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An Interview About Runewaker's ARPG with MMO Elements

William Murphy Posted:
Interviews 0

Guardians of Ember is looking to create something new for players who love both MMOs and action RPGs. We had the chance to chat with the team to learn more about the game that will be entering early access in the near future. 

MMORPG: Can you tell us a bit about Guardians of Ember? It seems to be coming out of nowhere. No one really even knew Runewaker was making this.

InselGames: Yes, of course I am happy to give you some insights! Guardians of Ember is an Action RPG with a lot of MMO elements. Basically, the idea is to combine the fun parts of both genres and create a great experience for players. Let’s put it like this: We don’t want to reinvent either of the two genres but we are want to combine the best of both genres to create a great game for everyone who loves the action of Hack’n’Slash games and the social aspects of MMO games.

It offers four races, six classes, randomized dungeons with different difficulty settings to choose from, an extended crafting system and a housing system, where you can basically go wild and decorate your own house as you like. And there are ranked and unranked PvP options!

And yes: We delayed the announcement of Guardians of Ember for quite some time because we wanted to make sure that the game is in a decent state. As you know, online games are always in flux and can be reworked in many different ways. But of course, there is still a lot of work to do in regards of localisation, balancing and bug fixing right now.

MMORPG: Why did you pick Early Access?

IG: The game is in a development stage, where players already can have fun for up to 30 hours just by exploring the main questline with one of the five available classes (and we have six in total)! And yes, of course it is always possible to level up your secondary classes or to create a completely new character!

Most of the features are already implemented, but there are still things to learn and improve. That’s why we need the players and Early Access. We need dedicated testers that love the genre and that are willing to share their thoughts with us. We will provide more content on a regular basis throughout the Early Access process to keep the players happy and entertained.

We know that there is often a lot of controversy around launching games into Early Access. Beforehand we evaluated the advantages and disadvantages and worked hand in hand with Runewaker Entertainment. But for us, the advantages clearly overweigh the disadvantages: As a small publisher it takes quite some time to localize all the content - but we also need the community feedback.

MMORPG: Will EA basically be serving as a sort of beta/alpha?

IG: As I said before, we will use this Early Access phase to deal with localization, bugs and testing the server performance … and of course this might include some minor content and feature changes based on the feedback we receive too.

The guys from Runewaker have a great localization tool but I can tell you from my experience:

A new localized version always needs some time to be polished and the more eyes, the better.

But I want to confirm one more time: We don’t talk about an Alpha or early Beta stage… the game is in a good state and more content is not only planned but already available at the test server.

MMORPG: Will the game's revenue model still be "buy to play" when it launches?

IG: Yes. Guardians of Ember will be "buy to play". 

Because the discussion about the revenue model happens anyway, we strive to communicate clearly and transparently as far as this issue is concerned:

Yes, we chose “buy to play” although it is “free to play” in Taiwan. And yes, in addition, we have a premium resource called “Frozen Ember” with which you can use some convenience features and get Loot Orbs.

We understand that this is a serious topic for many players (including us) and this is why we want to explain our thoughts as well as we can.

Operating an online game costs money every month, especially if you have ongoing development and localization. At the same time players don’t like Pay-2-Win and we know that a good balance between rewarding those that give us extra support and providing an unfair advantage is necessary for healthy gameplay and a happy community.

This is why we aim for a model that provides a good experience for all players, but also allows us to offer a thank you bonus in terms of exclusive character customization possibilities and convenience for those who decide to support the game that little bit extra - and support in this case means spending money OR time  - because you can always get free Frozen Ember by actively playing the game or following us on Facebook (and e.g. getting some extra Frozen Ember through prize draws).

MMORPG: GoE seems like a cross between Diablo and traditional MMORPGs. But a lot of online Action RPGs tend to keep things pretty instanced or keep the number of players in an area limited. How does the open world of Ember work in this regard?

IG: Differently from many instanced ARPG we do not only have the MMO aspect in the big cities: The whole world of Guardians of Ember is made out of around 50 different regions. Each of these regions have their own channels with up to 100 players each. Like this, you see people running around outside the cities as well. The only restriction is for the dungeons, which are instanced to prevent any queues in front of a big boss. You might not see other players inside dungeons, but you are still able to enter the dungeons with your group and do raids, of course.

MMORPG: Aside from hunting and killing (the hallmarks of any ARPG), what makes Ember unique? What sorts of down-time activities will keep players online between monster hunts?

IG: If you are not out in the wild to hunt down the next big boss or are on the search for legendary loot, you can always join a guild, go fishing or improve your equipment via the crafting and enchanting system. A lot of time can be sunk into the decoration and improvement of your own house. With the housing system, you can hire several different house spirits, who support you by crafting potions or other useful items over time. Players can also invite friends over or visit their friends houses. Our guild system offers even more possibilities to come together. And of course there is always the next big fight in the PvP arena to be fought either 1vs1, 3vs3 or 5vs5. We also have a special PvE option to test your hero’s strength against masses of beasts.

Please recognize that - although the features are already fully developed - some of them are going to be  introduced later during the Early Access phase… e.g. you can only unlock the enchanting feature once you reach level 30 in Act 3.

MMORPG: You mention acts, as a way to tell the story of Guardians of Ember. When a player has completed the story, what will there be for them to do to keep busy? To keep coming back?

IG: The randomized dungeons and the different difficulty options offer a great motivation to come back after finishing the main storyline. You will always have a new experience and of course, new loot. And did I mention the 200+ Achievements and the Compendium system?

The PvP is something that you can tackle anytime, between quests, raids or after finishing the story. With our ranking system and the urge to climb the ladder to the pole position, I am pretty sure, PvP will be something to take up your time. For players that prefer a more quiet approach, there is always something to improve at your house or the next guild meeting to be arranged. Guardians of Ember will also have special world events, which kick in from time to time and can be arranged by us for special occasions. So this is something to look forward to, too!

MMORPG: In the US, Runewaker's Dragon's Prophet was not well-received. What has the team learned from that experience and how will they apply those lessons to Guardians of Ember?

IG: Yes, I know that Dragon’s Prophet was not well received by some media and some players. But InselGames is not and has not been involved in the publishing of Dragon’s Prophet, which is why I can’t really comment on this.

Before we signed the game, we discussed the potential technical hurdles and the design of GoE should solve possible performance issues. The same is true for the localization - which does not only include the translation but also necessary adjustments for the community, e.g. we add additional PvP features and go with the Buy 2 Play model - we believe that we have taken steps in the right direction.

MMORPG: The ARPG seems to be getting a lot of MMOs these days. Why do you think that is?

IG: Most importantly, ARPGs are fun to play! :) And the genre just fits perfectly with the social features from MMOs. As you know traditional MMORPGs need a lot of time investment, which is not a bad thing, but many people just don’t have the time required to sink into one MMO. With ARPGs on the other hand, they can just jump in, do one or two dungeons or questlines for a short play or sink their teeth into endless crawling missions, exploring every single side quest. Guardians of Ember, being an ARPG and MMO hybrid, offers both options at the same time, adapting to different playstyles.

Thank you for your interest in Guardians of Ember.

Just let me add one more thing: Yesterday we started a small IndieGoGO campaign. Although the main reason is to support the German localization this might be interesting for the English audience, too, because it is possible to grab an Early Access key with a nice discount! :)


We have a Special Offer for your readers: The first 20 people who grab their Immortal Edition key get it with 50% discount when using this link:



William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.