Entretien avec les développeurs d'Auto Assault

par Cocyte, Saavik et Mind (9 août 2005)

Version française

Auto Assault Rush Hour Session #2

image NC Soft invited JeuxOnLine, Juega En Red, Clockerz, Krawall and Mondes Persistants to a series of exclusive online dev-chats called the "Rush Hours".
The topic of the first session of the "Rush Hours" was the character creation and how players level up and progress through the game.

Steve Snow and Todd Keister from NC Soft, Ryan Seabury from NetDevil and three community coordinateurs (Torque, AutobahnParker et Aergirson) were present during this chat session.

[Rockjaw] We'll have our ever-helpful mods, Aegirson (a French speaker!) and Autobahn (a German speaker) in that channel to help you out, and they're also be pushing questions to our guests.
[Rockjaw] Joining us today from the US we have Ryan Seabury from NetDevil, developers of Auto Assault
[Rockjaw] Ryan is Design Director for NetDevil, which means he's got a great insight into the game... he's responsible for much of the backstory and AA history
[Rockjaw] In addition, he's probably still mildy jetlagged from his whistlestop visit to the UK last week as part of our Auto Assault press launch. :)

[Rockjaw] How important will be the influence of the skills be on the gameplay?
[Ryan Seabury] pretty important... in terms of gameplay, each character class is defined by the kinds of vehicles they can drive, the equipment they can use, and finally skills...
[Ryan Seabury] So a lot of the characters' style and techniques (their flavor) that are very class specific come from the skills.
[Ryan Seabury] And certainly those who employ their skills well will do better than those who just "run and gun"

[Rockjaw] Is there real differences between the skills of the three races for a same class? For instance, will a mutant healer be any different than a biomek healer?
[Ryan Seabury] absolutely.
[Ryan Seabury] we wanted each archetype class to fulfill the same combat roles, but achieve them through mechanically different ways...
[Ryan Seabury] for each race, the skills are flavored based on the culture of survival for that race.
[Ryan Seabury] to illustrate, using the healer classes:
[Ryan Seabury] Human Engineers will employ beams and energy based repairing, since Human tech is highly based on light and shielding etc.
[Ryan Seabury] Mutant Shaman will manipulate the Contamination to create phaseformed vegetation that replenishes nearby allies
[Ryan Seabury] and Biomek Constructors deploy nano-bot technology and automated mini-meks and bots to help their friends.
[Ryan Seabury] and of course, their are many other skills that each of those classes has beyond just repairs that are different from each other.

[Rockjaw] from Harry at Boomtown: Can you explain the major differences in the Hazard Mode from race to race?
[Steven Snow] Yes, each race has a different style and they look amazing.
[Steven Snow] Biomeks vehicles actually transform into massive walking machines of doom, letting them blow the crap out of everything in sight.
[Steven Snow] Humans can invert their shields, which cascades out massive amounts of electrical damage to anything nearby, not to mention looks sweet as hell.
[Steven Snow] And Mutants can phase shift into a totally awesome spirit form damaging anything nearby, there are trailers on the site that show all these off: http://www.autoassault.com
[Rockjaw] I can actually give you folks a direct link if you like: http://uk.autoassault.com/downloads/movies/

[Rockjaw] With regards to the "Hazard mode", will the player be able to extend the duration of this, as they climb levels?
[Steven Snow] There are all kinds of loot that players can aquire
[Steven Snow] Players will find that hazard kits can have unique stats that change the way the mode functions
[Steven Snow] So it really depends on what kind of kit you have equipped

[Rockjaw] What's the average cooldown between two uses of the Hazard Mode ?
[Ryan Seabury] Hazard Mode is activated by accumulating a chargeup from killing enemies...
[Ryan Seabury] so that means it's entirely up to you to determine how long it takes...
[Ryan Seabury] you will have to kill about 100 infantry type enemies on average to activate it again

[Rockjaw] The power/look of Hazard mode will be the same for every one on each race? For example a biomek guy with a tank will have the same destructive mech than a guy with a small car?
[Steven Snow] Yeah, the Biomek hazard mode is setup for different vehicle types to transform into a similar mech type.
[Steven Snow] So the SUVs share a common mech look but that mech looks nothing like smaller vehicles.
[Steven Snow] The Mutant Hazard mode is more spiritual, and tied to the class that's using it.
[Steven Snow] So each base Mutant class has a unique hazard look.
[Steven Snow] Human Hazard mode has little visual differance, but again, all hazard modes across all races are modified by the hazard kits, which can have unique stats.

[Rockjaw] From Wodden again: How deadly are the Hazard Modes ? If very don't you fear large battles become just a (quick) huge Hazard Mode damages exchange?
[Ryan Seabury] The hazard modes are designed to indeed be pretty kick ass...
[Ryan Seabury] and actually... we've had some pvp setups specifically to match hazard modes against each other
[Ryan Seabury] it's really fun to watch (and more fun to play)
[Ryan Seabury] but to answer your question
[Ryan Seabury] due to the time it takes to charge up hazard mode, and the relatively short duration...
[Ryan Seabury] they really function either as openers or escapes, not entire drawn out battles.

[Rockjaw] How many skills can a character learn? Will it be possible to master the two skill trees with only one character?
[Ryan Seabury] We're still working out the balance of the final number of skills per class, which may be a different number for each class.
[Ryan Seabury] As far as mastering both trees, it will not be possible to fully train every single skill in both trees with a single character.
[Ryan Seabury] You will have to decide where you want your specialization to be down one or two lines of the trees (3 lines per tree), or you can be more of a generalist and get a few ranks in many skills.
[Ryan Seabury] We wanted there to be variety within the character classes, so that when you get a level capped character, you're not exactly the same as everyone else.

[Rockjaw] Will every player from the same class share the exact same skills or will there be choice to make ?
[Ryan Seabury] there will definitely be choices to make...
[Ryan Seabury] generally speaking, you can choose to go down faction skill lines and be more of a generalist for your race
[Ryan Seabury] or you can choose to focus on a few particular specialties unique to your class
[Ryan Seabury] or a little bit of both
[Ryan Seabury] in addition, the faction skill trees share a line with 2 of the other character classes from your race...
[Ryan Seabury] we did this so that you could "bend your template" towards one of the other classes if you liked...
[Ryan Seabury] for example, the Human Commando shares a line with Human Engineers and another line with Human Bounty Hunters...
[Ryan Seabury] meaning you can make a "support commando" or "ops commando" if you desired, a very light hybrid (still heavy on commando of course).

[Rockjaw] from JeuxOnline: How are the skills going to be used in the midst of battle? Through a system of skill Points or a set number of usage for each skills?
[Steven Snow] Nice question
[Steven Snow] From a gameplay standpoint you have a quick bar where you place all of your critical items and skills, for access during combat.
[Steven Snow] As far as limiting skills over time each car has a power pool, this is modified primarily by the engine type you have equipped your vehicle.
[Steven Snow] The engine sets how large the pool is and how quickly it can refresh. Each skill will tap this pool, as well as having a re-use timer.
[Steven Snow] So you have to be careful how you use your skills, otherwise you can find yourself with a ton of enemies that need to be blowed up but no super skills to use on them.
[Rockjaw] Be careful with that power plant then folks. Ryan, do you have something to add?
[Ryan Seabury] One thing to point out in regards to the powerplant's power pool...
[Ryan Seabury] power plants also control heat regulation and venting...
[Ryan Seabury] this means you have a choice to make when equipping one...
[Ryan Seabury] do you want to be able to fire your big Uber Gun Of Doom in large bursts without overheating...
[Ryan Seabury] or do you want to spam more skills?
[Ryan Seabury] depending on the situation you are entering, you will want to carefully evaluate your current powerplant

[Rockjaw] Is there going to be any way to recover from overheating?
[Ryan Seabury] yes.
[Ryan Seabury] you can recover in a couple of ways...
[Ryan Seabury] there are consumable items such as "coolant flushes" that will drain hit in a major way
[Ryan Seabury] there may also be some skills related to this
[Ryan Seabury] and we are evaluating ways the environment may also affect your heat

[Rockjaw] Is there any feature to let you reset your skills instead of starting over again?
[Ryan Seabury] In the current beta build respeccing has not been enabled.
[Ryan Seabury] internally, we are investigating the right method to do this.
[Ryan Seabury] i think we will end up using a growing expense model (i.e. first time respec is cheap, but gets more expensive each time)
[Ryan Seabury] but again, we're still looking into that on our internal dev environments first.

[Rockjaw] About skill trees, how 'deep' will each branch go ? (ie, how many levels can you put into a skill?)
[Ryan Seabury] it varies by the skill ...
[Ryan Seabury] each one can have a different max rank potential
[Ryan Seabury] this makes it easier for us to balance and also provide interesting upgrades at each rank
[Ryan Seabury] of course, with each rank are ever increasing costs, so for example
[Ryan Seabury] rank 1 may cost 3 skill points, but rank 2 may cost 10 skill points, and so on.

[Rockjaw] Can we expect the skill tree to grow with new content/skills as the game develops, or is everything pretty much set in stone from the off?
[Steven Snow] You can certainly expect the skill tree to change after the launch.
[Steven Snow] MMOs aren't about shipping and then going to work on the sequel, we are staffing a lot of people to make sure that Auto Assault can grow and change based on the needs and feedback of the players.
[Steven Snow] As Auto Assault matures changes will be done that will affect the skill tree. Some might be as simple a balance, and others might be additions or dropping unused skills in favor of new ideas.
[Steven Snow] But it's impossible to really predict what changes might be needed right now.

[Rockjaw] Will it be possible to combine two or more skills to get additional bonuses?
[Ryan Seabury] many of the skills are designed to be complimentary to each other
[Ryan Seabury] but they do not chain off of other skills in combos (if that's what you are asking)
[Ryan Seabury] we found the combat to be way too frenetic to manage that, so we kept a simpler, more action friendly model with the skills

[Rockjaw] Can a skill be learned from another player or can we only learn it from a trainer ?
[Steven Snow] Players teaching other players skills isn't a focus for Auto Assault, we want you in the action!
[Steven Snow] We'd rather you were spending your time on the highways obliterating TemperNet outposts or in the Arenas and Contested Areas schooling other factions on why they shouldn't mess with you.
[Steven Snow] So when you level you get to spend your points right on the spot your at, no need to drive back to town to learn something or wait for someone else to have the time to show you.
[Steven Snow] Crafting is a little different since you have to visit key trainers to increase your knowledge cap, but the reason for this is that crafting isn't considered an action oriented system.

[Rockjaw] Is the craft system related to the general skill system or is it totaly separated ?
[Ryan Seabury] we wanted crafting advancement to be totally independent from character class and combat skills...
[Ryan Seabury] so that, for example, you don't have to pick Class X to be a great crafter.
[Ryan Seabury] mechanically they are a little different as well in how you advance and use them
[Ryan Seabury] but that's probably an entire rush hour topic in and of itself. :)

[Rockjaw] Our next question is from Krawall; do enemies use the same skills players do, if they use skills at all?
[Steven Snow] Yes and no. Some skills are very tied to your faction.
[Steven Snow] Biomeks are all about using a virus to infect electrical systems, so it would be a little weird for the fiction if Pikes, who worship rocks and earth, had the same ability.
[Steven Snow] But Pikes have unique abilities unto themselves, so when encountering pike enemies you have to be careful about how interact with them, watch out for the healers or guys tossing dynamite out of their windows at your car.

[Rockjaw] Are there skills that have pre-requisites in order to be learned (i.e. minimum level in others skills) ?
[Ryan Seabury] currently, no.
[Ryan Seabury] however, there are level pre-requisites for getting access to skills
[Ryan Seabury] basically, every 5 levels or so you will get access to a new row of skills in all your trees
[Ryan Seabury] this may be subject to change if ongoing testing dictates
[Ryan Seabury] but at this point, we actually removed other skill dependencies that existed in an earlier beta phase.
[Ryan Seabury] it was a fun > realism decision.

[Rockjaw] From Krawall: Do some of the skills specialise in teamplay? Can you give an example?
[Steven Snow] Hell yes.
[Steven Snow] Like I said earlier Biomeks have abilities with viruses, these skills have a chance to infect other enemies near by.
[Steven Snow] Just like the Biomek's virus ability they also have skills that have positive modifiers which can be passed around.
[Steven Snow] For example the Biomek Terminator gets an ability called Havok Relay, this modifies key combat stats.
[Steven Snow] Spending points in this skill increases the chance for it to jump to another convoy member as well as how many times it might jump.
[Steven Snow] Personally I always put points into Havok Relay because buffs like this can give you the edge you need in PvP combat, as well as PvE.

[Rockjaw] Let's say I'm a Human duelling a Mutant, and we both activate Hazard Mode at the same time. Who dies?
[Ryan Seabury] Easy. Everyone else.

[Rockjaw] I'm getting ahead of myself: for our last question I want to bring Assistant Producer Todd Keister up on stage
[Rockjaw] Todd's shy, so we all have to give him a big hand...
[Rockjaw] So, our very last question in today's Rush Hour, to Todd, is...
[Rockjaw] Can you grow fruit on the skill trees?
[Todd Keister] The fruits of your labor in crafting, can yield a number of fantastical wonders for your gaming pleasure... ;)

Thanks to NCSoft and NetDevil for this Auto Assault Rush Hour session!