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ELOA: The Game, The Controversy & The Future

William Murphy Posted:
Interviews 0

Hello, my name is Dennis Choi, and I’m the founder & CEO of NPICSOFT Inc., the developer of ELOA (Elite Lord of Alliance). It’s very nice to meet you, and thank you for this interview opportunity. Today I’m joined by Richard Sunmyoung Moon, Head of Global Business at WEBZEN Inc., the official publisher of ELOA in the West.

MMORPG: Elite Lord of Alliance, or ELOA, is an interesting name. What's the story of the game and how does it factor in to the player's journey?

Dennis: Set in a continent called Epheia, players of ELOA will take on the roles of warriors in the middle of the War of the Titan Clan Invasion. Each player can join the Alliance of one of the races that exist in the continent, such as the Kartu, Liru, Sapiens, etc. Through this fierce battle and growth, players will be reborn as a legendary “Elite Lord”, and finally awaken their real power. The game will also include the story of the Elite Lord. After becoming an Elite Lord, players will fight with new enemies and guide Epheia towards peace and stability.

MMORPG: Some of our users have correctly pointed out that ELOA looks a lot like Inspirit Online from ESTA Games, already available in the NA regions. What's up with that?

Dennis: We understand that this situation must have caused a lot of confusion among players, who learned about ELOA and started playing it under the name of “Inspirit Online”. Inspirit Online is not an official version of the game. In fact, we have sent many official notifications to the corresponding company, declaring Inspirit Online as an illegal copy of ELOA. It is important to note that NPICSOFT has registered the global license of the brand name “ELOA”, along with its characters, etc. This includes licensing rights for North America, Europe, and other countries. However, a company called “GRE” is still continuing its unauthorized services. The developer of ELOA is NPICSOFT, and the official publisher of ELOA is WEBZEN. Inspirit Online is simply a copy of ELOA, a game developed by us, and will be considered as an unauthorized, illegal private server.

MMORPG: So will there then be effectively two different versions of ELOA running? One called Inspirit and one called ELOA?  Which is the "official"? Why is this happening?

Richard: After a thorough investigation, we came to the conclusion that Inspirit Online is using a CBT client from the Southeast Asia version of the game, which was leaked without authorization. Rest assured that we are not worried about WEBZEN’s official version of ELOA, as we already have huge amounts of content readily available for our beta test. This includes new maps and classes which have already been developed by NPICSOFT, but are not included in the leaked CBT version that Inspirit Online is using. We’re very certain that Inspirit Online, currently operated illegally, will never keep up with our content releases. We look forward to showing you the distinct differences between the original and copy, as we offer much better quality assurance for our live operations, and receive direct support from the original developers of ELOA. Because of this, the two games will show incomparable differences in terms of service stability, with superior security/server connections, and so forth.

MMORPG: Can you speak to the differences between ESTA's Inspirit and Webzen's ELOA?

Dennis: ELOA is currently serviced by our Korean partner company, Netmarble, and contains much higher quality content compared to Inspirit Online, with the localization for North America and Europe already in progress. About 100 developers at NPICSOFT’s ELOA studio are currently devoting all their energy to the global release. We’re very certain that the running of Inspirit Online, without any basic understanding of ELOA, will never be a match for the official content of the original game.

MMORPG: Let's talk a bit about the game itself, then. Action RPG MMOs seem to be a big deal right now, with Devilian from Trion coming up, Lineage Eternal from NCSOFT slowly gaining steam, people are eager for Lost Ark. Where does ELOA fit in, and what makes it stand out from the pack?

Dennis: I think ELOA is superior to any other MMORPG currently active, owing to its unique dynamic battle system among many MMORPGs where stable server synchronization is the most crucial. I believe the unique feature of ELOA is the strategy whereby users can customize their own various skills and combos, and apply them to battle at any time, as opposed all the emphasis simply being on actions. 

In addition, we provide a smooth gaming experience with an easy-to-use “Automatic Party Matching System”, to support users in PvP areas and dungeons.

Also, we allow players to acquire and grow their own pets to move faster and enjoy various conveniences. Users will be able to see a variety of pets in the town.

MMORPG: Are the races and classes gender-locked? One of the things western gamers seem upset with in a lot of Eastern MMOs is that they can't play their preferred class as a male or a female (whatever the case may be).

Dennis: I am aware of this thing. At this stage, there might be a restriction on some of the race/class, but most of the race/class doesn't have a gender lock. We are also eager to hear your feedback and valuable comments about it during beta test phase.

MMORPG: What sort of monetization options will be in ELOA? With PVP being a heavy factor in the game, there's always the worry of Pay to Win options creeping in.

Richard: ELOA will be “Pay for Convenience”, and items that change the visual appearance of your character will be available in the shop. We are aiming for convenience only, such as a slight increase in experience gain, visual transformations into NPCs or monsters, or ridable pets which can also be obtained in game.

MMORPG: Let's say I've played dozens of hours of ELOA, leveled several characters, and collected a bunch of pets and items. What's going to keep me around for months on end? What will keep me coming back?

Dennis: ELOA is offering “Blood Battlefield” and “Honor Battlefield” PvP areas that can be played during certain times, based on certain rules.

In the Blood Battlefield, players can enjoy small scale PvP ranging from 1v1 to 4v4 matches, while in the Honor Battlefield, players can take part in a MOBA type system just like LoL, offering 6v6 to 12v12 matches.

Even while within the Blood Battlefield and Honor Battlefield, players will be able to use their skills, level, and items that they have obtained. Accordingly, we encourage users to play regularly as the game requires the acquisition and growth of items, as well as battle control.

Also, users can purchase a variety of new items at the Fame Points Shop, where they can use special points (Fame Points), only acquired through PvP areas like above.

MMORPG: What exactly is the "Triple Action Hack n' Slash" combat system? Can you explain the class stances and how they work to switch playstyles on the fly?

Dennis: So far, there are a total of 5 classes available for players to choose from. The core system of this game is the “Triple Battle Stance Switch System”, where each class has 3 battle stances to switch between in real time. (We also plan to introduce a new class via future updates, in addition to the already existing 5 classes.)

Each battle stance has its own unique features for playing solo, in a party, and PvP. Based on this feature, users can enjoy a total of 24 skills per each battle stance as they please. Players can gain the advantage in battle by not only easily responding to constantly changing battle tactics, but also by customizing their own battle style and combos as freely as they want.

Players proficient at combos in this way can take an advantageous position in PvP battles against other players who have equivalent abilities. This makes battle control in this game more interesting compared to any other previous MMORPG.

MMORPG: One final philosophical question for you: in the West, it feels like the MMO is at a crossroads. Big AAA American publishers seem to be pulling back the reigns on MMO production, but companies in the East like Webzen, NCSOFT, and others seem dedicated to the genre. Why do you think that is, and where do you think the MMO needs to go next in order to remain prominent?

Richard: As you said; it’s only a feeling! It’s just a bit more obvious in the West at the moment, while it’s also happening in the East. We are seeing many established companies attempting to extend their field of activity & business, like trying to enter the mobile market etc. We do believe that MMOs will stay an important part of gaming cultures worldwide. The social aspect/focus which MMOs have vastly introduced into mainstream gaming is a side of gaming which is going to stay in many future genres. We think that a genre which has been so inspirational and leading for the current generation of games is worth developing, and will stay a defining factor for the future. What the future holds remains to be seen, but we at least hope it will contain many successful WEBZEN MMOs!


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.