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Marco van Haren, PR Manager

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The PR Manager for Spellborn International answers our questions

Marco van Haren, the Public Relations and Web Content Manager for The Chronicles of Spellborn answers a slew of questions from Staff Writer Garrett Fuller about their upcoming Unreal 2.5 MMORPG.

MMORPG.com: We finally got to see the Daevi after many months; can you tell us a little bit more about them?
Marco van Haren:

Daevi are the racial offspring of the Humans and the Mumia. Although they are humanoid, they spot some “demonic” body parts as a proof of their Mumia origin. All Daevi are born with an ancient mythical birth sign used by the Eight Demons to control them. Currently, only the Tempest birth sign remains. Each birth signs bestows a Daevi with specific physical features, with the Tempest birth sign giving them similar horn-like features as the long lost Thorn birth sign. Daevi also live slightly longer than humans because of their immortal heritage.

In the Spellborn world, Daevi will have a different color palette for their body then humans and they can select from different “skins textures.”

MMORPG.com: With all the fantasy races out there what made you choose to create the Daevi for this game?
Marco van Haren:

The Chronicles of Spellborn features a unique, genuine setting, environment and atmosphere. It would have been completely out of place to have a “regular” fantasy race such as orcs or elves living in the TCoS universe.

Looking at the lore we see these eight demons ruling a world filled with servitor races. Up until now there is no clear evidence found that explains if the humans were created by the demons or were part of the world history for a far longer period. With the Daevi, we wanted to create a race serving as a link between the humans and their oppressors. Not only does this allow for an exciting graphical character, but it also gives the designers room for cool future content focusing on the more social aspects of the bond between the eight demons, the daevi and the humans.

On a side note; during the design of Spellborn we kept the possibilities for additional playable races in mind. Some of the current NPC races in the game are already designed this way.

MMORPG.com: Can you give us some insight into the Daevi birth signs?
Marco van Haren:

It’s still unclear where Daevi birth signs come from. Some Daevi scholars suggest they were inspired by constellations, but this allegation is criticized by the current state of the World. Before the Sundering, astronomical positions might have been the key to birth sign naming, but after this great event, all stellar locations changed, rendering ineffective this explanation. Nevertheless, it’s known that eight birthsigns existed at first: each corresponding to one Mumia. As time passed, this number increased tremendously in contrary to the differences inherent to each birth sign. Besides the physical differences, some birth signs were granting their wielder some magical powers. Nowadays, only the Tempest birth sign remains, but it doesn’t affect the Daevi in any “magical way”. Those vanished birth signs might reappear in the current world of Spellborn, but there is no proof to backup this theory or disprove it.

MMORPG.com: Will the Daevi have access to the same classes as humans? Will they have unique weapons and armor for their race?
Marco van Haren:

Daevi will have access to the exact same classes as humans. 'Rolling' a Daevi or a human doesn’t affect gameplay, it only affects how you want to look in the game. Daevi will have the same statistics, and will progress through the game in the same way as a human. When creating a character, choosing a Daevi will allow you to select among a large range of armors sets specifically designed for them. This armor will be available in the game for Human players, but not at character creation. Concerning weapons, both races can wield the same weapons, and besides, Daevi and Humans are not influenced by any “racial skill,” meaning that the “look” is the main deciding factor.

MMORPG.com: How far along is Spellborn from release? Do you expect to meet the Q4 2006 deadline?
Marco van Haren:

Spellborn is advancing as planned. We are still working on certain implementations as well as some “cosmetic” improvements. With the Beta testers rapidly increasing in numbers, we are definitely committed to release Spellborn in 2006.

MMORPG.com: In recent articles there has been talk about pets, can you tell us more about how players will be able to use pets in the game?
Marco van Haren:

At release Spellborn will not feature pets as seen in some other MMOs. We do however have 2 classes that have the support of other beings. The first of these two classes is the Ancestal Mage. These mages can use 'spirit cells' to capture the spirits of fallen heroes in the Ancestral World. The Ancestral Mage can release these spirits in combat. Each of these spirits has its own unique skilldeck which allows the Ancestral mage to choose the appropriate spirit depending on the fight he is in.

The other class is the Champion. Like the Ancestral Mage, the Champion can capture spirits and unleash them in combat. The spirit won't fight with the Champion, but will posses the Champion. Depending on the spirit used for possession, the effects of many of the Champion's skills will change.

MMORPG.com: Spellborn has a very strong storyline within the game, as development continues have you seen this storyline grow and become ready for other players to make it their own?
Marco van Haren:

The Chronicles of Spellborn is a heavily lore driven MMORPG like the slogan suggests: ”What lies hidden … must be found”. Players are part of a civilization that is still recovering from the effects of the sundering of their world. A big part of the player's journey is focused on discovering what actually happened that resulted in the great cataclysm. Many of the world landmarks, dungeons and locations contain puzzles and mysteries that can only be solved by gathering clues found in the Ancestor World. Players can visit this world before the cataclysm by accepting an Ancestral Quest given out by the Oracle that is located in the great Temple in the middle of the City of Quarterstone. Players are rewarded for their discoveries with grand statues of their characters, thus becoming part of the story and lore of the world.

MMORPG.com: Will there be a U.S. Beta for Spellborn, or will it be Europe only?
Marco van Haren:

The current Closed Beta is available to players worldwide. We recently signed a contract with Fileplanet to ensure we can offer our Beta to everybody that is interested.

MMORPG.com: At E3 you had a very strong demo running for the game. How far have you come in the last two months in getting ready for launch?
Marco van Haren:

The demo we showed at E3 was, as the name suggests, a demo. The current version is getting closer and closer to completion and already contains most of the features that are planned for release. That said, we are still undergoing heavy testing and we are not finished yet. Based on the input from our Beta players a lot of things are changed and improved where possible.

MMORPG.com: The music and artwork for the game is very unique. As development continues have there been any new additions to the look and feel of the game that you want to share with us?
Marco van Haren:

Most people that are part of the project have been working on it since the beginning. It's very exciting to see how all these years of experience result in improvements on many levels. We recently started to redo some of the textures that were made at the early on to make sure that we can offer the players the same level of quality for the entire product. Other enhancements include a sophisticated fog system that allows us to have certain object stick out above the fog in the far distance. It's amazing to see the Oracle Temple stick out above the houses in Quarterstone.

Also on the audio front many things have been enhanced that seemed impossible at first. Some of the dungeons now feature interactive ambience and music that builds up with additional instrument based on the response and success of players. The small additions make for a very immersive player experience and we are very proud of the results we have achieved in this area.

MMORPG.com: As you get closer to launch end game has become a major concern for players and developers alike. Can you talk a little about the end game for Spellborn?
Marco van Haren:

As a team we never really liked the term 'end game content'. It means that players have nothing left to do and a developer needs to implement a time sink to keep people happy until new content arrives.

What we try to do is make sure that we have enough new content to keep people playing for quite some time. At higher level we have dungeon systems like 'The Labyrinth' that will offer players a challenge not easily defeated. We also made sure that there is an entire new set of sigils and recipes only available to those at maximum level.

With Spellborn being a PvP heavy game, we made sure that we have some really cool PvP features in place that will keep players busy for quite some time to come. The Quarterstone Arena for instance allows entire guilds to be part of tournaments. Winning guilds receive trophies that bestow all the members with additional bonuses.

Plans for future content are already in the works. Our design and art teams are already far along with creating content for the months after release.

MMORPG.com: Are there any dungeons or bosses you’d like to introduce to players that we have not heard about yet?
Marco van Haren:

I think we have been largely silent about our dungeons and bosses so far. The biggest reason for this is that we want these events to be discovered by the players themselves. At release the game will feature multiple dungeons like 'The Tomb of the Ancestors,' 'The Prison' and 'The Trail Caves'.

Concerning bosses, we have some exciting encounters in place. Although the Eight Demons themselves will be absent at release, their most powerful minions called 'Elder Vailyrians' will be ready and waiting to wreak death and destruction among the ranks of the Enclave. We have hinted at the names and backgrounds of a few of these creatures in our published lore with 'Satanamura' and 'Ormoburu' being the best known examples.

MMORPG.com: How has the balance in PvP been going? That has become a big concern in many MMOs.
Marco van Haren:

Spellborn features a combat system unlike other currently available MMOs. Instead of focusing combat on items, we focused our combat on the abilities of the players themselves. We test and balance the skills for each of the classes as much as possible, but in the end the abilities of the player will have the largest impact on the results in combat. Of course we will keep on balancing skills until release and we will keep a close eye on player feedback after the game is released.

MMORPG.com: Many players are looking forward to this game, can you tell us about the community response you’ve received so far?
Marco van Haren:

We have a very honest, committed and friendly community. We try to be as open as we can with them. Many of the developers share ideas and opinions with them in our irc channels and forums. We had several small scale community meetings and when showing the game at these events we always were greeted by smiles and nods of approval. The most response we got so far was at the recent Leipzig Games Convention. Many people played the game themselves for the first time and the responses were overwhelming.

MMORPG.com: Are there expansion plans in the works for Spellborn?
Marco van Haren:

Oh yes! We have several scenarios in the works for future content and expansions. No details at the moment, we have a game to finish first.

Thanks MMORPG.com for sending us these questions, and thanks all for taking time to read up on the progress of The Chronicles of Spellborn. We hope to see you all soon in the game.

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