Interview: Behaviour On Warhammer 40K: Eternal Crusade

By John Walker on June 13th, 2013 at 1:00 pm.

Yesterday we heard the news that there was to be a new Warhammer 40K MMO. Games Workshop announced that Eternal Crusade is to step into the gap left by the failed Dark Millennium Online, this time developed by MMO first-timers, Behaviour. It’s not an immediately obvious choice – the studio is primarily known for ports, and their in-house games haven’t been met with critical success. So we reached out to Behaviour, specifically studio online boss Miguel Caron and 40K’s creative director David Ghozland (The Secret World, Far Cry), to find out how the deal came about, why they believe they’re up to the mammoth task, and the direction the game is taking.

The big news here is that this isn’t looking to be a WoW-style game, but rather aim for something more in the ballpark of PlanetSide or EVE. Essentially following the ethos that There Is Only War.

RPS: First of all, people are obviously interested to know if there is any connection between your game and Vigil’s. Have you had access to what they had built, or used any of their assets, themes, etc? Or is this a completely fresh start?

Behaviour: Eternal Crusade is a completely new game, not connected to Dark Millennium Online. However, Games Workshop is a great partner and they’ve been extremely supportive in providing references and assets. We are currently evaluating what they have but we’re planning to have an art direction unique to our project.

RPS: It’s fair to say that people are a little surprised at the appointment of Behaviour to the project. Without previous MMO experience, and perhaps not the best reception to recent self-developed games, what is it about your team that makes you the right fit for Eternal Crusade?

Behaviour: Behaviour is a solid developer and a very healthy company that recently made the choice to invest in the online space. To that end, we acquired the best specialists available here in Montreal – the core team for Eternal Crusade is actually made up of former Funcom Montreal developers quite familiar with the challenges of working with MMOs. With its 20+ year history, Behaviour has a huge amount of experience in game development and is well-positioned to give the project the environment and support it needs succeed. Behaviour has made games in the past 12 months for large publishers out of which we have a top-three performing game in ALL the different stores (XBLA, PC MMO with 14M install, Facebook, iTunes, Google, etc…) We can send the list to you. We have not bragged about it since we made it for our customer. Now with our new online studio we are making a game for us… no actually for YOU. Naturally, everyone working on the game so far is a huge 40k fan and has at least two armies each!

RPS: How did the deal with Games Workshop come about? Did you pitch to them, or did they come to you guys?

Behaviour: We pitched it to them last year and they loved the concept. Once they were satisfied that we’d be able to deliver something great for them, we made the decision to move forward together. Like myself, they have a lot of faith in the team, and as we roll out some of our community efforts I’m hoping the fans will as well!

RPS: You mention in your press release that the game us being made by a team of MMO veterans. Can you tell us who you’ve got on board, and what games they’ve worked on before?

Behaviour: The game’s Creative Director, David Ghozland, is a 15-year veteran of the industry whose portfolio includes Far Cry, Rainbow Six Vegas and even stretches back to Saga of Ryzom. Most recently he headed up the very well-received dungeons of The Secret World! I have some 25 years gaming veterans like OZ who started his career 25 years ago with Myamoto, and some of the best MMO tech employees from all the recent layoff in Montreal.

RPS: 40K is a daunting enough licence just based on its enormous history and extremely dedicated fanbase. Add to that the recent struggle of Vigil and it would seem like pretty terrifying products prospect to me! How have you gone about approaching the project such that you can keep on top of things, and protect yourselves from making the same mistakes as those who’ve tried before?

Behaviour: With Eternal Crusade we’re creating a game where players tell the story to us rather than the other way around, and it means a very different set of challenges from a development perspective than those faced by others in the genre. The game is an MMORPG, but not in the sense that it’s a content- and quest-heavy theme park – ours is more a system-driven virtual world in the vein of Planetside 2 or EvE Online. “There Is Only War” is our mantra, so for the most part the players ARE the content, and what PvE gameplay we have is procedurally generated. We’re taking a lot of inspiration from what Diablo-style ARPGs and co-op games like Left 4 Dead do to create infinite fun. In addition, with the very recent explosion of the greater online space, there are also a lot more demonstrable technical solutions for creating games in this genre – hopefully we’ll be able to talk about them soon!

RPS: You’ve set the release date as late 2015. That’s a rather long time away! With the fast-evolving nature of MMOs, shifting from subscription models to free to play, and presumably some newer model soon, as well as changing styles of play and expected content, how are you ensuring that you’re developing for that long-distant world?

Behaviour: It’s true that the MMO genre is going through a revolution right now. The gameplay, business models and expectations of the future are completely uncertain so that’s why we need to make this game right now. This is a great opportunity to redefine the genre and create new types of MMORPG experiences. We plan to have as much community involvement as possible during development and keep our finger on the pulse of the gaming public.

RPS: Can you give us some deliciously intriguing snippet of information about the game that will make the 40K fans start anticipatedly trembling?

Behaviour: “Be careful to avoid the perils of the Warp when accessing your psychic powers!”

RPS: Thanks for your time.

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71 Comments »

  1. CmdrCrunchy says:

    “The big news here is that this isn’t looking to be a WoW-style game, but rather aim for something more in the ballpark of PlanetSide or EVE.”

    Finally someone gets it. Shame it took so long.

    • Snidesworth says:

      Now let’s hope they get it right.

      The mention of perils of the warp is promising though. Hopefully there will be some truly catastrophic consequences when you botch the power you were trying to manifest. Or decide to push for that little bit of extra power.

    • imperialus says:

      Seems like it might be a really cool way to reintroduce Logans World to the franchise.

    • Geen says:

      YES, YES!

  2. Magnusm1 says:

    I got a bad feeling about this.

  3. RedViv says:

    I’m fairly interested to see how they might realise the perfectly imbalanced factions of WH40K. We didn’t even get to see that with the previous attempt under THQ.

  4. Iskariot says:

    I love 40K, but I hate MMO so much more.

    • Ultra Superior says:

      Foster all the hate you can, brother.
      Pray you have enough to fuel the flames of fury through the countless battles to come.

    • squareking says:

      And yet…my excitement abounds.

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      MMO is the first step on the road to disappointment.

    • Davie says:

      While I hate the neverending avalanche of identical WoW-alikes as much as the next guy, I really love the idea of a game genre based around the interactions of lots of players. DayZ got it, Planetside got it, I suppose EVE got it to some extent, and it sounds like these guys get it as well.

      While I don’t think what they’re doing is going to “revolutionize MMOs” I do think that if nothing else we might end up with a 40k-themed Planetside clone, which is good enough for me.

  5. sonofsanta says:

    I came here for an interview and left without seeing a single question about the inclusion of Squats. I’m cancelling my subscription. Amateurs.

  6. communisthamster says:

    PvE inspired by L4D? Clearing tyranids out from a hive city in co-op would be amazing.

  7. Sarkhan Lol says:

    This MMO is pitching the most disgusting pay to win system I’ve ever seen. I expected better from the people who made that Doritos game.

    • mavis says:

      In fairness – that is very faithful to the source material……

    • HighlordKiwi says:

      Source?

    • Ultra Superior says:

      “The free race available to everyone will be the Orks. But free players will only be able to progress through the game’s content Ork Boyz: five of which are needed to take down one Space Marine. Behaviour expects that F2P members will always outnumber paid players and the Ork Boyz are their way of balancing F2P with paid members. Once someone becomes invested in the game, they can purchase the other races and open up the full progression paths for each (including the Orks).”

      Sounds absolutely alright to me. Is there anything else ?

      • Snidesworth says:

        I can see how some people would be extremely irritated about their favourite race being locked behind a pay wall, but in terms of pure mechanics having a mob of angry orks swarming across the game world is ideal. They might gang up and mob some paying player, or they might bicker and fighting among themselves. Or try and do both at the same time.

        In practice it means that paying players will play more powerful characters, but it’ll be interesting to see how that works out against a horde of greenskin players who identify them as The Enemy.

      • HighlordKiwi says:

        Not sure they’ll retain many free players if they’re out gunned 5:1. If it’s a one off purchase then it’s not too obnoxious but it just doesn’t sound sustainable. It’s certainly not how I’d approach balancing the different power levels of each race.

        They should probably just go with the buy to avoid grinding new guns, or the buy new (balanced) classes model that has worked for other halfway decent F2P games.

        • jonahcutter says:

          I would think they would have even base free-player Orks somewhat more powerful than the absolute cannon fodder Orks, who would be AI.

          Kind of like L4D’s versus mode. You’re still pretty fragile as one of the specials, but you have specific abilities that allow you to influence the battle if you use them well. Nobody plays as the regular infected.

          The specific L4D mention as an influence actually increased my interest in this game. L4D versus mode is a good model for asymmetric pvp balance that also contains a heavy npc/ai component.

          Or… idea: FTP players play as squads of 5-10 cannon fodder Orks. So you’ve got a chance to swarm a Marine, but the Marine has plenty of targets to mow through.

      • darkChozo says:

        Hmm, interesting. That kind of asymmetrical warfare seems pretty appropriate for 40K. I wonder how they’re going to balance the different sides? It seems like you might end up in a situation where there’s 100 F2P Orks, 30 Space Marines, and then a couple of Eldar, Nids, and Tau sitting on the sidelines, particularly when you skew things with pay2playaside. Or maybe it’s just Orks vs. Imperium, which would be terrible and boring (no bias here, honest). Even then, what do you do when there’s a 1000:1 Ork-SM ratio at launch, and then it turns into 10:1 as the newbie population dwindles?

        Also, I think we really need to reevaluate what we consider P2W, because it’s rather limiting to assume that all players need to be at an even power level for a game to be balanced. There are plenty of games that have either asymmetrical sides or asymmetry within teams, and having that kind of structure can work in a F2P environment. Think something like Red Orchestra where you’d have to unlock roles in a F2P manner, or something like The Hidden where you can pay to be the Hidden more often. It’s not P2W, it’s more P2experienceotherthings, which really should be significantly less of a stigma.

        EDIT: I would also add that for something like that to work, it would very much have to be implemented well. The cannon fodder in the games I mentioned are both not straight-up weaker versions of the stronger side; Riflemen in RO or RS are as effective if not more so than other roles at medium range behind cover, and a soldier can easily kill the Hidden in the right circumstances. If you were to do something like, say, CoD and restrict F2P players to pistols only, that would be a problem. Or if you make it so you absolutely need multiple F2Ps to kill a paid player, say in a FF-like combat system where you can just go and buy Ultima Weapon.

      • Ultra Superior says:

        Tyranids are exclusively AI wild card – mainly for PvE -. Appropriate I’d say.

        Sounds good….. however my faith that a small studio can pull this off is….. well, let’s just say my mind is too small to contain any faith at all.

      • nimzy says:

        It’s an interesting choice for sure. Thematically it makes a hilarious amount of sense (a lot of players on the “free” side of the free2play equation act quite similar to said orks). In reality though it just reinforces the already widely-held belief that the people playing for free are just cannon fodder for the players with money.

        • Ultra Superior says:

          Paying players can play more specialised orks too, having synergy with numbers of free ork boyz might be interesting and could make Orks a very potent threat.

          I am more concerned about the balance against SM / “everybody wants to play SM”

          So combining paying and free orks against majority of paying SMs is a good idea.

          What about the other races though ?

          Chaos SM could summon AI controlled demon friends…. but what about Eldar? hm… maybe cheaper technologies…..

          • darkChozo says:

            Eldar would probably be a bunch of thief/ranger types with lots of specialists; squishy but fast with a lot of tricks on the side. Probably fairly vehicle-focused as well. They actually fit pretty well into the less-units-but-more-powerful role.

            Also I could see the Orks with mechanics similar to Banzai in Rising Storm. The units are individually weaker, but together they get some sort of WARRGGHH! thing going on that acts as a force multiplier, benefiting more from a Nob or a Warboss or something in the area.

          • Ultra Superior says:

            Very good point.

          • Khaos2000 says:

            Not all Eldar are squishy, I’d love to play a Dark Reaper or a Fire Dragon… then there is just the sheer mania of a Howling Banshee ginsuing through ork boys like crazy :) Eldar have a lot of potential but by default require a much higher level of teamwork in order to be successful.

      • ZyloMarkIII says:

        http://www.mmorpg.com/mobile/features.cfm?read=7493&game=954&ismb=1

        So it seems at launch there will only be one Chapter for the Space Marines (Dark Angels) and one Chapter for Chaos (Iron Warriors) yet the Eldar and Orks have yet to be restricted by Craftworld or Klan. It would be odd for there to be more than a thousand Space Marines on at the same time unless it’s one who doesn’t follow the Codex Astartes strictly (maybe Black Templars or Space Wolves) so there might be a chance to have several Chapters added in later.

        • Salix says:

          I honestly don’t think Dark Angels is the best chapter to go with in something like this considering the lore behind them. All the secrecy and Inner Circle stuff doesn’t really translate well (although perhaps they intend this to be for the mods?).

      • Drakedude says:

        Fecking genius. I imagine that it may take less then 5 orks in combat, though. I’d also expect the “standard” Ork progression path (bigger, greener, stronger, ‘Arder, faster) to be in the game, with the ability for even a random F2Player to become Warboss. I cannot wait to hear about how the Ork leadership will work. Ideally, they should leave the players too it and watch the search results for “feudalism”. :DDDDDD.

        On the other hand, i want hard limits on space marine numbers, if possible. They could have a very high attrition rate for initiates (locking you out for a while), me thinks. Throwing in some imperial guard (also available to f2p- heh, can you imagine the caste system?) and other such forces would be good.

      • JackShandy says:

        Sounds fantastic to me. If you gave the free players a normal faction, and it the game was true open warfare like eve, there’d be so many of them that they’d wipe the others out easily.

  8. cpt_freakout says:

    Lots of boring PR speak, but they cleared up a couple of things. Since they referred to PS and EVE, there’s still hope they get it right, at least. It would be very good for them to take some risky shots with this game… considering they’re fairly well-off with the rest of their catalogue, it could be that they’re willing to afford risks, like making an asymmetrical faction system. I would love to be an annoying gretchin, doing the cannon-fodder thing and maybe even going behind enemy lines thanks to my insignificance and then BOOM – sabotage!

  9. lowprices says:

    Weeeeeeell, OK, Behaviour, you’ve got my attention. I mean sure, the only reason people don’t automatically associate you with some awful games is because you changed your name, but you referenced Eve and Planetside and you did the “Only War” quote, so I’ll keep one eye open for news.

    On the other hand “creating infinite fun” is possibly the most spectacular bit of PR bullshit I’ve ever seen.

  10. HighlordKiwi says:

    Sounds good, but like everyone else I am cultivating caution in my optimism. However…

    “…is a solid developer and a very healthy company that recently made the choice to invest in the online space.”

    … how can anyone say that and keep a straight face?

  11. bstard says:

    What happened in Montreal? (‘and some of the best MMO tech employees from all the recent layoff in Montreal.’)

  12. PantsCommander says:

    “We are currently evaluating what they have but we’re planning to have an art direction unique to our project.”

    How does this make any kind of sense for a licensed title, let alone one with such a distinct artistic vision?

  13. Garviel Loken says:

    You better not fuck that one up Behaviour. I made it through Istvaan III and I’ll made it through your studio in Montral if I have to.
    The Emperor protects.

  14. Wonderboy2402 says:

    Thank god they are not doing theme park WoW clone game. If they are aiming for more sandbox open world game with Planetside style this could be promising. I wonder if it will be FPS or third person Space Marine…

  15. The Laughing Owl says:

    Chances of me buying this game, in case it’s really good = 100%
    Changes of it actually being really good = 1%

    Since this MMO was also announced for the new Xbox and Playstation, I’ll remain skeptical until we have some concrete gameplay information. Until then, I’ll put this game on “don’t give a damn” folder.

    I’ll keep posted on Wildstar though, that game actually looks really promising, with support for actual PC gamers who enjoy 20 and 40 man raid content that probably wouldn’t work as well on a console, also huge battlegrounds that require players to build and repair structures, with a innovative housing system on top of that.

    • jonahcutter says:

      You’re talking apples and oranges between what they’ve described and Wildstar. (Nice little Wildstar plug shoehorned in there though).

  16. Mr.Bats says:

    Big words from a wee mouth

  17. Tatourmi says:

    “Naturally, everyone working on the game so far is a huge 40k fan and has at least two armies each!”

    Naturally…

  18. LennyLeonardo says:

    Ok, great, but can the folks behind Frozen Synapse make a game based on Necromunda? Pretty please?

  19. Daryl says:

    I’m going to keep an eye on it. Some of it sounds cool. I’m glad they I can finally play a 40k game from a perspective other than the Space Marines. I’m not sure how well the payment model is going to go over with MMO players. Behaviour has a track record that is sketchy at best, but they have at least tried to get some people with industry experience on board. I applaud them for trying to do something different, but I’ll remain extremely wary.

  20. Desmolas says:

    I like the idea. F2P’ers as fodder while the P2P’ers stomp their faces.

  21. KafFiend says:

    If I can play as Guard, I’ll probably play this game. Though in an ideal world I want to be able to shoot Terminators with a Laspistol.

    Because nothing demoralises a Marine player more than losing Termies to Laspistol fire.

  22. buzzmong says:

    I was going to dismiss this as I always thought a dev would be boring and let everyone play as a Space Marine, and then go and ignore the lore by not making them walking death machines (as an aside, Star Wars Galaxies was aces PCE simply because the vast majority were not Jedi/Sith), so to see them wanting to have asymmetrical warfare and are taking into account number differences is quite interesting.

    They also got my attention with the talk of PS2 and EvE, and it not being a WoW clone.

  23. drinniol says:

    My take on this is that a 40K MMO has become so toxic after THQ first reduced the scope then went out of business and no publisher in their right mind will take it. The design they’re going for is pay to win in the most literal sense. They’re telling all the potential players “If you don’t pay you’re part of the idiotic mob. Give us money.” To which my reply would be “Fuck off.”

    • SwENSkE says:

      I get your point, but if they’re really going the EVE way I wouldn’t really care to play the supposed ‘cannon fodder’. ’cause ‘death’ in EVE has a meaning and it becomes more meaningful (speak expensive) the more ‘powerful’ you are. If your ship explodes it’s gone as well as everything in it (parts of that can be looted by everybody who comes by your wreck) and only your clone remains in space. And if you’re not quick even that can be killed which means a lot of money for a new clone insurance or a lot of lost skill points (which in a worse case scenario can take weeks to get back). That’s why people in EVE like to kill each other so much :D
      If on the other hand dieing in this game will not mean more than running back to your corpse or a bit damage to your gear then I will join you in saying ‘Fuck Off’!

      • Drakedude says:

        Ooh, interesting. This is the kind of game where permadeath could be an excellent idea, particularly with space marines if they wish to keep it at lore friendly (and hopefully game friendly :D) numbers. Lot’s will cycle out and in quickly, until eventually some stick. It could even work with the free 2 play, as they’re wouldn’t be any more of a problem for beating your betters, and being big green and mean will mean something (keeping hordes of stomp’able orks for paying players to beat on aside :P). Mental and otherwise Skill-based progression! I like it.

  24. Nenjin says:

    http://massively.joystiq.com/2013/06/13/e3-2013-warhammer-40k-eternal-crusade-is-all-about-war/

    After reading that article, my hype alarms are sounding. Not only that, the F2P model sounds like a trainwreck. It all comes down to the pricing model eventually, but it’s not all that dissimilar to buying figs. You’ll have to pay for every class in every race outside of Ork Boyz. Their whole monteization scheme is built on players not wanting to be scrub Ork Boyz who have to outnumber Space Marines 3 to 1 at least to win. They’re envisioning the F2P crowd as uncommitted griefers and so that’s the only non-paid option there is, no mention of in-game credits earned toward unlocking anything else. It’s lore appropriate, but it’s thriving on negativity and strains the definition of F2P.

    Basically it sounds like a P2W game that is going to thrive on negativity and griefing to motivate people to pay. It’s also promising an absolute ton of features that seem realistic even given the 1 to 2 year development time. The developer has already been covered in other articles.

    The game sounds really awesome, in some ways like the 40k MMO Shooter I’ve been dreaming of. But like the taint of the Warp, there’s something rather ugly at the core of their plans. They’re banking on being the best F2P game ever to justify the pricing scheme they’ve described, and they’re hyping like it’s 1999. Considering the track record of 40k projects….this is not promising.

  25. CPLDANABD says:

    I kind of want to be enthused for this but as we all know “Hope is the first step on the road to disappointment.”

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