Warframe Q&A with Steve Sinclair, Warframe Creative Director
Games in this Article: Warframe
As it enters open beta, Warframe seeks to amaze players with a fantastic world born from Dark Sector. With a deep mythology behind the game, this cooperative MMO Shooter blazes new ground for the genre. MMOHut’s Jaime Skelton had a chance to talk with Steve Sinclair, Warframe’s Creative Director, to discuss the making – and future – of Warframe.
Q: In the transition from Dark Sector to Warframe, what design thoughts were your key focus to maintain the spirit of your original ideas?
A: Our focus was to… focus! For Warframe the pressure was to get something up and running and into beta, lightning fast. We weren’t getting publisher money: it was completely self-funded so speed was the primary focus.
That led to us returning to Mike Brennan’s amazing visual style (our Art Director). It meant returning to the ‘hard sci-fi’ concepts we had shelved. Then it was just go– a sprint. Ambition was modest and ‘can you get it working now’ took precedence over big dreams and elaborate designs. The upside to that madness is the original style of Dark Sector still holds true today, so it was really just polishing and updating original works already in progress.
Q: The mythological influence in the game is clear. What drove the decision to have the warframes based off of various pantheons?
A: It’s suggestive of an ‘older’ universe and touches on legends. The Warframe universe is supposed to feel old to create authenticity. We wanted the Warframes themselves to have more in common with mythological weapons, like Excalibur or gods like Loki, than a cyberpunk vibe of Exo-X123. My personal influences are Dune, which is set in the ridiculously far-future and plays with the Arthur C. Clarke idea that sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. We wanted Warframe to have a bit of magic in it!
Q: Each of the warframes have their own feel, which is an impressive feat in a shooter. Are there any ideas to include frame specific weapons. or do you feel this would dilute the weapon selection for everyone?
A: Great question and something we’ve argued about internally. We debated Warframe-specific melee weapons for a long time, but we felt–especially early on when we didn’t have tons of weapons to choose from–it would be too limiting. What is coming in the future is a taste of that, however, with us experimenting with this idea that a Warframe has particular bonuses with certain weapons, which lets us suggest a build. In some ways this could help with diversity so that people aren’t gravitating to the ‘best’ weapon, but instead the ‘best’ weapon that suits their build and style.
Q: A cooperative shooter is somewhat an oddity in this market. Was this design factor intended initially, or did something else spur the idea?
A: Yes, Warframe has been a coop PvE from the very beginning. When we looked at what was out there in F2P, there seemed to be a glut of PvP and not much else. PvP makes sense from a longevity stand-point and is a great community builder (though somewhat difficult to keep from becoming toxic), but we wanted something different for Warframe. We wanted to welcome in more kinds of players: solo players plus players who want to loot and smash with friends without feeling caught in an inferiority loop where only-the-strong survive play. So PvE are the roots of the experience. That being said, the future of Warframe is growth. More bosses, greater enemies, more factions, but eventually we will be reaching outward into giving Clans greater meaning and yes, eventually, PvP.
Q: It seems the team thought long and hard to make the game far more than just a shooter with the way missions work. Are there any ideas for different types of missions?
A: Thank you! Our big focus is adding depth to the existing mission types before branching out. For example, in our next big update we’ve rewritten how the Defense mission type works to offer a broader range of challenge. If you want to complete the mission, you can hold off the enemies until the extraction is open and call it a day. If you want to push your luck and risk it, you can stick around and the enemy waves will increase in level and your rewards will escalate.
Q: What was the major inspiration for the enemies in the game, and their different levels of corruption?
A: The factions draw from several sources of inspiration and were designed to occupy different spectrums for design:
The Grineer are the ‘evil empire’ of the game. They are a people in decline using technology to compensate for their decay due to rampant cloning from a shallow pool of perfects. They are tough but with low damage and poorer technology.
The Corpus are the merchant cultists who use machines to do everything. They are high technology and employ shields and Robotics. They are generally weak when unshielded, but have the highest damage weaponry.
The Infestation are strange. If you look closely you can start to discern what they might be. They are well armored with weaker attacks which they make up for in numbers and toxicity (which bypasses Warframe shields and armor).
Q: What challenges can players look forward to in the future of Warframe?
A: What we learned in December is this: if you don’t update the game, it dies. It needs to grow to keep people coming back. So we are hell-bent on broadening the game and giving more systems and content. Update 7 stuff:
- Scrapping our Mod system in favor of an Artifact fusion system
- Adding Sentinels (‘pets’) which have Precept cards to control their behavior (a simple and intuitive way of programming them!)
- A new location (Snow Planet!)
- Steam integration
- Global chat
- New Warframes & new weapons (one new type that is totally awesome)
- … more crazy secret stuff!