Interview: Switchblade’s Development and Lucid Games’ Success

Even with it’s explosion to popularity years ago, the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) genre is still rife with new and exciting ideas to discover. Launching out of Steam’s Early Access program with a new seasonal Battle Pass, Switchblade has driven onto the scene with engines hot for action. Developed by Lucid Dreams, this MOBA combines the best of both worlds in lane-battling, tactical driving, and rapid-deployment combat systemic of classical Strategy Games. Last week I got the chance to sit down and discuss the game’s development with David Deeble, one of the team’s designers.

 

With most popular MOBAs featuring a greater focus on individual characters standing out, rather than their tools, why the focus on different types of vehicles rather than say their pilots?

We started Switchblade with the goal of making a great vehicle action MOBA, so it’s natural that the vehicles themselves are the focus. Early in development we knew that vehicles needed to be more than just tools and that players should be able to identify with certain traits or characteristics inherent to a vehicle’s gameplay – so, you have the sneaky rogue archetype being fulfilled by the Goofer or the Sniper Prince as the glass cannon and so on. By approaching the design in this way, I think that our vehicles fill the role of the traditional character commonly found in other MOBAs. We also allow players to create and customize their own Pilots so they can forge a sense of identity for themselves – it’s a more relatable way for players to interact in our shared spaces within the game.

 

While currently there’s a skin system in place, are we going to see further vehicle customization options arise in future, such as tires or framework in a similar vein of Rocket League or Mechwarrior Online?

Customization on vehicles is something we’ve talked about internally. It’s a topic that comes up in the community occasionally, but not all that often. Ultimately the discussion always comes back to “how does this impact gameplay”, for example any significant change to a vehicle’s silhouette may impact how identifiable a vehicle is over distance – the skin system we have allows us to create some really cool and unique designs while maintaining authorial control in the interests of gameplay. We do have some ideas in the pipeline that could satisfy all considerations though.

switchblade

With the distinction between different vehicle classes (Tanks, Artillery, Support, etc.) and some of the game’s escorting AI mechanics, is there a potential exclusively for Player vs. Environment encounters or perhaps a main storyline in the future?

Never say never, but right now we’re focused on making the best vehicle action PvP MOBA we can.

 

While the roadmap for Switchblade has been largely laid out as early as February of this year, the game is still in Steam Early Access. What are the team’s plans going forward to push outward from Early Access into a full release?

We have some major updates on the horizon including Leagues (our first competitive playlist), a brand-new map and new vehicles. We’re in a pretty good place right now in terms of stability and all our major systems are in place so our focus can begin to shift toward content creation and managing the live game. Ultimately, we’ll leave Early Access when we feel ready but it’s pretty close!

 

As with many games in the industry, microtransactions are often frowned down upon, particularly with the traditional or seasonal pass. How does Switchblade’s Season Pass stand out in this often-downtrodden field?

Our focus has always been on creating a great multiplayer experience that anyone can jump in and enjoy from day one. Microtransactions in Switchblade are completely optional and purely cosmetic – and they always will be! Our pre-alpha testers may remember our old “Tech” system that allowed players to buy items and modify their stats – we learned the hard way that this was completely counter to the type of experience we wanted players to have. One of the key pillars when creating our Battle Pass was to get the right balance for players to earn everything in a reasonable time frame – but we also give time-poor players the option of progressing their pass. It’s a fine-line between balancing the system for good commercial sense and not pissing off our community – I think we’re doing a good job if we’ve got content that players want to spend a little money on to support us while not interfering with anyone’s enjoyment of the game.

switchblade

Are there plans in the works to see an expansion of the world’s story beyond the edges of the game’s narrative arena?

Yes! Actually if you check out some of the vehicle descriptions in-game you’ll see hints at the wider Switchblade universe. Internally, we have a wiki page with plenty of lore that really fleshes out the world, it’s definitely something we want to get out there in future releases.

 

Currently there are concerns that there’s not a real end-game feel to gameplay, rather a tepid, eventual finale with the destruction of the enemy base during matches. How is the team working to diversify the end-gameplay?

We’re constantly gathering analytical data from the live game and listening to the community, and that really feeds back into our plans to improve the game. It’s still early days, but we’re working on a more refined ruleset for overtime and actively investigating how to make a more satisfying back-and-forth with Tower destruction. In earlier versions players could actually heal their own Towers, and while we felt this perpetuated “turtling” it gave players a reason to defend an exposed power-core rather than abandon it completely. We’re working right now to create a good balance between attack and defense, while not letting one team snowball a victory.

 

How happy is the team overall with Switchblade’s production and reception thus far?

We’re absolutely thrilled – the game’s out there, people are enjoying it and we have a strong and passionate community who are really invested. They can be pretty tough on us but we love it – we’ve always maintained that it’s their game as much as it ours!

switchblade

Currently there’s a very wide spread of vehicles across the different types. Is there a planned or ideal cap for the development team?

The cool thing about Switchblade is that we’re still finding fun new ways to play. When we start developing a new vehicle we ask ourselves how will this vehicle challenge players, what niche does it fill that we haven’t explored yet. So long as we can answer those questions then we’ll keep updating the roster. We’ve got some really cool vehicles in the pipeline that expand on the tactical aspect of the game, so right now the sky’s the limit!

 

Is there anything you’d like our readers to know about Switchblade, its upcoming development and its future?

It’s a great time to be playing Switchblade right now – the upcoming launch of competitive Leagues is our biggest update yet and I’m really excited to see how competitive play changes the game, we’ve also got the new Monorail map just on the horizon and of course our very first Battle Pass is still running. Switchblade is a real labor of love for us so if you’d like to join our passionate community then you can grab the game free on Steam and on PS4 from the PSN store.

A big thanks to David for sitting down with us to talk about Switchblade.

The post Interview: Switchblade’s Development and Lucid Games’ Success appeared first on MMOGames.com.

ArcheAge Unchained Interview: Executive Producer Merv Lee Kwai on a Play-To-Win Future

Gamigo is taking a massive step forward with ArcheAge Unchained, an overhauled release of the sandbox MMORPG with a buy-to-play business model. Severing ties with the notion of pay-to-win and yet keeping the Legacy servers running simultaneously, this is an ambitious plan that comes with big risks, but it could also yield big rewards.

We decided to learn more about ArcheAge Unchained straight from the mind of executive producer Merv Lee Kwai. Read the interview below to discover how Unchained started, how the new ArchePass works, and what measures were taken in order to turn housing into a fairer prospect, among other things.

 

Before Gamigo purchased Trion Worlds in 2018, the plan for ArcheAge Unchained was already underway. Was this something that Gamigo fully supported from the start, and could other games follow the same path?

The desire to revamp the ArcheAge business model was something my team talked about for as long as I can remember. About 2 years ago, under Trion Worlds, the initial concepts were born. The idea was initially met with some expected skepticism when we were acquired by gamigo. Shortly thereafter—and much to my appreciation—our dedicated team members began to shape the dream. ArcheAge was in a unique position due to heavy past criticisms. Our genuine want to do it better, combined with the support of the community, is what brought it all to life. I don’t think it’s possible for all games to take this approach and be successful.

 

Ultimately, what makes you believe that Unchained will be successful? We’re used to seeing premium games going free-to-play, but the other way around is unusual.

It’s really simple: our players want it. I can’t count the number of times where I’ve heard someone say “ArcheAge could be one of the best MMOs in history, but….” The pillars of the Unchained project are built around meeting the demands of our players headfirst: the perception of P2W, client vulnerabilities, lax policies, and lack of communication. Nothing is taboo and everything is laid bare. That’s a story people can get behind.

ArcheAge Unchained interview Shadows Revealed update

Judging by the overall excitement surrounding Unchained, do you feel ready to tackle the stream of players and avoid long queues during the first launch days?

We’ve doubled the amount of time that we typically run our Public Test Server and are iterating rapidly. A multitude of issues have risen but our dedicated teams work in shifts around the clock to solve them – that’s a huge benefit we have now that we’re a more global-focused organization. Our teams stand at the ready to address any issues that arise.

 

By saying that “ArcheAge Unchained is focusing on a fair monetization system,” and I’m quoting official marketing material here, don’t you think that you’re corroborating the players’ claims about a pay-to-win system?

Everyone’s definition of Pay-to-Win is different these days. ArcheAge has historically had a liberal business model and I absolutely understand why it’s referred to as P2W. If you want to call that corroborating then yes, sure, we were. I like to think of it more as acknowledging our previous approach and putting forth best effort to transparently meet expectations.

 

Can you give us a brief description of the improvements that Unchained brings in order to level up the playing field for everyone? And exactly how does the ArchePass works?

Unchained has a static up-front cost, we sell cosmetic items in the marketplace through direct sales, and we offer a premium season pass model that provides additional cosmetics as a reward. This version stands in contrast against the Legacy model that offers a monthly subscription (and provides gameplay progression benefits), a tradable premium currency known as “APEX,” items that enhance progression in lockboxes, and a large amount of RNG on monetization dependent systems.

Up to 3 ArchePasses run simultaneously for a 3-month season. Players complete daily objectives, earn experience, and progress in ArchePass Levels. Each time they gain a level, they get a free reward and if they purchase the premium version of the pass, they are awarded a cosmetic item at milestone levels.

ArcheAge Unchained interview Fight

By deciding to keep both ArcheAge versions running, don’t you fear that the Legacy version may see its player count drastically reduced, as players make the transition to Unchained? If this scenario happens, what is your stance regarding the original ArcheAge?

ArcheAge has a solid core of heavily invested legacy players. We intend to support them in the same capacity we always have. Unchained is targeted at players who loved the concept of ArcheAge at release, but fell off somewhere along the way for any number of reasons. Sure, there’s some overlap between the two, but we wouldn’t have made this decision if we believed it would put us in a place that wasn’t sustainable.

 

Housing is always a sensitive subject in any MMO and ArcheAge is no exception. How do you plan on making this system fairer for this fresh start?

As you know, our player housing occurs in the open world and is persistent. The competition for owning land is fierce and we’ve learned a lot from the rush process over the past five years. Unchained servers open on October 15 but the ability to claim land doesn’t occur until October 19. The 4-day grace period gives players more time to earn in-game currency to buy housing designs. Lastly, the rush occurs on a Saturday to ensure we include the wider audience. Players aren’t permitted to buy tax certificates (a cash shop item used to maintain owned property week-over-week) on Unchained servers and that inherently restricts the amount of land owned.

 

Do you think that Unchained has some sort of competition in WoW Classic, or at these substantially different MMORPGs with very distinct player targets?

I think there’s a base level of overlap for all MMORPGs. ArcheAge focuses on player interactions on the large scale: our raid bosses, PvP, and housing all exist in a seamless, persistent, open world. The nature of our gameplay is more sandbox focused and players truly create their own personas in a living, breathing environment.

ArcheAge Unchained interview

What is the plan regarding content updates? Do you plan on rolling them out simultaneously for Legacy and Unchained, and does this in any way affects the workload for the development team? Will Unchained get any exclusive updates?

Content updates will occur simultaneously for both service types. Unchained has some features that Legacy doesn’t like the ArchePass, but Legacy has 5 years of mounts, costumes, and battlepets some of which may never be available on the Unchained service.

 

The Shadows Revealed update is getting a frankly positive player reception. Did you plan to have this ready for the Unchained release, or was it a delightful coincidence?

It was planned. Every time we’ve released a Fresh Start server it’s been positioned next to a massive content expansion. The “rush meta” changes from release to release, and this time we’ll add the new Swiftblade class to the mix.

 

Is Shadows Revealed merely the beginning for ArcheAge graphical updates? After all, it’s nice to have revamped Elves, but what about poor old Harani and Warborn, to name just a few races?

All things in stride! I have a feeling we’ll see a rollout of these awesome graphical enhancements over the next content updates.

 

Thank you for your time! Anything else you would like to say to our readers?

I can express nothing but appreciation for all the love and support we’ve received as we work to deliver ArcheAge: Unchained. Without our community, none of this would be possible. Truly, thank you.

The post ArcheAge Unchained Interview: Executive Producer Merv Lee Kwai on a Play-To-Win Future appeared first on MMOGames.com.

Interview: Elder Scrolls Online’s Creative Director Talks About What’s Next

This coming winter, the current Season of the Dragon taking place in The Elder Scrolls Online will come to its conclusion with the Dragonhold expansion. Recently, Bethesda offered us a chance to get a glimpse behind-the-scenes of its current Elsweyr chapter, and a hint of things to come with the concluding expansion.

Elsweyr introduces a whole new zone for players to explore, along with a questline jam-packed with main and side missions and a number of new challenges. Additional mechanics will also be introduced. On top of that, players will also get to experience a new update to the general game before Dragonhold arrives, filled with fixes and Twitch Drops for consoles.

To get a better idea of what’s happening with the new Elsweyr add-on, and a bit of Dragonhold, we got a chance to sit down with the game’s creative director, Rich Lambert, during a recent stop at Bethesda’s presentation at PAX West.

First off, he had some sage advice for those that are hopping into this world, since there’s a lot to explore here. “With Elsweyr specifically, we have a brand new zone. It is northern Elsweyr, which is focused on Khajiit and their culture. There’s a brand new class in the Necromancer, and then, dragons – that’s the big one. Fight and kill dragons.”

He then talked about the effort that the team puts into adding additional content into an already overflowing game like Elder Scrolls, between Elsweyr and Dragonhold. “One of the first things that (game director) Matt and I do, we sit down and we talk about, you know, where haven’t we been, where we would like to go, what types of stories we want to tell. We settle in on kind of one word to help reinforce to the team what it is we’re looking for. 

“So, with Elsweyr in particular, the word we chose was ‘revenge.’ So this whole year of story content that we’re telling is all around ‘revenge.’ It starts with the big bad dragon getting his revenge for being locked up in the Halls of Colossus.”

Lambert then touched upon the latest class to be introduced into the world of Elder Scrolls Online. “The Necromancer is centered around the manipulation of mortal souls,” he explained. “So that’s their thing, raising the undead, you know, using kind of blood magic, that kind of stuff. And they’re different than our other classes, because they’re focused on kind of being a battlefield commander. 

“They get powered up by using corpses, so their style of gameplay is not just you and your target; it’s you, your target and the environment around there, and how you can position your target next to a corpse to get more power.”

Then we got into the Dragonhold expansion, which we were able to catch a quick glimpse of with some gameplay. We didn’t get a chance to kill a dragon during that time, but Lambert told us not to feel bad about it – apparently there’s a lot of work that goes into taking one down. This isn’t Skyrim.

Lambert said, “That’s one of the biggest things we tried to do in terms of differentiating us from Skyrim. So in Skyrim, you were the Dovahkiin. You had this tool set to be able to go one-on-one against a dragon. In our timeline, in Elder Scrolls Online, there is no Dovahkiin. We don’t have that toolset; and so, you have to rely on your friends to help you take these things down.”

He recommends making sure such friends are in place, as this won’t be a conquerable fight by yourself. “It’s very difficult to solo,” Lambert said with a laugh.

Then he talked about a “big” feature that will be coming later in the year to Elder Scrolls Online. “With Dragonhold, that is the southern portion of Elsweyr. The storyline is focused on the Dragonguard, and kind of putting the band back together. The Dragonguard are the precursor to the Blades, so they are an elite force of dragon hunters.

“The storyline is focused on a dragon cult and this prophecy that they’re trying to fulfill,” Lambert continued. “And, if you complete that content, and you complete the Elsweyr content and unlock a series of quests that allow you to kind of put a cap on the entire year and the story that we’ve been telling.” In other words, the more of the game you complete, the closer you get to the endgame that the team is going for.

It sounds like fans of Elder Scrolls are in for a treat this year, and Lambert took a moment to thank them. “That’s the goal, our community is a huge part of what we do,” he said. “If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t get to do what we do, so events like this is our way of bringing them in, getting them down, getting to spend some one-on-one time with them, and saying, ‘Hey, we’re here, we love you all.”

Elsweyr officially launched back in June, and players can explore its world now. As for the Dragonhold update, it’ll arrive sometime later this year, though a date hasn’t been given yet.

Elder Scrolls Online is available now for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Big thanks to Bethesda for having us down at the event!

The post Interview: Elder Scrolls Online’s Creative Director Talks About What’s Next appeared first on MMOGames.com.

Marvel’s Avengers: Learning More About the Story, The Structure and What’s To Come

By now you’ve probably seen our hands-on impressions for Square Enix’s upcoming Marvel’s Avengers. Take a good look, because they actually provide a little more nuance to the gameplay that made its premiere at Gamescom a little while back. The game feels really good as far as how each of the characters play, particularly Thor and Hulk. That’s just one part of the picture. After our gameplay demo, Crystal Dynamics walked us through other portions of the game, giving us an idea of what to expect when it makes its way to release in May 2020.

So let’s break down each of the components and get a good idea of what this game is all about. We’ll start with the very thing that brings all the Avengers together in the first place – the story.

Marvel's Avengers

Taking A.I.M.

As you might have seen from the gameplay footage, things aren’t going so well for the Avengers. Following the opening of a new San Francisco headquarters, a terrorist attack breaks out. The heroes manage to thwart it and stop the evil Taskmaster but at a price. A massive explosion tears apart San Francisco, and possibly kills Captain America in the process. As a result, the heroes are devastated, and eventually blamed for the devastation.

“Following the events of A-Day, the Avengers disbanded,” the developer explained. “In their absence, a new organization rose to power in their place – Advanced Intelligent Mechanics, also known as A.I.M. 

“A.I.M. believes that science will save the world, not superheroes,” they continued. “(But) five years after A-Day, the world is a very different place than it was beforehand. Superheroes are now outlawed and have been replaced by A.I.M. and their advanced synthoid AI. 

“A.I.M. wants to redefine all of mankind’s future through logic and reason and science. So they build a force to protect the rest of us from the superpowered individuals. And you can probably see where this is going to go.”

As a result, the remaining Avengers now have to re-assemble, as it were, and try to take back each part of the world from the forces of A.I.M., using their unique powers. That means Hulk, Iron Man, Thor and Black Widow have to work together with whatever resources they have to save the day.

Marvel's Avengers

Getting Powered Up With the Avengers

When the group does come back together, they turn to a downed helicarrier in the middle of nowhere as their homebase. It’s here that players can get a look at the open world hub, which shows the available missions that are on hand for them to take on.

There are two types of missions that are available in Marvel’s Avengers. The first are Hero missions, which are meant for single players and move forward the storyline, giving them control of select heroes over the course of each one.

The second are WarZone missions. Here, players can work together in up to four-player co-op, working alongside one another to push the narrative forward and collectively take down enemies both large and small alike. These missions can also be taken on in single player, if you don’t have buddies that can join you in an online session at the time.

As you complete missions over the course of Marvel’s Avengers, more missions and areas become available. Soon, you’ll come face to face with tougher A.I.M. enemies, and eventually turn the tide back in the favor of the Avengers. Who knows, maybe Captain America could resurface. We did see his character in concept art, and he is quite playable in the beginning. So anything’s possible.

 “The more you play both WarZone and Hero missions, the more stuff populates in the world,” Crystal Dynamics explained during its presentation. That means the more you do, the more the world opens up.

You also get to unlock some content, which we’ll cover in the next paragraph.

Marvel's Avengers

Did Someone Say New Content?

Everyone likes collectible gear, and Marvel’s Avengers will have no shortage of it. Over the course of the game, as you play in both Hero and WarZone missions, you’ll have the option to earn new outfit and gear for characters within the game. In addition, some outfits will also be available for purchase via Microtransactions.

Now, keep in mind that these are the only Microtransactions within the game. These are for special outfits that pay tribute to the Avengers with some of their best goods. These include Black Widow’s original costume, Hulk’s Mr. Fixit zoot suit, and Thor’s classic Lord of Asgard suit, among others. They’re completely optional and aren’t required to unlock anything in the game.

Otherwise, you’ll earn lots of suits as you battle your way through the missions, and be able to equip these outfits on your characters at any time. Though Crystal Dynamics didn’t really have too many to show off during the demo, expect quite a bit of variety for the long haul.

Speaking of long haul, Marvel’s Avengers certainly has a lot of, ahem, “endgame” content in mind. Crystal Dynamics has already promised that the game will be supported for years to come, with a number of new heroes and WarZone missions, as well as some pushes to the narrative. It didn’t break down who was coming to the game just yet, though we did see a hint of Ms. Marvel in the opening gameplay trailer, as well as Ant-Man. There’s also no word as to what kind of new villains could enter the picture alongside Taskmaster and a teased Abomination, but the door’s wide open for some of Marvel’s worst to walk on through and wreak havoc.

On top of that, the developer also promised that this content will be free. The rest will be included within the game’s price, and there will be a lot of it. Square Enix is building the game for the long-term alongside Marvel, and it sounds very promising, provided it can live up to what the opening gameplay demo provided.

 

Push Your Character To New Heights

The Avengers characters start out nicely powered up enough, with a number of abilities and special skills to activate once you build up the proper level of energy. However, like all great superhero games, it helps to make enough progress to unlock new abilities. Fortunately, Marvel’s Avengers will provide the option to do that.

As you make progress across both Hero and WarZone missions, you’ll be able to unlock new powers for each of your characters, depending on what you want to do with them. We didn’t see all the ones that are available throughout the game, but did get a taste of some of Iron Man’s. This includes a pair of lasers that can cut through enemies very quickly as well as some cool punching abilities. These skill trees will open up quite a bit, making your heroes even more powerful as you go along.

“As you play these heroes and you level them up, you’ll get skill points that you can invest in each hero’s individual skill tree. All heroes’ skill trees are unique, they all have sets of skills that they have to go through, and you can choose how you want to spend your skill points, and where you want to go deeper, so your hero can be customized the way you want to play.” Some even involve “classic” moves taken straight from the classic comic books, which the game was inspired by. There are original ones to boot as well.

There are also perks that tie together with certain costumes within the game. “Gear can modify directly how your hero plays,” Crystal Dynamics explained during their presentation. “The higher the rating the gear, the better the perks, sometimes even the more perks you get.” They then pointed out how one piece of gear had higher stats than another piece of gear, with an increased power level. They can vary depending on what you use. Synergies and boosts can play a part, particularly with Iron Man’s tool set. But they’re all great to mess around with, if only to see how your performance changes up with each character.

Marvel's Avengers

More Ground To Cover

Crystal Dynamics has hinted that there’s even more territory that will be covered with Marvel’s Avengers in the months ahead and not just with the heroes and storylines to come. It noted that even more systems could deepen the game even further, revolving around the characters. This will likely be with the WarZone missions, as we’ll likely get a look at just how well multiplayer will work somewhere to closer in the year.

This, combined with what we’ve managed to learn over the weekend at PAX West, really paints a different side to Marvel’s Avengers. There was a great deal of skepticism about the game during its initial introduction at E3. Crystal Dynamics, aided by the developers at Eidos Montreal, is assuring that they’re making a superhero game that lives up to the legacy of the superhero franchise, even if it is somewhat different from the Marvel Studios film property. It still has a ways to go before it finishes its trip to retail, but thus far, it’s definitely making a heroic journey.

Marvel’s Avengers releases on May 15, 2020 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.

(Square Enix invited us to a suite to play the game and speak with Crystal Dynamics during our trip to PAX West. We thank them for accommodating us!)

The post Marvel’s Avengers: Learning More About the Story, The Structure and What’s To Come appeared first on MMOGames.com.

World of Warships Legends Interview: Bringing the Hit Game To the Console Front

At this point, players have gotten a chance to dig into World of Warships on the console front with World of Warships Legends, Wargaming’s free-to-play version with modified controls. While a bit different from its PC brethren, it’s just as exciting, and offers up an abundant amount of content, including an exciting Hunt For Tirpitz campaign.

For those unfamiliar with the game, we decided to dive a little deeper and speak with Player Interactions Manager Filipp Glushakov, who’s also known in the community under the name “Philigula.” 

First, after having the beta in testing for the past few months, Glushakov talked about the feedback that came from it.

World of Warships Legends

“(It’s been) mostly positive,” he explained. “Whatever players have not liked yet, we’ve been pretty quick to fix or offer them something else. We were very tight knit with the community right from the very early alpha, when it was like a hundred people. And the beta was a couple of thousand. And now we have the live server, we have testers, we listen to feedback and collect every day, and I have documents to prove it.” He added a smile at the end.

Next, we discussed the changes that were made to allow World of Warships to run properly on the console front. There were some tweaks when it came to the player count, going down from 12 vs. 12 (the PC standard) to 9 vs. 9; and also some modifications to the controls so that they would operate with an Xbox One or PlayStation 4 DualShock 4 controller. We asked Glushakov how the team went into these changes, and if everything went through as planned, or if more work is intending to be done.

“Most definitely, we did make all the changes to make the game work,” he said. “I guess the scaling back of the teams for the purpose of perfect matchmaking is just what needed to be done simply because we have two platforms (Xbox One and PlayStation 4). And no matter what expectations we had, we needed to account for that, because it is a niche game. Just naval combat. I mean, ask your friends how many of them know about such a thing.

“So, thankfully, our scaling back did not impact anything and we have more folks than we expected.”

Then he got into a rather interesting factor about the game that could really play a factor with a future update. “Plus, we’re thinking about cross play (between the two platforms). That’s going to be helpful, I’m sure.”

World of Warships Legends

For the time being, though, “When you go to match nowadays, one platform at a time, Tier III to Tier VII, you should find one pretty much instantly and with full teams and have all the fun you can or just yellow, I’ve seen them do it a couple of times.”

For those jumping into the game for the first time, Glushakov provided a quick rundown.

“We have 15 maps, over 70 units of warships currently, spread across four nations, and I’m sure there will be one more nation before the end of the year,” he explained. “I can’t quite unveil what that will be (just yet). We’ll have several thematic events, we have campaigns in every update, which are essentially a set of tasks that you go through to complete that can earn you rewards. And you can double, triple those as well. 

The game is free-to-play, but he also talked slightly about Microtransactions. “If you invest a little bit in doubloons – it’s 2500 for a full campaign pass, so to speak, we call it Admiral’s Backing.”

But it’s completely optional. “If you’re willing to invest time, you can be rewarded handsomely for that time. Not only will you gain rewards, but how your skill will grow, how many different ships you will have, different nations and different classes, and so on and so forth. And, finally, Commander roster, yeah. You’re going to have quite a few of those. It’s now at 30.”

And don’t worry, “noobs.” If you’re a newcomer to the World of Warships saga, there’s no danger to giving the game a try. While the higher-up Tiers are best recommended to those that are seasoned with the game, there’s a good starting ground for you to learn what it has to offer, according to Glushakov.

“The rules are pretty simple, but sometimes you can get a little overwhelmed if you try to start it at hard tiers,” he noted. “But if you just follow initial progression of the game, you should be like a fish in water.”

He then talked a little bit about customization. While there aren’t too many full-blown features with this available in Legends just yet, there are things that players will be able to modify that they can have fun with.

Glushakov explained, “You can install upgrades on your ships, which will tweak their performance. When it comes to visuals, we have flags, both historical and we’ll have some flags for fun coming soon. We have different camos, again, something more based on history, and, I believe in the future, we might have something bright and in your face. But, of course you would be able to disable it.”

As for the future, “I dunno about any decals or anything like that, so for now it’s just the flags and the camo.”

So, no pink camos. “No,” laughed Glushakov. “Outside of the realm of possibility, I doubt it.”

However, he did bring up another fun factor. “But players ask me about giving names to their ships…we’re probably not gonna do that either. Because an Iowa is an Iowa is an Iowa.”

World of Warships Legends

World of Warships Legends is available now for Xbox One and PlayStation 4. It’s free-to-play with optional microtransaction purchases.

(Wargaming did fly us down to the event to try the game out and speak to developers. We thank them for their hospitality!)

The post World of Warships Legends Interview: Bringing the Hit Game To the Console Front appeared first on MMOGames.com.

Impeller Studios Brings Real Science To Space Sim “In The Black” – Interview

As gamers, we often get to watch a game progress from the time it hits Early Access or when it reveals its intentions through Kickstarter. For the space simulator, In The Black, the journey has been well worth the wait. At its inception, In The Black was originally known as Starfighter Inc. Veteran developers, writers, and designers are making what could be the next Star Wars: X-Wing Vs. TIE Fighter (considering the lead on that game, David Wessman, is the Producer here). The Director, Jack Mamais, has credits that include Crysis, FarCry, and the MechWarrior series. MMOGames had a chance to sit down with Jack to talk about the game, from the original space sim idea to the successful Kickstarter campaign to what comes next for the starry-eyed game.

Alright, so the first question is easy: What is In The Black?

in-the-black-battlespace

Source: In The Black, Impeller Studios

In The Black is an intense online space combat simulator with a laser focus on combat. Everything in the game is researched and designed in consultation with aerospace engineers and space scientists in order to put players in the most lethal machines ever devised. The core gameplay experience is an evolution of the classic cockpit shooters of the 1990s. You pilot a nuclear-powered spacecraft and engage other players in highly tactical battles using a variety of futuristic weapons such as railguns, missiles, and lasers.

In The Black ​is also our dream game. It’s a true passion project for all of us! We started development about six years ago, but the concept really goes back to the 1990s when we were thinking about where the genre should go next. We loved the space combat games of that era, but wondered “what would this be like if it was real?” As in realistic spacecraft and weapons and a strong respect for the science in our science fiction. Our goal is to give players an experience like no other and to use the idea of realistic spaceflight physics as a core design pillar. We’re really happy with how well we’ve realized that vision (at least as much as today’s computers let us). The journey so far has been amazing, and we’re hoping that as more people learn about us, they’ll want to join in.

The original name was Starfighter Inc. Why did the name change and what does it mean?

in-the-black-sls-long

Source: In The Black, Impeller Studios

Starfighter Inc. was really always our working title, but it is also the name of a private military company (PMC) that appears in the game. Pilots will log into the Starfighter Inc. ‘portal’ and be able to select contracts as well as stay tuned into the PMC news of the day. They frown on being called “mercenaries” (at least by outsiders!) Our final name ​In The Black not only signifies spending all of the game in the void of space, (i.e. the Black), but also having to be a successful private military contractor. They must always make a profit to stay in business (i.e. the bottom line has to be kept in the black).

This game started as a Kickstarter a couple years ago. How has it changed since the original Alpha builds that went public?

We actually had two Kickstarter campaigns. We reached 90% of our goal with the first one, learned from our mistakes, and succeeded with the second one. Since our alpha was released to backers last year, we’ve been listening closely to their feedback and working hard to integrate that into what we will ultimately release. For instance, many players wanted more immediate combat scenarios with killer action so we created an “arena combat” mode called “BloodSport” in which pilots can compete against others to build their skills and in-game bank accounts. Among many other improvements, we’ve also worked very hard to optimize the way the ships work so we can get more players in a match.

Comparing to old Star Wars games, what sets this apart from other space faring games like Elite Dangerous, Eve Online, and other space games?

in-the-black-Pegasus-Cockpit

Source: In The Black, Impeller Studios

Quite frankly, many of those other games (especially post 2010) are mostly exploration and trade type games. While that is fantastic and we are fans of them, we wanted our game to be purely about tactical space combat. Our pilots will only spend their time modifying their ships for battle and in white hot combat itself rather than doing expeditions to strange planets or mining asteroids for ore. Also, some of those games have major violations of known science which tips them more toward fantasy than science fiction.

What’s the story and lore in the game? Who do you play as?

You play a private military contractor hiring yourself out to various corporations for a variety of services that require armed spacecraft and skilled pilots. The initial setting is the Saturn system 200 years from now. There’s a lot going on as various megacorporations vie for advantage and engage in limited covert wars against each other. No one wants an all out war – it would be catastrophically destructive and everyone would lose. But sometimes marketing muscle and legal maneuvers aren’t quite enough…

We’re focusing more on worldbuilding than traditional storytelling. There are two reasons for this. First, we believe it is more important to flesh out the world and how it works. What are the big drivers of conflict? One of those drivers is the gradual shift from primarily fission-based nuclear power (dominated by megacorps in the inner system) to fusion-based (dominated by megacorps in the outer system). So, who are these megacorps, and what do they do? Naturally, as a combat pilot, you’re especially interested in the companies that make the gear you use. Our first priority in narrative then is making the world of the game feel like a real place.

Second, we have an ambitious goal to create a narrative that evolves based on what players do. We’re developing extensive backstories on each of the corporations and the people who run them. We have a lot of scenarios planned that will define the story based on the statistically dominant outcomes of those battles. Those outcomes will determine which way the story goes from there.

The story was worked on by the legendary Rusel DeMaria. How much of the story was written by him and how has it changed since he finished?

in-the-black-cockpit

Source: In The Black, Impeller Studios

While he was active on the project, Rusel was our lead writer, and he was always working closely with David Wessman, Zach El Hajj, and myself. It’s proven to be a dynamic combination because Rusel is very prolific and likes to think big in terms of theme and meaningful characters. David and Zach are more detail-oriented and focus on what’s realistic. I, generally, have a great instinct regarding what is truly exciting and actually engages people. Other members of the team also contribute ideas, so it’s really an organic beast that keeps evolving as it develops and we’re constantly learning new things that inspire us.

What other games have you or your team worked on?

Among several other successful games like ​Blood Wake​ and ​Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, Saints Row, David was the lead writer and a mission designer for the entire ​X-Wing ​series of Star Wars space combat simulators. ​Our executive producer, Edmar Mendizabal, was a producer on THQ’s Frontlines: Fuel of War and Homefront, as well as the indie multiplayer title, Ravaged (all multiplayer-focused games based on the Unreal Engine, which is also the game engine for In The Black). ​I had the pleasure to act as Director on ​Mechwarrior 2: Ghost Bear’s Legacy and ​Mechwarrior 2: Mercenaries, among other Activision Titles​.​ I was also Lead Designer on the PC Games ​Far Cry and ​Crysis.

Knowing this is an indie title, how big is the team working on this game? Did that affect production time much?

in-the-black-Hyperion_SPC_CU

Source: In The Black, Impeller Studios

The team size varies from 12-20 people depending on what our devs are needed for or involved with outside the game. Most of the team have day jobs, so this has always been a slow burn project. We move as fast as needed to get the job done. We’ve chosen not to have publishers pushing us for arbitrary deadlines (even though we always have internal milestones) so we can make the game that our player’s deserve.

Does the game have a single player mode? What’s the multiplayer like? How many ways can I play this game? Is there more coming?

Initially, the single player mode was primarily intended for training and tutorials, but we are developing more single player content in response to backer feedback. In fact, we are showing off two cool new single player experiences at the upcoming Gamescom 2019 show in Europe. One portrays a typical “debris sweep” mission to protect a high value asset from a swarm of debris, and the other features the interior tunnel system of an asteroid mining facility and portrays a cyber strike using information warfare to take over the facility.

Our multiplayer features multiple battlespaces (maps) and many of them have unique game modes that keep it from being just a team deathmatch game. For instance, one mission may have your team escorting a freighter through a hostile area of space (while your opponents are tasked with taking it down) while another may have a team trying to disable or destroy a capital ship closing in on an opposing corporation’s space logistics station. We give our scenario designers enormous freedom when it comes to coming up with cool game mode ideas.

How in-depth is the customization within the game? Is it individual mods for the ships or just paint jobs?

in-the-black-Hyperion_SPC_Side

Source: In The Black, Impeller Studios

Our customization is very deep. On the cosmetic side, our lead artist, Remco van den Berg, set up a customization feature that gives players tremendous options to express their creativity. Each ship will have a collection of schemas which determine where colors and/or material types go on the ships. They are divided into primary, secondary, tertiary and metallic layers. The player can choose colors, metals and patterns from a library of options to deck out their ship and make some awesome looking combinations. Truthfully, it’s so fun we’ve spent hours just making up cool new designs from my ships. My favorite looks like it has the paint scheme of the 1966 Batmobile! Depending on the ship there are also customization options for light colors and glass colors. As we roll out more updates we are planning for additional features like decal placement, pilot customization, and hangar customizations.

Beside the cosmetic customization, players can also customize their ship’s loadout. Determined by the ship’s type, amount of hardpoints, and hardpoint size they can choose what kind and how many weapons they equip on their ships. You want to focus all your on-board energy to overheat enemy ships? Deck out your ship with just lasers and fire away. You want to take a more defensive approach, add EMP turrets to take out any incoming smart missiles and temporarily disable enemy ships to play the team game and make them sitting ducks for your teammates. And, of course, almost every component and weapon can be upgraded.

The website mentions it’s “free to play”. Do those that backed the Kickstarter get any bonuses or special items for being long-term fans?

Absolutely! As we discussed on our Kickstarter, one big reason for being free-to-play is that it’s a multiplayer focused game and it’s important to have as many players as possible for the best experience. We also want this game to be as accessible as possible, even to players that may not be able to afford the typical cost of a retail game.

Regarding backers, they have had a huge influence in the direction of our game. We are listening closely to their comments and working hard to put out a game that they will be very happy with. Most Kickstarter rewards are specific to backers, including the game package that backers receive, which is why we refer to it as the “Founders Edition”. We’ll be showing off some of these items prior to launch, including Founder’s Edition schemas and badges. Depending on the reward tier and whether they backed our first Kickstarter campaign, they will receive even more bonuses such as the “First Responders” schema and badge.

Tell me about the science used for the game. How realistic is it?

in-the-black-Shrike_Combat

Source: In The Black, Impeller Studios

Our Newtonian physics model follows the laws of real-life physics in space. For example, the center of gravity of the ship designs and placement of RCS (reaction control system) thrusters throughout the ship determine the stability of the ship itself. Our Heat model simulates the dissipation of heat generated throughout the ship, which is a big problem of operating vessels in space. Damage caused by lasers also has a big impact on a ship’s heat output, which some ships will manage better than others.

Our lead science advisor, Zach El Hajj, is a treasure. He is currently getting his PhD in physics at the University of Notre Dame and he reviews or helps design everything we put in the game. In fact, he designed most of the ships and retrofitted the science into the ships that were designed before he joined us. He’s the one that actually knows the math behind everything. For example, he calculates the performance attributes of all the ships and their weapons systems using a physics model that incorporates accurate Newtonian mechanics and thermodynamics, as well as the sometimes exotic materials that the ships are made of and the propellants they use. At the end of the process, everything has to be able to work as if it were something being built in the real world.

Tell us more about how the science was checked and double checked!

in-the-black-Space-Logistics-Station_Far

Source: In The Black, Impeller Studios

David Wessman is also involved with keeping us ‘honest’ regarding the science, but his expertise also includes a surprising variety of topics including military and intelligence operations, politics, economics, technical and industrial development, as well as being a major nerd when it comes to anything military or space related. He has this wonderful ability to quickly find amazingly relevant references that help us project what the future might actually look like in a few hundred years.

We also have to give a shout out to Atomic Rockets and ToughSF. These are unparalleled resources for anyone who cares about getting the science right. And NASA. Those guys have been pretty helpful. 😉

That being said, at the end of the day this is an entertainment project and it must be fun. And while we are doing our best to model all of these complex systems and dynamics accurately, we sometimes have to model things in a more simplified or even abstract way. Even so, we have been pretty faithful to the science so far and we’re confident that most people will be happy. However, if Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory (or his real life equivalent) decides to pull out a slide rule and find mistakes, he’s sure to find a few.

How difficult is the game to play? With that much realism, is it hard to control? Can someone use a controller or does it have to be mouse and keyboard?

in-the-black-Hyperion-Asteroid

Source: In The Black, Impeller Studios

There is a learning curve to flying a real spaceship in space but we have designed tutorials to ease players into the game. Generally, people are flying pretty well within about 10 minutes, so it’s not bad at all, and amazingly fun when you start to get the hang of it. Ironically, as aerospace systems become more advanced, they become easier to learn and operate than they were in the past. This is thanks to the increasing sophistication of in-flight controls and pilot vehicle interfaces that automate much of the tasks that used to require a lot of the pilot’s attention (and a lot of training). Now, pilots are increasingly focused simply on the mission, and not monitoring a hundred status indicators!

We are designing for many input devices and will eventually get to most of them but right now we are focusing on mouse and keyboard, joysticks, HOTAS, and gamepads. All of those will work great by the time we launch.

When are we expecting a full game to ship and what platforms/stores will we find it on?

in-the-black-cargo

Source: In The Black, Impeller Studios

We are a PC game first, with no current plans for consoles. We have not made any announcements on which stores we will be launching on but as a multiplayer-focused title, our goal is to get it to as many players as possible. As far as our commercial launch, right now we are focused on the Founder’s Edition for our backers and will be following up the Alpha (which was released in May 2018), with our Beta – which will have more features than we originally promised and will be released in the next few months. Pending backer feedback and any needed changes, a commercial “early access” release will follow not too long after.

Once the game is fully out, what are the plans for future content in it? Is it going to be an evolving world?

Our goal is to continuously update the game and add new content. We’re inspired by the success of games like ​Warframe ​ and ​Subnautica, so we’re confident we’ll be extending and improving the game for some time to come. We have dozens of ship concepts, weapon systems, and scenario ideas in the early concept stages, not to mention new features and game modes, and an entire solar system to place new battlespaces in.

Can we expect the game to work in VR? Will that affect the controller capabilities?

We have supported an alpha VR mode since launch because it’s such a natural and obvious fit. We are still working out the logistics of devoting the necessary resources to creating an optimized and polished VR version, so it becomes remains to be seen how quickly we’ll be able to do that.

What would you recommend for a newcomer to the game? Any tips?

in-the-black-Weapon_VDB-15

Source: In The Black, Impeller Studios

Play the tutorials and get very good at controlling your ship. Study all your weapons and component types and configure them to fit the style of pilot you are looking to be. We feel pilots that specialize will be the most successful.

Check out more details about the upcoming space sim, In The Black, and Impeller Studios on their official website!

 

The post Impeller Studios Brings Real Science To Space Sim “In The Black” – Interview appeared first on MMOGames.com.

Interview: Challenges In Bringing DC Universe Online To Nintendo Switch

Back in 2011, Sony Online Entertainment mounted a huge task with bringing a comic book universe to an MMO structure. That project, DC Universe Online, would become a huge hit with fans of both gaming and comic books alike, attaining an audience of millions across PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Years later, now owned by Daybreak Games, it would continue to grow on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 front, as servers shut down on older platforms.

DC Universe Online Interview

Now, that audience is set to grow again. The game is set to make its debut on August 6 on Nintendo Switch, becoming the first full-on massive multiplayer online game to launch on the platform. Granted, it does come with its challenges – it’s huge in size, clocking in at 24GB at initial download, and it also has to keep up with Nintendo Switch Online’s limitations. However, the team at Daybreak is more than ready for what’s coming this week, with a brand new server dedicated to all its players.

We recently had a chance to chat with the game’s executive producer, Leah Bowers, about the challenges that came with bringing DC Universe Online to the platform, as well as what players can expect from it. And judging by early impressions, there’s a lot to look forward to.

First off, Bowers dove into the general excitement of creating the experience for a new platform in general, something that hasn’t been done since the game debuted on Xbox One back in 2016.

“It really is a special opportunity for us to be the first to bring a true MMO experience to the Nintendo Switch,” she explained. “Players will love the action combat play style that DC Universe Online brings to the console — it’s a natural fit!”

Of course, there’s the Nintendo Switch Online infrastructure to go around, since it isn’t your typical online gaming network like Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. But Bowers says her team was more than up to the task.

DC Universe Online Interview

“We’ve been working on this as a team since October of last year. This was a huge challenge for us to take on, and the team really met it head on. The most important thing was handheld performance. That first time we were able to walk around the office playing DCUO handheld on the Switch was awesome.”

So, yes, you can take the system with you to San Diego Comic-Con and enjoy playing it while you’re waiting for the next panel – provided you can find a strong enough Wi-Fi point to connect to, obviously. Bowers said there’s a big plus in taking the game on the go.

“As a Nintendo Switch user, having a game of this magnitude with so much to do is extremely exciting to me! I think it’s going to really blow players’ minds when they can use a mobile hotspot to run a raid with their league mates. When I was traveling for Comic-Con I definitely fantasized about doing my DCUO dailies at the airport,” Bowers noted.

For those concerned about whether or not you need a Nintendo Switch Online membership, good news – you don’t. “DC Universe Online is free-to-play and does not require a Nintendo Switch Online membership to play,” Bowers explained. “Just download and start making your very own customized Super Hero or Super Villain right away!”

Some players, however, may feel the need to have to get “caught up” with everything that DC Universe Online has had to offer over the years. But Bowers reassured that isn’t the case, as all the content that has been released thus far will be there, with more to come – which we’ll cover below.

“Players will get to experience all the episodes!” she explained. “Everything is available from day one and mirrors what is currently available for our PlayStation, Xbox and PC communities. It’s very important to us that we welcome Switch into the DCUO fold and give them the best heroic experience we can.”

That will come in the form of Dark Nights: Metal, a new expansion based on the comic book series of the same name. Fans may recall that this was the introduction of a league of new Batmen, including The One Who Laughs. While Bowers didn’t go into too much detail about what this will bring, fans have a lot to look forward to, she explained.

“The next episode, out in September, is inspired by the Dark Nights: Metal storyline from the comic. That arc was a TOTAL TRIP and when I read it, all I could do was imagine it as a video game. I’m so excited to get to bring that deep, dark, meaningful storyline to life in our game,” she said.

And the team is working very closely with DC Comics to assure that the vibe behind the comics continues to flow smoothly into DC Universe Online, so it isn’t lost in its events.

DC Universe Online Interview

“We work very closely with our partners at DC on all updates to the game,” she said. “It’s a wonderful and collaborative relationship. They are very open to ideas from our end, and we love it when they share what they are excited about over at DC. Metal has been a big deal for them the last couple years, so they are absolutely thrilled that we’re making it a part of the DCUO universe too.”

As for what the future will hold outside of Metal in the months ahead, Bowers didn’t have a detailed schedule available. But she did note one key word: “Updates!” she said.

“We are constantly updating the game with weekend events, seasonal events, episodes, or just crazy ideas we want to try out and get feedback from our extremely passionate community. Our biggest updates coming soon are Metal Pt. 1 in September and Metal Pt. 2 in December. And, of course, the Halloween and Winter events are coming too, and for Switch players, it’ll be their first time tackling those.

DCUO is a living, breathing game and we look forward to growing it for years to come.”

Fans will be able to discover what DC Universe Online has in store when the game goes live on Nintendo Switch starting on August 6. Again, it’s going to require a lot of space, so make sure you get a big enough memory card to hold it all, and get yourself a strong Wi-Fi connection before you do anything else. Also make sure that you’ve got a good hero picked out, and have a few friends in tow to help you save the day, just in case.

DC Universe Online Interview

We’ll have a review of this game around the time of the game’s release, so be sure to check back!

DC Universe Online is also available for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.

(Thanks to Joy and Daybreak Games for the interview!)

 

The post Interview: Challenges In Bringing DC Universe Online To Nintendo Switch appeared first on MMOGames.com.

E3 2019: Fortnite Was Almost Canceled

During an interview at E3, the world learned that Fortnite was almost canceled before it ever got massively popular. The interview, conducted by Game Informer was with former Epic Games Production Lead Rod Fergusson who now works at The Coalition on Gears of War.

“If I had stayed at Epic, I would have canceled Fortnite,” Fergusson says. “Before I left, I tried to cancel Fortnite. When it was Save the World, that was a project that just had some challenges. And as a director of production at the time, that game would not have passed my bar for something we should continue to keep going.”

He also went on to say, “That game you love, the worldwide sensation, would not exist had I stayed at Epic.”

Of course, he is referring to Fortnite Save the World, the PvE mode that came before the massively popular Battle Royale mode took over the world. Back then the game wasn’t performing very well and was barely known at all. Thankfully, Epic saw the Battle Royale light and the game has become a global sensation.

What would the world and the gaming genre have looked like if Fortnite Battle Royale had never come to be? Would we all still be playing PUBG or would the shift to the next big fad have come even faster? For the record, we here at MMOGames have 4v4 being the next big gaming fad, especially after this year’s E3.

Some may say that the world would have been better off without Fortnite Battle Royale. We don’t agree with that sentiment but that’s only because we’ve seen the numbers and know that Fortnite actually helped bring in a whole new generation of gamers. Gamers who are now venturing out to find other games to play.

 

Source: Game Informer via USGamer

The post E3 2019: Fortnite Was Almost Canceled appeared first on MMOGames.com.

Interview: Sharpening the Emotional Reach of Destiny’s Sword

The MMORPG game Destiny’s Sword had some huge presence at PAX East recently, introducing a bevy of new audience members to the classic adventure. But this isn’t your typical tale. It’s one that utilizes a great deal of emotions. In fact, you can “feel” up to 80 over the course of the game, and your character could even “suffer PTSD, anxiety, depression or addiction depending upon what happens in combat and on their unique background and personalities,” according to the game’s description.

Destiny’s Sword

To give you an idea of what the game is all about, we had a chance to chat with Ken Hall, CEO for the developers at 2DogsGames, about what makes the game special. Chances are it might even take dedicated fans of MMORPGs for a ride.

 

First off, for those that are unfamiliar with Destiny’s Sword, how would you best describe it? We know that it’s a game that revolves around tactics, but it goes a little deeper than that thanks to the narrative.

Destiny’s Sword is a strategy/combat MMORPG – with a twist.  Rather than simply crunching numbers in pursuit of dominance, players will work together to manage the psychology and mental health of their team throughout the game. Players will have to get to know their characters, to understand what makes them tick, in order to get the most out of them.

But Destiny’s Sword is about social interaction and communication between players, too.  Whether it’s participating in the ongoing PvP faction war, coordinating with your guild members in a 20-player, cooperative PvE boss battle, or working together to help your teams recover from physical and mental injuries.  As an MMO, we’re all about creating shared experiences in an immersive environment.

Our innovative social game mechanics ensure that all players in Destiny’s Sword are valued and can contribute in a meaningful way, regardless of their achievement level or intensity of play.  This makes it a lot easier to form relationships with other players and continue to play together, and makes the game less daunting for new players.

 

Tell us how the conversations within the game work. Apparently you can have more than one conversation at a time, and it can have an effect on your character? How’s that work?

Sometimes conversations will just be relationship-building tools – shooting the breeze and enhancing trust and comradery.  At other times they will be more like a detective story – players will have to question multiple sources to find out what’s really going on behind the scenes.  How players interact with their characters can certainly affect their relationships and the character’s psyche.

 

How you hold a conversation can actually affect how your character works in the battlefield, correct? Like, one thing could see a critical push, but another could also be negatively affected?

What happens to characters in battle affects how they think and feel, and how they think and feel affects their performance in combat.  Players have to engage with their characters and understand what motivates them and what they’re going through in order to put them in the best place to succeed.

 

Could this eventually evolve into some kind of “beef” with fellow characters that may affect how the team works as a whole?

Absolutely – thanks to our Insight Engine technology (essentially the AI that drives our emergent world), every character has a unique backstory and personality.  They have a web of complex relationships with other characters and the players. Characters can form a synergy and work really well together, but they can also start to distrust each other and cohesion can break down.

Your squad’s morale can even affect other players’ characters within your guild.  In this way, players are incentivized to work together and help each other to manage issues, with more experienced players mentoring and guiding newer players.

Destiny’s Sword

How’s the battle portion of the game work? Turn-based? Team tactics? Or is it ever changing depending on the synchronization of your team?

The battles are real-time, and while players can influence events, they can’t direct them.  The player is the commander of the whole squad, not just a single member of the unit.

There’s a lot of strategy in how the team is assembled, matching the right personnel and equipment for the task at hand.  Then, during battle, players maintain an overwatch of their squad from an orbital support ship. They can coordinate with other players’ squads to score combination attacks, and they can steer the course of events by playing action cards, such as shielding their troops or calling in an orbital strike.

 

How long has Destiny’s Sword been in development? We understand you may be running a Kickstarter to help push it further?

Destiny’s Sword is halfway through development, and we plan to launch our open beta at PAX East next year (2020).  Although we have our production funding already in place, and the core game can be made with what we have at our disposal, we really want to take things further for players.  Our vision is to add exciting features: fully dynamic environments, more cinematic content with voice acting, guild customization. Those are things that the Kickstarter campaign will be able to help us provide.

 

What did you think of the reception of the game at PAX East? Did attendees have some creative criticism to provide? Feedback that could possibly affect the game’s development?

PAX East was awesome – it was so great to see our prototypes in the hands of our audience!  This is the first time they’ve seen a playable version, and it was rewarding to see how quickly they ‘got it’.  We thought people would sit and play like a 3-minute demo, but we were amazed by how many people sat down for over 20 minutes, playing through every line of dialogue we had!

It was very moving to have people turn to us and say – “this is just what I feel like dealing with my anxiety”, or “I have a friend who’s struggling with addiction, and these are the kind of things they say”.  It really validates our concept and shows us we’re on the right track. Now we have to get to work and deliver!

 

Are there any issues in the game that you haven’t explored yet? Like, perhaps, consistent defeats having an effect on a character in the midst of battle?

There are tons of ideas we want to dive into and explore more deeply.  That’s one of the reasons we’ve partnered with some amazing organizations: Take This,Spartan Wellness and Alda Communication Training.

They’re consulting with us to make sure we get the core experience right, and then we can branch out from there.  As a small indie studio, we have to start with a narrow scope, but we will continue to broaden the game experience throughout its future.

 

How many characters are you looking to include in the game overall?

Players will manage a squad of up to 20 different characters, but thanks to our Insight Engine, there will be an infinite number of unique characters in our universe, and no two will react the same way.  As new characters come into the squad and old characters go, the entire dynamic of the group will evolve. War does change, despite what Ron Perlman says in Fallout 3, and Destiny’s Sword is going to offer not only a constantly changing world but characters that grow and change with their experiences and with players’ actions.

Destiny’s Sword

Finally, is the game only coming to the PC front, or do you have console ports figured out as well?

We’re going to initially launch on PC through Steam, but crossplay is a big part of our vision, so expect to see us on the consoles not too long after we get the PC version up and running!

Destiny’s Sword doesn’t currently have a release date, but its open beta is set to open sometime during 2020.

The post Interview: Sharpening the Emotional Reach of Destiny’s Sword appeared first on MMOGames.com.

Interview: MindArk Discusses the Sixteenth Anniversary of Entropia Universe

Some games just know how to stand the test of time. Among them is Entropia Universe, a massively multiplayer online role playing game that got its launch back in 2003, under the Swedish development team at MindArk.

Mindark entropia interview

The game has managed to make some waves over the course of its release, including a pair of Guinness World Records in both 2004 and 2008 for having the most expensive virtual world objects ever sold. That record was almost reached again in 2009 with the sale of a virtual space station for $330,000. That’s right, not an actual space station.

Over the years, thousands of fans have enjoyed the game. And now, on its sixteenth anniversary, MindArk is looking back on its accomplishment and preparing for quite a party.

To give us an idea of just what’s in store, we sat down with MindArk CEO Henrik Nel to get an idea of what to expect. And, yes, fans, you may want to start making a cake.

 

Q: First off, congrats on giving Entropia Universe long-lasting value over the past sixteen years. What do you think are the biggest factors when it comes to its success overall?

A: The unique real-cash economy of Entropia Universe is certainly one of the primary reasons for our longevity and success over the years. Also, the level of trust we have achieved with our player base has resulted in many dedicated participants who have been active for many years, some for over a decade.

 

Q: How did the game’s initial design come about? Were you trying to create such a massive universe right off the bat, or did you have something that you were looking to build up to?

A: From the beginning, the long term-plan for Entropia Universe (originally known as Project Entropia) was to include many different planets, moons, asteroids, space stations and similar entities. Since the technology to support that vision was not actually available back in 2003, we had to build it from scratch. In 2005, the first space estate, Club NEVERDIE, was acquired by the avatar Jon NEVERDIE Jacobs for $100,000 USD.

 

Q: For those that are newcomers to Entropia Universe, break down what they can expect when they jump in for the first time.

A: All new participants are presented with a detailed newcomer experience which provides a few basic items and introduces core concepts of Entropia Universe through a series of rookie missions.

 

Q: Now you’re applying a number of new updates to celebrate the 16th year anniversary. What can players expect from these?

A: We are currently finalizing some exciting graphics updates, as well as continuing efforts to streamline and improve new interaction systems that were recently implemented. In addition to these updates we are also releasing the fundamentals for a company share system where users will be able to control a joint asset. The system will be introduced with the sale of Crystal Palace Space Station. Also, our annual Easter Mayhem event begins on April 18, with lots of valuable prizes up for grabs.

Mindark entropia interview

Q: Is there really a “right place” for newcomers to get started in Entropia Universe? Or do you feel that the game’s wide-open approach makes it great to do whatever they feel like?

A: We encourage new participants to at least complete the initial newcomer missions which provide a few free items to get started. After that, one can continue on with additional missions on their planet of choice, or, for the more adventure-oriented, head out exploring the vast universe however they wish. The Starter Packs available in the Entropia Universe web shop are a great way to get started in a hunting or mining career.

 

Q: How did the economy system come about?

A:The Real Cash Economy (RCE) was a primary feature of the original concept of Entropia. MindArk’s founder, Jan Welter-Timkrans wanted to create a groundbreaking virtual universe, and nearly two decades later Entropia Universe is still the only true virtual reality universe.

 

Q: How difficult is it to maintain Entropia Universe’s massive space?

A:The virtual physical space of Entropia Universe is indeed massive, but we have developed our platform and infrastructure with such vastness in mind, while providing a seamless “single server” experience. We also have multiple third-party Planet Partners developing unique planets of their own within the universe, offering a wide array of content for all Entropia Universe participants.

 

Q: Could you see a game like this working on console at some point in the future? Or would you prefer to stick where you guys are at now?

A: Entropia Universe could very well be extended to other platforms in the future, especially as technology evolves. However, our current focus is on the PC platform.

 

Q: Finally, what’s next for Entropia Universe? Where would you like to see the next 16 years go?

A: The aim is to achieve the full potential of Entropia Universe, and we will keep working hard to fulfill that. We have a great team here at MindArk which will only grow in the upcoming years, in order to create the full extent of the vibrant universe we strive for. 16 years is obviously a long time period, but I’m sure we will be able to add exciting content and releases to ensure we can take the platform to the next level.

If you’re interested in checking out Entropia Universe, you can do so on the official game page. It’s free to try out, but beware as it can be highly addictive for those of you that are into MMORPGs like this one. It’s lasted sixteen years for a good reason.

The post Interview: MindArk Discusses the Sixteenth Anniversary of Entropia Universe appeared first on MMOGames.com.