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Amazon Games Devs Reflect on Two Years of ‘New World’

28 Sep, 2023

Hi everyone! Here we are, two years to the day after launching New World. The Rise of the Angry Earth expansion is right around the corner, and we have so much on the horizon that we plan to share with you all, but first I’d like to take a moment and reflect on the past two years.

It has been an immense privilege partnering with you all on New World. From the beginning, it was an ambitious project to create a massively multiplayer RPG experience set in the beautiful, intriguing and open world of Aeternum. I’m thankful to Amazon Games for believing in and committing to the vision for New World, and supporting us while the game evolved along the way. One of Amazon’s guiding leadership principles is “customer obsession,” and the way in which the company and my entire team positively embraced that principle with our players is, I believe, a big part of what makes New World truly special.

A year and a half before New World launched, it was an entirely different game. It’s well documented that New World began its early life in development as a PvP-focused Survival-Crafting MMO. But in the spirit of “player obsession,” we engaged early and often with our community well before launch and learned a lot about what players liked and also where they perhaps wanted a different direction. I know this type of engagement isn’t uncommon in game development, but it’s incredibly rare for that community interaction to effect such profound, ongoing changes to a game like those New World has seen. We frequently showed the data around what fans truly wanted to Amazon leadership and they continually supported us.

It’s staggering to look at the sheer number of features and content we’ve added to New World since launch. It is no easy feat adding so much while running a live game. The team worked hard to add weapons like the Void Gauntlet and Greatsword to give more choices in combat builds. We also added content like the Tempest Expedition that put the final seal on Isabella’s story, and reworked the main story quest line to highlight the narrative, improve quality and introduce solo trials to call out a few highlights. If I listed everything we’ve added and improved in the past two years, this would be a really long read!

I’m deeply proud of the team—at the Amazon Games Orange County studio and beyond—that brought New World to life in such grand fashion and continues to evolve it into the game our players desire and deserve. On behalf of the entire team, I wanted to extend a sincere thanks to our amazing community of players: your passion and feedback are equally as deserving of praise for the game that New World is today and also for the exciting future ahead of it.

And now I’d like to extend the opportunity to my team to share some of their favorite memories and anecdotes from two years of New World. From me, though, my thanks go out to the New World team and to the players for your contributions. I can’t wait for everyone to see what lies ahead.

Scot Lane, Game Director, New World

“In 2018 we had one of our first real playtests at home. Our in-game company claimed a piece of land, built on it and were soon after getting invaded by the enemy company. They were coming up over the ridge and a lot of us planted ourselves on top of the ramparts to fend off the attack. Arrows whistled by and muskets rang out, echoing through the valley, leaving only smoke tracers behind. This was the first time it felt like everything in New World was starting to come together. We were able to test with hundreds of players, with a good chunk of the game’s systems working. It was fun to see at launch players having a similar experience with open world combat. I’m excited to see the Influence changes in Season 3 go live, as I think they’ll promote more Open World skirmishes.”

Edward Corlew, Senior Programmer, New World

“Ah, the New World journey! I still remember the day I joined this epic adventure. It was like being handed the keys to a realm of endless possibilities. From day one, it revived my love for MMORPGs, a strong passion I thought was sealed away for a while. Much love to New World and its amazing team!”

Eun Jeong (EJ) Kim, Senior UX Designer, New World

“A particularly fun memory I have from working on New World was creating Turkulon. The team had joked for a while about how fun a turkey that shoots lasers would be, and I had a slow afternoon one Friday so I took that idea and ran with it. I scaled up a turkey, let it shoot lasers from its eyes, and made it drop exploding eggs as it walked. And thus, Turkulon the Terror was born, and one of our more novel holiday events came to life. Seeing players react the first time he spawned in game was such a blast and I’m happy we were able to bring him to life.”

Patrick Smedley, Lead Seasons Designer, New World

“One of my favorite moments from the launch of New World, was seeing the “tent cities” outside of towns as people completed the camping quest. I started out in Everfall, and players from day one will remember there used to be four starting zones and Everfall was one of them. It was this amazing sea of lights and tents, and you would see people scrambling around it and building new ones. It really showed the dynamic nature of New World.”

David Verfaillie, Creative Director, New World

“When I started on NW I was helping drive customer support. I started on New World during Alpha and it’s incredible to see how much the game has transformed since those days. Launch was one of the most rewarding and challenging times in my career – but when I did have time to play or watch streams, seeing the map come alive with companies taking over territories and go to war was so exciting. I especially loved watching players experience something for the first time in the game, like running into our massive alligators or finding creative ways to sneak up on players in open world PvP. My company actually owned First Light for much of Alpha and I still have nostalgia for that territory – but I’m looking forward to players seeing how it’s changed in the upcoming Rise of the Angry Earth expansion!”

Rachel Barnum, Game Designer, Social, New World

“Roughly six months after launching New World, I climbed Denali in Alaska, a long-term goal of mine. It also felt like an apt way to pay tribute to New World and honor the team’s hard work by climbing one of the most challenging peaks of the world-famous “Seven Summits.” With a GPS tracker and one-way texting, the team was able to follow along and hear from me along the way – some were even watching along as I finally reached the summit, New World flag in tow. It was a grueling but incredible experience that was a fitting tribute to the accomplishment our entire team made in launching the game. Two years later, here we all are, continuing to watch New World climb to new heights.”

CJ Clark, AI Engineer, New World

“I joined New World in April of 2017. When I got my first recruiting call, I went trawled the internet for information about the game. Aside from a brief announcement, and a general summary that it was a multiplayer game, all I could find on the internet that first version of the key art. The metal face wearing the conquistador helmet and with the creepy Latin text carved into the cheek. It drew me in immediately. Just by itself as a piece of art, but on top of that, the imagery of the Age of Exploration has personal resonance for me, having grown up in St. Augustine, Florida, surrounded by a very similar-looking face adorning signs and billboards for “Fountain of Youth” themed knick-knacks. It struck me that we don’t often see IP making use of that time in history (although we’ve had quite a few since then), and I was instantly hooked on the possibilities.

When I got here, I found a team that had far and away some of the most talented artists, engineers, and designers I’d ever had the privilege of working with. I found the Amazon way of doing things to be a really good fit for games, with our emphasis on customer obsession. Really early on, like in 2018 I think, we had an always-on Alpha server, and even before then we had playtesters coming to the studio in person to work with us. I think a lot of our players know the game has changed a lot over the years leading up to release, and that’s due to us listening to customers. We never lost sight of our core goal of building a shared world set in this really interesting ‘haunted Eden’ time and place, with awesome real-time combat and large-scale multiplayer content, but surrounding that core has always been very fertile creative soil. As our codebase and team grew, we were able to do more and more toward that vision, and it was so nice as a designer to be able to have live software that customers were playing all the time as a tool to keep us grounded and results-oriented in our approach.

It’s hard to describe what it felt like to see that metallic, helmed face sitting in the #1 spot on Steam’s Most Played those first few weeks. “Humbling” felt like the word most of us gravitated toward, and I think that’s right. You’d go on Twitch and for every stream showing a large-scale PVP battle there’d be another one of players just exploring the wilderness, chopping down every tree in sight and enjoying the top-notch sound design and sunbeams parting through the leaves, and that’s really the story of New World. It offers different things to different players, but ultimately it’s just a beautiful place to come and bask in, alone or with friends, and it constantly inspires both us and our players with a constant sense of potential and possibility.”

Dan Henuber, Product Owner, Social/Mounts, New World