The Ogre Interviewer…


Moorgard has flipped the “on” switch for the hype machine pointing to an interview Ten Ton Hammer did with 38 Studios’ R.A. Salvatore.

Okay, so that’s just envy talking – if I was really concerned about ‘the hype machine’ I wouldn’t be posting and further publicizing this to people that might stumble across my blog. Also, if I were Moorgard, I’d be brandishing my affiliation with these folks and the fact that I’m a game designer for a secret MMO quite openly. Instead, well, let’s just say I work for a bigger company (neener neener) but the focus of the software isn’t as fun as games… or all that close really.

That interview got me thinking, “What would I ask people from 38 Studios if I had the opportunity to ask them questions about the upcoming MMO?”

Well, here are the immediate questions that come to mind…

1. What is the target audience? (make liberal use of labels; casual, hardcore, core, soloers, groupers, raiders, etc.)
1a. If you cop out and say “everyone” do you really think you going to deliver enough content to that each member wide audience and be able to keep their attention for years?
1b. If you have to focus more towards a given audience, which would it be?

2. Will there be any emphasis on exploration?

3. Will there be dungeons so large you can go into them half a dozen times and still not have seen everything?

4. Is advancement going to be fast and easy?
4a. Are you going to allow people to turn off XP?
4b. Are you going to allow people to opt out of ‘rest’ XP? (If you have that mechanic…)
4c. Are you going to allow people to opt out of bonus XP weeks, weekends or days? (Other than suggesting they just don’t play…)

5. Are you going to make people fear death?

6. Will PVE encounters, especially boss/named mob encounters, kick my ass? (I am an experienced player that plays their character to their limits, often pushing the envelope.)

7. Are characters going to fill a given role or are they going to be hybrids with everyone able to do everything?

8.If, when developing your class abilities, you had to choose between being graphically intensive (EQ2) or fun (WoW), which would you choose?

9. Do you want people to be able to log into your game for 15-30 minutes and still feel like they’ve done something or do you want them to set aside time because they’re are no easy achievements or quick thrills?

10. When someone says “content” to you, do you think of housing, furniture that can be crafted and pets (i.e. fluff) or do you think of fantastic places, deep dark caves or ancient ruins to explore, loads of quests of varying goals and tons of different creatures to kill?
10a. If you cop out and say, “both”, which one would you be more likely to drop in a crunch.

These are my questions, I’m allowed to be leading and yes they clearly show my bias. You don’t like my questions? Go ask your own.

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2 thoughts on “The Ogre Interviewer…

  1. Isn’t #1 and #9 essentially the same question? If the answer to #9 is “yes” then the answer to #1 must be “casual.” Personally, I’d say that would be a good thing as long as *all* the content is not completable in 30 minutes or less. In addition, 38 Studios are mostly WoW players and they want to have a game with enough players to make it worth their while, so there’s no way the answer is “hardcore.” There’s already Darkfall for that. And no amount of devs on staff can create enough content for hardcore players, which answers the other part of that question. 🙂

    One of the huge questions I have is regarding the choice of the Unreal Engine. It’s notoriously bad in large scale environments and it’s usage has been clunky and under-performing at best in the MMOs *to date* it’s been used in (Vanguard and Lineage II come to mind). I want to know if “Copernicus” will even have a large, open and seamless world or if, due to the Unreal Engine, it will be pocketed away in instanced zones (even if they’re public instances like AoC). Also, due to the Unreal Engine, is “Copernicus” going to require a Crysis-capable mega-PC to run?

    Related to #4: Is “Copernicus” going to be Just Another DikuMMO where we just rush through XP to get level cap then jump on the endless gear treadmill? Or is 38 Studios daring to try something different? (“Different” also needs to be “fun” not just different for the sake of being different)

    I love Salvatore’s writing, and I’m excited to hear about his and 38 Studios take on storytelling within a game (in particular MMOs which have been troublesome for stories) however stories are typically linear by their very nature. BioWare is already working on WoW: The Old Republic. My concern is “Copernicus” will be the same. Only different. heh

  2. When I was typing that, I considered it similar, but the answer I’m getting at is different. Wanting to know if it will be casual or hardcore differs from finding out there are quick and easy achievements.

    Darkfall is hardcore PVP. There are a lot of things about Darkfall I like the sound of BUT I also know I cannot play as much as others so I suspect (despite my prowess) someone with oodles of time is going to probably be a higher level, have higher skills, have better gear and, effectively, have all the things that counter raw skill (or tactics in some cases).

    Just because they play and enjoy WoW doesn’t mean they want to remake WoW. Or at least, they realize that having a lot of content available from the start is as important as ensuring that content is stable, reliable and fun. At least that’s the hope I cling to.

    You’re assuming I want them to answer, “hardcore”. I’m hardcore in that I’ll push my character to its limits but not in the sense of, “do something once, declare it beaten and move on”. I am more of a core player that wants to play in the content, see it all and grow through it rather than rush to the max level.

    Oh, I can get caught up in the leveling fast, but I do prefer learning a place and exploring it with the risks of having enemies and allies around me.

    I definitely have the same fear as you do, Scott. I worry this is just going to be another game aimed at being as accessible as possible which ends up making it a little too easy for people who tend to … need or want less accessibility?

    It just feels a little shallow.

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