After reading the developer diaries last month we still had a few questions for Saga of Lucimia. Luckily, they're always ready to chat! Read on to find out what lead developer Tim Anderson had to say.
MMORPG: If everything is group content what is a player supposed to do when they have time to log in for just a quick game session during off peak hours?
Tim: I think that many of the modern generation of gamers are confused with what a group-based game is really all about, or they have simply forgotten because of how watered-down the genre has become.
EverQuest was a group-based game, for example. And yet there were still plenty of things you could do in the off hours in between grouping sessions with your friends. Craft. Socialize. Roleplay. Explore cities. Maybe even explore and scout out in the zones. But even though there were some classes in EverQuest that could solo, not all could; it was also extremely situational. If you played a warrior, for example, you were almost entirely relegated to group play. We’re talking early EverQuest here, not the current evolution that exists today.
And as far as soloability goes, the classes that could solo in EverQuest could only do so (in most cases) in outdoor zones where they had plenty of room to move around. Drop a druid or a necro inside of a dungeon, and they’ve got no room to kite; they are relegated to being within a group if they want to progress.
The same things that players could do in EverQuest, they will be able to do in our game. Roleplay, craft, hang out in towns and talk to NPCs and discover the lore of the world, and more importantly, socialize with other players and become an active part of the community, both in-game and at the forums, building the relationships that are necessary to form groups to head out into the wilds when you have time to actually sit down for a solid play session.
However, you’ll also be able to quickly head out into the overland with two or three others and work on harvesting and exploration, or killing the various lions, tigers and bears (etc.) without needing to worry about having a lengthy play session available.
Between the LFG bulletin boards within the taverns, in-game chat, and the forums themselves, as long as you’re social and aren’t afraid of getting to know your fellow men and women within the world, you’ll find people to play with, no matter what time of day or night.
Those who want to explore the depths of dungeons and raid encounters will have to dedicate longer play sessions, naturally. But there will be plenty to do in the overland with small groups of three to four players for those who are on limited availability. Possibly even duo in some cases, depending on gear, skills, and location.
MMORPG: How large is a zone and how long do you expect it to take a group to traverse it?
Tim: Right now we are working with a minimum size zone that is around 4 kilometers at its narrowest point. It takes around 20 minutes of real time to go straight across the zone, without any speed buffs. That’s literally just hitting the Autorun button and running across.
Players within the game will rarely be running straight across, at least not in the earliest stages of the game. Between the hunter and seeker NPCs that actively seek out player characters, no mini maps, and needing a compass/sense heading to figure out which way you are going, unless players have mounts and/or abilities that can mask their presence from the hunters and seekers of the zone, they are going to want to stick to the paths and make their way guard station to guard station and stick to the safest route.
This is especially true if they are a full party and are escorting their caravan of goods either to a dungeon, to another city, or back from their latest venture, laden down with loot. Wagons move slowly, and cannot move without horses and other beasts of burden. These beasts need to be protected from wandering monsters and the hunters/seekers of the zones, otherwise your loot will be stranded in the middle of nowhere. The same goes for merchant caravans making their way from outposts to cities; they’ll need to be guarded in between the waystations or risk death and destruction.
We anticipate that most zones will take around 45 minutes to traverse, assuming no speed buffs and escorting a caravan. Players who have good gear, mounts, know the way, and are traveling in numbers, will likely build to traverse straight across in 10 – 15 minutes, but it will take time to become strong enough and have the relevant gear/mounts to be able to do so.
If players want to fully explore a zone, we expect them to be able to spend several game sessions in the smallest zones (two to three hours per session) before they have uncovered all of the surface layer. Who knows what lies beneath, under castle ruins and in the depths of caverns….
4 km is the minimum size. We are currently testing 8 km zones, and as long as the performance holds up, were going to try and see if we can’t do some 12 km zones as well by the time we get around to launch. The original goal was 40 overland zones, six cities, and 10 dungeons by launch. We’ve already shaved that down to around 34 zones, as I recall, based on expanding zone sizes. We’ll continue to refine as we go along.
MMORPG: What is going to make traveling engaging? Why would players want to invest hours into just traveling from point A to point B?
Tim: Exploration. Lore. Finding out what lies over the horizon. The whole point of building a game like ours is to create a virtual world that players can explore; a sandbox meant to be enjoyed over years of gameplay, not a rapid-transit line meant to boost you from point A to point B in the least amount of time.
The adventure is in the journey, not the destination, and having fun alongside fellow adventurers as you discover what the world has to offer. Storylines, loot, secrets, epic locations; only the brave will discover what lies beyond the safety of city walls.
Beyond that, roughly 85% of the advanced trainers of the game are located out there in the wilds somewhere, hidden away in cabins deep within forests, hunting down a special type of mushroom in the depths of the cavern, living in a remote outpost away from civilization, and etc. You won’t know where, although you might be given vague hints (Ranger Bob is somewhere in the foothills north of Whitehall); you’ll have to uncover them. This also goes for the vast majority of quests; there aren’t any central quest hubs. You’ll have to actively explore to uncover the epic adventures that await.
And then there’s all of the things that could be uncovered along the way. Dungeons. Ruins. Castles. Canyons. Forests. Mountains. Monsters. Remember, since there aren’t any quest hubs or glowing icons leading you from point A to point B, the only way to find things is to get out there and explore.
MMORPG: What is your philosophy when it comes to world building? Why will players login and care? What will set this apart from other fantasy sandboxes where the player makes the journey?
Tim: I think you said it, just now, in the last part of your question. “Where the player makes the journey.”
In our world, it’s not about the individual player. You are not a special flower, nor are you the Big Damn Hero. Here, it’s about the community as a whole, and how you fit into that overall machine, a cog among many.
For us, the reason we play MMORPGs is because we enjoy playing together with other people. Not alongside them, independent and off on our own solo storylines, but actually in groups with them, chatting, having fun, role-playing, socializing.
Players will ultimately be logging into the game because of the fun they are having by playing as a part of a larger community and exploring the game with others at their side. Whether it is within their own guild, or within the overall server community at large, the whole purpose and reason our game exists is to provide a platform for group-based gameplay.
Sure, there’s lore and there’s quests and there’s loot and there’s dungeons and there’s fantastical environments, but that’s only the beginning. The real fun begins when you team up with other players and start to go from being Internet strangers, and becoming friends. Sharing experiences, telling jokes, getting to know about their significant others, pets, kids, jobs, and beyond.
That’s also where a whole other level of content comes into play: player created content. Social content. When players aren’t just logging in for the game itself, but also for the atmosphere that the community provides. That’s something that can’t happen and doesn’t exist in single player MMOs where you can solo your way to the cap.
The base layer is the world itself, the storyline, and the lore. Beyond that, it’s the players themselves that make the game fun to play, and it’s the players who create the content that keeps them logging in above and beyond the framework of the game world.