Warhammer 40k: Eternal Crusade: The Workshop Interview
I recently got to sit down with Nathan Richardsson, who is in charge of Warhammer 40k: Eternal Crusade. We talked about a few things in particular, such as an upcoming addition to the game of “Personal Goals”, a new map, and other systems and mechanics to make the game far more exciting. Arguably though, one of the most important things about a Warhammer game is how it appears. The look and authenticity of a game like Eternal Crusade are of the utmost importance. Warhammer 40k is all about the “Grim Darkness”, which does require capitalization. It’s Space Marines, Orks, Chaos Army, and (most important of all) Eldar, all vying for dominance through violence. Violence, blood, and lots of bullets! It’s important that the look and feel of the game are just right. We mainly talked about the Steam Workshop. It’s awesome, right? And the game is officially a year old (before a year more of alpha/beta testing). The project itself is about five years old to boot, so it’s coming a long way since its inception!
Cosmetics are important in any free-to-play game, and for many, it’s a primary source of income. However, in many Steam Workshops, players can just design whatever nonsense they want, from adding ponies or anime to Civilization or X-Com, for example. Whatever silly nonsense players want to add, they can just do it without having to accept the consequences for what they have wrought. Everyone has been asking about the ability to create their own custom armies/cosmetics for Eternal Crusade, but there’s a caveat to it. Unlike Team Fortress 2 or other games, there will be no just “making stuff and uploading it”. There will be a rigorous, thorough screening process to this to make sure that everything is “up to code” as it were, that it fits with the style and grittiness that is deserving of the Warhammer franchise. So no, you probably won’t see Cutie Marks, Inuyasha, Minions, or whatever it is the kids are up to these days. Which I think is fantastic.
I’m fine with cosmetics that don’t fit with the theme in most games, like space robots in SMITE. That’s fine. But in my grimdark and edgy space battles, I want it to stay that way. Nathan joked, “If there’s going to be a faction like ‘My Little Warpony’, then, maybe yeah!” which would definitely be fair. I appreciate that they will screen the content to see would be fitting to be in the game. He said that he’d love to make it Open Source, but that’s too much for right now, what with potential licensing issues and such. They’re starting small with screening the cosmetics and going from there. Even if it were Open Source, it would be controlled. So they’re going to start it small, but here’s the kicker: for the time being, all of these cosmetics will be free. Whatever gets approved would simply be in the game for players to acquire should they want it. Then in the future, they can tackle the quagmire of selling cosmetics. “How do we reimburse them?” he asked. “If we actually sell the objects, we’re not gonna do it alone. It’s a large legal thing that we’re not going to go into yet. So everything we put in, for now, will be free for everyone. That simplifies everything. It’s an easy first step.”
It’s going to take a lot of work; making a Shoulderpad in your spare time is one thing, but modeling a whole character? That is a whole different matter. There should be some manner of compensation. They aren’t looking for free work, but there is a huge demand for cosmetics, and everyone has their own idea for what their factions should/deserve to have. So, they’ll go over them and add them for free. Everyone wins! Then they can worry about monetizing it. It’s taken them a while to get to this point, but the community wants to help, and this is the first step towards this goal. For them, it’s important that when another player joins the game, whether they’re on your side or against you, they’re creating content for you and for themselves. It’s terribly difficult to create new content constantly, especially over years and years, so having players willing to create this content while also playing the game with you helps. I can see the merit of simply letting people create what they want but I don’t think it fits a title like this. I’m sure there will be something comedic or humorous that could get through, but this also prevents vulgar, vile things from coming through. I’d rather see variations of turrets, tanks, guns, rather than someone thinking they’re clever and sneaking Swastikas and such into the game.
There are also the “Personal Goals/Objectives”, which is tied into the campaign. The four factions right now just have goals that involve killing each other, which makes sense; come on, this is Warhammer. Personal Goals is a new system where you have a short/long-term goal which you’ll receive recognition for. They can be a part of the campaign(not like simply winning some battles against a faction), but these objectives can actually contribute to the actual campaign as a whole. So personal achievements and the grand campaign are being tied together. It should be interesting to see the grand campaign be actually affected by what you do as a player. It should be seen “pretty soon”, but it is on the Test Servers for players to try and explore now. It sounds like they have a lot of fun stuff on the way and on the backburner, so I’m pretty excited to see what the fans come up with! Will they create their own sub faction armor? The final thing he did share was that they are looking for more Worldwide Partners, so that the game can grow outside of Europe/NA/Parts of Oceania.
If they can secure some more partners, more people around the world will be able to realize this vision of a huge Warhammer shooter! People have asked Nathan about crowdsourcing to fund certain aspects/expansions of the game (to do it faster), but he said “Besides the hate and death threats I’d get for that, it’s, it’s still expensive stuff. People are starting to ask, but I think we could actually work out a model for that. If people contribute to some kind of goal, you know, even though our expansions are free for everyone … if we added Terminators or heroes/cosmetics that cost virtual currency, they’d get that for free. It’s still a model that could work but you know, but I’m still not comfortable with it. I would have to figure out a model that makes it beneficial for all parties. For me? Getting more money means I can do more development. It’s not going into anyone’s pocket!”
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