This is our third installment in our bi-monthly Tactica Online mini Q&A feature with Luke Carruthers from Imaginary Numbers.
In typical MMOs, players often become quite attached to their character as an individual. In single-player RPGs, players often become attached to a central character, while developing relationships with the other characters who join them. How do you believe the “group character” so to speak, of Tactica Online will impact player’s personal attachment to their characters and socialization within the game world?
We do expect that players will treat most of their characters more like chess pieces than avatars though. They won’t form the same attachment to them, and it’s likely that it’s the external aspects of their persona – their rating, their titles, their impact upon the world around them – that will be important to them.
Players do have something of a central character though, which embodies them when they move around the shared areas of the game. They can customize this character to their hearts content, so their interaction with other players, and their participation in the game’s community, will be very similar to other online games, with the addition that there are lots of features – such as being able to teleport instantly to friends, wherever they are – specifically designed to enable you to play with the people you want to, when you want to.
Attachment to an avatar is often quoted as a reason players stay with a game long past the time they’ve ceased to enjoy it. We’d much rather they stayed around because they were still enjoying the game.
MMORPG.com reader Cridus wanted to know more about how terrain, formation and other factors will impact combat, as well as the level of technology present in your world. Will things like gunpowder be a part of Tactica Online?
Muskets and black powder pistols are a component of every modern knight’s armory, and with the help of the alchemical sciences most guns can use much more than simple gunpowder to fire their bullets. A knight must be prepared for arcane mixtures that enable shot to explode on impact, or bullets that seek their targets like vengeful ghosts.
Similarly, while a simple soldier might not be expected to understand the use of terrain in warfare, the skilled tactician will make good use of factors such as water, cover, flanking, and fields of fire.
Don’t forget too, Tactica Online’s combat is all about skirmishes between small groups, and that rather than rough control of a group of units, you have total control over a unique group of individuals. There’s no “I should position my archers on the hillside so they have a longer range,” but instead “Johann, with his musket, should stick to the trees where he can take advantage of the cover to snipe at the enemy without being seen.”
Missions take place in darkened dungeons as often as open wilderness, city streets, the decks of a ship, or the hidden temples of a heretical sect, so there are different tactics suitable to different types of terrain, and different ways that one character might best be used on different maps.
My question is related to 'meaningful PvP', by that I mean, will we have player ran / controlled cities or capture points? Will their be quests that each of the factions come at from opposing angles? Such as perhaps the followers of faith wishing to protect a 'holy' relic, those of the magic path wish to use it as a spell focus, while those of the science wish to discover what makes it tick, etc. In short, will there be more to PvP than a simple 'because-you-can' mentality?
Absolutely, the conflict between magic, science, and faith drives every level of the game, from individual missions to the overall story. Most missions have at least two angles to them – assassinate or protect the inventor, destroy the blasphemous tome or revel in the knowledge of the ancients – and in Tournaments an individual’s efforts make a direct difference on a major level to the game’s story.
The real meaning to PvP comes in the way that every single one of your victories contributes to the balance between the factions, though. The more successful you are, the more that the ongoing story will favor the faction your deeds support.
Being at the squad level, players don’t control cities, instead affecting the world in wider and more specific ways – enabling or preventing scientific discoveries, opening new lands for colonization or sinking ships before they leave the harbor. The path of history often hinges on the actions of a small group, and it is these actions that Tactica Online focuses on.
You often mention the need to re-educate fans about what Tactica is and how it is not simply another “MMORPG”, but almost a genre unto itself. Besides the obvious marketing hurdle, how do you intend to approach the dilema of this “re-education” so to speak and how it will impact new players when the game is live? Are you worried about the game being too foreign?
We’re not so much concerned about the game being too foreign, as players thinking the game is one thing when it’s really another. That’s why we’re so adamant about not using the “MMO” label, it just conjures up assumptions that don’t apply.
While we combine different aspects of various genres, each individual piece of Tactica Online is already a well-respected gameplay mechanic in its own genre. Entrepreneurs often advocate innovating in only one direction at a time, and in that spirit we’ve taken the gameplay familiar from the squad-level turn-based games of the past, added the persistent world, story-driven missions, and constant updates from today’s traditional online RPG’s, and fueled it with the sort of combo system used in collectible card games. When combined they make something no one’s seen before, but each individual element is instantly recognizable to those familiar with the sort of game that inspired it.
Of course, it’s no small thing to try something that the market has a hard time classifying. The market is so crowded these days that unless you can get your message across simply, it’s hard for players to understand at a glance what sort of experience you can provide.
This is almost entirely a marketing issue. As soon as you sit down in front of the game, you get it, it’s easy to pick up – it’s just that it’s hard to describe in ten words or less. What do you do about this? You educate champions who in turn educate others, you encourage word of mouth, you put copious amounts of information on your web site, and you talk about it in interviews :)
Thanks again to Luke of Imaginary Numbers for taking the time to chat with us! Check back in two weeks as we continue this series.
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