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Joseph Hewitt, Senior Designer

Carolyn Koh Posted:
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Senior Designer Joseph Hewitt answers our inquiries

At E3 2006 Fury came out of nowhere to impress us. Then, a few months ago, we sent an agent down to their Australia studio to find out more. Now we have Joseph Hewitt, their Senior Designer, answering more questions.

MMORPG.com: Why did you create a game like Fury that breaks away from the traditional class mold? (What do you think is lacking in the current line-up of MMOGs out there?)
Joseph Hewitt:

The class mold is a very artificial constraint and only seems normal because it has been around for so long. The reason why it has survived for so long is that it easy for game designers to balance. They know exactly what to expect from each character class and can balance accordingly. In many ways classes are like training wheels for players, and very early on we decided we were making this game for the core audience.

Skill based systems offer so much more and let players build characters aligned with their own play style. Of course this can be harder to balance, but ultimately it is far more fun.

Once we decided to go with a skill based system for Fury, we took a hard look at what some of the downsides to it were. Personally, when I play games where I can build my own character, I am always afraid I am making a bad decision that might gimp my character. We decided that we wanted you to be able to rebuild your character anytime you wanted with no costs or penalties. That way we were sure players were free to have fun and experiment. Once we did that it was just a natural progress to say that you could load and save those templates and the incarnation system was born.

The incarnation system led to so many other benefits. For example, incarnations remove the need to have alts since you can switch between incarnations anytime. This also means you don’t have to fill your friend’s list with multiple entries for one person keeping track of his alts. One of the really cool things is you can build a lower ranked incarnations to play with friends new to the game.

MMORPG.com: How were you able to build Fury up so quickly? What strategies and tools did you employ?
Joseph Hewitt:

Knowing exactly what we were building before we started was a big step in making sure things got done right the first time. Epic’s Unreal3 engine allowed us to focus on building the core game first, not worryning about creating the game engine. It was amazing how quickly we were able to get the basic game up and running under Unreal3

Focusing almost exclusively on core mechanics made it a little difficult to show off in its early stages as there wasn’t a lot of flashy graphics and effects. That hurt us a little as when you show the game to a potential publisher, some of them can’t see past the temporary graphics. The benefit is that by focusing early on, we ensured the game played very well and is fun. It also showed us which publishers knew what they were talking about and which ones weren’t actually playing the game.

Now that we have most of the core game built and running smoothly, we are adding all the cool bells, whistles and special effects. The graphics going in now are just breathtaking. The Unreal3 engine is really letting our artist shine… and defuse and specular and bumpmap and all those other fancy 3D terms.

MMORPG.com: Tell us more about game development plans. Will growth be new battlezones, quest storylines or?
Joseph Hewitt:

We have lots of plans for growth of the game. New War Zones, Trials and even new game types are just a few of them. When we first started designing Fury we tried to come up with as many game types as we could and then pick which ones we thought would work best. We didn’t want to have too many because that would split players and increase the wait time for matches.

Part of the decision on what game types to keep was based on what players were already comfortable with. We are introducing so many other cool and new concepts in Fury that we thought that it would be best if we kept the game types easy and familiar. However, in a perfect example of how things change in the development process; Capture the Flag has turned into Vortex.

In Vortex, instead of just capturing a flag from the other team and returning it to your base, you collect crystals from insects that fly randomly around the map. So it’s capture the multiple-flags that move around on their own. You can also steal the crystals from the enemy’s base. This improvement on standard CTF made the game more dynamic, and I’m not just saying “dynamic” because it’s a cool buzz word.

Some of the other things that we had slated for the expansion might even make it in for release. Ultimately, they are up to the publisher.

MMORPG.com: Most MMOGs are built around an “early adopter” community. Do you plan to have player forums to build this community?
Joseph Hewitt:

We should have the forums up when the Fury website is upgraded from the sneak peak site that is running now. Player communities are very important in building a base for your game and in order for that community to grow healthy there needs to be a place where the developers can have a dialog with those players. In the meantime a number of the dev team have started posting on www.fury-sanctuary.com.

MMORPG.com: What do you hope the player community will bring to the game? Especially at the testing stage?
Joseph Hewitt:

During the early testing stages the player community is most valuable for their feedback because to them the game is fresh and new while we have all been immersed in it for quite some time. Our early pre-alpha stages will focus on getting serious PVP players in to check the game out. We’ll want to hear what is working and what isn’t, basically which aspects are fun and which need improvements.

We are doing our best to design Fury to be all that we want it to be but we need that feedback to help us tune the game and make sure we didn’t miss something important.

MMORPG.com: Let’s talk about the game itself. We’ve read the features and heard more, but we’ve not talked about a faction system. Will there be one in the game and if so, how will it impact players or the game world. If not, why not?
Joseph Hewitt:

I can’t say too much about faction system at this point since we are right in the middle of nailing it down. It was one of those things we were going to put off for the first expansion but we have found a really cool way to incorporate it in now. All I can really say about it at this point is that just like all of Fury’s key elements, it is centered around PvP.

MMORPG.com: What is your philosophy in providing information to players? Will you support add-ins such as those that players use to parse their damage and display their equipment, skills & stats while offline?
Joseph Hewitt:

It always amazes me how some 14 year old kid who failed math 2 years in a row can pick through a game and extrapolate the overly complex damage per second formula that was coded in base 13 using Bistromathics. The problem with that scenario is that only elite few can understand it. Everybody else is left in the dark trying to figure out which set of gloves is better and why. I absolutely hate trying to strain my brain to think that hard when all I want to do is play a game. I especially hate when I get my butt kicked in s game and have no idea what just happened. Not that I get my butt kicked very often. What I meant to say that if in the very unlikely event that I were to somehow get my butt kicked I umm… So that being said we would like to give the player as much of the important information as we can so that everybody is on equal footing and understands what is going on in the game.

MMORPG.com: How customizable will the UI be? Will you support player mods such as macros to chain actions together or player created UIs?
Joseph Hewitt:

The UI for Fury is pretty much fixed. I looked into what it would take to created a fully customizable system and besides being a lot of work and prone to exploitation, I also realized that there wasn’t a lot left to customize when you take into consideration the simplicity of the game play and what we are already building into the interface.

MMORPG.com: How important do you think that player voice communication will be? Do you plan to integrate any voice communication capability into Fury?
Joseph Hewitt:

We think player voice communication is critical and plan on integrating it into the game. We are seriously looking into the various ways to incorporate it into the game to ensure that it is done right. We want to be careful as we don’t want to go through all the effort to put it in and then have nobody use it. We are currently exploring what it will take to build the technology ourselves and what it would cost to get it from somebody else.

MMORPG.com: Finally, as most players following this game will want to know… have you any more solid testing and publish dates at this time and are you ready to share them with us?
Joseph Hewitt:

The chance that a game will miss its ship date is directly related to the number of people that are aware of the scheduled ship date and how much that date has been hyped. So we are guarding the ship date very closely.

If you really want to know you’ll just have to go see it for yourselves. It is written it in thirty-foot-high letters of fire on top of the Quentulus Quazgar Mountains in the land of Sevorbeupstry on the planet Preliumtarn, third out from the sun Zarss in Galactic Sector QQ7 Active J Gamma. It is guarded by the Lajestic Vantrashell of Lob.

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Carolyn Koh

Carolyn Koh / Carolyn Koh has been writing for MMORPG.com since 2004 and about the MMO genre since 1999. These days she plays mobile RTS games more, but MMOs will always remain near and dear to her heart.