New World was released just over two months ago. It established an absurdly high concurrent player count in the process, peaking at 913,000. However, the game’s first few weeks weren’t easy. Post-launch patches fixed some issues, but introduced several bugs and exploits to the game, requiring quick response and downtime – and in some cases emergency fixes like disabling trade and restoring servers.
There has been a steep decline in the game’s active player base since launch, but as Amazon Games deals with these unforeseen issues and player feedback, the team is also focusing on adding new content. and the expansion of the MMO world. The first major post-launch update, Into The Void, landed in mid-November, with many more planned for the coming months, including a New World winter festival.
Following the Into The Void update, we spoke to New World Game Director Scot Lane to learn more about the team’s post-launch priorities, weathering the storm of bugs and exploits, and how Aeternum might change as New World establishes itself as one of the best MMOs around.
PCGN: What was the post-launch experience for the team?
Scott Lane: It was a learning experience. We were impacted by the response to New World and that led to a much larger scale than we had in our public alpha or beta, and that brought up some issues. We understand the importance of reacting quickly and have tried to resolve issues as quickly as possible.
In the beginning, we were so focused on fixing issues that we failed to communicate enough with players. This is something we have put a lot of effort into correcting and will continue to focus on.
How do you juggle patch work and post-release content?
Live is the top priority. If something affects players, it gets our full attention. We are still able to work on future content because the work is very sharp. For example, the recent issue we had with in-game coins required engineers who understood that part of the code, while the Void Gauntlet update was handled by a different team of gameplay engineers, designers and artists. We will continue to work on post-launch content and develop Aeternum, but the live version always comes first.
we were so focused on fixing issues that we didn’t do a good enough job of communicating with players
We know we had issues and I want everyone to know that the team worked tirelessly to resolve them as quickly as possible. That hasn’t changed now that we’re live – it will continue to be our number one priority. We know it’s very important to keep adding content and features, and we plan to do so for years to come, but our current focus is to give gamers around the world the best possible experience. I can’t stress enough how much we appreciate their patience as we worked through these launch issues.
Have you allocated more resources to testing patches?
Yes, we have added more testing resources and launched the PTR. We’ve made mistakes by going too fast and we’re still trying to find the balance between speed and quality. Our goal is to give every player a great experience, and as a team, we’re getting better at patching and testing every day.
Nothing hurts more than problems in the live game space. We put so much energy into giving players a great experience and it hurts when we don’t. We will continue to push as hard as possible to deliver a great gaming experience.
How have exploits disrupted your server balancing plans?
The exploits were very disruptive and we had to dedicate a large part of our team to fixing them. Preventing the exploit from happening, then going back and removing all affected items from the economy are both time-consuming tasks. The percentage of players and businesses using exploits is extremely low, and the vast majority of the benefits they got were temporary.
we plan to allow players to access their inventory while running
Even if the percentage of cheaters is low, they can have a huge impact on player perception: it’s not fun to play and win something when someone else is perceived to be using an exploit and the getting faster or with less effort. The team is committed to maintaining a level playing field for all players, the majority of whom aren’t interested in using exploits – they just want to play and enjoy New World.
The Void Gauntlet is particularly exciting as it introduces more variety to healing, are you happy with how healing is currently balanced for PvP and PvE?
We think healing is in a good place right now for PvE. For PvP, we’re excited to provide players with more ways to counter healing. In the future, there will be no shortage of weapons that we would like to add to New World. The bar is pretty high though and we need to make sure they are at the level of quality our players expect and don’t upset the delicate balance for PvE and PvP. Balancing and tuning current and new weapons is something we expect to do for the life of New World.
What areas of PvP and PvE have you identified as underdeveloped?
There are a few areas we are focusing on now. The first is endgame: we need to do a better job of getting players to all of our endgame activities. Right now they’re being pushed into a very small part of our endgame mechanics and that rightly leaves them wanting more.
We also need to improve the early and mid-game experience, especially for solo players, and we’ve already started working on content for that. Our goal is to continue to respond to what players are asking for – player feedback will continue to help shape the direction of New World.
Could you tell us about the evolution of the territory system and how the concept changed during development?
The idea of players owning land has been around since the early days of the New World. Over the years, it evolved from owning small settlements to owning larger territories, and eventually we also tied the game mechanics of the factions together. I think the progression was quite natural. When we just had settlements, we quickly found that it wasn’t fun to lose your settlement when you were offline or sleeping. This led us to add war mechanics to ensure fairness, and then as Aeternum grew we had to decide if it would be better to have massive companies or some type of faction system.
There’s something cool about limiting companies to a relatively small size so you can get to know everyone. There’s some science around how many people you can be friends and acquaintances with in real life, so we decided to go with medium-sized businesses and introduce factions.
We realize that there are risks of imbalance between the factions and we have potential solutions ready. These changes also brought other open-world PvP benefits, and so far it’s working really well. It’s one of those systems that will need close monitoring over time and will certainly require tweaking as we move from theory to real life.
Now that territories have been claimed and many people have maxed out, how do you hope to support the pioneering sensibilities of the player base in the future?
Even if the percentage of cheaters is low, they can have a huge impact on player perception
Well, there’s a bunch of stuff we do. We are creating new expeditions for players to explore, we have new antagonists like the Varangian Knights, we have introduced many new types of quests, and more dynamic content and events in the world. The initial land rush is a very small part of the experience, and the landscape of Aeternum changes all the time as different companies and factions take over different parts of the map.
So far, we’ve only seen part of Aeternum. We don’t have hard limits on the size of this world, at least none of which apply to us yet, nor are we limited by server population limits. I’m really excited to watch Aeternum grow and see how players respond as we uncover more of its mysteries.
Would you ever consider starting new servers so people can experience the original “gold rush” again?
I know players have asked for it, and it’s something we talk about. I like the idea of some kind of seasons mode where we don’t branch off the player base, but at this point those concepts are in very early discussions and any new stuff is far on the horizon.
Players are limited to one character per server. Are there any concerns that without alternate accounts, server populations might age over time?
We don’t have any immediate plans to increase the level cap, but I’m pretty sure we’ll undertake those thoughts in the future. Due to our faction and territory control systems, I think we will see players creating second characters on other worlds as the experience could be very different.
Will there be new content that lower level players can access during the upgrade?
We understand that some players would like to focus more on single-player gameplay, and we’re doing more to make that viable through alternate quests and more single-player oriented gameplay.
What other quality of life changes are underway?
We just introduced an important one that players have been asking for, which is that players now run faster on roads. Looking to the future, we are working on ways to help connect players who are looking for World Quests and to add more quest markers and crafting. There are also upcoming map improvements, and more. Most of this information comes directly from player requests via forums, in-game comments, or Reddit. And for anyone who asked, we are planning to allow players to access their inventory while running.