[The GWO Dev Journal gives players a look behind the scenes at all the fun and hard work that went into the game. Today the GWO team discusses the mount system that recently galloped its way into the game.]
There was a lot of debate within the GWO dev team about adding a mount system, and it took quite a while to reach an agreement. Mostly the differences focused on how best to reflect history, since GWO draws from a specific historic genre. Those who originally wanted to shoot down the mount idea argued that mounts were rarely seen, especially during warfare in the ancient Peloponnese peninsula and the rest of Greece. In fact, they argued that infantries were not that widely employed, and the Greek warriors fought mainly with pikes and shields as shown in the movies.
Proponents of a mount system countered by pointing out that warring elephants and other exotic animals were mentioned in historic archives about the battle of Thermopylae. They also thought infantry was much more than "barely seen" in the legendary Trojan War.
The debate continued and everybody contributed an opinion, which made the dev office feel like the American senate. Finally Frank, the game's lead designer, couldn't take it any longer and suggested we put it to a vote on the official forum. The team embraced his suggestion and the results showed that players were overwhelmingly in favor of the inclusion of a mount system. Nobody could think of a reason to reject the players' request, so we put the development of a mount system on the schedule.
In the eyes of the players, it may not seem like a big deal to add mounts, but we had a lot of work to do in terms of details. We had to nail down just the right graphics balance between the mount and the rider. Take a Parnitha boar, for instance. We adopted the porcine monster as the prototype of the snouty mount. There's a lot more to it than throwing a character on top of a pig. We needed to make sure it would run like a sturdy beast rather than some wimpy rabbit.
After going through a series of experiments trying different effects during the mapping phase, we once again burned the midnight oil to create that "one" perfect effect. Mapping was critical to the final look of the mount. It would have taken even more work if the mount had been some never-before-seen creature. Several artists had to put their heads together and try to think beyond the picture. They sketched out ideas for further discussion. Despite all the pains they went to getting it just right, their efforts resulted in something truly impressive.
The obvious role of a mount is to help you get from place to place faster, whether you're searching for a quest location in the wilderness or rushing to an in-game event. We wanted to explore that even further. Giving players the option to upgrade mounts was only the beginning of the refinements we plan to add. In version 2.0 of the game, we allow players to boost the attributes of their mounts by turning in some pretty simple stuff. Check out the coiled muscles and curvy, projecting tusks of the boar after an upgrade. The Greek horse's relatively vulnerable parts are also heavily reinforced with gold armor after an upgrade. Despite their battle-ready looks, the real test is in a mount's performance. Saddle up and try them out and you can really see the difference.
We are working on expanding the selection of available mounts, with animals such as deer, wolves and even some rather bizarre creatures as candidates. Our emphasis is on what these mounts can do, rather than just how they look. Once the functionality is set, the artists can bring the final look together. We are brewing some really big ideas for the mount system, but they aren't our top priority at the moment. We'll let you know more in a future dev journal, but have you ever imagined a player duel with the combatants mounted on a boar and a gigantic wolf? That's just a hint of the great stuff we want to do with the mount system now that it's in-game.
Before we wrap this up, I just want to say thanks to everyone who worked so hard on the mounts, and more importantly to the players. It's the GWO fans that make all our efforts worthwhile.