With the recent news of axing four cities and classes when Warhammer Online goes live, Mythic Entertainment recently posted a Capital Cities FAQ and there's also a FAQ available which answer most questions (or all, depending on who you are!) as to why they chose to remove several careers.
What was the reason behind your final career choices?
It wasn't an easy decision, all of the careers in WAR are very dear to us. They all have the potential to be interesting and exciting and we invested a lot of work in creating them. However when it comes down to it we weren’t happy with the quality level across all twenty-four; some of the careers were good, but not as good as we wanted them to be. Because we were spreading our focus across so many places, we found that there were a lot more rough edges then we’d like, and our beta testers supported this observation.
We looked hard at the issue and decided it was best to focus on the best of the best and work on improving all aspects of the careers that remained. This included generating more abilities, art, and better user interface polish etc.
When did you realize you had to make this decision?
The decision to drop careers was not one we made lightly. Over the course of beta, we sat down and gathered all of the feedback and took a long hard look at how we could turn great feedback into great careers. One of the differences between our development process for WAR versus DAoC is the amount and quality of the tools we have to gather feedback from our Beta community. Whether it was reading the feedback on our internal forums, from player surveys or the amount of time people played these careers, we had a plethora of data at our disposal.
We realized that pulling a career is risky business so we wanted to be sure that we were yanking them for the right reason and the game balance did not suffer for it. In addition we need to know whether the careers we focused on were better received then their counterparts. We did not want to finalize the decision until we were confident in the results of the initial focus period.
After that, we worked hard on polishing the remaining careers and working closely with our testers. We found that focusing down on a smaller set of careers was the correct choice because players really enjoyed the updates and improvements to the careers that we focused on.
What did you gain by reducing the number of careers available?
We gained a lot more time to polish and expand the remaining careers in the game. In short, we were able to go back and add in many of the types of things that our beta players enjoyed and asked for more of, such as:
- Larger amounts of career-specific items and equipment with unique artwork
- Increasing the number and depth of abilities per career
We also targeted our polish efforts on some of our weaker areas, such as:
- Smoother, more engaging animations
- Greater variety of visual effects.
In addition, it allowed us to spend even more time fine tuning the gameplay mechanics of the existing careers.
How did you choose the final careers to be released?
It wasn't easy, let me tell you. We put a lot of time and effort into all of our careers and many of those that didn’t make the grade had spent a good amount of time in production already. However, when push came to shove, we evaluated each career based on the following criteria:
- Beta feedback on the career & how it played
- How anticipated the career was by the community
- How removing certain careers would impact the game balance
- Quality and quantity of artwork remaining to be created
- Parity between races
We worked diligently to retain those careers that our beta testers said that they enjoyed the most first and that would be most important to retaining the balance of the game. That is why you see fewer melee careers (Tanks/DPS) remaining, since some of their skills were more interchangeable than those between healers and ranged careers. It’s also why careers such as the Magus, who needed a redesign and lots of new art, managed to hang on. He was just much too popular, and was a necessary career on the Destruction side to balance against the Engineer's deployable pets.
How does this affect the balance of the game?
The balance of the game is not dramatically affected by the loss of the four careers. The Choppa and Hammerer were two sides of the same coin, and since their role and play style was similar, cutting them both at the same time ensured that the balance issues from having one and not the other were resolved.
The decision to drop the Knight (Order’s Aura Tank) and the Blackguard (Destruction’s Hatred Tank) was trickier. In the end, we wound up redistributing certain abilities to other careers in order to create the balance that had originally been provided by these tanks. The one downside is the fact that this play style only exists in one of the three pairings.
In the end, we wound up with the following overall distribution:
- 10 close combat careers
- 10 ranged careers
In addition, we worked hard to ensure neither side was missing a major career type, such as a pet career for example. Both sides have the same number of tanks, MDPS, RDPS, and healer careers to choose from. Fortunately, only the play style balance suffered.
Since you cut some careers that share a "play style" with the launch careers does this mean the ones you’re releasing will be less polished?
Absolutely not! The Ironbreaker and Chosen will not suffer from losing their "play style" equivalents. Remember, "gameplay" was only one of the major factors we used to decide what should stay and what should go.
Both the Knight and the Black Guard played fairly well, and were anticipated by the community. However, they still needed a tremendous amount of production, iteration and polish time with no guarantee that in the end, they would come out exactly the way we hoped. By removing them, along with the Choppa and the Hammerer we were better able to polish the remaining careers.
I loved career XXXX! Now it’s gone, QQ!?
We understand that many players were excited about these careers, but our dedication to do what was right for the product and ensure that we were shipping a great game won out. As developers, sometimes we have to make difficult calls in order to make WAR the best RvR MMO on the market.
Are these careers gone forever? Will you be releasing them later?
Right now the team is 100% focused on the final goal of shipping WAR with the twenty balanced careers so that they are all fun, balanced and interesting to play at launch. That is the most important thing that we can focus on now. With twenty careers and our mastery system, players of WAR will have more career and customisation options than just about any other MMO in the market today. We will continue to evaluate the careers and what they can add to the game post launch. Nothing is set in stone as they say.
Smart move to reduce the amount of careers available, especially since having twenty to choose from is plenty already. 24 were almost too much. This is of course my opinion -- what is yours?