MMORPG: Tell players about FORGE?
Timothy Alvis: Forge is a game that strips away all of the artificial barriers built into an MMO to extend playing time and lets people get straight to PvP combat. It’s like Team Fortress 2 and Guild Wars met, exchanged a few flirting texts, and soon after brought a squealing prodigy into the world.
Forge is class based, letting you choose from a variety of playstyles. Once you’ve selected a class and join a game, you move around in Forge using a third person perspective, similar to the camera in Gears of War. Your ability set will remind you of the types of things you can do in PvP in an MMO. We’ve tuned those types of abilities to work in an FPS/TPS environment of course, but the flavor is there. Unlike an MMO, you have to choose to block, or choose to dodge, and to hit a player with an ability you’re going to need to aim your attacks. We’ve also stripped all RNG out of the game, making every outcome entirely dependent on player skill.
Most important, there is no grind. There are no power gaps. A new player is just as powerful as someone that plays for years. Every player in Forge has access to 9 abilities during combat, starting or veteran. As you level up, you gain access to new abilities you can use to replace some of your starting 9, but they are never more powerful than what you have, only different. For instance, you may choose to add an interrupt in place of a defensive cooldown.
Gear offers no advantage either. Higher tiers of gear offer different aesthetic choices and stat customization, but the stat customization always requires that you give a little to get a little.
Forge is all about customization, not grinding up stats. In fact, at launch, we’re not even exposing the stats on gear to players.
MMORPG: Can you give us some insight into the strategic side of the game?
Timothy Alvis: The strategy is all about the choices you make while in combat with someone. Timing an interrupt while they’re in the midst of a long cast time ability, stunning someone just as they gain a powerful buff, using a defensive cooldown to help ease your escape from a situation that’s going badly for you. These are the types of decisions you’ll be making moment to moment on an individual basis.
For a team, the strategy is going to partially be in what classes you choose to play as a group. We expect to see a lot more variation in team makeup than is typical for a game with MMO flavor. With player skill determining the outcome of every encounter, it’s not nearly as predictable what you’re going to be facing when you see someone with the same class. You may run into someone that is a blocking, dodging, damaging avoiding machine. Another player may be able to blast the wings off a fly at 100 meters. And another may be a methodical, calculating strategist that makes up for not being as strong in either skill by being able to see and plan well ahead of the rest.
MMORPG: Also, the pace of the game is very fast, you talk about First Person Shooter speed, how will this work for players who might not be used to this sort of action in an MMO?
Timothy Alvis: The pace isn’t quite what you expect of a FPS. We have cooldowns attached to many abilities. We don’t allow you to spam abilities like crazy as though you were a magic powered chaingun. Abilities can also be expensive to use, even with a limited cooldown.
Though your movement certainly feels more like it would in a FPS, but the pace of combat is more methodical, more surgical. It’s intentionally paced so that the overhead of 9 abilities and the aiming and movement requirements don’t overtax a player and leave them feeling exhausted rather than exhilarated.
MMORPG: We love the design of the game, skulls and more skulls! Tell us about your design choices in the artwork?
Timothy Alvis: Paul Culp from SuperGenius did a great job of summing this up for us with his GamaSutra post, so I’ll try to do this answer justice in his honor. The first faction we’re releasing is loosely based on Nordic and Inuit cultures. Very animalistic/spiritual. Because of the gameplay of Forge, it just doesn’t feel right to have anyone running around in armor that looks made more for a medieval night on the town than it does battle. Everything is about combat. Everything is about intimidating your enemies from the moment they spot you.
We love the direction SuperGenius took the art for Forge’s first faction, and can’t wait for everyone to see the rest of what they’ve been up to.
MMORPG: Can you give us an idea of the class breakdown in FORGE?
Timothy Alvis: I can for a couple, but we’re keeping a few not quite so well hidden details under wraps. We’ve announced and shown some light information on the Assassin and Pathfinder classes.
The Assassin is a stealth using melee character, but stealth isn’t an identical mechanic to what has been more common in an MMO lately. Your damage isn’t tied to stealth, it’s just a method of approaching the world and combat that’s unique to the class. During combat, the Assassin is deceptive, full of ways to turn a situation to their favor. Their toolset is all about ruining someone else’s plans before they get them off.
The Pathfinder is a ranged, kiting class. Its toolset is all about doing damage at range and keeping an opponent away from them. They are built to survive well even in the midst of a larger melee.
We can’t discuss the roles of the Warden, Shaman and Pyromancer just yet, but I don’t think they’re very hard to guess. While we are having a lot of fun making gameplay interesting and different from what’s expected for each class, we’re intentionally sticking with roles that are familiar for launch. It’s easy to relate to new players this way, and lets us introduce them to our method of combat before introducing some of the classes we have planned that bring in archetypes they haven’t seen before.
MMORPG: How do the classes work together in PvP?
Timothy Alvis: Once everyone sees the full ability set, they’ll notice that there is a web of abilities that seem to work well together, if used properly and at the right time as a team. When we set about building the first set of abilities for each class, we worked and reworked them until the created a picture as a whole that worked well. We then stripped away that picture, and tweaked each class by itself to make sure they were fun and effective even when solo.
More detail would require giving away some of the information we’re still keeping close to our vest.
MMORPG: We love that there is no level grind, can you tell us why you made this decision?
Timothy Alvis: Because we think players have mentally moved past it, even if the industry hasn’t yet. Ten years ago, it didn’t feel quite as much like the curtain was ripped apart and the wizard was on full display. Now? I think players not only know a treadmill when they see one, they can smell it from a mile away. When you know it’s a treadmill, when you know it’s a grind, it really loses its luster. It’s just work wrapped up in a game.
Even more telling, is that when reading a user’s comments about other titles in the MMO space you’ll see a lot of “when you reach max level, that’s when the game really begins!”
For those games, it’s true. The real game, the meat of the experience, is held at arms distance. When you get there, they just drag the goal away from you again and you start over. Forge isn’t like that.
It’s such an artificial way to extend the play experience. Major, multiyear successes have done just fine without this. Starcraft remained popular all the way until the release of Starcraft 2. Counter-Strike has been popular for a long time as well. Team Fortress 2 is an amazing game that continues to be very popular. None of these have or had a grind attached.
We firmly believe that if you build an amazing game, provide fresh content for it frequently, embrace and help create a large online community, the game will thrive. No grind required.
MMORPG: What is in store for fans in 2012 with FORGE…beta?
Timothy Alvis: Definitely a beta in 2012. We plan to release in 2012 as well. Speaking of beta, for a limited time, everyone that registers at www.playforgewar.com will have a spot in our first beta release.