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David Allen

By Dana Massey on May 05, 2006 | Interviews | Comments

David Allen

David Allen again takes aim at the MMORPG genre with Crusade

David Allen is the CEO of QOL and Lead Designer of Crusade. This new fantasy-MMORPG is in the earliest stages of development and was announced this week. We talked to David to find out what it's all about. Sometimes more famous for the original design of Horizons, find out what Allen is up to this time below:

MMORPG.com:The press release touts a new fantasy game. Some immediately dismissed it as another World of Warcraft clone. What sets Crusade apart?
David Allen:

The first set of features that sets Crusade apart from other MMOGs is that of the Deities and Crusades. Players choose a deity they wish to become a patron of; once that choice is made, they inherit powers associated with their deity, and those powers can change based on which deity controls the realm they are traveling through. Players can also participate in numerous Crusades – sometimes against the opposing faction, other deities, or creatures that inhabit the world. Dynamic content is very important to us. This is why we have decided to allow Deity control to take place in real-time by Quest Online support staff. We are designing a game where the gods aren’t just a part of the lore, but an active part in the world itself. A character could be wandering through a dark forest, and come face to face with the very deity the give patronage to, only to have a discussion, or receive a personalized quest!

Our staff will also make the world a much more interesting place by controlling creatures in the world, and throwing off the ‘standard AI’ from time to time. There’s nothing quite like attacking a nasty zombie only to have it yelling “let me feast upon your eyeballs, Charlie!” as it chases Charlie around…

Empowering the proper division of Quest Online Staff to enhance the game is one of our most important mandates.

Crusade also features a unique family system where players are born into existing families, instantly allowing for communication between siblings. Players can then earn honor for their families, and protect their siblings.

Dynamic quests are another big feature – unique quests for individual players that are never repeated. We have decided to blend these in with the standard static game world quests so that the players can participate in both. Dynamic quests are often much more rewarding, but less frequent in availability.

The Library feature is another that allows the players to actively participate in the gathering of information within the world. Places, creatures, items; all of this is built by the player base – and players receive recognition for their contributions.

There are many other features, but I could go on for awhile. Those who are interested in reviewing the complete public feature list can review it at http://crusade.qol.com/features.htm.

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MMORPG.com:Your progression system combines a class based approach with a skill based usage system. However, you only have six classes. Do you think character diversity (in terms of internal statistics) is a problem?
David Allen:

I’ve always liked the saying “More isn’t always better – sometimes it is just more.” While there are only six core classes to ‘start’ from, those core classes can expand into a multitude of subclasses. That was our goal – instead of having a typical level-cap pyramid structure where you have tons of options to start off with, but in the end they all end up being similar or the same with no room for progression, we decided to turn the pyramid upside down and start off with only a few entry points to get the player familiar with the basics, and then allow them to grow the character exponentially.

MMORPG.com:Deities play a large role in your game. Can you introduce us to some of the major deities players can follow and what they’re like in both the fictional and practical sense?
David Allen:

While we have not yet finalized the names of the deities, we have laid out their core dispositions and relative areas of expertise. I’ll share a few of them with you - for the Asheroth, we have the God(ess) of Light, Deliverance, Blessing, and Life. For the Kujix, we have the God(ess) of Death, Pain, Deception, and Oblivion.

There will be additional deities added, but these are the core starting deities. Each one represents a specific set of “powers” that the player can learn and pursue as a patron.

MMORPG.com:Are you worried about the prospect of a game that encourages religious crusades and other potentially sensitive topics in light of our real world political climate?
David Allen:

Not really. We have purposely stayed away from the term “Religion” in Crusade since the game has nothing to do with it. We are working very hard to create a true fantasy environment that has no direct links with the real world “issues” that could cause problems.

MMORPG.com:We’ve yet to see a screenshot, so it gives you a unique opportunity to explain your artistic direction without people having formed their opinions. What are your goals for art in Crusade?
David Allen:

The first few screenshots should be available by the end of May; but in the meantime, we’re still working to refine the artistic look and feel of Crusade. We’re going for a warm fantasy-based setting, but don’t want to go photorealistic, or too cartoony - finding that happy medium takes time. The conceptual artwork from individuals like Doug Shuler, and Anthony Waters is serving as a great foundation for the colorization, look and feel we’re trying to establish.

Key to artwork is the “culture” of the Asheroth and Kujix. How their structures look, not just in general, but from a multi-racial perspective. We aren’t just establishing one core culture, but a baseline that’s then evolved by other races, so when you, for example, enter a Talrok controlled area, you definitely get the Kujix feel, but it may be different from the feel of another Kujix race and their structures…

MMORPG.com:Players are born into families when they’re created. Some will hate that they’re randomly paired with people. Others may enjoy it. Why did you do it and can you explain the system in greater depth?
David Allen:

This is true; players cannot choose which family they will be born into, and some players may not like the family they are placed in. I anticipate that during the Alpha and Beta process we will have to address this in some fashion that supports more flexibility, but prevents cheating or domination by power gamers. Finding that “happy medium” is all what the testing phase is about.

MMORPG.com:Combat is something a lot of games have tried to spice up, but after years, we still hear people talking about “go get a sandwich combat”. What are you doing in Crusade to address the tedium of some RPG mechanics?
David Allen:

Combat is a double-edged sword in MMOGs. Many people like the simple “command and execute” while others want more FPS-style “tweak” control. I wish I could tell you we’re designing the next best combat system, but the fact is that we are simply going to design the system that works best for our game. Will it be similar to other MMOGs? Probably. Will it be revolutionary? Probably not. But will it be Evolutionary? Yes. Point in fact, if our players are too busy enjoying the game to think about how they don’t like combat, we were successful.

MMORPG.com:I hear word that you guys have a Necromancy class. Can you tell us about them?
David Allen:

Necromancy is a ‘subclass’ of the Sorcerer base class. Necromancers can use harvested organs to cast spells, create poisons, and a myriad of other ugly things that inflict harm on their foes. Let’s just say that a Necromancer doesn’t waste anything of their prey!

MMORPG.com:You’ve been around the MMORPG genre for quite some time. What is the main thing you wanted to see in Crusade that convinced you it was worth doing?
David Allen:

The lack of quality alternatives to existing MMOGs. Right now if you get worn out on World of Warcraft, what are you going to play? Granted some of the other MMOGs out there are “good” the simple fact is there’s only 1,2 or possibly 3 “excellent” MMOGs on the market as a whole. There are far too many players springing up every month for these games to keep up. Our goal is to make an “excellent” game that serves as an alternative to the other great games out there; but most importantly, have a fun time doing it, and establish a great relationship with the player base by involving them in the evolution of Crusade.

MMORPG.com:It’s ancient history now, but obviously you’re perhaps best known for the game that never came out: the original design of Horizons. In the past, you’ve made some vocal comments. Today, what are your thoughts on what happened and what did you learn?
David Allen:

Artifact/Horizons is old news. They chose their path and the result of that path is clear for all to see.

I prefer to look ahead now. My passion is with Crusade, and with the combined experience of everything I’ve been through and learned, as well as the people I am currently teamed up with, I feel confident that we will deliver a great product.

I think the most important thing I learned was to be very careful who I choose to do business with. Nothing is more valuable than having a good group of people one can openly communicate with, and more importantly, people one can trust and respect. The second most important thing I learned was listen to my gut and don’t be afraid to say “no” or “goodbye”. Sometimes things just don’t work out, but instead of “ending” a relationship, people drag it out for whatever reasons (fear of conflict, etc.). Overcoming those fears and learning how to openly communicate the “truth” with others is very important.

And finally – have fun! If you don’t have fun doing what you do, how can you expect others to have fun playing what you have built?

You can comment on what David had to say here. The game will join our list in the coming weeks when Allen releases screenshots.