PAX Preview: Fury
“We won the award for the best kept secret of E3 and now we’re here,” proclaimed the two loud MCs at Auran’s Fury booth. They never did say who gave it to them, but as you know, it was us and naturally we were quite interested to see how things had progressed.
Fury is in essence a game similar to Guild Wars in that players are matched against players in instanced battle grounds – but there is also where the similarities end.
“We were lucky that we could look at games like Guild Wars and World of Warcraft and learn from them,” said Adam. They also learned from their own in-house testers and removed the power bar (which a dev had called a fun bar, and would get himself killed to replenish it) – a major shift in their design that required a re-think and re-balance of their entire skill system.
For PAX, players had four incarnations to choose from as a starting point. They were the Paladin, Offensive Mage, Healer and Warrior. In the demo, we simply picked one and fought!
In the normal game, there are eight archetypes spread across four schools (with one melee and one caster in each school). A player can pick and choose the skills they wish to train and hence the trials to undertake. At character creation players get to choose one archetype, but more as a guideline. Players are free to follow as many archetypes as they wish, they just cannot take them all into combat at once. Players can mix and match these skills to build an infinite number of incarnations to use.
Carpenter compared the idea to Magic: The Gathering. All the skills you earn are like all the cards you own and each incarnation is like a specific playing deck. You can choose to mix and match. A wider range of skills provides more versatility, while a more narrow focus can provide strength.
Fury pits players on a server against players from other servers. This is a community building exercise and it also gains a larger player base from which to match teams against. Adam estimates that waiting times will range from 30 seconds (prime time) to a general maximum four minutes (off-hours). The more players there are online, the more the Match-Making program has to draw from, the faster players will be matched into teams, and teams matched to other teams.
One of the advantages Auran had from developing when they did was that they got to see the mistakes World of Warcraft and Guild Wars made in regards to queues. Ultimately, they believe wait times will be largely insignificant.
“No trash talk,” said Adam. “That’s not what we are about.”
The cross-server games provide prestige points and ladder standings, but there are also in-server challenge games available. These games will not count for prestige, experience or loot, but are a medium for trying out incarnations, practice and friendly rivalry (trash talk permitted). Carpenter also said they would evaluate whether or not the community wanted additional reward systems for this style of play during testing (gambling, perhaps?).
Carpenter himself is something of an oddity in gaming. By trade, he is a chemical engineer and told us he is currently in the market for a systems designer who has a degree in engineering or economics. He got his start in gaming through a re-evaluation of the mathematics behind RPG game design and now has Fury to try them out on. Carpenter is keenly aware of balance and given his background and what he seeks in future designers, Fury should be fundamentally strong.
Before our interview, Adam had invited Carolyn and I to sit down and duke it out for their four on four “vortex games”. These games pit the two groups in a competitive game not unlike capture the flag. The goal is to capture four crystals for your side before time expires. The crystals are carried by flying bugs called pekons. These bugs ensure that the crystals enter the game over time and increase the tension and excitement as more crystals enter the world.
Unlike most early PvP games we’ve seen, it seemed melee was a more than viable option in Fury. As a warrior, I had no problem running around and killing enemies. Sure, I got destroyed my share of times as well, but as a die-hard melee gamer, I definitely felt things were fair.
The true joy of Vortex games was the ability to run into the enemy base and actually steal some of their crystals. Victory was achieved by capturing four crystals and holding them in your base at the same time. The only way to truly prevent your enemy from winning was to wait for an opportune moment and steal a crystal. Even if you didn’t make it home, it made it harder for them to win.
When carrying crystals, the screen turns wavy and all abilities are disabled. Basically, you run for it and hope your teammate stop and help. In games where our teammates did not talk, we always lost. When we became more social, victory was inevitable. Built-in VOIP communication will be a key for Fury.
The combat itself was frenzied. At first, I felt like I was just mashing my buttons. Eventually, I learned the skills and tactics. My warrior had a charge button that allowed me to close the gap between myself and a fleeing enemy quickly. To hit, I had to click my basic button and swing. Each time a character swings their sword, they build points that unlock better actions along their skill bar. Thus, combat is often a series of basic hits, followed by a large pay off. It is also important to pay attention to your situation. If you’re chasing an enemy running for the base with a crystal, you need to gather enough power to unlock your stun; otherwise he’ll almost certainly stumble across the finish line.
At the end of each game, all sides get a chance to bid on reward gear. Priority is given to the winners and highest scorers, obviously. Simply double click to set your top three choices and wait for it to resolve. There is also a score board – not unlike Counterstrike – to look at.
All advancement in Fury is done through these kinds of games. The more skills you acquire simply allow you to build more incarnations. Changing incarnations is as simple as a few button clicks. Names for each are generated heuristically for clarity and identifiably, but theoretically, the possibilities are nearly endless for custom classes and the penalty for changing zero. The only limits are a maximum of 259 saved incarnations on a character and an inability to change once you’re in a match.
Fury should support roughly 5000 players per server and with cross server combat, that community only gets closer. The matching system intentionally pairs people with complimentary characters against people of similar strength and allows people to enter as a group or be placed individually.
For a tradeshow demo, Fury is perfect. It is fast, easy to learn and fun to play. The only concerns are whether these four games will stand the test of time once the game launches and what kind of pricing model they select.
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