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Interview, Part One

Jon Wood Posted:
Interviews 0

Interview with Community Manager Michael "Zzeno" Rowland

One month before Christmas, we bring you a double dose of RF Online. In addition to the first half of a two part interview with Michael Rowland, the Community Manager for RF Online, we also have three exclusive screenshots. Keep reading for the interview and the images.

MMORPG.com: This being the first time that we have had the opportunity to sit down together, what can you tell us about your game? What’s the premise?
Michael “Zzeno” Rowland:

RF Online is the name, 3-way RvRvR is the game… apologies for that very poor intro.

RF Online is set in a distant galaxy within a sector called Novus. At the center, a planet called Novus, rich in resources and the focal point for the ongoing war between 3 distinct factions. The factions are all very different in appearance and beliefs as I will explain.

The Holy Alliance Cora are a spiritual race, plagued with a history of civil war, now united as an Holy Alliance, worshipping their one true god Disem. With a strong ability to use magic, the Cora provide a formidable adversary to the two other races.

The Bellato Union are a slightly more liberal race with a great skill for trade and commerce. Their ability to construct vehicles, buildings and technology with ease has left the Bellato with a reputation as the best engineers in the galaxy. The need for economic success has drawn them to Novus and into the ongoing war.

The Accretian Empire are a race of cyborgs following a totalitarian regime, where goals and achievements are all in the interests of the Empire. With advanced technology and awesome weapons of destruction, the Accretia are a strong and formidable race, intent on wiping out all who stand in their way.

MMORPG.com: Clearly, your game breaks the comfortable confines of the traditional fantasy MMO and moves into something with more of a sci-fi feel to it. Do you think your game has the drawing potential of a more traditional fantasy game like WoW or Guild Wars?
Michael “Zzeno” Rowland:

It is true that RF Online adds a new twist to an ever-growing genre. The obvious addition of sci-fi races and technology, and intertwining new and known gameplay elements should make the RF Online a more welcoming game to the new breed of MMO gamers, plus give the traditionalists something tastey to get their teeth into. The Cora Race will be a familiar sight with their elf like appearance and spiritual powers, not to mention their ever-increasing skin to clothing ratio. The action through RvR combat is immensely enjoyable and one that the Guild Wars crowd will like. Team work is an essential part of the game and you will find this ever so true at the higher levels of the game.

MMORPG.com: While your official website offers a pretty good description of the three playable factions in the game, it does not tell us much about classes or anything else that make characters more unique. What kind of Class system, if any, are you planning on using?
Michael “Zzeno” Rowland:

RF Online has four base classes of which you can further build your character to your individual liking. These are:

  • Warrior: A class that excels during melee combat based on their high physical stamina and strength. Accordingly, their equipment is also designed for short distance attacks with weapons with high defense abilities. This class can use all kinds of short distance weapons.

  • Ranger: A class with a good combination of precision and speed, preferring to attack from afar in battle. Rangers can handle all kinds of long distance weapons and various projectiles. They evade and kite enemies with their speedy movements. They prefer light defense equipment that helps them to move lightly and can freely use all the long distance skills.

  • Spiritualist: A Class that can use, master and utilise the highly complex force. The Accretia Empire who have mechanized their bodies and turned to materialism, have the potential to use the force. However, spiritualists have stronger force powers and are perceived as the professional class because they can also use force equipments and defense equipments.

  • Specialist: This class optimizes production and shines providing assistance during battle. Known as the non-executive branch class. The classes are composed of the production class, the Bellato’s ‘Armor rider’ class responsible for digging, manufacturing and producing, and other specialty classes like Accretia’s ‘Battle leader’. Each specialist type possesses a unique play style.
Dual Class

Historically in MMORPG’s, it was only possible to use the items suitable for your own character class. However, this conventional game mechanic is not applied in RF online, which supports Dual Classes where more than two classes can be used in combination for a character. A player may be a warrior, but depending on the play style, it is possible to expand the play to ranger, spiritualist, etc. and develop diverse play styles. This means that you can enjoy enriched character development with wide ranging abilities and actions.

Like your traditional MMO you can level your character by killing and gaining experience. What RF also offers is the ability to level up various skills and abilities. The more you use a skill or ability, the higher the level it becomes as it too gains experience, so in effect you can individualize your character how you want to.

MMORPG.com: It seems these days as though every new game is trying something different in terms of levels. What can you tell us about the leveling system of your game?
Michael “Zzeno” Rowland:

As I briefly explained above, you can make your character unique to you by the way you engage in combat to the way you play the game in general. The traditional kill monster A to gain experience is still here, though you gain experience per attack and not at the end on the final kill shot. Each blow will give you experience.

Depending on the attack method, and skill used you can weight your attack prowess to one specialty or you can mix and match skills. For example, should you be a close combat warrior, you can train your closed combat skill, but also your ranged weapon skill, in essence creating a hybrid class. Though you won’t be as powerful as a pure ranger, you will still have a dual class advantage, if you can donate the time to train those particular skills.

MMORPG.com: What will you be doing to appeal to players who are new to the MMORPG genre?
Michael “Zzeno” Rowland:

Coming over to MMOs is a hard thing to do, believe me, I was once there in those shoes without a clue. Tearing myself away from an FPS to an MMO seemed like the craziest thing I could do. Fortunately the support and bullying from my colleagues showed me the light as I found myself entering a small town on Tatooine, lost and without a clue. With help from friends, I got myself a bit of cash, a cute little dewback mount called Bint, and some useful hints on how to start my career as a Smuggler.

What I can offer to new players is support as they progress surely but slowly into the world of MMO’s. We’ve all been there and we’ve already established a large supportive community around the game, all of which are willing to help. With the backing of Alchemic Dream on the GM and Community side, we have the resource to help, plus a number of RF Community Specialists that can answer any questions they can on our forums. (link)

If that isn’t enough, I am also offering images of scantily clad Cora females to inboxes.

MMORPG.com: Are you planning on creating content that makes this game appealing to the solo player, or are you aiming the game more at a grouping audience?
Michael “Zzeno” Rowland:

Though there is a huge draw to high-level grouping, the initial stages of the game encourage solo play. PvE plays an important role in establishing your character and highlighting key story elements to your particular race and to the global storyline. High-end gameplay and RvR combat is more predominantly a group based activity, and again core to the gameplay that RF Online offers. We want to make you fell part of a bigger family, with everyone’s solo contribution just as important as the groups.

MMORPG.com: One of the biggest questions on our forums these days revolves around the penalties for death in MMORPGs. How are you planning to handle this tricky subject?
Michael “Zzeno” Rowland:

Death penalties never go down well in games, but they are a part of them nonetheless. RF Online is no different, though the way it is done is more in the players interests. The death penalty for PvE combat is different than the death penalty for PvP (RvRvR) combat. If a monster kills you, you will lose a random figure between 5-20% experience.

When in PvP combat, you will lose Contribution Points which is the integrated ranking system used in RF Online.

Many thanks to Michael for doing this.

Any comments? Post them here.


Jon Wood