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Progress Q&A with InselGames

William Murphy Posted:
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Guardians of Ember is now firmly working its way through Steam Early Access on its journey to full release. We had the opportunity to chat with InselGames to see how Guardians of Ember fared during its first event and what the plans are for the game’s immediate future.

MMORPG: How has the technical test for backers been going? It seemed to get off to a rough start with the launcher issues.

InselGames: Hi Bill, it was a rough start but then on the other hand it was a technical test - not the official release. Fortunately, the community has been very helpful and patient in reporting bugs like the launcher issue or the grouping bug, which I am glad to say, we have been able to fix in the meantime.

We also received feedback on some of our features and we have been discussing internally what can be changed short term. As an example, we are now granting more inventory space from the beginning and overhauled the re-skill system, in that way, that Frozen Ember are not needed anymore, but players will need re-skill scrolls after reaching level 25.

Overall, the test week was very successful for us and we will have the second technical test starting on the 9th of November.  We are confident to launch into Early Access later this month with a version of Guardians of Ember that is not only stable, but also very enjoyable. The technical tests have only shown a small part of what Guardians of Ember has to offer. We are really excited to follow our community exploring all the features and beating all the bosses once we launch in Early Access.

MMORPG: What are some of the most pressing matters you and Runewaker are attending to with the feedback?

IG: *laughing* Fixing the group bug had obviously the highest priority: We cannot launch a game, that states to be a mixture of ARPG and MMORPG, when the most essential part of a MMORPG, forming groups to complete quests and dungeons together, crashes in many situations. This party disband bug unfortunately popped up because we already implemented some code for the “Lone Wolf” Iron Man mode.

At the same time we did a first rebalancing regarding PVP and changed some fundamental settings regarding the game servers. This should also fix the biggest complain about the responsiveness. We hope that the players who attend the second Technical Test have the same feeling!

MMORPG: While the second test test will only last until November 11th, and then there's a progress wipe, when can folks look forward to having their characters and progress remain permanently?

IG: Every wipe is bad for a community and the game itself, which is why we want to prevent it. As long as there is no major issue during Early Access this wipe BEFORE Early Access launch should be the only one.

MMORPG: Originally, the game was called Embergarde and was looking to launch in other territories. Why was the switch to Guardians of Ember made, and is InselGames now the only global publisher?

IG: Embergarde has been a Beta version in Taiwan that the developers used to collect player feedback. It has been closed down recently by Runewaker Entertainment to concentrate all efforts on the global version with the Buy 2 Play monetization concept. InselGames acquired the license to publish Guardians of Ember worldwide except for China, Japan and Korea.

MMORPG: It seems like combat overall is lacking a lot of feedback and "oomph" to make it seem more impactful. Is this something Runewaker is aware of?

IG: Unfortunately we had some server issues and the responsiveness didn’t feel great. As for the next technical test version, we improved the game servers a lot: of course, we might need time during the whole Early Access phase to completely fix this issue but our internal tests show that the game feels much better.

MMORPG: People are understandably upset that since GoE is going to be buy to play, there seems to be quite a heavy leaning on cash shop currency to open additional chests at the end of dungeons. Can you explain this mechanic, and how it's NOT pay to win?

IG: Loot chests at the end of the dungeons are an additional loot chance for people who obtained one of the keys. There are a lot of options to get the keys for free so on our terms we thought it was a nice extra for players to unlock them via Frozen Ember, too.

We are really open regarding the explanation of our business model (SEE HERE) because we want that people understand that Guardians of Ember is more a service than a game itself: It is under constant development and these microtransactions - which don’t give the players unfair advantages - hopefully help us to do this for a long time.

MMORPG: Ok, since it's more about paying for an extra chance at loot, why not do away with the key mechanic all together, and let players buy a buff for that extra chance? Or, probably better yet, avoid the paying for extra chances altogether as it seems to be a relic of the game's former F2P design?

IG: Although this is not exactly what we are doing, the new system is similar. We now changed the system a little bit: it’s not possible to unlock the chests for cash and you still have plenty of possibilities to get a key for free BUT they might be included in Loot Orbs, too.

MMORPG: Why was it chosen for crafting to begin at level 40, and not earlier?

IG: You get your second class around level 15, with level 30 you start to enhance your equipment (and dismantle items) and with 40 you learn crafting. The main reason is that we want to give the players enough time to get to know the other features.

MMORPG: What's the reason to include fishing, as in our brief time in-game there didn't seem to be much point?

IG: Fishing in Guardians of Ember has different advantages and purposes. For one, you can fish for cooking ingredients. Cooking special food will grant you a health buff for a certain amount of time. There is also a chance to get special vouchers, depending on how rare the fish has been you fished. The vouchers can then be cashed in at special vendors for exclusive pets. And who doesn’t love himself a pet companion. And of course, you can also get crafting materials from fishing or a key for one of the chests.

MMORPG: What comes next for the game, and what sort of long term plans does InselGames and Runewaker have for the game?

IG: Our next big step will be the Early Access launch, which will also open up a lot of more content, as our IndieGoGo testers only have had a sneak peek at the content. Although we only start with Act 1 and 2, we’ll release Act 3 within a couple of weeks after Early Access launch.

Our next steps will be to finalize the localization of the last acts, so we can push out new content during Early Access quite fast. The German localization is on its way as well and I am sure we will have some great Events prepared for our community.

And the most important: We are really excited to get more feedback and see how players like the game. As a small publisher we know that our most important source for suggestions is the community - so, let’s see what the next months will bring. 


William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.