MMORPG.com: The game has launched to a huge success, what has the player feedback been like?
Bernd Beyreuther: Feedback for Drakensang Online has been great and our player base and numbers of active users are continuing to grow. What players really like is the ability to jump into the game quickly and easily; the response to the graphics and hack-n-slash gameplay has been great, and the community appreciates that we react promptly if there are in-game issues. They also enjoy the constant updates we push out.
We launched Drakensang Online after just eight months of development– initially to get feedback from players as soon as possible. The early feedback of course was: We need more content! So that’s what we’ve been working on week-to-week; we have nearly three times as much content now, as we did when the game initially launched.
MMORPG.com: What do you think makes Drakensang Online so appealing?
Bernd Beyreuther: Drakensang Online combines the best game elements of hack-n-slash action RPGs with MMORPGs and does so free-to-play directly in the browser, without the hassle of downloading or installing a client. Not only can you jump into Drakensang Online extremely fast, but the breathtaking, dynamic battles are more intense and epic than classic MMORPGs. In comparison to action RPGs, our title places more emphasis on character development and teamwork with other players, offering RPG fans an immersive gaming experience via PvE and PvP. The game offers unparalleled graphics for a free-to-play browser experience, and sets itself apart with a warm and realistic visual style, highly detailed special FX, and animations that aren’t visible in many competing titles.
MMORPG.com: How have you tackled the barriers or entry for players? It seems like the game is very quick to get in and play.
Bernd Beyreuther: We understand that not everyone has a beefy computer system, so we’ve made it possible for anyone to access Drakensang Online without compromising the graphical quality or gameplay. It’s a free-to-play browser-based game, so it’s very simple and easy for players to jump in and try the game. We’ve also gone to great lengths to ensure that the game’s first minutes are as smooth as possible to familiarize players with the gameplay. We constantly optimize the game, and have plans to make the first minutes of playtime even quicker and more comfortable for players.
MMORPG.com: What separates the Spellweaver, Dragonknight, and Ranger classes? Do they each appeal to a certain type of player?
Bernd Beyreuther: In Drakensang Online, we’ve tried to make our archetypes distinct from each other. Dragonknights are powerful and courageous masters in combat, who fearlessly charge into battle at short range. They are always right in the midst of battle and thrive in these situations. Spellweavers wield their spiritual powers to manipulate the world around them and control the forces of nature in magnificent ways. As our magic users, they are capable of casting very powerful spells, but not able to take a lot of damage. They are most effective at a distance. And the Rangers are agile hunters that can persevere both in ranged combat as well as close-up. They are the most flexible archetype with the best movement.
MMORPG.com: Can you give us any info on the upcoming fourth faction being added to the game?
Bernd Beyreuther: We’d love to tell you more, but unfortunately cannot reveal details on the new, fourth archetype just yet. You’ll have to stay tuned to the game for that.
MMORPG.com: How is it balancing the game mechanics once you enter in a new faction?
Bernd Beyreuther: So far, we have a pretty classic setup of archetypes, but balancing can still be very tricky. We have six people in our team that work almost solely on balancing. We value the feedback we receive from players as we monitor the game closely, and examine where there are areas that need re-balancing in our weekly updates.
MMORPG.com: How has the item shop been working for players? Can you dispell any of the rumors people think about free to play games?
Bernd Beyreuther: Bigpoint has a strong policy against forcing players to spend money to progress in our games. We’ve made it a requirement that anything that is available for purchase must also be attainable through gameplay. That’s why the majority of our players never pay at all – and that’s fine with us. For a game like this to succeed, there must be a balance. We’ve been building F2P games for ten years now and have some of the best people and tools in the business to ensure balance and fairness. It’s something we monitor constantly and are very aware of. Typically, we’ve found that players who don’t spend money are often better than those who might spend money on specialty gear. In the long run, experience is ultimately the key to winning.
MMORPG.com: What plans do you have for the game in 2012?
Bernd Beyreuther: Right now, we’re adding new talent trees to the game as part of our “Spring of Skills”. Following that, we’re adding new endgame content, including some heroic dungeons, which will be available for level 40 characters and above. The best of the best will be able to clear these heroic dungeons to try and score the ultimate set items. Over the summer, we have a major content update planned that will add a new region to the game, with new monsters, level areas and more. In addition to these major features, we are paying attention to the wishes of the community, such as expanding the guild system, updating the game’s social features (chat, invite system) and much more.