David Allen : exclusive interview on JeuxOnline
David Allen has started a new MMORPG project Crusade. He has answered a few question especially for JeuxOnline readers.
JeuxOnline: How will you balance the game so that newcomers are still useful in this game when there are already many (very) high level characters?
David Allen: CRUSADE is a game built for player experience; there is no hindrance of this experience based on the existence of older players except establishment of economy, library research, and realm-based deity control; and with expanding content, new players will find they can participate in those features as the content continues to grow.A new player will have just as much fun on a server that’s two years old (perhaps more due to established economy, etc.) than a brand new server.There will be checks and balances implemented into both the PvE and PvP server systems that help balance the PvP aspect of higher vs. lower “power” characters.One thing I’ve disliked about previous MMOGs is the “level based” system that prevents any lower level characters from harming higher level characters altogether – be it magic resists or nothing but ‘misses’.CRUSADE will be designed so that while one “less powerful” character doesn’t have a good chance of killing a “more powerful” character, a group of “less powerful” characters will act like a swarm of bees.One sting won’t kill you, but a few dozen can!
JOL: The FAQ says the game is in alpha stage. Can you tell us about the main milestones you’ve planned for CRUSADE?
DA: It’s very hard to say right now; while we are in a “pre alpha” stage of base functional technology, we have a ton more to implement on the client, server, and world builder sides – and the content amount is massive.We’re shooting for a 2008 release, but when public BETA will be, we cannot say…
JOL: You said that the Gods will walk among the livings. Will they be standard NPC or will they be played by Game Masters?
DA: All deities encountered in the game world will be controlled by Game Masters; we will not implement any AI for them due to their influence in the world.
JOL: Will the players be able to worship a specific God (with in game effects) or will they follow all the Deities worshipped by their faction?
DA: A player must choose a single deity that supports their organization (Asheroth or Kujix). We haven’t finalized if this selection will be made during character creation, or if it will be made in-game at the player’s leisure (thus allowing players to play without being a patron).As with class, once the selection is made, it’s permanent for that character.
JOL: Do you plan player-ruled cults (with high-priest, …)?
DA: We have some features planned for “head patrons” of deities, but they are not completely finalized.Essentially, as the game evolves, we may come up with a concept that allows much more player interaction and leadership that does not over-empower the player in the game world.
JOL: Crusades will group lots of players. How will the players work together? Only 8 or so group fighting with the same goal or huge raid groups leaded by a warchief? Do you plan specific tools to help the leaders of the crusade to give orders and manage their troops?
DA: Crusades supports parties, battalions, and legions.Parties allow 6 players, battalions support 6 parties (36 players), and legions support 6 battalions (216 players).We are designing custom interfaces that allow the leaders of these parties to communicate within an established “chain of command”.For example, the leader of a legion can issue a command that will go to each battalion leader.Each battalion leader can then issue a command to each party leader and so forth.There will also be filter commands that are distributed through the hierarchy to every single player.Our goal is to create visual tools that are easy for the leaders and followers to use and understand while in combat.
JOL: Do you plan to integrate in CRUSADE some of the ideas you’ve designed for your version of Horizons (like the family system seems to be)?
DA: CRUSADE is a completely new and original design.It was important that we started from scratch with the CRUSADE project, and based the design on today’s player needs; not yesterday’s.
JOL: You said that the players who don’t like their family can create guilds. Is it to say that families are some kind of guild? If a player is part of a guild, he has no more bonds with his family? Can he regain his place in the family?
DA: Guilds have nothing to do with families, and vice versa.A family is a named organization the player is born into.Within this family they can openly communicate with other players (who are siblings) anytime from anywhere, engage in family protection (PvP and PvE), gain honor for their family, and get their family in the history books based on accomplishments.The game is designed so that negative information is not tracked.Either a family has impressive accomplishments or it does not.
A player can choose to join or leave a Guild at any time.Guilds will operate similar to guild organizations in other games.
Families cannot be “left”, so a player is stuck with the family they’re born into.If a player doesn’t like their family, they can ‘ignore’ their siblings and detach themselves from the family, but they will always be a member of that family.
Based on player feedback, this system may evolve once we enter the BETA cycle.
JOL: What will be the importance of players in families? Will there be a family leader? If yes how will it work?
DA: No family leaders, only siblings that have accomplished specific tasks.Being a member of a family doesn’t establish any skills or abilities; it just establishes community, visual representation (family crests, etc.) and history.
JOL : Can you tell us about the “many benefits linked to family interaction”?
DA: The major benefit is that of Community.People brought together, able to communicate with and help each other at any time.An instant “group” that lets players know that they’ll never be alone.The opportunity to bond with strangers and friends alike, and watch as others grow within the game world.
JOL: In the FAQ, you said that you plan innovative systems like families and dynasties. Can you tell us something about dynasties?
DA: Dynasties are timeframe references for the library.They will serve as reference for players to use in-game and in the real world as well.For example, Jan-Mar of 2009 on a west-coast server may be known as the “Murg” dynasty.The history archives will note all accomplishments recorded as being a part of this dynasty.
JOL: You said that the high-level content will evolve with the players. We know that high level content is usually a problem since hard core gamers gain power faster than new content is created. How will you handle this issue?
DA: The hybrid skill system first addresses this by not putting a level cap on skills and abilities.Players will constantly be able to improve their characters, and there will always be places to go that they could not go before; this is what ongoing content development is about.
Another key method of regulating the content of the game is to have a balanced player-run economy.Even though the high level players have the “power” to do things that the new players do not, they will still require common materials to sustain themselves; they can either participate in the gathering of these materials themselves, or have others do it for them (via auction house, guild repository, etc).Having places of adventure with challenging creatures is one thing, but having a stable game economy that allows the veteran to sustain themselves is key as well.
JOL: Is the high-level content only PvP or is it suitable to a PvE-only player?
DA: There will be content specifically designed for both; whether it’s for a single PvE player or a legion of PvP players on a Crusade.
JOL: Can you tell us something more about crafting and economy (player owned shops, importance of player-crafted items versus looted items, …)?
DA: One goal of our tradeskill system is to empower players to make some of the most powerful items in the game.A fundamental flaw is requiring players to get the most powerful items from a “mob drop”, or to receive them from achieving a title that requires upkeep and a massive amount of time to play.We will empower those who have the play style and patience of gathering the right rare materials to craft items of equal power.
We have no plans for player owned shops; we feel confident that our auction system will empower players to properly trade within the game world.
JOL: Do you already know if CRUSADE will be translated in French? How about server localization?
DA: We are planning launches in North America, Europe and Asia.What specific localizations will exist is still undecided; it all depends on how many MMOG subscribers exist for a given language.
JOL: Do you want to add something for our readers?
DA: We hope to release the first set of screenshots within the next month, and to continue sharing information, concept work, and communicating with the player base in our forums.Our goal is to establish an open-door policy during development where players can share with our team what’s important to them, and provide feedback on what they’ve seen.
Ultimately, the proof will be in the pudding!
JOL: Thank you for your answers and we wish you the best for CRUSADE!
DA: Thank you, and to all of the players who are supporting us!
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