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9Dragons: Interview With Howard Marks

Recently, Staff Writer Adele Caelia had the opportunity to ask Howard Marks, the CEO of Acclaim, a few questions about their martial arts MMORPG, 9Dragons.

MMORPG.com:

You just opened your Item Mall, and the community seems to be having a lot of problems getting their coins activated. Will this be remedied soon?

Howard Marks:

Yes, these initial issues were fixed. We silently released the Item Mall and we have been overwhelmed with players immediately purchasing items. We have listened carefully to their feedback and have made the appropriate changes.

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MMORPG.com:

The players are worried about the cost of the mall packages, and think they are too high. Can you explain your reasoning on pricing? Do you think the means justify the cost?

Howard Marks:

We priced the items based on the value they can provide to the players. They are optional, however, for those who are interested in purchasing them they can add a lot of play value and enjoyment. The pricing was devised to match other similar MMORPG experiences that players are paying for today.


MMORPG.com:

The community is also worried that the mall items will ruin the in-game economy. How do you plan on balancing this issue?

Howard Marks:

The game has been balanced to allow both types of players to co-exist well. We will continually study the interactions through the database records to see that the play balance remains fair and consistent with our goals.

MMORPG.com:

Players have to purchase the ability Lion's Roar to talk outside of their clan. Why so, and do you think this promotes a good community?

Howard Marks:

I think there's a bit of confusion there. You can chat with any player you meet in game that's within range, regardless of their Clan affiliation. A Lion's Roar is a chat boost that allows you to either shout out to everyone within your alliance across all maps, all Black Clans or all White Clans, or to everyone on your entire server.


MMORPG.com:

Players are complimenting Acclaim on the lack of bots that so often appear in other games of this type. How do you plan to keep the game as bot free as possible?

Howard Marks:

We're glad to hear the players are happy. Our GMs are relentless. Once they have identified a bot, they often remove their weapons, cache and clothes and then transport them to our free PVP zone, leaving them defenseless there so that other players can gain karma points by killing them.

MMORPG.com:

Every weekend you host events for the players. Recently, the events have been pulled a couple of days before they are set to take place. Do you plan on resuming the weekend events soon? What other type of events will players see other than the double xp weekends?

Howard Marks:

We had to stop a Black vs. White War between the alliances once because we had a technical glitch but it's resolved and players can expect them to resume every weekend. Coming soon, players will be able to participate in a new feature called Storm vs. Storm in which you can form a raiding party and actually take over a castle from NPCs. We're waiting until enough players reach high enough levels to participate. If a group of players are successful, they'll get to own the place, tax the map for gold, and will then need to defend it against other players with NPCs as their slaves! What's more fun than that?

MMORPG.com:

A lot of the players are complaining about Gameguard causing crashes and locking up their computer after the game has been shut down, and want it removed from the game. Have you investigated the issues with gameguard? Do you plan on removing it, or do you believe that it is not causing the problems the players are having?

Howard Marks:

We continually work with Gameguard to resolve issues when are aware of them. We ask our players to tell us when they see issues. The Gameguard policy is to resolve an issue they can reproduce within 48 hours.


MMORPG.com:

The players would like to see more quest content added to the game. Do you plan on adding more in-depth quests and what would be the time frame on that?

Howard Marks:

We are about to add about 100 more quests to the game at just about every level. Some major quests that bring huge rewards are in the works and we've also got an entire new map in development that's twice as beautiful and twice as deadly as anything that's been seen in The Land so far. I'd tell you more, but then you know what I'd have to do...

MMORPG.com:

There are a lot of free MMOs of this genre on the market. How does your game set itself apart from the others?

Howard Marks:

Good question. 9Dragons has many game elements that no other game offers, like our meditation skills, or our Lightfoot techniques, or our Kung Fu training.

There are four major goals we keep in mind at all times as we develop 9Dragons, that we feel really make a difference: authenticity, gameplay, story, and community. Authenticity in all of our weapons, wardrobe, and architecture, the best gameplay we can program into our quests, dungeons, wars, duels and PVP, an evolving story from our bestselling author, Steven-Elliot Altman, who is now planning to expand the world of 9D into novels, and our most important concern is fostering our player Community. We listen to them when their ideas make sense, we act on their suggestions, and we play alongside them every day. Our players have always been thankful to us for giving them the game for free, and they have helped us improve it during beta with true gusto because of it. Now they're showing their gratitude by helping to support the game through Item Mall sales. We believe those four goals will continue to set us apart from the herd.

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