MMORPG.com: Good to talk with you again, Trick! Been a while since we previewed the Castithan DLC back at E3 and obviously a lot has happened since then. What's the response been to the first DLC and how has the game been progressing since season one of the show ended?
Trick Dempsey: With the Castithan Charge Pack we were able to deliver on a lot of features that the players, and the dev team, really wanted to see. It brought back sieges, introduced a massive boss fight with an enemy players wanted to fight, and a compelling new game mode. While working with Syfy on between-season crossover plans, we’ve begun to really focus our efforts on improving overall game quality.
MMORPG.com: What are the top priorities for the team, with everyone moving to Redwood Shores in one studio?
Trick Dempsey: Our top priority is to improve the overall quality of the game. We’ve faced stability and social issues which really just can’t be tolerated. On top of that, we’re making a major pass on weapon and loot balance to make the chase more reliable and engaging. We’ll talk about progression in a bit, but we need a good foundation in balance and consistency before we can make any serious progression push.
MMORPG.com: What are the biggest problems facing Defiance in your eyes? For me personally, I find a lot of moment to moment fun in the game, but it feels like it's missing a lot of the "ancillary" features an MMO needs to keep you invested for the long haul.
Trick Dempsey: We need to develop the idea of a chase in Defiance. From those first stumbling steps out of the New Freedom crash, to the final battle with Nim, players don’t experience an increase in power where we feel that they should. Beyond that, weapons boil down to damage-per-second, and there isn’t armor penetration or any real incentive to experiment. By addressing these issues, we’re going to give decisions some teeth. Players will have to make difficult decisions, both tactically and strategically, which will have significant gameplay impact.
MMORPG.com: How will ark hunter progression change in the coming months? You mentioned it briefly in your state of the game letter, but can you go into more detail?
Trick Dempsey: We have a grand plan from progression that we are implementing one careful step at a time. I want to go into more detail about it in the coming months, but I can tell you this: Defiance is at its best when careening across the badlands with a horde of ark hunters. We’re not going to erect any barriers to that experience. Our progression will continue to allow hunters of divergent EGO ratings to play together without feeling like anyone’s sidekick or babysitter.
MMORPG.com: What sort of changes will you be making to guns to make them stand out more and have people using a wider array of them?
Trick Dempsey: When it comes to the personality of the guns, we’re pretty happy. The rate of fire vs recoil vs clip size feels solid for most of the weapons. However, there are several weapons with much higher damage outputs than others or which work in much wider tactical situations. The weapons with limited tactical applications need to have additional benefits added to them to make them more attractive. Sometimes that will be damage, sometimes that will be other useful statistics.
MMORPG.com: How about inventory? You mentioned changes coming there too; what can we expect? Will hunters ever be able to carry more than two weapons and a grenade to make switching their roles in battle easier?
Trick Dempsey: The primary step in improving the inventory experience is making inventory management better. The first step was taken in the Castithan Charge pack when we made a button from breaking down inventory items without visiting the salvage matrix. We’re looking at more conveniences, like selling all common items, a better compare interface, and even being able to unequip items without going to the loadouts screen. Before we can have a serious talk about enlarging the player arsenal, we have to make managing that arsenal painless.
MMORPG.com: How about social and UI improvements? Any idea what the team's looking at to make the clan experience better over all? Right now, it's mostly a chat channel.
Trick Dempsey: I’m rather proud of where clans are going. Our second DLC includes a feature by which clans can improve at each of the game activities by having their members perform in them. Leveling up in a clan activity increases the rewards from that activity for all clan members. Additionally, we’re updating the chat UI so that it is friendlier and more consistent. It’s difficult right now to participate in multiple chat channels, like both group and clan, but we’re fixing that. We’re also going to change the chat menu back so that it does not obscure the screen. We’re a shooter, after all.
MMORPG.com: Okay, and finally... let's talk a bit about the 2nd DLC. I know it was teased at PAX via streams, but for those that missed the show, can you give us an overview of what to expect?
Trick Dempsey: The second DLC revolves around a new kind of content where ark hunters call down an ark module to crash and then breach the hull and pilfer the inside. These new arkfall interiors contain large battles which support eight or more players, and the new major arkfalls have an instanced boss which is a challenge even with twenty-four players. This Volge Warmaster takes advantage of some new targeting tech we have in place to give our big enemies the ability to better handle large numbers of opponents. The other major change is the addition of spikes and stims. These are entirely new tools in the ark hunter arsenal which add a new dimension to combat in Defiance.