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Dark Solstice Interviews: Q&A with Frank Ross

By Jon Wood on July 27, 2005

MMORPG.com:What kinds of monsters and other baddies can we look forward to facing up against and are there going to be higher level monsters for higher level characters, or can we expect to have the same monsters of varying difficulty?
Frank Ross:

First, we are not going to provide the same artwork with some small variation or a different color to designate a higher level monster. At this point, they are unique and should remain so for the foreseeable future.

As to what kinds they are, I can only tell you that most do not even have names yet but they are not the garden variety critters. No bats, rats, skeletons, and most of the other common enemies will be present. The DS creatures are being designed by the creative minds of our artists. Some will use weapons while others will attack with claws, fangs, and tails.

MMORPG.com:What kind of experience do you offer to hardcore craft and gather players?
Frank Ross:

“Hard core crafters and gatherers” is a difficult category to define since that usually is not their only activity. All of the players in DS, regardless of their chosen profession, can gain experience by combat, crafting, gathering, and gambling. If a player so chooses, they can progress through all of the various levels by doing nothing more than crafting.

MMORPG.com:Your website names the six player races: Human, Nanusean, Albusian, Idruidian, Groth and Atramental. How will one race differ from the others, and how will my choice of race change my gameplay experience?
Frank Ross:

The differences will include the obvious of course, their appearance. In addition, their individual homes will start in different towns, each with a unique look. Their inherent skills will differ from race to race. Some will make better warriors; some will be more potent magic users. Others will make great gamblers while still others will excel at smithing skills.

There will be weapons, clothing, and armor created specifically for various races. For example, our orc-like Groths are very strong but not highly intelligent. Their weapons may well be limited to clubs. A beginner might wield a tree trunk freshly torn from the ground while a high level might well have earned a polished mahogany club with shiny steel spikes.

MMORPG.com:What are you doing to appeal to players who are new to MMORPG gaming?
Frank Ross:

Like most games, we want to build an established community of players. It is only through their help that we can bridge the gap to the brand new player. We can provide all of the new player aids like training facilities, welcomes, and in-game help, but unless they receive a warm welcome from other players, it may all be in vain. We will of course try a personal approach with each of them to try and make their experience a pleasant one, but in the long run, most players want to be accepted and not feel left out of the mainstream.

We will encourage and reward these welcoming actions by experienced players.

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MMORPG.com:Player input seems to be becoming a more and more popular feature in MMOs. Can you tell me a little bit about what you're doing to give the player input into the creation of Dark Solstice?
Frank Ross:

When we first began, it was obvious to all of us at DS that we were not the only source of good ideas. Players that have experienced the positives and negatives of many games often have a great perspective on what should be included in a game.

From the inception of our Message Boards, we have encouraged players to offer their ideas for additions or changes to the game. We will hold contests regularly to reward great ideas and we have several board members that have already qualified for awards. When it makes sense and when they fit, we will readily include a player’s idea. There are already 5 or 6 suggestions that will make their way into the game. In addition, we plan to reward for suggestions even if they are not used but simply because they are great ideas.

We welcome player input and we will continue to encourage it.

MMORPG.com:When you're working on a game, the best part is getting excited about the project. Let our readers share a little bit of that and tell us what you think about Dark Solstice.
Frank Ross:

When the ideas for Dark Solstice first started to form, several of us began to itemize all of the things we would like to see in a game that we would enjoy playing. I think that was the bulk of the motivation used to create the game. Every time we have come up with a new spell, new artwork, new animations, new quests, and countless other features, the yardstick used is whether or not we would enjoy them. When a feature passes that litmus test, it goes in.

I can assure you that when the game is finally up and running, most of us will create characters and actually play. Now one might say that we do so only to view what a player might experience so that we can adjust the gameplay. And while this is partially true, many of us are as anxious to play as the folks already waiting for the Beta test. Personally, I plan to RP several characters in complete anonymity. I am looking forward to doing so with great anticipation.

I would like to thank MMORPG.com for allowing us to talk about our favorite game. We hope to give you regular updates on our progress and we would like to invite all of your readers to join the Dark Solstice Beta team at our Beta Signup Page.

Many thanks to Jon and Frank for making this happen.

You can let your opinion of this game be known on their hype meter and in the comment thread for this article.

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