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Interview With Scott Brown - Project Lead

Richard Cox Posted:
Interviews 0

MMORPG.com: First off I'd like to thank you for once again taking time out of your incredibly busy schedule to do a second interview with us for our fine members. Many of which I know are eagerly awaiting any tidbit of information they can get their grubby little paws on about Auto Assault. So if you could please first introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what you do behind the scenes to help form Auto Assault into the great game it's bound to be.
Scott Brown:

I am Scott Brown, project lead on Auto Assault. I work with all the different teams to keep the game's progress in line with our original focus for the game. I also try to keep the budget under control. I started out writing much of the game's original code base but now the engineering team is nervous any time I get near the code.

MMORPG.com: Things have been very hush hush about what's going on with the game. Think you could shed a little light for us on how the progress is coming along, how far along are you, when you think you might be nearing completion (I know it's probably too soon for anything concrete, but a rough estimation would be nice.)
Scott: Right now we are shooting for a summer beta and a release later this year. The game is really progressing very well and we are heavily into a massive content push that will last until the game ships and beyond.
MMORPG.COM: Let's talk Beta for a bit. It's easily one of the most often asked about subjects from our members. Any clue as when applications might be open and when the first wave of external testers might be able to get their hands on the game? And are there any plans for an Open Beta to end off the testing phase?
Scott: We should have a beta registration on www.autoassault.com in the near future. We are currently in our early internal beta now and, again, we hope open it up this summer.
MMORPG.COM: In our last interview you gave us a small taste of information on the hazard modes. Any chance we can get a little more about those?
Scott: Each race has a hazard mode which allows them to do massive amounts of damage for a short period of time. What we showed at E3 was the Biomek hazard mode where they transform into a Mek and smash everything in their vicinity. The Humans have a shield inversion ability that causes massive damage in creation and then does an area of effect slow, which keeps enemies close while you call in massive ion strikes on nearby area. The hazard mode concept has been so popular, we decided to make one for each race.
MMORPG.COM: The cars are the meat and bones of the game, if you will. In our last interview, you talked about the vast number of different types of cars. One thing I've been curious about is if there is an option of having drastically different types of vehicles. For example one player could have a motorcycle with only one hardpoint on it, or maybe two if it had a sidecar that was super fast and maneuverable. Another player could have a huge 18-wheeler with trailer with about 6 hardpoints on it, but be slow and clumsy, etc. This would make for some interesting battles, a motorcycle gang of players swarming and trying to take down this behemoth of an 18-wheeler using their agility and maneuverability. Is this diversity in the cars something we might see?
Scott: Cars vary in a variety of statistical and physical ways. Big trucks can cause lots of damage simply by colliding with smaller vehicles but they have no where near the maneuverability of a motorcycle. Of course, when you can just smash through things instead of avoid them, that is not always a problem. Vehicle loadouts will also vary by both the weight of the weapons and the mount type. For instance, you will not be putting any large tank guns on a motorcycle, not that there are not powerful small weapons as well.
MMORPG.COM: In a recent interview done for another site, it was mentioned that players could leave their cars to work on their crafting. Can you give us a little more detail into what the crafting system will be like? Can anyone do it? You mentioned before it's a blueprint-using system. Do those drop randomly?
Scott: We are not revealing too many details on the crafting system at this time, but I can explain a few details. First, the crafting skills are a completely separate system from the combat skills in the game. You will never be trading off combat abilities for crafting. However, many of the skills will require the player to go on combat missions to have the NPCs train the player in a particular crafting skill. All player classes have the same crafting abilities available to them.
MMORPG.COM: Will PvP be limited to arena battles, meaning I don't have to worry about a player 30 levels higher than me just coming upon me randomly out in the wild while I'm trying to solo a quest or something and blowing me away?
Scott: The game is divided into PvE and PvP regions. PvP will be consensual by the fact that you will have to knowingly enter into a PvP area of the game to have a chance of being attacked.
MMORPG.COM: Recently people have been attempting to swing towards the "everyone playing in one world on one server" approach rather than the traditional "limit the number of players per server but run as many servers as necessary." Will you be sticking with the multiple server route? And if so will there be specialized servers such as roleplaying or maybe even one where PvP isn't limited to just arenas battles, but completely open and unrestricted for those who are hardcore PvP fans?
Scott: Auto Assault will be split into multiple servers. We have some really cool twists on this, though, that I can not go into at this point. I can speak to a philosophy not original to us, but one that we strongly believe in, which is that you can have too big of a community concentrated in one space. When any server population gets too high, players lose track of friends and enemies. You want to remember players from town to town, you want to have a chance to meet up with someone you played through a mission arc with earlier, you want the chance to track down the player that killed you the other day. Once the community gets too big, it becomes overwhelming - the bigger the crowd, the less social it becomes. Toshio Yamagishi has some really great papers on this exact topic.
MMORPG.COM: One of the most popular worries I have about this game, and I've heard it fairly often from others as well, is the potential for lack of depth. This seems to be a problem with games which are more action than roleplaying-based, they're a lot of fun for an hour at a time or so but tend to get repetitive if you play any longer than that. What would you say is being done or has been done to ensure that Auto Assault doesn't become one of those games? What are you doing to make sure it has the depth people are looking for?
Scott: NetDevil's goal in making unique MMOs is to create games unlike any before, with a focus on fun. When we released Jumpgate, it was the first Sci-Fi universe and the first space simulator available on the market. We learned so much during the development and support of the product about what design decisions worked and which ones did not. With Auto Assault, we have created the first post-apocalyptic world and the first vehicle-based MMO game and, in doing so. have created a game that mixes the fun and excitement of truly fast-paced gameplay with the long-term enjoyment of character building. Playing through tons of our hand crafted missions, revealing the backstory of the game while exploring our world, finding your next piece of phat loot, and blowing the crap out of other players will provide users with a very satisfying long-term gameplay experience.
MMORPG.COM: What would you say is your absolute favorite part or aspect of the game? What are you most anticipating everyone getting in-game and 'oooooo'ing and 'ahhhhh'ing over?
Scott: Blowing shit up. There is nothing like going on a mission to take out a few bandits and literally leveling the whole thing while in their base. You cruise in at full speed, busting down the fences on the way. Run over the first infantry you encounter while spraying down the rest with your machine guns. Exchange fire with the vehicles in the base and once they are all destroyed, take out their remaining houses just for good measure.
MMORPG.COM: Another big feature people have been asking for/about is salvageable parts from defeated foes/autos. It seems very logical that if you beat an NPC controlled vehicle, there should be SOME salvageable parts remaining of the vehicle. And in some cases, depending on the type of damage done and the manner in which your foe was incapacitated, the entire vehicle may be salvageable. Will this play into the loot system in any manner?
Scott: Absolutely! The type of loot that drops depends on the type of enemy you destroy. Also, some player classes have additional abilities to specifically salvage, allowing them to look for additional loot from defeated foes. Keep in mind that all loot is generated - even recovered vehicle chassis can be different each time you find them.
MMORPG.COM: Finally, is there anything else you'd like to add which wasn't covered by any of the above questions that you'd like to throw out there for us? Once again I'd like to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer a couple questions for our eager, information-starved members.
Scott: We are really excited to be able to start revealing more about Auto Assault as this is a very exciting year for us. We are readers and members of MMORPG.com and it is very fun for us to have the opportunity to be included in your great community.


Richard Cox