stage 2 of open beta (and there’s a lot of it), he tells me about a recent Jetball final. Following on from all the work the team had poured in over the past year, with an impressive spectator mode, new game types and new PvP gear, I’d asked how the competitive scene was going.
“The European team – Epsilon – they’re probably the top FireFall team right now. And they were up against a team that’s been surprising everyone recently. It went to the third round of the third match, and it was 3-0 to Epsilon. The other team, they were pushing and pushing, Epsilon was bunkered in and it was a done deal.”
“The other team did this crazy push with about 30 seconds to play, got in and dunked the ball for three, and tied it up. Everyone in the chat room is going berserk. ‘Oh my god, we’re going to extra time.’”
“Wait a second. Ball just respawned. Epsilon’s going for it.”
“Five. Four. Three. Two. He’s taking the shot.”
“One. Bank shot. Ball goes in. One second to play, Epsilon wins by a point. It was nuts. So yeah, to answer your question, it’s going pretty well.”
Patch 5.4: Siege of Orgrimmar is now live but I got the chance to speak with Ion Hazzikostas, Lead Encounter Designer for World of Warcraft, the day before. I questioned him on the patch and Mists of Pandaria in general, as well as what the future may hold. His answers were very forthcoming...
ESports has come a long way in the past couple of years, with tournaments and seasons becoming a core part of gaming culture. For the incredibly popular League of Legends, that change hasn’t come about by accident. I caught up with Dustin Beck, VP of eSports, to discuss how Riot Games had reached this point, and how it would continue to grow.
Beck himself is an eSports fanatic; when we met at Gamescom he was avidly watching the international wildcard tournament, with the winning team clinching a spot in the League Championship Series (LCS) Season 3 World Championship. The European playoffs and Season 4 qualifiers later that week were a huge deal for fans in Cologne, with an enthusiastic audience dominating most of Hall 8
The Elder Scrolls Online is an interesting proposition. Not quite an MMO, ZeniMax Online hopes to bring that single-player RPG feeling to the online world in a whole new way. For studio general manager Matt Firor, it’s a challenge that’s multiplied by bringing the game to PC, Mac and next generation consoles.
This, however, isn’t Firor’s first rodeo. After working in online gaming for the past 25 years and titles like Dark Age of Camelot under his belt, he was picked by parent company ZeniMax Media in 2007 to head up ZeniMax Online. Since then, his team has been working away on a new way of bringing Tamriel to life.
When you look at it in bite-size chunks, it’s difficult to realize just how big a project like WildStar really is. Over the course of a two hour lunch, executive producer Jeremy Gaffney answered a series of questions from the UK community that really showed how much Carbine Studios has sunk into its upcoming MMO.
Earlier in the day we discussed the changing industry, upcoming reveals and the raiding scene. Once lunch arrived, conversation shifted to PvP and class design. Both sections are well worth a read if you haven’t managed to already.
As the sunny Brighton afternoon drew on, we turned to WildStar’s add-ons and social tools. But before we got to that, Jeremy reminisced about earlier times as one of the founders at Turbine.
Speak to Jeremy Gaffney for any length of time, and two things become apparent. First, after working on MMOs for most of his adult life, he has a wealth of experience to draw on. And second, in an industry dominated by marketing spiel, he provides refreshingly blunt and honest opinions.
As executive producer at Carbine Studios, Gaffney is responsible for guiding WildStar to a release that we hope is later this year. Taking time out of his schedule, he joined members of the community for lunch on the Brighton seafront. While we perused the menu, we discussed the changing MMO industry, upcoming reveals and the raiding scene.
As our fish and chips or plates of pasta arrived, the conversation shifted to role-play, charging models and class design. And read on for Part 3, which includes an update on beta, add-on issues and more. But first, there was the matter of PvP.
If proof was ever needed about WildStar’s community outreach program, last Wednesday was it. Taking time out of his schedule at the Develop conference in Brighton, Carbine executive producer Jeremy Gaffney met with a small group of gamers representing the fledgling UK WildStar community.
Joining me at the table were Youtuber KaeyiDream, Renaise Galwind from WildStar Roleplay, Kal Holmes from WildStar Core and Edward Orr from Afterlife Gaming. Over the course of a long lunch, Gaffney gave detailed answers to a whole range of questions, from the feel of Carbine as a development studio, to subzone design and content variety.
It was so detailed, in fact, that this is only the first of three parts. UPDATE: Part two is up, covering PvP, class design, charging models and more! Part three is also up, covering an update on beta, social tools, add-ons and more.
With cross-faction PvP now available to testers, WildStar has reached a special point in closed beta. The gloves have come off and players can proudly wear their Dominion or Exile loyalties on the field of battle. Meanwhile, somewhere in Orange County, Carbine Studios will be observing the carnage and taking notes.
But Closed Beta Test 3 isn’t just about PvP. With the Skullcano dungeon, the lunar zone of Farside, and Tradeskill talents, there’s a huge amount of content for all types of player to dig into. To help make sense of the patch notes, I interviewed content director Mike Donatelli about the huge range of additions and changes arriving this week.