We’re on the horn with Cryptic Lead Designer Scott Shicoff and Senior Content Designer John Hopler to talk about Neverwinter’s brand-new Stronghold siege PvP mode. Could you start by discussing the demand for and feedback on large-scale PvP demand within the playerbase?
Scott Shicoff: As with all living games, Neverwinter is constantly adding new things for players to experience. With the release of Neverwinter: Strongholds, we added a new way for the players to come together and grow as a guild. To further expand upon this concept, stronghold siege delivers a way for the guild to show how they operate as a unit against other players, while also leveraging the progress they’ve made together in the PvE mode. From the beginning stages of planning Neverwinter: Strongholds, we felt that this large-scale PvP game would tie the whole experience into a complete package.
When we played this mode within the studio, we found that even people who didn’t normally play PvP would have a lot of fun contributing to the battle with their guild-mates.
As for feedback within the playerbase, we got a lot of positive response during alpha testing, and are excited to see what people think now that it is live.
Can you provide any numbers or statistics as to how many of the game’s guilds have taken advantage of strongholds? How many guilds are both equipped with a stronghold and large enough to participate in these new fights?
Scott Shicoff: We can’t confirm the exact number of guilds that are participating in strongholds at this time, but we know there are plenty. When we were designing the 20v20 PvP mode, we knew that we wanted to include as many players as possible. That meant we couldn’t require all 20 players from one guild to be online at the same time. Also, if you needed to field all 20 from one guild, smaller guilds wouldn’t be able to participate. To solve this, we decided that as long as you were in any guild, you could queue for stronghold siege.
The stronghold that is chosen to represent a given side is based on whichever guild is predominantly represented on that side. If all guilds on a side are equally represented, one of the most represented will be chosen at random. If all members of a guild queue up at approximately the same time, the system will try to put them all on a single side (up to 20 players).
WildStar recently attempted a similar PvP feature with warplots and 40v40 battles. The developers anticipated massive participation in those, and yet the feature has been largely neglected by the community. Other than a smaller size (20v20), how do you think Neverwinter’s new PvP mode will fare better?
John Hopler: Many PvP games are built to appeal only to players who already enjoy PvP. Stronghold siege was designed to be as inclusive as possible and provides rewards that can be enjoyed by both PvP fans and PvE players. The way we crafted our 20v20 battles makes it easier for players to participate. You don’t need to be part of a large, hardcore PvP guild in order to join. It’s still very much a PvP game, but we want players who are traditionally PvE-only to dip their toes in. We think they’ll enjoy it once they’re in the pool.
How long do you anticipate an average 20v20 siege to last?
John Hopler: The average match should last about 20 to 25 minutes. Matches may go a little longer for inexperienced teams. During the alpha tests, players picked up the basics of the game pretty quickly and match times fell in the expected range.
Do guilds have to rebuild their strongholds after a siege? What is at stake for both sides if they win or lose?
John Hopler: No. Nothing is at risk, except maybe some wounded pride.
We discussed the possibility of persistent damage to the stronghold early in the design process and decided against it. We want as many people as possible to play and enjoy stronghold siege and persistent damage is counterproductive to that goal. Risk-averse players will simply avoid it and even hard-core PvP players might find themselves unable to compete at the level they want after a few losses. We opted to go with a system that doesn’t punish players for participating.
Both teams receive rewards at the end of the match. The winning team gets a victory bonus, of course. The rewards include “Banners of the Fallen,” which can be redeemed for special PvP gear, and resource vouchers that can be used to further upgrade the guild’s stronghold.
Are there any systems in place to encourage feuds or revenge strikes between guilds?
Scott Shicoff: Not currently. We’re looking at future improvements to the system that will promote plenty of friendly competition between players.
Will this mode be making the transition to the Xbox as well? Are there technical challenges in bringing it to consoles?
Scott Shicoff: Stronghold siege will be coming to Xbox in a future update. Much of the heavy lifting for the system has already been done to bring this mode to PC. That being said, we are still looking into ways to improve team communication and coordination on Xbox One, as the platform limits the amount of players who can participate in group chat.
We’ve added additional information onto the stronghold siege map and UI so players can see, at a glance, the way the battle is moving. From this, they can make smart decisions that will help lead to victory!
Thanks for talking with us!