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Q&A #6

Jon Wood Posted:
Interviews 0

We Quiz Their Game Designer With Five More Questions

Our bi-weekly quiz series with the brains behind Hero's Journey continues with five more questions compiled by Jon Wood. You can have your chance to contribute by posting your questions in this thread.

MMORPG.com: Other than their backstory, how will those sub-categories affect gameplay?
Aaron Standridge:

I’m assuming this refers to the races, of which there are currently four, with each race being split into two sub-races. Without going into specifics, each sub-race does indeed have gameplay-affecting traits unique to it, although we intend to avoid the trap of one race being conspicuously better than another. Additionally, your race may well affect how some inhabitants of Elanthia receive you. Overall, however, we want players to feel free to choose a race because it fits their character’s persona, without worrying about increased/decreased viability.

MMORPG.com: There's always an interesting story behind the name for any game. Why choose "Hero's Journey"?
Aaron Standridge:

A Hero's Journey is a literary device used to tell the classic tale of a character who embarks on an a quest, travels a long way (physically, emotionally, or maybe spiritually) and ultimately triumphs against the forces that stand in his way. The nature of a Hero's Journey is the obtainment of some higher purpose, some great reward and of the dedication to that goal and the sacrifices made along the way.

Hero's Journey also is a strong reminder to ourselves that this game is about being a Hero, and what happens during your adventures. It is very easy, as game designers, to fall into the trap of being too worried about the minutia, the simulation-level realism, and other factors that have little to do with fun, and even less to do with heroic fantasy. Instead, we intend to focus our game play on Heroic things. Also, we hope the name conveys what we are about to everyone who eventually sees it on the shelf.

Lastly, for us, this project is our own personal Hero's Journey. Every one of us here has approached this as a tremendous quest... to create an MMO that is worthy. And this has been a long haul, since this project began over three years ago. But when we reach our goal, the rewards of having produce something of greatness will be well worth any hardship or sacrifice.

MMORPG.com: A combat system has the ability to make or break an MMO. What, beyond group combat moves, are you doing with your combat system that will keep players interested in the long term?
Aaron Standridge:

Combat in Hero’s Journey is intended to be a lot more fast-paced and fluid than the genre’s current offerings. Even when fighting alone, there are frequently tactical decisions to be made if you want to emerge victorious. The trick to combat is all in how you deliver the tactical options to the player so that it is interesting, and balance the play so that is challenging but not absurdly so. Hero’s tend to be victorious, but they need to look heroic doing it. And, in good movies and literature, that means interesting resolutions to problems (pugilistic or otherwise). The trick for us is to deliver a way for a Hero to take advantage of his environment as well as his skills in overcoming the enemy.

However, what makes it really exciting for us to work with is how dynamic everything is. Our creature AI can change at the drop of a hat, allowing them to constantly adapt to new situations and threats, and devise new strategies themselves. Quest layout and design, too, allows for virtually any scenario that can be dreamed up. Monsters can devise traps and ambushes, call for reinforcements, utilize chokepoints, and tank for their casters, just like players.

Plus, it looks very sweet. We have some really talented animators here.

MMORPG.com: Your website mentions players having the abilities to "join in-game organizations". Can you give us an idea of what this means? Will these organizations give any kind of benefit for membership (specific skill options, items, etc.)?
Aaron Standridge:

There are three primary tiers of in-game organizations, each including a subset of the one before it. The first step is forming a Clan, which may also be considered a “family.” It allows access to such niceties as a custom hierarchy system, an optional article of clothing with the clan’s colors, clan-wide login message, a shared last name and of course, a clan chat channel.

Two or more clans (which meet some minimum criteria) can opt to form a guild, which in addition to a second level of the clan benefits (guild-wide login message, guild chat, etc), includes a guild insignia, special guild-wide abilities granted to each member, and bonuses for grouping with your guild on quests. Note that you don’t have to be in a clan to join a guild.

Finally, Great Houses are composed of multiple Guilds. There are three Great Houses, each representing a major faction in the world. It is at this level that Guilds may unify to tip the balance of power in the world in favor of one faction or another.

Note that in all of these cases, the lower tiers maintain their own identity as well. A clan does not cease to exist as an organization when it merges with another to form a guild. Secession is also a possibility, leading to interesting political situations.

If we choose certain abilities or skills we decide we don't like or don't want, for both our weapons and our items, will we be able to "unlearn" or remove the abilities from our weapons or items and place alternate ones on them?
Aaron Standridge:

Once again, this is one of those areas that may very well change as the result of play testing. We plan on allowing fixes of this nature, but it's likely to be fairly limited. For example, you would probably only be able to undo the most recent addition to item, and only within a limited amount of time. Of course, this would only be possible if you were the person who added that ability.

Have an opinion on what you've read? Post it on their hype meter or in this comment thread.


Jon Wood