NCSOFT West recently had the privilege to sit down with Lineage II Development Director, Gon Namkung for an exclusive interview. Gon Namkung discusses his past with Lineage II, his thoughts on the game’s present state and more importantly, the game’s future success. We also asked him the hard hitting questions our community wanted answered according to a recent Q&A questions thread posted on our forum.
Check out the full interview below.
When did you become involved with Lineage II?
I joined the Lineage II team at the time of the 4th Chronicles in 2005. I was involved with various parts of game design, such as level designs and system design, until I became the L2 Development Director with Lindvior.
What attracted you to the project?
I had no hesitation at all when offered a place in the Lineage II team. It was a very attractive game that stood out among its many MMORPG predecessors. It had a cutting-edge engine and technology for the time, and it seemed to offer a great deal of freedom and a strong community component, which were lacking in successful games like WoW. I spent my entire 30’s on Lineage II, but I believe I was fortunate to join the project at that time.
What is your ultimate vision of what Lineage II should be as a game and how players should feel when they play it?
Though it’s not the giant it used to be, Lineage II is a world very similar to reality. Exciting goals, the joy of achieving them, friends with whom you can share this joy, and constant strife, battle and subsequent resolutions – these all define the world of Lineage II. My goal is to help the players feel like central heroes in the story as they overcome adversities and write out the story of the game, instead of going along a preplanned plot line. I want Lineage II to be a game that makes me excited to wonder, “What will happen today in the game?” every time I log in.
Feedback from the community in the West has been that the game is very grindy, how do you respond to that?
Repeated grinding is unavoidable due to the nature of MMORPGs where you have to grow and strengthen your character, no matter the form of the grind. I think this is expressed in different ways (endgame content) depending on the characteristics of each MMORPG. This could feel more pronounced in Lineage II, where the basis of growth is time investment, with no shortcuts around it. I think what is important is that you provide fun and meaning through these repeated gameplay content. Instead of just creating hunting content, we would like to compensate for its weaknesses and play up its strengths by giving a clear motive, entertainment, and emotional investment through storytelling.
What player issue concerns you the most about Lineage II?
One of Lineage II’s strengths was community, centered on party play, relaxed, free hunting, and numerous conflicts. But through instanced dungeons and daily quests, the gameplay became more structured, and communication became sparse. A big problem for an MMORPG is if its structured gameplay gets rid of the need for community interaction.
Lineage II’s other strong component was its economy, which now seems unstable. We applied many changes in Goddess of Destruction, but there have been side effects. We decided that we must correct these two issues, and made it one of our main goals for Lineage II: Lindvior.
Goddess of Destruction changed the face of Lineage II and players liked it, are you open to making such dramatic changes in the future to keep surprising players?
The main focus of Goddess of Destruction was to make the game more entertaining. The changes in GD ended up being bigger than anticipated after we applied changes to fix problems that had accumulated through the many previous updates, while also trying to make the game more casual. At the end, these big changes ended up diluting the game’s unique traits and strengths.
The dev team looked into ways to bring back the core entertainment value and uniqueness of the game for Lineage II: Lindvior. Instead of implementing sudden changes like we did for GD, we took our time and made gradual ones.
In Lineage II: Lindvior the final state of all three of the Dragon Boss weapons has never been attained even in Korea, do you feel like the difficulty of acquiring and upgrading the weapon should be adjusted?
Lindvior has weapons made of the essences of the dragons, the most powerful monsters in Lineage II. Lindvior, Antharas, and Valakas all drop weapons unique to them; the dev team tried to position these weapons to be the best weapons for a long time to come. They will be very hard to acquire and take lots of effort to upgrade, they are symbolic weapons for Lineage II and worthy of all that effort. But if they don’t circulate as much as we thought, we could make slight adjustments to the dragon boss raid difficulty level or drop rates. Who knows? Maybe the first Dragon weapon might show up in NA instead of Korea.
Are there any plans for better protection from 3rd party programs that allow automatic play and advantage in PvP? Do you consider using something else besides GameGuard, or something in addition to GameGuard to help protect against those automated characters?
Bots have a huge impact on the game, including its economy. We know the importance of this issue, and are continuing to update parts of the game to combat Bots. We are also introducing new components to GameGuard as well. We also need stronger restrictions on the operations’ side; this could be an endless battle, but we will continue to put in our best effort to combat this problem.
Are there any plans to revamp Hellbound or add new Seeds to the Gracia continent?
Lineage II has added several hunting zones with their own unique traits over the past 10 years. Problem is that there are too many hunting zones compared to the speed of leveling up in Lv.85 and lower level ranges which has led to many abandoned regions. Conversely, there are limited hunting zones for Awakened classes, which put a strain on the numbers of players that can enjoy them. The dev team decided to renovate the existing territories with a play path and player concentration in mind and plans to continue the renovation incrementally. For example, the Cemetery has been renovated in the upcoming update.
Hellbound was a meaningful hunting zone for many players too. We are planning on renovating it, and will turn it into a hunting zone befitting its name and scale. Currently, Gracia has been updated to the Seed of Hellfire. We are planning to renovate Gracia to have greater significance as a territory and not only a continent, aside from the expansion of the Seeds.
Are there any plans to make PvP more competitive and meaningful for all level ranges? Do you have plans to change the Clan War System, PK system, Ceremony of Chaos, and the Grand Olympiad?
The PvP in Lineage II is profoundly fierce yet entertaining. I believe that there is a part of the game that the content cannot give – a story of the players that gets written through PvP which expresses their desire to be the best. PvP is one of the core elements of Lineage II, and I hope it becomes a more active part of the game that everyone enjoys, rather than a select few players.
This means players who do not possess the top gear should still be able to enjoy PvP. Damage penalty formulas and such which result in great discrepancies between levels must also be readjusted. The only problem is that Lineage II is a realistic game that rewards players based on the time they invested; therefore I think the correct way to go about this would be to provide PvP that is based on entertainment instead of reality-based and fierce conflicts. Perhaps we could divide up level ranges, or we could expand game content that temporarily decreases reliance on gear and level. PvP will accordingly continue to be renovated; for example, Olympiad will be expanded into a cross-server Olympiad using the server teleportation technology introduced in Lindvior. Heroes of each world will be pitted against each other, and PvP will become even more interesting with the improved matching system.
Do you plan to upgrade the game engine and graphics? Are there new measures being taken to make the game run smoother?
We are continuing to upgrade and add new functions that would improve the graphics under the current engine structure. Thus Lineage II is now able to exhibit a degree of sophistication seen in other current games. There is a possibility that we may change out the engine later, but as of now, we’ll go with upgrading our current engine a bit more.
Are there plans to further diversify the classes and if so, how will you go about it? Are there any plans on improving the subclasses? What details can you give us about class changes made to the Kamael Race? Will there be a new race in the future updates?
Diverse classes are a very important part of Lineage II so we decided to reverse our 8-class change to the 34-class system. But instead of making sudden changes as with GD, that could lead to other problems; we decided to base the new classes on the Awakened class by adding on the 3rd transfer class traits onto them. After Lindvior, we will be adding more unique traits unto these classes. But as the Awakened classes may already possess the 3rd-transfer class traits or core roles may have moved onto other classes, we could be adding new traits instead of only the 3rd-transfer traits.
As for subclasses, we are currently focusing on dual classes, so there are no plans at this time to expand them, but there could be changes because the 34-class diversification could have an effect on subclasses.
The diversification will return the Kamael to their unique roles, but the limitations on subclasses are the biggest problem. We plan to lift these restrictions on subclasses, but the Judicator class is still an issue for us. It was not a main class on its own, so we don’t’ know if it can play the role of a main class, and the Iss Enchanter has also absorbed most of its core roles. The Judicator has lost most of its meaning in Lindvior, but we will look deeply into whether it can be brought back, and if so, how. As for new classes, we are still sketching out the core concepts, so we cannot say just yet.
Are there any plans to revamp these in-game features (Manor system, Pet system, Campaigns, Aden Donation System, Fantasy Isle mini-games, Clan Request system, and Fishing)?
I believe Lineage II has more gameplay content than any other MMORPG. The problem is that we focused on expanding them and not so much on managing and upgrading them. These diverse gameplay content types are very important because they bring a different kind of fun in comparison to hunting, PvP and raids. The dev team will pick out gameplay content that is fun for the players and fits the game direction well and will renovate them. Most of the gameplay content you listed fits in this category, so we will be incrementally updating them.