Join Michael Lovan, Head of Community Video, for reflections on the series’ inspiration, challenges, and evolution, plus an infographic featuring zany stats. You might already be more familiar with the creator of Forged in Aeternum than you think.
“If you've ever watched one of the Community Q&As, that's my voice you hear,” said Michael. “You can also find me lurking on the New World subreddit, upvoting my favorite transmogs, or spamming LEO's global servers to watch Forged in Aeternum under my new name, ForgedInAeternum.”
“If there's a documentary, book, or podcast about game development, I'm probably familiar with it. I'm a video game history nerd, and I think the historical documentation of development is important for future generations to learn from. It is, in my opinion, the most meaningful way of measuring a developer's intent against a game's lasting impact. So when I was brought into Amazon Games to build out the Community Video team, I was eager to share my love of developer insight with the world.”
“When I met Scot (Game Director, New World), I pitched him on doing a weekly show that would allow for me, and the community, to be a fly on the wall and observe discussions that were already happening around the office. Scot rallied the team to help with the show, and collectively they (and the community) have helped continuously shape it.”
An Ever-Evolving Series
“Forged has evolved quite a bit since the beginning, both in terms of process and in terms of what we're trying to do. In the beginning, Scot, Dave (Creative Director), Katy (Senior Producer), and Rob (Narrative Director) helped brainstorm a lot of discussion topics, and I spent a good amount of time asking different devs if they would come on the show.”
“We then schedule shoots. I like to film at least a few episodes at a time. When we shoot far enough in advance, that extra time can help us compile gameplay footage to edit into the episode. Occasionally I shoot the episodes solo, but more often than not I'll get assistance from Chuck and Steven, my video team.”
”Steven or myself put together the edits and then we run the video through internal approvals. Once it's release time, I publish the episode and stare at the comments like a hawk until the knots in my stomach go away.”
“Since the advent of Seasons, we've now got a sweet cycle where we can regularly dive into different features in development. On a live game, there's always something to talk about. Additionally, the various teams I work with - New World devs, Marketing, Community - do a wonderful job proactively proposing subjects, so I'm often flooded with great ideas for the video pipeline.”
“Occasionally there is a gap in the schedule. I try to use those episodes to try different things, like putting together a group of people who don't often interact and seeing what happens when they talk.”
“After the release of the December 2022 Dev Update Roadmap video (and the many community questions it sparked), it was clear that the show needed to quickly evolve into more of an active community conversation. We've since made a commitment to release monthly Community Q&As, Balance of Power episodes, and more recently, regular updates on service improvements and the economy.”
“Hundreds of questions come in and we aim to answer 10 to 15 of them. What could go wrong?”
“I'd love to cover every question, but the reality is that some aren't ready to be addressed. Whether the devs have an answer but can't yet elaborate meaningfully or they have a meaningful answer but need to hold to align with Marketing, it can quickly get complicated.”
“I want the community to feel heard and truly believe their time with the Community Q&As is time well spent. Though the overall sentiment remains favorable, the criticisms I've read are fair and warrant introspection. I know the Q&As can be even better, so that's what we have to do.”
“One thing I'd like to try in the next Q&A is to be more prescriptive when asking for questions, so that we can make sure we're only eliciting questions we know we can answer. I'm working with the teams to get a clear vision of what's on the table for discussion further in advance. I'm optimistic, but I'll be on the lookout for feedback as usual. If the next Q&A doesn't land well, the neat thing is that we will always have another shot just a month away.”
Most Memorable Comment
“Out of the thousands of comments, I've screen capped several hundred favorites across YouTube, Reddit, and Discord into a folder on my desktop. Many are jokes, some are constructive suggestions for improving the show, and others are suggestions for game features. But there's one comment I go back to more than others—in the March 2023 Community Q&A, we opened with an apology from Scot about the delay of the Season 1 release.”
“One of the top comments on YouTube said, 'We understand you guys and your struggles. Maintaining your transparency and honesty is all we ask! Thanks so much.' I thought it was an important moment for the relationship between the New World team and community. I was also moved to see that support in the comments.”
“I am sensitive to the reality that for many on the New World team, this is the first time they've been on camera and subjected themselves to the internet. It's challenging to ask the team to put themselves out there week over week. Yet one year later, they continue to do so.”
“It's hard to really contextualize how meaningful it is to me, but for any person to go out in front of a global audience weekly takes a lot of guts. We've had 55 guests to date, many of whom have been on the show multiple times. Their grace, humility, and great attitudes inspire me.”
“The April 2023 Community Q&A gradually went off the rails into chaos, with blinding daylight that made Katy as bright as the sun. By the end, Scot's holding up a flag to block light on Katy, Chuck's holding up a ridiculously large canopy umbrella to block light on Scot, and I'm doing my best to get through the questions without laughing. It was ridiculous. We second-guessed ourselves and questioned whether we should re-shoot it. I'm glad we opted not to.”
“What the community doesn't have the pleasure of seeing is the before and after of every episode, where we oscillate between planning and making jokes. When I look at past episodes, I remember those moments more than the actual filming. I'll never not laugh when I think of Katy scolding Scot and Charles (Art Director) for their lack of remorse killing Stanley in Restless Shore. Scot and Charles seem sweet, but they showed their true cards there.”
“I spend way more time with the New World team than they do with me. The nature of making videos is that I get very familiar with the way people talk, their ticks, recognize when people are anxious or have doubt about the words they just used. In a parasocial sense, I feel like I really get to know the people I film and edit, when in reality the hours I've spent with them is significantly more than the time they've spent with me.”
“We were a few months into the series when I ran into Scott (Lead Engineer), Rachel (Game Designer), Dan (Social Features Lead) and Patrick (Lead Seasons Designer) having lunch. I approached them like a group of friends and asked, ‘what's up, nerds?' It wasn't planned. It was just a reflex for when I'm comfortable with friends.”
“While they laughed, I quickly apologized and let them know I was mortified. They took it in good stride. I'm happy they've all appeared on the show numerous times since. I still think of them as my friends even though they probably don't even know my name.” :(
Behind the Controller
Favorite Character: In my first playthrough, as soon as I saw him fishing, Yonas was my favorite character. Second playthrough had the revamped MSQ, and I was drawn to Grace O’Malley the whole way through. On this third playthrough (ForgedInAeternum, LEO) I’m in love with my mount.
Favorite Cutscene: Prison Argument!
Favorite Event: Easily Winter Convergence Festival. Nothing beats the experience of gathering Tokens with my daughter so that we could buy our very own ‘Wittl’ Winter Whiskers for the house we built.
Favorite Quest: The entire Season 1 Fellowship & Fire questline. I loved the storytelling of the Silver Crows and enjoyed the sense of belonging to a team.
Favorite Weapon: War Hammer. I know it’s utility but it’s so fun! Right now, I’m leveling the Ice Gauntlet and Fire Staff. The Ice Gauntlet takes some getting used to but I’m enjoying the combination.
Favorite Ability: Path of Destiny
Favorite Faction: Marauders
Favorite Expedition: Empyrean Forge
Favorite Enemy Family: Angry Earth
Favorite Enemy: Siren Queen
Favorite Lore: Artemis and the Angry Earth taking over First Light.
Favorite Territory: Weaver’s Fen
The Future of Forged in Aeternum
“A new Forged in Aeternum will continue to release every single week (including holidays), and twice a week when it's time for the monthly Q&A and Balance of Power. I am also in the process of developing another New World video series on patch note breakdowns.”
“Please keep the feedback coming and look forward to further refinements as we enter year two. I will continue to read every comment about the show across Reddit, Discord, and YouTube. Thanks for your support! We’ll see you in Aeternum.“