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Interview With Dan Antonescu

Andrew Collins Posted:
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MMORPG.COM: One of the most distinguishable features of Mourning, is the character development throughout the game. As I understand it, characters will not have specific classes or even levels; But will have skills that they can develop and improve on as they progress by consulting a "master trainer" of that particular skill. Could you elaborate on how this system works?
Dan: Well, in part, you're right. Mourning is a skill based MMO, which means players are not forced to use any templates (classes) at the beginning of the game, but rather develop their character while playing. For example, if they pick up a sword, and start fighting wit it, the sword skill, strength and dexterity attributes will start to rise. Also, the skill system means that, at any time, they can stop developing their character in whatever direction they were going and start doing something else. They won't have to roll up a totally new character, as in the class based systems. Regarding the master/trainer system, the player will only need to do this after they hit the maximum skill level they can reach by themselves (which is 50 atm). They can work to raise their skills above that value by themselves, but that will be a very slow process, and most likely they will never reach 60 by doing it this way in a characters life span. The other way is to find a master for whatever skill they want to develop, and become their apprentice. And after a while, they will eventually become masters themselves, giving them the ability to possibly raise their skills to a value of 100.
MMORPG.COM: Related to character classes and skills, could you discuss what kinds of characters players can eventually make? If the player wishes to play as a traditional spell caster or melee tank archetype, such as a medieval wizard or a holy knight, will this be possible without specific classes? And What if they wish to play as a character with an unusual combination of abilities? Would this too be possible?
Dan: The skills in Mourning are gathered together in Schools: magic and melee. A player can sign up for as many schools as he or she wants. We won't prevent them from doing that but the total amount of skill points a character can have is limited, so, they'll have to carefully manage it. The much skills they'll took in for development, the lower will be the maximum value which they can reach with those skills. It's a the choices between being highly specialized in a few skills, or know a little from each. Regarding the classic RPG templates (classes), of course they can emulate that, if they wish.
MMORPG.COM: A common aspect of mmorpg's is death. How might this occur and what penalties might players face in Mourning?. There is an increasing desire for perma-death. Will Mourning implement such a feature?
Dan: If you want players not to fear playing in a full PvP environment the death penalties should not be too harsh. We will have perma death. At first glance, this seems to be a bit of contradiction, but it isn't that way at all. The perma death situations will be in game, but won't occur in normal playing conditions. I mean, PD will only occur in exceptional conditions (like while fighting with a boss during an important quest, or while attacking a newbie on his own territory and without having war declared, and so on), or in high risk vs reward game play situations. Also, perma death is one the key ingredients in the bloodline system because every character will have a limited life span.
MMORPG.COM: Another aspect of this game that really intrigues me, is the apparent bloodline system that will actually let player characters have children to extend their bloodlines. Could you discuss this system and how it works?
Dan: Well, it's pretty simple. Each character will live his or her life and then he or she will pass on. At that moment, a player can choose to start a new one from scratch, or he can continue his present characters bloodline by choosing to play with his previous characters child. By doing this, he'll have a few advantages for example, the child will inherit a high speed of development in his parents previous best skills, and also he'll have access to his bloodlines fame and of course, a few more (including access to his parents equipment also).
MMORPG.COM: How will Mourning's economy system work? Will items, such as the typical weapons and armor, decay over time and need repair? Will there be NPC merchants to to repair these items or buy and sell weapons, armor, etc?
Dan: Of course, items will decay in time while being used, also, they can be crafted, enhanced, repaired and salvaged, sold and bought, by either NPC's or PC's.
MMORPG.COM: This brings me to crafting. Will there be a player-crafting system for Mourning? What sort of trades can players learn, and what can they make? Will players need to acquire an extensive list of resources to make these items? Will player-crafted items be more powerful than items acquired by regular means? Do player-crafted items deteriorate differently from loot or store bought?
Dan: Yes, there will be a crafting system. Armor crafting, tailoring, weapon crafting, jewel crafting, alchemy, metal working, leather working, cloth working, wood working and some more (like gem cutting, resource prospecting, resource mining etc). Yes, a lot of resources will be needed for the crafting system, and most of them can't be purchased, but instead players will need to find alternative sources for them. There will be the ability to purchase resources from merchants (but only low level resources), salvaging them from items and most importantly, refining them from raw resources (which will also need to be located, identified, gathered and in the end refined to obtain a "ready for crafting material").
MMORPG.COM: With a flourishing economy, one needs to store their wealth. Is it possible for players to store such wealth, as in rare items or money in a bank of some kind and / or will there be player housing?
Dan: Atm we are not planning for player housing, so in the beginning players will store their possessions in some type of individual vault. Eventually, we'll put player housing in also, but they will be more for player organizations (like the orders and guilds) rather than individual players, because they will be very expensive. We don't really feel like filling up our world space with houses for each player (as that will eat a lot of space from the world) and also, we don't really feel like making it available in separate virtual spaces, which have nothing to do with the main game play. That's why we chose a rather elitist approach to the housing system.
MMORPG.COM: Related to housing, more recently i have noticed a growing aspect of online gamming is community interaction. How will Mourning let players form communities? Will there be Player Guild System and Alliances?
Dan: Community is the most important aspect in any MMORPG. That's one of Mourning's strongest points. Temporary gatherings (parties, armies), social permanent gatherings (orders, alliances, trade guilds) and political dynamic gatherings (villages, towns, counties, city-states, realms, kingdoms, even empires). This subject is way too huge to describe here in only a few words. The most important thing to remember is that, in our vision, its Mourning's main system in matter of importance.
MMORPG.COM: A big aspect of an mmorpg is the Combat System and PvP. How does Mourning implement this system and what makes it stand out from the rest? Will there be PvP?
Dan: LoL, yes, there will be one, and even a full PvP one, including perma death and everything else (parties, armies, duels, wars, sieges, etc). The difference will come exactly from the skill based system. For example, combat actions (styles or spells) are based on different stats from action to action, even if they are from the same school. Also, most of the weapons will have more than 1 damage type, and the players can choose whatever damage they are using.
MMORPG.COM: Just recently I learned that, Mourning will have a magic system that will let players create their own magic by combining different spells. Something I don't think has yet been attempted in the industry. Could you discuss how this system will work and what gave you the idea to give the player's this never before seen freedom?
Dan: There's allot of things that haven't been attempted in the industry, can't you tell? ;)

When we started to design Mourning, we had a look at the other large games on the market (and not only MMORPG's) that were made, trying to learn their good points, what gamers would like to see, what needed to be adjusted, what needed to be thrown out and what needed to be added. By studying the way magic spells were done in other games, we saw that most of them had a huge number of spells which in reality were only a few, and modified in some minor aspects.
That's why we thought "wouldn't it be better to just make completely different spells as a base, and allow players to adjust some of their properties to make all kinds of variations based on that basic spell?". So, we ended up localizing these basic spells, and offering a set of variations which can, more or less, be applied on the basic spells resulting different spell effects.
MMORPG.COM: Ok lastly, I noticed you were using the "Abyssal" engine. I do not know much about this particular engine apart from its sophisticated graphical effects and morphing animation. What were your reasons for using this engine rather than some other well known engines, such as the "Unreal" engine?
Dan: First of all this is our proprietary engine. Back when we started to work on all this madness, we started first with the engine. The first year of development was mainly only working on the Abyssal engine. Also, other engines, like the Unreal engine you mentioned would have cost us a lot of money, and wouldn't really be suited for our purpose (a MMO game), so we would have had to do a lot of modifications to it. Adding to that the time needed to get used to working with the code source of that engine and you'll understand why we preferred to simply build our own. Not to mention the fact that in the end we can develop it any direction we want, we don't have to give any rights to another company for licensing their engine and also, we could now license our own engine out which in fact is just as capable as any Unreal engine powering Lineage2.
Why pay 500 grand to license somebody's popular name?
It was a logical business decision.
MMORPG.COM: Is there anything else you would like to add regarding Mourning?
Dan: I could now say Mourning will be the best, the most, the whatever-marketing-department-says-its-good-to-say-about-your-game-to-make-it-even-better, but I won't. I'll just say the truth, that we're trying to make a better MMO, to bring a bit of fresh air into the genre, which all MMO fans are screaming for but unfortunately are not getting and will not be getting from any of the so called big boys in the industry anytime soon.

We are MMO fans too. We are gamers building a MMORPG. We are fortunate enough to be able to do this on our own and not have to answer to any money hungry publisher who doesn't like this or that or doesn't think that design decision will make loads of cash in the end. And If this offends any publishers I really can't say that I care. Because THEY are one of the problems and one of the reasons why this genre has degraded into clone after clone after boring clone.

We want to play a MMO which really appeals to us as typical gamers, and because none did back then when we first started, we began working on our own. If we'll succeed or not remains to be seen, only time and the players who support our product will tell.

We would like to thank Dan for taking the time to answer our questions. The progress that we have witnessed with Mourning this past 6-8 months has been very impressive and we look forward to watching it evolve and come to life as time goes on.


Andrew Collins