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Q&A #14

Dana Massey Posted:
Interviews 0

Designer Mike Paddock talks about archery, magic, heroes and more

In our latest Q&A, Simutronics Designer Mike Paddock explains some of the nuts and bolts behind Hero's Journey: namely archery and magic, among other things. Included are two new and exclusive screenshots.

MMORPG.com: Today, can you tell us a bit more about magic in the game. What does the typical magic user do day-to-day and how will magic be different from the way it is in other fantasy-MMORPGs.
Mike Paddock:

Man, so many things that could be talked about. Heh, I'm not even sure what a "typical" magic user is in our system, to be honest. Each class has its own roles, and since each character has access to two classes, a player's choice of classes when creating a character can result in something dramatically different from another player's choices. Imagine the difference between a character that is a Wizard-Healer versus one that is a GearKnight-Necromancer. Now mix that up some, so you are comparing a Necromancer-Wizard versus a GearKnight-Healer. Note also that the order of the classes is important. A GearKnight-Healer will not play the same as a Healer-GearKnight. It's difficult to describe what a "typical" magic using character does when that is so highly dependent on the roles that the player wants to emphasize for his character.

One thing that I can say though, is that our combat spells provide lots of tactical options. Players won't just TAB to the closest target and start cycling through their attack abilities, they'll be dropping barriers into place to stop the badguys from advancing, for example, or to stop them from retreating. Area of effect spells can be shrunk in size to do concentrated damage against fewer enemies, or increased in size to spread the damage out against numerous weaker opponents. All-in-all, players will spend more time playing, and less time button mashing.

MMORPG.com: If everyone is a hero, you could infer that no one truly is. What do you intend to do to ensure everyone feels special?
Mike Paddock:

Firstly, not everyone is a hero, it's the player's characters that are heroes. This is opposed to the rest of the citzenry of Elanthia, who are in need of heroes. In story terms, the number of heroes is dwafed by the population of the whole planet. So they are, in fact, rare.

However, in terms of players, everyone is a hero. But they are different types of heros, focusing on different issues and challenges that they come across. The obvious existing example is a popular Super Hero MMORPG... everyone is a hero there, but it still makes sense since the world is heavily populated by normals.

MMORPG.com: For heroes to exist their must be villains. Are there any overarching bad-guys in the game?
Mike Paddock:

Yes. But of course, I can't discuss the stories behind those villians. All I can say is, The Nemesis System.

MMORPG.com: The next slate of MMORPGs seems to be promoting faster, more involved combat (D&D Online comes to mind). Where do you stand on this debate?
Mike Paddock:

Heh, my digression on the topic of magic should be a good indicator of where we stand. We want players to be involved in the game while they're playing it, reacting to sophisticated AI, making strategic decisions about how to achieve the goal of a quest, and otherwise actively participating in the game world rather than being organic bots that are farming gold.

MMORPG.com: Archery is a feature of fantasy that I do not think has ever been that well done. What will archery be like in Hero’s Journey?
Mike Paddock:

I agree, however isn't it ironic that the foundation of European fantasy is the Medieval time period, and that archery was an innovation that contributed to that time period's end? :)

Archery will be an important aspect of gameplay in Hero's Journey from a situational standpoint. While Rangers are the master of the bow in HJ, everyone can and should carry a bow. Hero's Journey uses an auto-attack driven system, where a character is on auto-pilot for his most common, basic attacks, which the player interjects the use of other abilities as needed or desired. When auto-attacking with a bow, the player can adjust the style of those attacks according to the tactical situation. So for example, the player could decide to fire less frequently, but with greater precision in a situation where the archer is fighting few opponents from a high vantage point, or very quickly with less precision in a situation where numerous opponents are swarming around him.

And then there's the Ranger abilities, of course, many of which revolve around the use of a bow, and are practically magic-like in their effect.

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Dana Massey