We interview Lead PvP Designer Jen Gordy about her plans for the upcoming MMO
For some, MMOs are all about exploring the world and everything in it. They’re on an adventure, questing through every corner of the land, or battling through the toughest dungeons. If it involves saving the city for an epic reward, they’re in.
Others choose to take a different path; one littered with the corpses of those who challenged them. They’re out to prove themselves on the killing fields, either in tight arena combat or open battlegrounds. With the bloodlust in the air, the opponents they seek aren’t dungeon dwelling monsters, but other players.
After battling through the first ever WildStar Arena PvP tournament at Arkship EU (you can read her Dev Diary on arenas or responses to PvP concerns), I asked Carbine’s Lead PvP Designer Jen Gordy about her plans for the upcoming MMO. During the interview we touched on her general approach, skill balance between PvE and PvP, itemization and much more.
Gareth Harmer: To start things off, what’s your background in games development?
Jen Gordy: I started out in the industry working for Mythic Entertainment. I was working on the Dark Ages of Camelot project in various different roles as I was growing up through the industry. I started out in customer service and worked my way up to system design.
After leaving Mythic I went to Turbine, and there I was working for Lord of the Rings Online. I started out working on the Monster Play system, and did some changes on that for Mines of Moria, and then became a lead for the entire systems team, which covered classes, combat, AI, items and PvP for about 4 - 4 1/2 years. And now I’m here!
What’s been your ethos, approach and style, in terms of PVP in WildStar?
It’s really just taking a look at what WildStar is, in terms of our basic tenets of ‘Play the way you want to play’ and our basic combat mechanics, and finding a mold of PVP that suits the game. And introducing some unique elements of play styles that maybe people haven’t seen before, yet some familiar concepts in there so that they have something to latch on to and enjoy.
And also, approaching some accessibility issues with how people can gravitate into this space, like being able to level through battleground content, being able to get into an arena environment without a team, and without worrying about ratings first, so they can practice and find formal teams before making the commitment to play for real.
In terms of that PvP and PvE experience, how integrated are the two systems?
I think they’re actually pretty tightly coupled. There are no specific PvP abilities, everything that you gain in PvE content you can use in PvP, and that includes things that you gain from path content and items that you would equip and so forth. There’s nothing that delineates the two advancement mechanics at this time.
Are there things like different stats on gear?
There will be two unique stats for PvP as you get into that environment, more so for Arena and Warplot experience. You’ll have PvP offense and defense stats, and the offense increases player damage, the defense counteracts that.
How do you cope with balancing particular abilities between PvE and PvP?
The PvP stats help mitigate some of that. Additionally the breakout gameplay aspects, with hard CCs being not strictly something that you’re stuck with, and you actually have an action to break free earlier if you want to, help mitigate some of that in PvE versus PvP. A PvE monster won’t be able to do anything about a particular stun, but in PvP you’ll be able to take action to reduce the duration of your stun.
As far as burst damage related issues, those things we need to fine-tune on individual class levels, and this is why I wanted to start the arena testing as early as possible, so the class team can make good decisions based on what we see in both environments for PvP and in dungeon content.
Are we going to have leader boards for PvP?
Our plan is to do web leader boards; we just need to make sure that’s a priority for us for launch.
Will we also get things like Character profiles?
I would definitely like to have complete character profiles with all of your PvP stats for all of the environments, so arena, battlegrounds, warplots, as well as leader boards for each of those major systems as well.
Do you have any plans for large-scale PvP zones?
Not at this particular point in time. We’re not focusing on open-world PvP for launch. What we will do post-launch is review how players are interacting with the current world of Nexus, and figure out where we feel that additions into the existing Nexus space would be useful or where the creation of new zones would be beneficial.
We’ve seen one of the arena battlespaces. Is that a fairly typical battleground size, or will we see monstrously huge ones?
The battleground sizes are going to be geared around 10v10 to 15v15. I kinda want the arena to be the small team environment. The battlegrounds are a little bit larger but not exactly the raid size and the warplots are exclusively the raid size environment.
The other thing that became apparent from the arena tournament was just how watchable the matches were. Do you think the game naturally lends itself to that, and is spectator mode something you’re trying to consider?
It definitely does; we just won’t have the resources to accomplish anything useful or the high quality I want to see for launch. So things like spectator modes, shoutcasting support, Twitch.tv support, those are all things that I definitely want to see, but will have to come post-launch.
I’d like to thank Jen Gordy for her time, as well as being an excellent team-mate during the PvP tournament. For the chance to get into closed beta and try out PvP for yourself, head on over to the official registration page. Who knows, you might end up fighting against Gordy yourself!