MMORPG: Face of Mankind has been going for a while now in the MMO space, can you tell us how the game has been running lately?
Jesse Asklund: Face of Mankind at this current time is at a very unique state, to put it bluntly. It’s been through some major hurdles and setbacks that most games can’t even fathom to face, ranging from complete rewrites of back-end code all the way to closing the game for a short period. The entire concept of FOM is unique in itself and is still very untapped, hence the relentlessness of the entire team. In the past year we have been focusing intensely on development and balancing, as well as appeasing to the veteran player-base, aside from the past month or two. The last few months have been dedicated to appeasing new players and retention which has been an uphill battle given the complexity and learning curve Face of Mankind offers.
We deliver, essentially, end-game content as soon as you join the game - the content that most players grind mindlessly to get to so they can actively “PVP” with other players. With that mindset of grinding and/or completing set tasks/objectives, rather, they can actually come into the game and do whatever they please and interact with whomever they want. We are trying to uniquely bridge that gap because the players who actually stick through the initial part, get purely addicted to the FOM universe. Over the next few months you will see some large marketing efforts, as well as some unique partnerships to reel in the playerbase it needs.
MMORPG: What has the player response been lately to some of the changes you made? I guess a good example would be the change to tax customization.
Chris Allford: The tax system has been received wonderfully, with some factions immediately using it as a tool of war and manipulation, but as with any game, large revisions to existing systems are met with some reservations and anger. We recently redeveloped the entire combat system, and balancing it has been an uphill battle, but we believe our next few patches will bring it closer to what everyone in the game would like it to be. Our ultimate goal is to have a system that is comfortable for everyone, but still has enough of a skill gap to satisfy the players that invest the most time into mastering the system.
MMORPG: What are the most difficult things about running a player economy in Face of Mankind?
Chris Allford: Well the most difficult part is that it is player driven, and not friendly to small factions. The larger factions are able to earn back their investments from colony income and could theoretically undercut everyone on any of the markets, while smaller factions don't have the same opportunities to earn credits and suffer. As a result of this too, players will opt to join the larger faction for more credits, further decreasing the population of the smaller faction. The key is to develop anti-monopolistic systems that prevent one faction from reaching a critical mass at which it demolishes everything in the entire game world, and allowing those small factions the leverage and breathing room to rebuild. We believe that the current system of colony ownership and economic royalties serves this rather well, as the small faction can still earn significant funds, but we are investigating means of balancing these smaller factions to encourage players to join them too.
MMORPG: Can you name recent changes you have made to the game that really have helped the players?
Chris Allford: With the most recent overhaul, we've opted to make the game simpler than it used to be, and more approachable. We've removed the Quality Level and Weight Systems to simplify purchasing goods. We have always found that most players didn't make use of the different levels, and they only served to confuse players and pollute the market lists. The other very large change we've made was to the combat system, which was completely changed, in an attempt to add more diversity and make it more approachable to all players.
MMORPG: Have you found styles of game play that have emerged in the game?
Chris Allford: That's actually one of the most interesting things about Face of Mankind. Due to the social nature of the game, we are very reliant on player interaction, which is the centerpiece of the game itself. Players are able to solicit emotional reactions in other players that a game could never hope to accomplish, and we try to expand this. We've seen players genuinely hate eachother to the level of actually hunting them across the galaxy, to a loving couple talking in a cafe. We have gankers who spend all day trying their best to cause havok and mayhem, and players who dedicate their time to keeping these gankers in jail. We have players who manipulate the economy and attempt to bend the world to their will, and soldiers that fall in line, glad to serve under the banner. This world is full of so much diversity in game play styles, that we couldn't possible restrict an explanation of the game to anything but "Well, what do you want to do?"
MMORPG: Can you talk about the Perks given for Sector Ownership? How will this impact the player base?
Chris Allford: Sector and Colony ownership are the latest in a long line of conflict creating game mechanics, based around the idea that all colonies must be worth SOMETHING. Currently, we've got some colonies that economically, are very inferior. Players don't really aspire to own these colonies, and there is little to no reason to visit them or fight over them. As mentioned in our developer blog, the Colony Perks will be based in principle around the existing factional perks. Sector Perks on the other hand are something new, rewarding the domination of multiple colonies.
These perks will be things like free transportation to the sector, or an increase PP loss rate. One thing that we failed to mention in the Developers Blog though will be a slight detterant for conquering the entire universe, with perks for colonies and sectors being divided into "Types." The idea is that owning several colonies that give a large enough advantage could create a situation where a faction becomes impossible to fight, and diminishing returns must exist for these perks to force factions into choosing their colonies wisely.
The system will work so multiple perks of the same type will have their benefits divided by the total number of perks in that type you have collected, and obtaining all of them will cancel them out completely. As an example, a 2% reduction to mining costs, when paired with the 10% reduction to production costs, will only give you a 1% reduction to mining costs and a 5% reduction to production costs. We hope this will prevent too much of a focus on galactic domination.
MMORPG: What can players expect from the Crime Rate system? How will this change aspects of the game?
Chris Allford: In recent months we have realized the value of more actively directing and engaging the players, and have begun moving in a direction that more clearly defines the role of each faction within the game. The goal of the Crime Rate system is to create an environment that encourages the police to do their job, and rewards them for doing it well. This also allows them to be punished for doing it badly though, so if the game world falls into chaos, they will earn less money. We hope this new feature will help create a better atmosphere in the game, with some places clearly being safe, and others being highly dangerous, and create a lot of interesting conflict between the government factions and the clans/corporations.
MMORPG: What is in store for Face of Mankind in the future, any plans for updates before the end of the year?
Chris Allford: Face of Mankind is a constantly evolving society, and that is reflected in our development strategies. Once we complete the things we currently have slated for release, we hope to begin working on mechanics that help flesh out the role-play experience of the game. We'd like to create tools and systems for both staff and players to enhance their stories within the Face of Mankind universe, as we believe this is an important part of what makes the game unique.