After the fold is the second half of last Friday’s developer chat. Again, any errors in transcribing it are mine, and for the actual chat right from the mouths of the devs, you can find the full MP3 recording over on Historian’s site.
In this half of the transcript, we learn about what’s coming for PvP, solo and group instances, what’s coming for the end game, how solo friendly the game is, and much, much more.
David Perry (DP): One thing is if I could throw that out there, Neal’s name, he’s been typing in here, AcclaimSinbad. So if you see AcclaimSinbad, he’s the CTO, he’ll actually be launching this next week.
Historian (H): Yeah I’m going to capture the text and clean it up and post it in the Spellborn forum.
H: Tear Runner had another question.
Tear Runner: Well, I didn’t want to continue on with asking what features are coming and everything, but one feature that got me excited about the game was the lore, the story on the website. From what you read, there’s lore and mystery in the game. And I was wondering, is there single player or smaller dungeons, you know, or the raid level content, whatever we’re going to have, I’m excited about it. Is ti going to continue on? Does the game continue on with this mystery, of learning the lore, finding out what happened to this world?
El Drijver (El): Definitely. And we will be able to tie everything together in that respect. All the PvP objectives will be tied to the lore. Like, there’s a tower on the hill, and whoever wins the battle wins the tower and 100 gold pieces or whatever. It will all be tied to the story.
H: Okay this one is kind of for everybody. In comparing, for example, this game to the existing games like, EQ, EverQuest Online is a hardcore game, and World of Warcraft is being more casual (if you asked them, they wouldn’t say that), how does Spellborn compare with that? Is it more a hardcore game? Is it something more casual? Or is it kind of a really good blend of everything?
El: That’s a nice question. What it is, is a combination. When you have a really intense PvP fight, it’s really intense. I wouldn’t say it is (couldn’t make it out) but you are really busy with your combat, which is much less in World of Warcraft, even in end-game raids. I wasn’t a hardcore player in EverQuest, so I don’t really know that game. But that’s really different. You’ll be playing – yeah. Combat will be really hardcore, and between, you will rest.
DP: Yeah I don’t really – El and I have spent a lot of time talking about the game. All these various things that need to get done. But what happens, we haven’t really talked about what we could do like ideas about where this kind of stuff could go. But for me, in a way that’s the most important conversation we still have to have. So we should do that. I want to talk to you about that. I think that we have to differentiate ourselves from the other games that are out there. We have some of the most bad-ass, kick-ass fighting you’ve ever seen in an MMO. And you’ve got the framework, my God you’ve got the framework here, and what’s going on between the characters and the actual controls, but there’s also that thing. You remember we talked about that, where it’s what you’re seeing, versus – you know, a lot of — just to be clear, so people know what I’m talking about – a lot of designers get ‘noes’ from the programmers, so sometimes when they say ‘can we do this, can we do that?’ they say ‘no, because –‘ what if everyone else has to see that or there’s too many people standing around. And if you say instead of having a lit bit of, a little piece of body parts flying, can we have LOTS? And they’d say of course not, because then everyone would see the body parts and there’d be too many body parts to track. And so these are the things that, with a little creativity, we could vastly improve on things a normal programmer would say ‘no’ to. And so I’m pushing that, just warning you in advance.
DP: I’m going to be pushing very hard to find what are the acceptable limits in these sorts of games, and how tricks to get around that, so when you’re in a really hardcore fight, you and the other guy are really seeing some fantastic stuff. And when someone is just running past, they don’t need to see the same kind of action that you guys are seeing, so … I think this type of experimentation, this discussion, that El and I will be having is not appropriate, it’s not time for that now. Our first part is getting the game launched and making sure everyone is happy and that they have everything they need. Basically, providing the service, but from that point forward this game I think that this game potentially could really define that experience for – certainly PvP, and what visually is happening and occuring, so you feel, you take complete ownership over everything that is happening during that exchange, I think that could be really fun. So I’m really excited about where that could go in the next year.
H: Alright. We’re going to have Elune up to ask a question.
Elune: This is a question about the end game. I’ve been playing in the European version and now that everyone is maxing out, they are all looking for the end game. I was wondering if it’s coming, anyone.
H: Yeah. In case you didn’t catch that, Elune’s asking about the end game. She’s been playing, or he’s been playing on the EU server, and they seem to have characters who are maxing out. There doesn’t seem to be anything at the end game. So they’re asking if something like that is going to be addressed.
El: Definitely, and also on multiple levels. PvP will, of course, be one of the end game features. In terms of exploration, there’s zones, and zones will unlock with a quest. It takes more time to add those. In the short term, it’s dungeons first, and end zones. It kind of depends on what kind of gameplay player you are.
H: RPG Bouncer has a question. He feels the skill deck could possibly be becoming a flavor of the month kind of thing, where each class will get a specific build that works really well, and everybody will do it. He wanted to know if you had any plans to keep that from happening to keep the combat fresh.
El: That’s a really good question. So far the flavor of the month has been changing and shifting within the community without us having to change anything. People find different combinations. At the start, mages were seemed to be the most powerful, and the – now certain warrior combinations are the more powerful, you know, this is the way to go. But daily we take a look at it, daily, on the forums. If it’s needed, if it’s caused by a bug, we address it immediately, but so far, it’s okay. And yeah, we keep a close eye on it.
DP: I’m a big fan of the customization part of it. So, the more flexible something becomes, they’re going to keep adding more and more features, so – the more they keep adding skills, the more they are going to be shaking up that customization that people are doing, so I think that will keep changing. It would only be a problem if the game were locked and done and no more changes were happening, but as it’s a live game with constantly new items and new skills and everything else, it’s going to be constantly evolving and people are going to get more and more creative. As skills improve too, there’s going to be different versions for different skill levels, that they can manage. I’m not worried that there’s going to be one skill set that everyone uses.
H: Since we have a game with a very rich and deep story line, are there plans to let the players impact how the story grows? Like certain quests being completed, or things like that, where possibly a player could become part of the story.
El: Definitely. We use that on one of the low level quests as well, it’s in the starting town. In this case, you have to solve a murder case. The player will really decide in the end who will be trialed for this murder. It’s really how the player plays it who is judged in the end.
DP: Yeah, we’re going to be doing – El isn’t aware of this yet – we’ll be doing all sorts of community stuff down the road. Howard and I both have very good access to Hollywood, so if at some point we want the community to start getting some sort of movie script together, see what they could come up with. If we wanted those, great, we could make something of it, if we don’t, it was probably just fun giving it a try. If you’ve seen our Top Secret project, you know we’re not averse to having a large number of people working on stuff, and so far, on Top Secret, we’ve been blown away by the ideas people have come up with. The kinds of things I would like to see. I’d like to see, we’re going to have community working on trailers, and all kind of things, all kinds of creative projects where they – The experience we’ve found, where the players end up knowing the world and the lore better than we do. They really study the stuff and they have all kinds of ideas, so – We’re going to be tossing out some pretty crazy ideas, and I know you’re going to have fun with them, I can promise you that.
H: Okay two good questions kind of got passed by. The first was, siege type battles in between the houses or guilds, wars and that kind of thing. Are there plans for multi-player combat situations?
El: That would go toward the shard quests, a term that has been dropped a lot of times in the past as well, basically fight over areas. We will start with PvP and its incentives soon, but really big fights over land, to take control over a whole shard and get income from shops, that’s more a bit further away, Siege weapons are really far in the future, but we have a lot of other PvP plans before that, and I think, more fun as well.
H: We have a question about the kinds of controls a guild leader will have and how they can communicate in game with guild members.
El: Communicating is a guild channel at the moment. We don’t have in game voice chat, if that’s the question, it’s just a chat channel.
H: I think he was looking for a message board where he could put up a message and people would see it as they log in, or something like that.
El: No, just the guild chat and the message of the day. Calendar, like World of Warcraft has, we don’t have this at the American launch, no.
H: Here’s a question about the ancestral quests, why is there no demon army camp yet? I guess he’s saying he’s reached level 50 and he doesn’t feel like there’s anything for him.
El: There’s several instances in the game, and during beta, we found that a lot needed a lot of attention, so a lot of instances that were actually available in beta are not available. We’re now with this patch enabling (some instance or other), next patch we’ll be working on improving (some other instance that sounds like Six Hell Pail), next up will be Tomb of the Ancestors, which will also be near end game, then Demon Army Camp is on the menu. It’s followup is Ancestral Dreams. The Ancestral Forge is actually available at the moment and the last boss hasn’t been killed yet. I know our end game players got it down to 30% or something.
H: This isn’t really a coin based item game (guessing Acclaim Coins, Acclaim’s RMT currency), so you can’t really buy anything with coins (apparently responding to a typed question).
H: Would you say that Chronicles of Spellborn was more a group based game or a solo based game? Or is it pretty well balanced for both?
El: You can reallly solo the game, but it will get really hard at some points, really. But it’s really solo-friendly, especially if you’re careful. But we have a couple of solo instances because we would really like players to be able to also explore by themselves and also do that in instances and not just the world.
DP: Can I put that around to the people? I’d love to put this to the people that have been putting a decent amount of time into the game. Can you tell us what the game needs. Let’s just flip the table and tell us what it needs. If you were El, and you could go into the office and say here’s what we’re gonna do next, what would you do? I’d love to hear that.
El: Would they also handle all my emails and stuff?
DP: Absolutely. All your emails, just auto-forward to Voon.
H: Ira Lemir, you have voice chat, would you like to talk?
Ira: Yes, can you hear me?
H: Is there any chance of introducing a new class into the fold, or updating an existing class?
El: Expanding on current classes, definitely, though we first had some concepts for adding classes in the future which rather expand on our current classes, but they are already so rich and aimed for hybrid so we’d rather expand on those than adding stuff on top.
Ira: Since I have been playing now for about three months, I’ve been through all the quests and all the stories. If I were a developer, still about the subject, that to get people to still keep playing the game, so to keep addicted, should really add something you can do over and over again. For me now, it’s all collecting resources or redoing Citadel Hill but that is not enough. I’ve played Runescape for instance and that game is so simple, it’s just a browser game, but it’s so addictive because of the fact that you just want to level and level and level your status up. If I were a developer, in charge of a lot of people than that’s what I’d do. Get a dungeon with a very good drop or something like that.
DP: Do you feel the awards in the game aren’t good enough, or what is your feeling about the current rewards?
Ira: At the moment, I don’t have enough incentive to keep grinding in the game and get that one piece of armor. There is a wailing piece which has a drop rate of less than 1%, I still don’t know if it’s in the game (is he talking about WoW?). I have a feeling that if it is very important, that you’ll keep going because when you’re level 50, there’s nothing to do and then I really want to keep playing in the game and it’s just hard. Especially when there’s not that much people in the morning or in the evening. It’s just, in the beginning, in the start of the game.
DP: Yes. To get the to grow in the US, we’re going to have to obviously nail that. I think that’s one of the most important things of all, that you feel you’re getting fairly rewarded for whatever you’re doing, so that’s something I’m very interested in knowing, when people start playing the game, in the first ten or fifteen levels, do they feel the game is responding to what they’re doing. I’d love to get a feel for that. Feel free to step in, El, with a comment.
El: We have to cater to a little different players. Since we had add so many quests and apparently our previous speaker had apparently gone through everything. We’re currently adding the Arena and (Ex Ar Field) which is a mid-level dungeon. After that, we’ll definitely focus on the end game dungeons. So that would be for him, if PvP is not.
Ira: Well the thing is, for now, if you want to do PvP, for now, you have to have a group and a lot of people to do it. I think it’s very important, if there’s not enough people in line, that you can do solo things, such as dungeons or new quests. But at some point, I think there must be something else to do, an incentive to keep playing, even when your friends are not online.
DP: Well, when we’re launching thi in the US, again, I think we’re going to end up with a lot more players. That’s my expectation based on our community. Our goal will be to get people to come in and try it, and we should end up with a lot of players and that will solve a lot of these problems. And just so you know, I’ve been playing on the European server, so I’m going to start again. So just so you know, I’m going to be there with you, starting from scratch.
H: Hawthor, you have the mike.
Hawthor: Yeah, my big question, regarding the High House PvP? On the PvP servers it’s pretty much all faction based, just like the old Vallon and Tallon servers on EverQuest (PvP team-based PvP servers) . Is there going to be anything done to help keep the player population in those Houses balanced? Or is there a way to switch Houses or anything like that?
El: Yeah, with the arrival of the incentives, the more upward systems for High House PvP, we’ll make sure to keep systems in place to make this more interesting. Though we think this is really something that should be with the players. They can steer it in a direction. We’ll monitor it, of course, but some players really like to be in a smaller House, the underdog, or be in a big, mighty House, and we will really look into all the possibilities and offer everything for the player.
H: We’ll have this as our final voice question, we’re getting really near the end.
Hoho: I’d like to ask, how many quests are there?
El: We currently have right around one thousand.
Hoho: And about the quests. Are they different from each other?
El: That contains all kinds of questions.
Hoho: That’s all.
H: Okay. I guess it’s been about an hour. Are there any final things that, David, you’d like to say, or El?
DP: Well, I think the most important thing is that this is just the first chat. We felt that it’s really time to start preparing for the launch of this, and it’s going to be a very exciting next thirty days, let’s put it that way. We’re going to be rolling into the Game Developer’s Conference as well, there’s going to be a lot of press willing to talk about it, so you guys are kind of getting in a little early here. So you can assume we’re going to be doing a lot more of this. If you have a question, you’re welcome to ask it. Again, I don’t want the structure of these talks to end up being kind of question-answer, question-answer, I think at some point we just want to open the mikes, and turn them into discussions, and have a chat. I’m calling these fireside chats, because that’s what I’d like these to become, people hanging out, having a chat about the game. And you know that there would be people in the room who could go out and make a pretty huge difference in the game, if there was a need for it. So that’s really the whole idea of this. This is just to get it started, but this model will change a little bit as we head toward launch. We’ll be in there, playing with you, so we can tell you about our experiences and that’s our job, too. Not just sitting here saying, ‘omg, this game is teh great’. It’s a brand-new game, and we want to play it, too. The great news, is, I’ll be having the same conversation with El that you will. So I’ll be saying, “Hey, dude, I’ve been playing this game, and I want to do this and I want to do that,” and that’s what we’ll be doing. So you can expect a lot more of that.
DP: Anyway, I just want to thank everyone. I want to thank Howard for popping in, and Neal and Aaron and thanks Historian, you’ve done a great job here, and thanks to El. This chat will be posted online. There’s a lot of people here at work right now who can’t log in during work, so we’ll be posting this on line and you’ll catch up on this and see what we talked about. If you are listening to this online and if you like, you can just tell a story and if enough people say it, we’ll do it. We work late, we’re not the kind of people who work 9 to 5, we work very, very late. So we can do time-shifting. If you want to do a European talk, or talk early in the morning, we can do that, and have one of these chats then. So it’s a case of, certainly the access will be there. And I hope to talk with you again soon! Thanks to everyone.