MMORPG.com: Can you bring us up to date on the upcoming expansion for Swordsman?
Wang Peng: This is our first expansion, called Gilded Wasteland, and with this expansion we’re adding a ton of content for both new and returning players. For our fans who have been with us since launch, there is a level cap raise, new instances, dungeons, PvP modes, and gear systems. For newbies we’ve enhanced the leveling curve to make catching up and getting into the action easier. For everyone there are three beautiful new zones to explore, as we’re taking players beyond the Great Wall to the steppes and deserts of northern China in pursuit of their enemies.
MMORPG.com: Tell us about the lore behind the Gilded Wasteland.
Wang Peng: Gilded Wasteland is the continuation of the player’s heroic mission. Without giving away too many spoilers, players will finally have the chance to take the fight directly to the evil Eminence School, pursuing them right to their doorsteps and beyond. In the process of ridding Jianghu of this evil, they’ll travel north, beyond the Great Wall, and engage all new enemies before they can get to the heart of China.
MMORPG.com: What were some of the influences in making this new environment? It really stands out against the rest of the game.
Wang Peng: The three new zones are modeled after the climate of northern China. One of the new zones is reminiscent of the Gobi Desert, while another is based on the Mongolian Steppes. While it is our artists own interpretation of these zones, the concept is rooted in the actual geology of the region. We take great pride in Swordsman’s marriage of fact and fantasy.
We also played some games developed by overseas companies, for example, Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception. The scenes and settings in that game are really great and touched our hearts. Naughty Dog’s preciseness and attention to the game graphics impressed us a lot and we are inspired and are passionate about designing an equally imposing map for our own game.
MMORPG.com: What are some of the upgrades that player characters can expect with the new expansion?
Wang Peng: There are two major systems that have been upgraded. The first is the companion system. Companions will now be active participants in PvP battles, helping you lock your opponents in place, keep them off balance, and heal you if you make a mistake. The second system we’re adding to upgrade your character is the introduction of celestial weapons. These weapons can only be made by one NPC who knows the ancient secret to forging. It will take time to make your weapon, but it will be well worth it when you have it in your hands!
MMORPG.com: How will players journey through the new zones and encounters?
Wang Peng: Players will be sent to the first of the new zones at level 80 as part of the main quest, though the new areas are connected to neighboring zones, so brave players could go look at what awaits them! We’ll be introducing all new mounts with this expansion as well, so you will be able to get there in style. The new instances can be accessed from anywhere in the world once you’ve reached the appropriate level. You will automatically teleport to the instance to bring the final battle to the Eminence School!
MMORPG.com: The artwork for the expansion changes the look of the game. How did you come to these descisions for such a unique desert style look?
Wang Peng: Swordsman has always relied heavily on historical and cultural touchstones, and with the new regions we are broadening the reach of the game to encompass Northern China during the Qin dynasty. Many of the new fashions and looks for our NPCs are related to this time period, though all with that special Swordsman fantasy twist to them.
We also set the new area Dunkhan as a wild map. It’s a remote place. There is not much architecture there known as the Chinese Central-Plains style. To highlight the natural and territorial traits of Dunkhan, we add the rugged elements to the map: stacked rocks, rock caves in precipices, walls built by rough rubbles, damaged loam walls, simple and crude dwellings, worn-out plank and rubble covered by sand blown by the wind.
The key point in the middle of the map is the town near Moonfang Fountain, where you can collect mainline quests. We designed some dynamic objects to present the unique environment. For example, the broken windmill, the flapping big flag, streamer in the streets of the town, and the sand blown up by wind. We also designed some sundries to make the scene look real, like small sheds, carts, and water vats.
The main hue of the scene is the sand color in its various chrominance, and decorated with some red and dark brown elements. We paid much attention on its graphic quality to make the texture and color impressive. If you take a distant view in the map, you will feel the boundary is far-reaching.
In future, we will continuously improve our ability, try to present the game world in new ways, and try our best to bring you more interesting game contents.
MMORPG.com: Do you have plans to preview the content coming up soon? Possibly a beta in the works?
Wang Peng: Our focus is on getting the content out to as many of our players as fast as possible, so we won’t have a beta period. Our QA team is working furiously to get the content ready as fast as they can. Make sure to keep an eye on our social sites in October, though, as we’ll be previewing a lot of the content through our twitch channel!