The ultimate playground for your Warhammer 40,000(R) fantasies! That is our 10 year mission statement.
As a Founder or Early Access customer, this should sound great and while our past 4 years have been tumultuous and an exercise in visible dirty laundry due to our policy of transparent game development - where you’ve seen features come in and out, redesigned, iterated upon and still in progress - we’re suddenly launching.
On Friday Bandai Namco, our Publisher for North America, Europe, Australasia and Africa announced the release date for the PC version of Eternal Crusade. This is supported by their marketing campaign and boxed release in Europe. The announcement also covered moving back the consoles, a common strategy lately with online games.
The reason is simple: There is about a 3-month lead time to get a gold candidate into a box and on the street for consoles, but on Steam it just takes a push of a button on a Steamworks webpage. Now I consider myself mildly insane at best, and even I would be able to push that button within a minute. Moving the console release back gives us more time to work on the game with our entire team than we previously had, before we launch it on console. In the words of the press release:
“We are committed to delivering the best experience for the release on September 23rd, with a PC version that matches our ambitions in terms of content and quality and sets the runway for our free lifetime expansions. To pause the development of the console versions was a tough decision but will result in an optimized and extended experience when released.” - Stephen Mulrooney, SVP Behaviour Digital
“But the game isn’t finished yet!” you say.
That’s entirely true and it never will be. An online game is a service provided to you by us where we commit to develop the game fully after we launch. This is not a new model and I was fortunate enough to be part of that strategy back at EVE Online where now 13 years later, expansions are still free and the game alive.
This is also why your dreams have not been ruined – yet – by the crusher of dreams. What we are doing is that we’re still on plan to launch the base game, paving the way for those free expansions. For us as developers there is no difference, we just keep on developing. For you as a customer, you still have the game and will forever, slowly but surely as it becomes the ultimate playground for your Warhammer 40,000(R) fantasies.
We made an infographic a while ago to try and clarify what we intended to have ready to launch. It’s all up to interpretation of course, and if it isn’t in at launch that just means it’s in a future expansion. We never cut any features; we only moved them into a free expansion. Well, unless that feature turns out to be shit, unachievable technically or both.
That still stands, and while we can debate about the depth of the individual systems at launch, rest assured, they are scheduled for updates and depth within the first quarter of launch.
For example, in production already for post-launch is the Terminator Equivalent Class, more maps, more Wargear and at least 2 major updates to the entire meta-game (territorial conquest, campaigns, guild warfare etc).
Then we have what we’re adding before launch, the meta-game systems, Veterans, cosmetics, new Advancements tree, the associated Wargear and variations to weapons, supply drops (“free lewt” and larger reward boxes).
This is all on PC so we can deploy this all quite easily on Steam with a day’s notice. Balancing also continues ad infinitum and we have people dedicated to that task long-term, since we’re always adding more and more Stuff™. It’s what us online service people are used to and have been doing for ages.
Wait, free lifetime expansions? How can you expand a game so much after launch?
That’s actually the easy part. With a foundation in place, making a system deeper or broader is easy. Adding more game modes, roles such as Warlords, classes, sub factions, maps, NPCs, weapons and meta-game elements is pretty trivial in comparison to developing the base systems.
The framework is already in place and the philosophy we use is the same as most other games of late that aren’t MMORPGs: MMOs. Massive as you play in the same world as hundreds of thousands of other players. Multiplayer because you’re either competing with or against other players. Obviously online since it would be plain weird to have a hundred thousand people living inside your PC.
For the sake of argument, let’s call this philosophy “Hub and Spoke” and as part of becoming the ultimate playground for your Warhammer 40,000(R) fantasies, and how that happens over time, I made a picture:
The plan goes like this: from a hub, which to begin with will be the Garrison, you will choose what kind of game experience you and your friends want to enjoy at that given time. You “fast travel” to it and voila, war and hilarity ensues. The “hub and spoke” model will give us the freedom to craft a much better experience than a contiguous open world would because we don’t suffer from the constraints of making everything fit together. It also allows us to scale up players so much more than one big open world, which plays a lot into matchmaking and the metagame.
Tank Battles is a new game mode with new maps. Large Scale and asymmetric PVE is also just a new map with a new game mode, just like PvPvPvPvE*! New NPCs and game modes can be added to all maps that already exist. Mutators can change the combat of every single environment we create and have created.
What I’m trying to point out is that, despite popular belief, we have no intention of going anywhere; the intent is free lifetime expansions to reach the ultimate playground for your Warhammer 40,000(R) fantasies! That is our mission.
We will be ready to launch, we will continue to expand for you for free and we thank you for your continued support. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for your support and the recognition of you and your reviews which is why we still live. While we know there are people with doubts (as we read the negative as well as the positive reviews) it’s not going to stop us from trying to make the game we’ve been dreaming of.
Your fantasy is also ours. Reality sometimes affects our progress but that doesn’t mean we give up on that long term goal.