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.