Interview with Warframe's Megan Everett
Megan Everett is a cheerful, knowledgeable breath of fresh air, who also happens to be the Community Director over at Digital Extremes, the developer and publisher for Warframe. A few weeks back, she was able to spare us 30 informative minutes of her time, as well as throw in some great anime recommendations: Attack on Titan, My Hero Academia, and Jujutsu Kaisen, for good measure!
The Duality of Dress
Michelle (Gamer Escape): We noticed during the presentation that you and Rebecca were dressed the same. Was there any hidden meaning there or was it just for funsies?
Megan (Warframe): Oh my gosh, that’s the greatest question I’ve gotten so far. Ironically enough, we also dressed the same today. We’re both pink and white. It just happens, to be quite honest. Rebb and myself have just been bonding over anime a lot recently and the Attack on Titan one specifically and I got us matching shirts. I always ask her, “So what are you gonna wear tomorrow?” And she said, “Attack on Titan shirt?” And I said, “Will I do the same?” And she said, “Yes!” So we wore the same shirt, we have the same necklace, we’re just two best friends with the same interests, but it did not have any secret meaning. Although, now I’m wishing it did because that would have been really cool, but sadly it was just a love of anime.
Michelle (GE): When we saw you guys we were like, “Ooh, does this have something to do with the duality of the Operator and the Drifter?!”
Megan (W): “Damn, I wish that was the answer. It was really just us being nerds!”
Michelle (GE): In the preview, we saw Dominus Thrax wind time backward to suit his whims. Will there be any other sort of time loops or paradoxes that we’ll see or that we’ll get to control?
Megan (W): Ooo, excellent question. I believe what we showed at the press demo was the angry emotion of Dominus Thrax and obviously the TennoCon demo we showed last year was that beginning part of the quest where you’re literally stuck in the loop getting stabbed, rewinding, and all that stuff, which is so fun. But the loop itself is completely driven by Dominus Thrax and in terms of how the players are gonna see that, after they’ve done the quest and they get access to the Duviri experience and the world, you’re going to see a two hour, emotional Spiral where you’ll go into the Duviri star chart. You’ll see that currently Dominus Thrax is feeling fear and the Fear Spiral is active for two hours, so you’ll be able to go into the Fear Spiral, play it out and then, the way the story works, is every time you die in Duviri, that’s essentially Thrax kind of rewinding time, [which] brings you back. That’s kind of like the lore narrative of it. But once you’ve done that two hours, you’re doing your storyline, maybe you’re doing some side activities, then that’s where, essentially, this Spiral moves on to the next one. Dominus Thrax is done feeling sorrow, or done feeling fear and he moves on, now he’s feeling angry and now suddenly you’re in the Anger Spiral. So, I wouldn’t necessarily say that anyone else controls it, but you might learn a bit more about the control of the Spirals through the quest, and perhaps near the end you’ll be able to make some decisions of your own.
Anton (GE): Ok, sort of a spontaneous thought that came into my mind white you were talking: Are there any connections, and this is a bit of a lore question so forgive me, but are there any connections between with what we saw with Dominus Thrax and what we saw earlier with the Limbo Theorem?
Megan (W): I wouldn’t say directly, no. It’s hard to say without spoiling a bunch of the story, so I’m trying to be vague a little bit. I’m going to say, indirectly, no. Maybe, perhaps when you play it you might feel a little different, but I’m going to go with: indirectly no.
Anton (GE): Might piece together the void shenanigans later.
Megan (W): Exactly.
New Frames and the 1.1 Echoes Update
Michelle (GE): Are there new frames coming with Duviri Paradox? Are their concepts influenced by the Duviri area itself?
Megan (W): There is no new Warframe coming with Duviri Paradox, but we do have one planned for our Duviri 1.1 [update]. So as we’ve done with Angels of the Zariman and with Veilbreaker, we’ll do an Echoes update of sorts afterwards, after we’ve gotten the feedback and all that stuff, but we do have planned to add a warframe in that and they are heavily inspired by Duviri. You’ll see some ties in there, we’re kind of playing around right now with how Duviri has, obviously, the color changes with black and white and sometimes different colors, so could that apply to this Warframe? We’ll see.
In Echoes, we’ll also have gardening. We said on the dev stream that we weren’t ready to ship that part of it yet within the caves. So 1.1 we’ll have gardening, a Warframe, and then a whole bunch of other changes from the update if we need to do a little bit of some overhauls on some things.
Michelle (GE): Some tweaks!
Megan (W): Yeah!
Anton (GE): Can you share any more information about the garden, or is that still at this point… “concepty.”
Megan (W): Yeah, it’s still definitely in its concepting phase. We developed it to a certain point and realized our dreams and hopes for it were too grand to get done within Duviri and it wasn’t necessarily a feature that needed to go in Duviri. Duviri can exist without it for right now, kind of thing. Currently how it works is it’s tied to the Zariman and your Dormizone, how you currently have that grown over, needs-some-love-and-care gardening section with VERD-IE flying around. How it works is in Duviri you would get resources, such as seeds from plants, you would plant it in your Duviri garden and it would grow and also appear in your Zariman Dormizone garden. What we were playing around with were the resources that you would get from making this new plant, or new flower is you would get yourself boosts or additional boons that would help with your day. But, again, that was a bit more out of scope than we were currently on trajectory for with everything that we wanted to do with Duviri. The intent is that what you do in the cave will affect your garden in your Dormizone and what you can get from that gardening [are] boosts, maybe almost even like a resource boost for that day for a certain amount of time, tbd on what the final version of that will be. But that’s kind of the main concept of it: having that crossover of what you can do here will also affect what you can do here.
Tech Sharing with Soulframe
Anton (GE): Bringing Steve to center stage for just a moment: With Soulframe being under production as well, are there ideas or mechanics that are in Soulframe that are being tested in Duviri Paradox currently?
Megan (W): So in terms of Soulframe/Warframe, everything is kept pretty separate in terms of combat, just because we really do have a goal in mind of keeping Soulframe [as] its own thing and feeling different. We don’t want the Soulframe characters bullet jumping or anything like that, that kind of breaks the vibe of it all. We’re all one big team and there’s definitely a sense of sharing, especially on the tech side of things. The whole Duviri landscape tech-wise, lighting, performance, graphics, is all a shared hive-mind with what they’re doing with Soulframe because they’ve experimented with some stuff, found some really cool tech and we’re applying it in Warframe. We were able to do some facial advancements with Soulframe that we brought over to Warframe, so it’s really more of a sharing tech-wise stuff, but in terms of actual game-play of it, we’re trying to keep those two things separate. If there is anything that can be applied to Warframe that isn’t a one-to-one rip of each other, then the team is more than happy to share the knowledge. If it looks good over there, it would look good over here.
Anton (GE): I remember on dev stream a while back, Steve getting very excited about moving away from the NVIDIA particle effects and moving towards either an in-house particle effect system or something else. Just seeing that sort of passion for technical innovation was like, “Ok, I can see how being in a new project, trying out some new things and taking the things that work, putting them in Warframe would line up with that still so… That’s cool! That’s good to hear.
Megan (W): Yeah, Steve is, in the best way possible, such a nerd for the tech side of things and I love it because I look at it and I’m like… I have no idea what I’m looking at. I’m in all the channels of graphics, and code, and sandbox, and I’m like, “What am I looking at?” It looks cool, but I don’t understand it, and he’s just going off about it and it’s really exciting. I think with Soulframe, obviously with have Warframe which is a 10 year old game, and then we have Soulframe which is under a year old– well, not really, it’s over a year old, but publicly, under a year old– and it’s such a smaller game, where you’re able to really do those experiments and be like, “You know, I’ll try this and if it breaks everything, I can just revert quickly and it’ll be fine!” With Warframe if you break something, you’re probably breaking a hundred thousand other things as well, so you’ve got to really be careful.
Anton (GE): If-then systems later down the line for one small change.
Megan (W): Yeah, it’s brutal.
No Bad Ideas
Michelle (GE): Are there any features or ideas that you thought were really cool to add to Duviri Paradox, but weren’t able to be implemented or just weren’t fun in practice?
Megan (W): I mean, I have, like, pipe dreams that I think would be cool, but like I’m no programmer, or coder, or artist, or anything like that
Michelle (GE): No, that’s great, let’s hear it!
Anton (GE): That’s fine, yeah. We can hear about your mind.
Megan (W): I’m a huge Zelda fan, it’s probably the greatest game to ever exist, in my opinion. So like, looking at Breath of the Wild, which obviously, you know, there’s influence there of course with how Breath of the Wild plays out, but I’m a huge sucker for– this is probably actually an unpopular opinion, but I do enjoy…
Anton (GE): Well, go on!
Megan (W): I know, I know! I’m about to cause some panic! I do enjoy [in] Breath of the Wild how weapons don’t last forever, and I know that is such an unpopular opinion, but I actually enjoy it. To a certain degree, sometimes I’d get really angry, but I thought that could have been cool. I like the idea of picking up other enemy’s weapons, like if they were to drop their really cool Dax weapon, “Please let me pick that up! Why can’t I pick that up and hit people with it!” It never makes sense to me, so I thought that would have been cool.
Anton (GE): I could see that working with the whole loaner abilities and loaner frames, or loaner items. Picking up, I don’t know, some discarded Corinth or something and using it for a little bit before it breaks.
Megan (W): Yeah! That would be really cool. Or like if we get real narrative, lore-heavy, your past Drifter self, when you died you dropped your, I don’t whatever it is, your Sirocco or something and you’ve got to go get it. I just like that tie-in with Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I mean, I was happy we added horses because I’m naming my horse Epona day one, absolutely. We went so crazy with this update in terms of just almost jokingly being like, “The Orowyrm is cool, can we fight it? Can we ride it?” and we’re like, “Yes, yes and yes! Let’s do all of those things!” So all of the jokey ideas that we kind of laughed at, like, “Wouldn’t it be hilarious if we could control the Orowyrm?” and we’re like, “Yeah! Let’s do it!” So I’m like, “Woah!” Like, sky’s the limit almost with what they wanna do and yeah, I’m super excited about it.
But yeah! That’s a hard question to answer. I don’t think there’s anything that I saw that didn’t get implemented. There wasn’t a big, grand idea that was not necessarily shot down, or anything, but it was just all the ideas were either said yes to, or were kind of adapted to be able, scope-wise, to be able to go into the update. So it was really cool that everyone kind of came together and was like, “Let’s go all out, let’s make it weird, and whatever you want, let’s do it!” And I was like, “Cool!”
Michelle (GE): So it was kind of like, no bad ideas, put it all out there and let’s do it all!
Megan (W): Exactly! You want a roguelike game? You got it! You want to fly your horse? You got it! Everything!
Michelle (GE): Oh, so this next question is actually one of my favorites. You’ve touched on this a little, but what have been some of the team’s greatest sources of inspiration while working on Duviri Paradox? When I personally saw the time loops from Dominus Thrax, for example, it had me thinking about Majora’s Mask.
Megan (W): Oh! Yes! Resetting the day! What a heartbreaking storyline. That’s very cool. I’m not sure anyone on the dev team is a Majora’s Mask [fan]— I mean maybe they are, no one’s said anything… I know with Ms. Rebecca ford being our Creative Director, Duviri Paradox, while it was incepted a while ago, I think 2019 is when we first talked about it, the actual hard-core development of it really started with the new team that evolved that year with Rebb being Creative Director and all these shifts internally happening, so we really were able to just kind of take this new team’s inspirations. I know Rebb plays a lot of Final Fantasy [XIV]. I know Devil May Cry is a big one for a lot of people on the team. We have a lot of people on the team who are really into Gundams. I know it’s not a game, but just kind of like the look of Gundams and just the modular aspect of Gundams is huge. There are a lot of Breath of the Wild, Zelda fans on the team, as well. I think it really helps when we’re looking at open worlds and just how vast an open world can really be and how there’s side activities everywhere and there’s enemies here and there. So I think those games affect it, as well. And I heard someone bring up, there’s a game called Vampire Survive? Vampire Survives?
Anton (GE): Ah, yup, yup.
Michelle (GE): Yeah, Vampire Survivor.
Megan (W): There’s that game that I know some people were talking about. I think that’s, at least from my memory, just kind of the off the top of my head ones that we’re referencing, you know, when we’re looking at how things look or how things feel out and playing on emotions. I know Rebb and I were big fans of the Switch game Gris? It’s a side scroller, it’s all about emotion and you’re kind of going through it as this little character. It’s really beautiful. That kind of, the emotion side of that, I think [we] may have had a little nod to it.
Anton (GE): Incarnon adaptors! Could you give us a rundown on how they’re going to work? I remember seeing them on a previous Dev stream on the Lato, I think? They seem to function very similarly to the Incarnon weapons from Angels of Zariman. So we’re keen to learn a bit more about how they’re going to plug into the rest of the game play.
Megan (W): Yeah, so functionally, they are the same as the Incarnon system that you’re familiar with, where, through Cavalero, you’re going to be able to select the upgrades you want, you’ll have the challenges to be able to do them. But to actually get the respective adaptors– each weapon is gonna have their own respective adaptor– there’s the Lato Incarnon adaptor, there’s gonna be the Braton Incarnon adaptor and you’re going to be able to get those from The Circuit. After you’ve done The Duviri Paradox, the game mode The Circuit opens up, which is the Warframe Undercroft gameplay where you’re doing, essentially, rounds of very familiar endless game mode. So you’ll do a round of defense and then you’ll be able to track the rewards that you get. You’ll start off with a small reward and you’ll actually be able to see exactly the path you’re going to take as you continue through the Undercroft, what reward you’re getting and what you’re working towards. I think right now, for example, you can work towards getting the blueprint for a very specific Warframe. Along the way, you’ll get Incarnon adaptors for weapons, so you can look at The Circuit that day and be like, “Oh, I need the Lato Incarnon adaptor,” play The Circuit, get yourself one of those, go to Cavalero, install it on your Lato and, Bob’s your uncle, it becomes an Incarnon weapon. And then you can use it exactly like you would your normal Incarnons where you have your little challenges, be that go to the Void Flood and do five Void Floods, or whatever it may be. You can add your modular upgrades to it and it becomes a whole new weapon, really, which I think is really cool because we’ve taken weapons that are not necessarily as popular, or as used. I mean, if you want, you can turn your MK1-Braton into an Incarnon Weapon and make it–
Anton (GE): Classic challenge.
Megan (W): Yeah! Yeah, exactly! And make it way more powerful than it ever was going to be in your lifetime and have a whole new kind of take on what that weapon could be with your mods and the upgrades that you chose.
Anton (GE): Just rolling back a little bit, mentioning picking the different reward paths to go down. Can you select any of the 30 Incarnon adaptors that you want, or is it sort of like curated lists.
Megan (W): The path is pre-selected, so you’ll go into the Circuit, (it has a weekly reset similar to Archon Hunts and Nightwave), and you’ll go in that week and you’ll see exactly what it is that you can work towards. You can go to a certain part and stop, if you don’t want what reward seven, eight, nine are, whatever those might be. You can be like, “Oh, I just want these three Incarnon adaptors,” for example, then you could just go through and play that. Then next week, it’ll reset to a predetermined rotation.
A New Kind of Endgame
Anton (GE): Again carrying on from that, previously the endgame in Warframe has grown quite organically, I would say. Really, until Steel Path came along, it seemed like things just grew off in their own direction and then they started to be directed a particular way. How would you personally like to see the endgame develop?
Megan (W): Oooh.
Anton (GE): Blue sky thinking, if you could take it any way you want, how would you like it to evolve?
Megan (W): I love your questions, they are so fun. If I could choose the end-end? Like, that’s the end of Warframe kind of thing?
Anton (GE): Yeah, a player, they’ve gotten their max power strength Mesa, they can fly into a level, press 4 and blow up everything. They’re ready, what’s their challenge now going to be? What’s their perfect endgame for you?
Megan (W): Oh my God, that’s such a big question! I mean, I never want Warframe to end, so that’s my first struggle. If I were to have an endgame in Warframe… I’m gonna say something really dumb.
Anton (GE): Go on!
Megan (W): This is exposing me a lot and this might not be the answer you want, but… I want Warframe to turn into a dating simulator. Where suddenly, we’re grown adults, we can make these choices and we’re presented with options where I can finally express my love for Teshin.
Anton (GE): Ok. So, wait, is it the Drifter is the main character or is it like going up to Hildryn or something, or what’s happening?
Michelle (GE): Sounds to me like you’d have some Dragon Age mixed in there.
Megan (W): Oh, exactly! There you go. A little bit of Fable, I can have like six wives in different areas. At every planet, I’d have a wife. It’s not very endgame, but I think that’s just a desire that I want.
Michelle (GE): Hey, you know, in a video game it’s important to have a variety of content to do.
Megan (W): Yeah! I mean, look at us! We’re doing roguelike, we’re doing the classic everything we’ve done before, we can fly, we can go into space, we can become a Necramech. We need a dating, romance option.
Anton (GE): Warframe dating sim!
Megan (W): Let’s go! It’s not very endgame, but you know, it’s my endgame of finding love.
Anton (GE): Alright, Rebecca, make it happen!
Megan (W): Out of every person in this company, she would be the one to suggest that, so I’m just waiting for it.
Anton (GE): I think it would be great, it’d be fun, let’s go!
Megan (W): That’s what I mean! We start as Operators and now we’re Drifters, we’re a bit more mature, so now we just need the next– I mean, Eternalism, literally anything is possible. So there’s a realm that exists where I am betrothed to my favorite characters.
Michelle (GE): Our next question is kind of sneaky cheating. Are there any juicy secrets that you’re allowed to share, that you haven’t been asked about yet, but that you’re dying to share? Beyond that you’d like to start up a Warframe dating sim, of course.
Megan (W): I mean, that’s definitely a juicy secret. In terms of the update, or the game? What kind of scope are we talkin’?
Michelle (GE): Let’s keep it in the realm of Duviri. Anything that’s not a spoiler, but something players might find intriguing.
Megan (W): Oh my God… You’re asking such big questions. I’m trying to think of a secret for Duviri… without spoiling anything. That one’s hard– Oh! I mean, it’s not a secret, you guys saw it in the press demo, but no one outside of you guys knows about Teshin’s little pet, who plays a very large role in the quest other than just being in his little hand. So, I guess that’s my only secret: is that the pet plays a very important role and you get to name it, which is really cute. Just be kind to the pet, because it’ll be kind to you back.
Michelle (GE): Oh, that sounds pretty cool.
Megan (W): And then dating sims, but anyways.
Anton (GE): And dating sims, of course.
Anton (GE): Alright, I’m going to tempt fate here and ask one last, off-topic question: So, Rebecca is Space Mom, right? We’ve got Space Uncle Teshin, Space Aunty Nora. Now, since you and Rebecca are such close friends and you do all sorts of things together, I’m noticing that there is not a Space Megan of some sort. What would your Warframe character be, to be the Ying to Lotus’ Yang?
Megan (W): That’s a great one. I like to think… I would love to be Space Grandma because I am personally, like, an 80 year old woman in my current physique and I’m a homebody, even though I’m a little bit loud all the time! I’m very much like a cozy, homebody kind of person and I just want everyone to just get along. I’ll make them lunches. I’ll give them ice cream. I’ll do everything my Grandma did for me for the players and keep them safe. And, you know, give them stuff that Space Mom doesn’t want to give them because it’s cool Grandma time.
Michelle (GE): Gotta spoil the kids!
Megan (W): Last year, when I started, when it was known that I was community director and then I really took over Dev streams, I kept saying, “I have too much power! I just do–” not that I can do what I want, because there are parameters, but– “I can dictate how this show goes!” So it’s like, Space Grandma, I do what I want.
Anton (GE): It’s my land now!
Megan (W): Yeah, exactly! And usually Rebb goes along with my ideas. Not all the time, but… at least she’s nice about it!
Anton (GE): You had a lot of influence.
Michelle (GE): Well! Thank you so much for speaking with us, this has been so fun!
Megan (W): This has been the best 30 minutes I’ve had all day, so I appreciate it! Your questions were so fun.
Anton (GE): It’s been really good! Not to get too sappy, it’s a little bit of a meet your heroes moment. Having played for 8 years, or however long it’s been and watching all the streams and all that, and then to actually get a chance to actually speak with you! This has been really cool.
Megan (W): I hope I didn’t ruin your perspective with my dating sim suggestion!
Anton (GE): No, that was pretty much in line with what I was hoping for, so.
Megan (W): Ok! Great. I’m glad I could meet the bar with my weird dating sim and anime recommendations.
If you haven’t checked out our write up on The Duviri Paradox preview that we refer to a few times throughout the interview, you can find it here!
Gamer Escape Team on this Interview: Michelle Folts & Anton van Beers. Images courtesy of Digital Extremes.