Dark & Light and the announcement that it is being reborn for a new audience in 2016 has captured a lot of attention recently. We had the opportunity to chat with Snail Games USA Associate Producer Jonathon Stebel to learn more about a wide variety of topics including professions, PvE / PvP servers, tame-able mounts, combat and much more.
MMORPG: Dark & Light has been in development for a number of years. What new technologies have been brought into the game since its original inception?
Jonathon Stebel: Since its inception, Dark and Light has undergone a number of engine and system upgrades, the most significant one being the change to Unreal Engine 4 as the game’s base engine. As a result, Dark and Light’s graphics have been massively improved from previous iterations, and it has changed from a traditional tab-targeting MMO to a more skill-based first-person survival game.
MMORPG: Material we’ve read says that Dark and Light incorporates both MMO and survival elements. Can you expand upon that point?
JS: Dark and Light’s core gameplay is based around modern survival games, but we’ve incorporated MMO-inspired elements in a few of the gameplay systems. Most notably, Dark and Light’s faction system and starter cities (determined at character creation), crafting systems, multiple races, progression systems, and friendly NPCs.
MMORPG: Combat mechanics are often divisive in a community. What makes Dark and Light’s combat unique and sets it apart from other MMOs and / or survival titles?
JS: Combat in Dark and Light is a unique blend of modern survival and action RPG combat systems. Melee combat is more viable and rewarding than other survival games, and the addition of enchanted weapons and offensive spells add an entirely new dynamic to both 1-on-1 and large-scale group combat. Additionally, players will be able to utilize powerful mounts and transformation abilities to gain an edge against larger groups of enemies.
MMORPG: What sandbox elements are included in the game and how do you encourage players to explore the world?
JS: Dark and Light’s world outside of the starter cities is, for the most part, a massive sandbox. Players can group together and set up a large settlement almost anywhere they want, but they’ll need to explore to find rare crafting materials to upgrade their structures and equipment.
MMORPG: Please explain the progression system? Are there “levels” and “skill points”?
JS: Yes. Players will gain experience from combat, crafting, exploring, and more. As you level up, you’ll gain both stat and skill points that can be allocated depending on the kind of character you want to build. Both stat and skill points are limited based on your level, so specialization and group play is encouraged.
MMORPG: Some literature has said that players need to ‘plan ahead’ for each level they attain. What will be the process (if it is indeed included) for players to respec their characters if they believe a mistake was made in the leveling process?
JS: In theory, players have the ability to learn every available skill with some heavy time investment. Dark and Light’s progression curve is designed in a way that, at least initially, a degree of specialization is unavoidable, so players won’t end up with a useless character. Because we do want to encourage group play and specialization, we haven’t come to a decision about whether or not players will be able to respec. We’ll watch how players are building their characters during the Early Access period and use that data to inform our decision.
MMORPG: Since there are "no quests", how do you guide people, if at all, towards content and systems in the game? Is there a central story at all to follow?
JS: Players will have some limited guidance when they first create a character. We want to maintain a sense of discovery, so exploration and experimentation are going to be important for players who get into the game on the ground floor. As for the story, Dark and Light revolves around a central narrative, but players won’t follow a story like they would in a linear cutscene-driven game. Exploration is key for players interested in uncovering the narrative hidden throughout Dark and Light’s world.
MMORPG: What group mechanics are included in Dark and Light? Can a player ‘solo’ the game world?
JS: We have systems in place for players to form groups outside of the existing faction systems. These groups can access shared storage, build and share structures with each other, and access private chat channels. Players can play solo; they’ll be able to gather resources, build and maintain their own residences, explore the world, and level up, but they’ll find it somewhat more difficult to progress than they would with a group of like-minded players.
MMORPG: Since hunger, fatigue, illness, injury, etc. all take a toll on a player’s health, what are the consequences?
JS: Hunger and fatigue systems are pretty standard fare in Dark and Light when compared to existing survival games. Players will need to prepare specific equipment and consumables in order to combat extreme conditions, or they’ll lose health quickly over time.
MMORPG: So…open world PvP. Is it present and how punishing is it to a player who is killed out in the open world?
JS: We’re planning on hosting both PvP and PvE servers so players can choose whether or not they want to participate in open-world PvP. Players killed in the open world will drop all of their currently held items and equipment, and they’ll have to respawn in a preset spawn area if they aren’t revived by another player.
MMORPG: What measures will be put into place to address the issue of griefing?
JS: That’s a tough one. It’s difficult to test multiplayer interactions internally, so during the Early Access period we’re going to be keeping a close eye on griefing to make sure it doesn’t get out of hand. We’ll be taking player feedback on their multiplayer experiences very seriously and iterating on the game based on that feedback. From our experience, we know that it’s going to be difficult to come up with a solution that will make everyone happy within a single server environment. This is why we’re giving players the option to choose between PvP and PvE servers.
MMORPG: Will there be tame-able mounts and pets?
JS: Absolutely - many of the creatures in Dark and Light can be tamed. Both large and small creatures are tameable; once tamed, they can be given simple commands, and larger creatures can also be used as mounts. You’ll even be able to tame large flying creatures, such as dragons, to use as flying mounts.
MMORPG: What crafting professions can players engage in?
JS: Rather than standard professions, players will have the freedom to choose the kind of crafting path they want to pursue. For example, players interested in building can choose to take skills and learn recipes that focus on creating or improving structures. Those who plan to focus mainly on PvP can dedicate skill points to weapon or equipment-focused crafting abilities. PvE players can unlock recipes for useful items that will help them survive in the wild.
MMORPG: Will players be able to sell goods and services to others? Will there be any NPC merchants and / or an auction house?
JS: At the moment we don’t have a standard in-game currency, but players can trade with one another. There are a number of different resources that will be in high demand for players who want to upgrade their equipment or expand their settlements, so we’re expecting to see a kind of player-run economy develop pretty quickly once players get their hands on the game.