Wild West Online Interview – On The Game’s Leak, Death Penalties and Semi-Open Beta
Wild West Online quite literally came out of the blue. In the beginning, someone posted a leaked image of the game on GTAForums and passed it as Red Dead Redemption 2.
After a day or two, PC Gamer posted an exclusive article on Wild West Online and revealed that the image actually belonged to this online multiplayer game targeting a release on PC. Originally the developers at 612 Games/DJ2 Entertainment planned to launch a Kickstarter campaign, but with all the buzz the project had garnered through the leak and subsequent reveal, they shortly found private investors who were happy to provide the necessary funding.
With an alpha test due to begin in the summer and a full launch scheduled for late 2017, we reached out to Stephan Bugaj, Vice President of Creative at DJ2 Entertainment, to ask some of the hottest questions from within the community.
What does the recent Red Dead Redemption 2 delay mean for you? Do you see it as an extra opportunity to attract gamers?
Since WWO is an online multiplayer game that runs on PC, and RDR is not, we were never worried about direct competition. Maybe it’s better to not have two Western games debuting around the same time, but we were never trying to take sales away from RDR and they hadn’t announced any plans to step into the PC or online multiplayer markets.
There has been a lot of speculation surrounding Wild West Online's first leaked picture originally appeared on GTAForums and passed as Red Dead Redemption 2. Can you comment on whether you were behind this as a marketing ploy?
I wish I could say the leak was a marketing ploy, but it wasn’t something we did. We were just as surprised as everyone else to see the image out there.
How many employees do you currently have working on the game? Can you disclose whether they have previous experience with AAA and/or online games and if, in what capacity?
The team is made up of industry vets who’ve worked on titles such as the Crysis series, Ryse, Armored Warfare, Telltale’s Walking Dead, Telltale’s Game of Thrones, Neverwinter Nights, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Star Trek Online.
Are you sure you can deliver a polished experience with just a year and a half of development? If player feedback calls for a delay, would you consider it?
Every major developer and publisher have slipped deadlines, so while we are confident things can, of course, go wrong. We would certainly consider a 1.0 delay if things don’t go well enough during Alpha and Beta.
Will there be an Open Beta before the launch?
There will be a semi-open beta with a preference given to pre-purchasers, to defray the costs of server operations, and non-paying Beta players being selected at random (plus select slots for press and streamers).
You said in a community Q&A that there won't be any droppable items on death. What will be the consequences for dying, then?
If you are killed during a mission or quest, you will lose progress and potentially the reward for that mission. Other than that we’re not trying to be a game that harshly penalizes players for dying. After we revealed the game, some people thought that WWO would be similar to survival online games, but this is not accurate. We’re not trying to simulate any survival in the game and we do not plan on WWO being a hardcore “permadeath” game. Death in WWO comes mostly from other players, and it doesn’t carry penalties outside maybe some amount of lost time.
Did you decide whether there will be a progression system or not?
There will be character progression, but right now we’re working on creating a balance between rewarding someone for their time in the game and the potential imbalance that might occur between veteran and new players. We want WWO to be about a player’s skills, not stats of their characters.
In the same Q&A, you revealed that Wild West Online will be using NVIDIA's PhysX technology. Does that mean we can expect a fair amount of destructibility? Are you using any other NVIDIA GameWorks effects?
It’s always hard to make things destructible in a large online open world environment; unlike a session-based game where everything gets “reset” after the session is over. So while our programmers are playing with some ideas about destructibility, we’re not sure if this feature will be available in the game. We need to test things first. We’re also exploring what other GameWorks effects we can bring into the game. Making a balance between looking pretty and running on low-end computers is a tough job, so we will try our best to keep this balance.
For the final release, are you planning to support multiGPU configurations (SLI, CrossFire)?
Our goal is to make sure that the game provides a certain level of performance like 60fps in 4K on high-end cards, 60fps in 1080p in mid-high level range cards, and above 30fps in 1080p on low-level cards. While we’ve received some requests from the community to support things like SLI as well as ultra widescreen 21:9 monitors, the hardware survey data we have shows that less than 1% of the players actually have systems equipped with such hardware. Of course, it doesn’t mean that will be the same case with WWO, so if we notice more users with SLI and other configurations we may support some changes.
What are the odds that you'll port Wild West Online to consoles like PlayStation 4 and Xbox One at some point?
We’re not currently considering it, but the only thing you can’t predict is the future. For now, we will focus on making a great PC experience, and worry about whether or not we want to expand the platform base once we’re past 1.0 release.
Is there anything more you'd like to say to all those who are interested in the project?
If you’re a fan of Western-themed games and/or online multiplayer games, we hope you’ll check out WWO and enjoy your time in the virtual world we’re creating. If you’d like your voice heard in terms of suggestions, join the forums. We’re not posting a lot as the team is small and busy, but the suggestions are being read and considered.
Thank you for your time.