The announcement that Snail Games would be bringing Dark & Light to the world in the very near future caught many fans off guard. We took the opportunity to reach out to Product Manager Shen Yan to learn more about Dark & Light, how it's changed over the years and what players can expect in what developers call "even more of a sandbox" than ever before.
MMORPG: How changed is the game? Did you keep anything apart from the name?
Shen Yan: Apart from the name, we also wanted to keep the core features and massive world intact. Dark and Light was considered a breakthrough MMORPG when it first came out, featuring one of the largest open worlds and a unique fantasy theme; it got a lot of attention from players due to the freedom this world could offer. However, due to the technical restrictions of the time, it was impossible to actually implement a majority of the game’s core features. Over the years, we’ve explored various engines and technical solutions to help make the game a reality. In our latest iteration of Dark and Light, we’ve stuck with the original fantasy theme, but we’ve been able to turn the world into even more of a sandbox than originally envisioned due to advances in technology.
"Our main goal for Dark and Light is to develop a believable fantasy world that can be experienced through exploration."
MMORPG: What are the new elements added to the game? We saw new races and the full conflict between the dark side and light coming to the front of the list.
SY: In terms of world lore, a number of new races have been added, which has in turn increased the number of ongoing conflicts and shifting power dynamics in the Dark and Light universe. Players have the freedom to direct their character’s own development, no matter which side they choose to support between dark and light. Also adding to the sense of freedom that Dark and Light offers, players won’t be restricted by class choices. Instead, players can assign attribute and skill points to specialize their character as they level up. We have some other unique elements planned for the game that will let players become even more immersed in their exploration of Dark and Light’s expansive world – we’ll have more info on that in the near future.
MMORPG: Building on the lore from 2004, what has the team done to update the game from a story standpoint?
SY: Our main goal for Dark and Light is to develop a believable fantasy world that can be experienced through exploration. Beyond that, there isn’t much we can share at this time about the actual story – it’s something we want players to uncover and experience for themselves.
MMORPG: The game used to boast as having the largest world online, is that something you still want to see with Dark & Light?
SY: When the game was originally being developed, having the largest world online was an entirely different scale. We’re still concerned with making Dark and Light’s world huge in terms of scale, but we want to avoid the situation where we end up creating a world that’s a “mile wide and an inch deep”, which is a consistent challenge for many open-world games.
MMORPG: How are you incorporating the sandbox features into the world? Will players be building their own houses from scratch, forming towns, and so forth?
SY: We’ve taken a lot of inspiration from existing sandbox MMOs and multiplayer games – we want to give players the freedom to build what they want. However, for players who don’t enjoy crafting or building, they can make permanent residences in existing structures around the world.
"Our plan right now is to offer two different server environments, one for FFA PvP, and one for non-PvP for players to choose from based on the way they want to play."
MMORPG: How about PVP? Is it an optional activity in Dark and Light, or a FFA sort of affair? A lot of our readers are torn between both formats, and we know more than a few people would prefer optional PVP.
SY: Snail has a lot of experience to draw from when it comes to open-world PvP MMOs. Because Dark and Light focuses so heavily on exploration and freedom, we don’t want to force players into a brutal PvP environment where they’ll be ganked as soon as they set foot outside a safe zone. Our plan right now is to offer two different server environments, one for FFA PvP, and one for non-PvP for players to choose from based on the way they want to play.
MMORPG: You mention many distinct biomes, which is something we see in a lot of survival games. Will Dark and Light focus on activities like berry picking, chopping wood, and so forth for hours on end, or is there a more guided narrative to help ease players into the world?
SY: Hunting, gathering, and collecting will be important, especially for players in the early stages of the game. However, we would prefer not to force players to spend a significant portion of their time in-game mindlessly collecting resources. Instead, we’re working on finding a balance between resource-collecting and other activities to keep players actively engaged and enjoying their time playing the game.
MMORPG: Can you give us any idea when players can expect a beta since DnL is set to launch this year?
SY: We may have been a little unclear in our messaging – we’re actually aiming for a beta launch by late October / November at the moment, but we don’t have a date set in stone just yet. DnL’s actual launch date will be determined based on the feedback that we get during the beta period.