Warframe Interview: “Any Loose Ends In The Overall Narrative Are In Our Sights,” Says Dev

Expect the unexpected and keep an open mind.

Story Highlights

  • Warframe is a story-driven multiplayer action role-playing game released over a decade ago.
  • The game has since received tons of updates and continues to grow its massive universe.
  • We interviewed Rebecca Ford, the Creative Director of Warframe, over an email Q&A session.

Warframe is one of the most remarkable story-driven online action games within the live-service genre. It was released over a decade ago by Digital Extremes and continues to receive major content updates that have greatly expanded its overall universe. Warframe: 1999 — an upcoming expansion — is one of those updates, and it will open up several new doors for the future of the IP.

Digital Extremes’ live service game certainly stands at the top when it comes to offering quality gameplay and listening to community feedback. Following their most recent special dev stream live from PAX East 2024, we took our questions to Rebecca Ford, the Creative Director of Warframe, over an email interview to discuss the future of Warframe, the upcoming expansion, and more.

Rebecca Ford
Creative Director Rebecca Ford – Credits Digital Extremes.

Could you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your work on Warframe?

Rebecca: Hello! My name is Rebecca Ford, and I’ve been the current Creative Director of Warframe for the past two years, but before that, I started out as a community intern 13 years ago! In that time, I’ve bounced around to Live Ops Producer and eventually Community Director roles; it’s been a great ride.

Warframe is now over a decade old title, and it continues to thrive with each update. What do you think is the reason for the game's longevity, and how does it compete so well with new and upcoming games?

Rebecca: There are a few layers that play into this in my mind. For one, our community team is so intrinsically tied to every aspect of the game’s development. Almost everything goes through a community/player lens. This team is not just a reactive arm for us at DE.

Secondly, we try to learn from our mistakes and stay humble. We fully recognize that we wouldn’t still be here if it wasn’t for our players, and we take their feedback seriously; they are basically the final boss we all want to please!

Thirdly, piggybacking off of the second point, we truly believe the game is just plain fun to play. That’s thanks to so many factors: our talented dev team, our community for honing us in on what works, and everyone’s overall taste in what a “fun” game looks like.

Lastly, our approach to microtransactions definitely isn’t the industry standard. Almost everything in our game can be earned through gameplay. Give players the choice between investing between their time or money or some mix of both; they will all have a different answer, and that’s okay!

Warframe’s Constant Evolution And Innovation Sets Itself Apart From Other Games – Image Credits Digital Extremes.

The game has a massive multiplayer community, and seeing as how several big studios have now shifted their focus towards multiplayer over singleplayer gameplay, could you share with us what you think is the best way to add that in a game in a way that is both engaging and enjoyable for players?

Rebecca: Experiences should be designed for multiplayer or single-player (or both!) from the get-go. Forcing multiplayer into a solo game or vice versa will always force the creatives working on the project to compromise on their vision. We are very proud that Warframe has stood the test of time as a cooperative multiplayer title, but it has single-player elements in there, too; that was always the intention and remained at its core.

Those two elements and how they play off each other were never an afterthought. Single-player moments create impactful, emotional scenes that feed into the overall story and create designed breaks from the onslaught of multiplayer missions. Warframe is a dense, complex beast that requires lots of cooperation to navigate, but pacing is important, and that’s hard to do when everything is a 4-player mission all the time.

Regarding the recent iOS release. What has the reception been like on the new platforms? Could you give us some rough statistics about the players?

Rebecca: It’s been much higher than we anticipated! We are kind of hard on ourselves for major additions like a whole new platform and take on huge weights of responsibility we create for ourselves. It’s because we know the expectations players have for us. That being said, we weren’t stoked by the number of bugs that went out with the launch; we do wish that had been cleaner. But the coverage from the press, content creators, and the player base, while overall positive, has still been so helpful in honing us in on those major issues, and we have thankfully been able to handle them immediately, thanks to our amazing partners at Nitro Games.

Warframe has changed drastically in the last decade, and I want to know what you think it will look like after another 10 years.

Rebecca: We lead by characters and story; we have a firm destination we want our characters to go over the next 5 years. We know what we want the player to see and feel. It starts to get a bit blurry beyond that, but that’s how we operate. We latch on to a vision that feels right, and I am excited to figure out the next decade along with our team and players.

Warframe Is Space Ninjas With Magic… And Weapons… Tons Of Weapons – Image Credits Digital Extremes.

For a game that has been alive for as long as Warframe, player retention would surely be a major concern. How does the team achieve that with its updates, and what is the core philosophy when it comes to incorporating new content with the existing one?

Rebecca: Over the past 11 years, we have found a formula that works for us and works for our players in tandem. We have around 4 new playable Warframes each year that are tied to some kind of content update. Those content updates follow somewhat of a structure where one or two are bigger cinematic releases, and others might build on the story, with lots of QOL along the way. If you’ve ever read our patch notes for Updates, you will know our team is pretty thorough, and no stone is left unturned.

We also have frequent in-game events tied to IRL holidays and bespoke ones in the world of Warframe that provide fresh rewards and reasons to reconnect with friends. Warframe is more than an epic sci-fi saga to escape into; it’s also a social hub to deepen relationships and forge new ones. We want Warframe to be a reason you can come home at the end of the day, and maybe you will log in, and your day will end just a little bit better than it started. When we meet that mission, we’re happy.

Could you recall some times when the team tried pushing the boundaries of the game with either a new feature or an update and how it played out?

Rebecca: A recent one that stands out would be our Cinematic Quest: The Duviri Paradox. We wanted to make a new entry point for new players so they could choose their way to start their Warframe journey while also introducing very different types of combat, and it didn’t necessarily pan out the way we thought. We ended up walking it back as a starting point, and it is now another fun Quest to dive into once you get past the Awakening Quest. The overall experience, while very fun and fresh, missed the mark a bit for players getting into the game for the first time.

It plays around with slower-paced combat, offers a vast open area with rogue-lite mission types, and introduces characters that you really won’t see again until you’re much farther in Warframe’s main story. We saw much higher sentiment from players who dove in midway through their Warframe journeys as they felt it was a nice detour from the usual experiences. We learned a valuable lesson about player expectations there, but it also shows that we are not afraid to play with existing ideas and see where we can take them. Our standard that we’ve adhered to since day one is: Be bold, try new things, and get weird, but do not lose sight of everything that works around us in the process.

Warframe Is An Extremely Well Done F2P Game – Image Credits Digital Extremes.

It was mentioned in another interview that the team has the Warframe story planned out for at least the next five years. Could you give us a hint on which direction it might go in?

Rebecca: I can’t! Spoilers! But I’ll try not to leave this question empty… Let’s say that any loose ends in the overall narrative are in our sights, and we plan to try to wrap up the ones that feel relevant to current events in-game. I may have already said too much, so I’ll leave that there!

What is your personal favorite Warframe? Both from a developer's and a player's perspective?

Rebecca: I get asked this all the time by fans, and my answer is always the same: I can’t pick a favorite child! I love them all; from their designs, ability sets, and movement styles, we get a little bit of everything at the buffet. Someone recently asked me, ‘Which Warframe would you date?‘ to which I said: ‘All of them! Give me the robo harem,’ hahaha. Another more broad one was “Which NPC would be your best friend?” and I had a hard time finding a suavely plutonic answer for that one, so I caved and said Little Duck. I would love to just chill with her, drinking beers on a night out. Perfect vibes.

During the PAX East, it was mentioned that the studio is aiming to release Update 36: Jade Shadows between May and TennoCon 2024, which will focus on the Stalker. Could you tell us a bit about this update? What can we expect to see, and why did you go with this character in particular?

Rebecca: Expect the unexpected, keep an open mind, and we are very excited to come back to one of the biggest fan-favorite characters of Warframe. Stalker has been a part of Warframe’s story since the early days; we had a very, very limited budget for things like tutorialization, so we made the decision to lean into the “player discovery” angle very early. Stalker would send you threatening inbox messages after you beat a boss and start randomly invading you during missions as a secret boss fight. We really avoided talking about that as a real system for years! Stalker created some very memorable organic gameplay moments that rightfully landed him a special place in everyone’s hearts, truly a legendary figure at this point. He’s been overdue for a comeback, and players have absolutely wanted to learn more about him.

Over A Decade After Release, Warframe Still Has So Much To Explore – Image Credits Digital Extremes.

What has it been like working with Ben Starr and Alpha Takahashi on Warframe: 1999? What would you say are some things that only they bring to these characters?

Rebecca: It’s been, by far, one of the most exciting parts of 1999. Not just working with such talented people but revisiting these iconic, classic Warframes and remixing them into new characters. When doing recording sessions, a producer will usually have our actors do a few line readings in whatever cadence they want. Just to see what angle they may have in their mind we never thought of.

Could you explain to us what the Protoframes are and how they fit into the future of Warframe?

Rebecca: Spoilers! Maybe tune in for new info at TennoCon and how our favorite scientist, Albrecht Entrati, played a role in their creation :)

Now that we are a couple of months into 2024, could you tell us what else we can expect to see in the game this year?

Rebecca: Our PAX Devstream gave a pretty general overview of what the year will look like for Warframe: Dante Unbound, Jade Shadows, and 1999, but we do have a few smaller surprises that we can’t talk about just yet.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers? Something we haven't touched upon yet.

Rebecca: We want to thank all of the Tenno in the Qatar and the Middle East regions. We love having you in our close-knit community and making life-long memories alongside everyone.

YouTube video

Warframe is a story-driven multiplayer action role-playing game developed and published by Digital Extremes. The game was initially launched on PC on March 25, 2013, and has since been released on PlayStation 4 & 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, and iOS over the years. We extend our gratitude to Rebecca Ford for answering our questions and Danielle Woodyatt for helping us with the interview.

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Mudassir is a seasoned journalist with a passion for uncovering the stories behind our favorite virtual worlds. Armed with a trusty notepad and a keen curiosity, he dives headfirst into the gaming industry's most exciting personalities. His knack for insightful questions and his ability to connect with developers and gamers alike makes his interviews a must-read. While on the lookout for the next person to interview, Mudassir keeps himself busy by writing news surrounding the gaming universe. Experience: 4+ Years || Senior Journalist || Education: Bachelor's in Psychology.

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