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Q&A #4

Dana Massey Posted:
Interviews 0

Melissa Discusses Customization, Pets and Much More!

Melissa Meyer is the Producer of Hero's Journey. Along with two exclusive new screenshots she has answered five more questions, three from our community and two from us. You can contribute to future Q&As by posting your questions in this message board thread.

MMORPG.com: Hero’s Journey’s class system allows for some exciting combinations. Can you explain how it works and why it is better than the current crop of MMORPGs?
Melissa Meyer:

People want to feel that their character is unique, and that the choices they make in developing their character contributes to that uniqueness. We all enjoy the rush of success when we achieve goals, but there is an additional element of pride in knowing that the journey you took to achieve your goal was of your own devising – that no one else has achieved these goals in the same way that you did.

We have spent a great deal of time developing Hero’s Journey so that characters can be unique in every way possible. Our character creation clearly allows create freedom in creating your appearance. Our journey system will allow players to experience very personal and unique storylines for their characters. Our handling of character classes and character abilities is yet another tool that will allow players to build the Hero of their dreams.

Players will select two choices from a dozen class options for their character. These two class selections combined define the abilities that become available to a character as they advance. The result is about 60 combinations of character abilities … but there’s more:

Throughout a character’s advancement, she can advance her abilities, even between levels. This ability advancement is separate from level advancement. Players earn Hero Points which they can use to buy enhancements to their abilities. As they enhance their abilities they are given the opportunity to learn sub-abilities. Interestingly, in some cases, they must unlock certain enhancements and sub-abilities through quests and other gameplay. There are more sub-abilities than any one character can have … and it ends up working somewhat like a skill tree.

And if that weren’t enough, a character’s items, pets, and mounts will all use a similar system for their abilities. For example, in HJ, you can have a enchanted sword that has abilities of its own. You can level the sword up, get new abilities for it and enhance it in the same way as your character. This creates vastly more unique and interesting characters and equipment than typically seen in MMORPGs.

Customize! Customize! Customize!

Will items/armor/weapons decay, wear out, get damaged until they break and can no longer be used or repaired?
Melissa Meyer:

Item decay, upkeep and breakage is one of those systems that will no doubt change radically as a result of play testing. The current plan is to have item degradation, and upkeep requirements, but no permanent breakage. For example, item effectiveness, useable abilities, etc. might affected by how well you maintain your gear. All subject to play testing and feedback, of course.

What types of systems will be in place to facilitate in-game trade? Will things like Auction Houses and Bazaars exist, and if so, will they have local or global economies?
Melissa Meyer:

We have the full battery of expected trade mechanics, including fully featured auction houses that facilitate trade on a global level. To deal with the congestion of traffic that is common to public auction houses, auction services are accessible from private inn rooms that can be rented cheaply. Inn rooms also provide the character with additional short-term storage, so renting them is a really good deal. Additionally, inn rooms open into a common area on each floor, where characters can set themselves up to trade services using mechanics designed to facilitate that kind of activity.

How many pets, currently, do you plan to allow a single player to own? Will you be able to tame a large variety of creatures, like dogs and cats to say, dragons and wyrms?
Melissa Meyer:

The number of pets a character can own is a question that will likely be resolved through testing and other communication with the gaming community. It is likely, however, that a character will be restricted to one active pet at a time (given the detail level of our character models, too many would be a frame rate problem).

However, it’s important to understand that pets in Hero’s Journey, much like characters and items, are ever evolving. The relationship between a pet and an owner is far less casual than what is currently seen in MMOs. A player can define a unique appearance for his pet, and customize its abilities in order to create a pet that truly suits his character. How the pet grows will depend on the time, attention and personal investment that the player invests in the pet.

At this point we are not at the stage where we can definitively answer what types of pets will be available. While we have our underlying design in place, we leave such details to a later date. The benefit of this is that we can involve the gaming community in helping us make these decisions. So tell us what you want to see in terms of pet types: here in the MMORPG forums, in Simutronics’ Play.Net forums, or join the Hero Council.

MMORPG.com: In any game that relies heavily on instanced missions, keeping up with the demand is often an issue. How many GMs do you have producing content at this time and how many missions do you think you’ll have at launch?
Melissa Meyer:

Actually, even a game without instances missions has the same issue: quantity of content! Whether it’s quests, hunting areas, creatures to hunt, or whatever. The thing that makes Hero’s Journey different is that we use a large team of GameMasters and give them the tools to constantly enhance and expand the content of the game.

We are currently working with a core team of 30 GMs. In the next few weeks we’ll be expanding the team to about 50. Then over the next year we’ll be hiring at a rapid rate to well over 100 development GameMasters. We are hiring; so if you have level design experience or programming experience and you would like to get your foot in the door of the gaming industry, send in an application. Applications are available at: http://www.play.net/hj/info/apply/home.asp.

Our unique and innovated GameMaster system, as well as our ability to update game content dynamically will enable us to update the game on a daily basis with new content and additional Quests. Hero’s Journey development does not stop when the game goes live. It’s only the beginning!

Thank you Melissa for taking the time to answer these questions!

As always, we encourage you to let us know what you think in then comment thread, on their discussion forums and their hype meter.


Dana Massey