MMORPG: First up, can you give us an overview of what Legends of Mount Hua will be adding to Age of Wushu, for players that haven’t been following along too closely?
Shi Hai: In addition to eight new features and PvP competition to the martial arts sandbox, the Legends of Mount Hua expansion adds even more immersive qualities to Age of Wushu’s Wuxia universe by bringing in new story events, combat features and a special competition. One of the expansion’s highlights is the new large-scale battleground, titled Youyun Sixteen Prefectures Battle Arena, where players can test their combat skills alongside more than 80 other players.
Below are some of the new features:
- Mount Hua Competition – Top players of the server fight for legendary titles, costumes and the famed Heavenly Sword.
- Yanmen Pass – Re-enact history with this new 18-man instance: 3 storylines, each with different gameplay and escalating difficulty
- Youyun Sixteen Area Prefectures Battle Arena – Fight for conquest in this 40 vs 40 pvp battleground filled with supporting tasks and multiple ways to victory.
- Martial Brothers System – Bridging the gap between old and new players, low levels can quickly power up and enjoy discounts on learning skills by mentoring under a veteran player.
- Jianghu Factions System – Players spread fame amongst major Jianghu factions / NPCs to earn titles, costumes, missions, items and more.
- Jianghu Heroic Playstyle & Treasure System – Players fill the Heroic Bar and challenge Jianghu Heroes to earn unique treasures with stat bonuses.
- Jianghu Gratitude & Revenge System – Players earn reputation with certain NPCs for companionship in forbidden instances and the over-world (gratitude) or install lethal distraction upon enemies.
MMORPG: How much of the community’s desires influenced what’s being added into the expansion? What are the team’s top priorities moving forward not only in the Western release, but across the globe?
Shi Hai: Some of the features included were influenced based on more than just community feedback; the Youyun Sixteen Prefectures Battle Arena is our Snail spin on the MOBA style arena combat. With such a diverse collection of skills and play styles, it was a natural fit for Age of Wushu to have included. Yanmen Pass offers more variety on the story end; story is the meat of what this game rests on and creates such a rich world for players. Giving them the option to participate in more than two different viewpoints of an instance lets players flesh out their own characters story without being confined to linear plots. However, the Brother system is something more directly focused on improving the community. Tutoring and assisting players with direct rewards is a way to help the community unite and grow so that the game itself can yield bigger rewards in another way with the social economy and community driven lifestyle Age of Wushu encourages.
Moving forward, the priority is a smoother journey with more attention to the details that make the world real – whether that is through features such as the Marriage system in the near future or real-world solutions. While we've teased in China the bigger goal for Snail, the priority has always been entertaining the dreams of people with rich and enjoyable projects.
MMORPG: You’ve recently announced that Age of Wushu is broadening its brand into a feature film… can we expect the involvement of Jet Li? Are there any details on how the game will tie in?
Shi Hai: As an outgrowth of conceptual art, games are granted the title of “The Ninth Art” or electronic art. It is the most avant-garde way of blending traditional painting, music and literature elements together -- just like movies do.
“Age of Wushu” plays just like a martial arts movie, so it’s definitely possible to be adapted into a cinematic production. Our goal is to broaden the reach of the franchise, letting audiences all around the world be charmed by our true martial arts production.
As for Jet Li, you will just have to wait and see!
MMORPG: What about the console and mobile versions of the game? Will they be titles that share the same universe of AoW, or direct ports of the PC game?
Shi Hai: Snail is an established enterprise with more than a decade of experience in franchise creation and R&D accumulation. Apart from having a successful line-up of client-based MMO and revolutionary web games, we feel the need to expand our horizon.
This is why we chose to make our grand entrance into the mobile gaming industry, and we will definitely consider having the successful Kung-Fu themes ported to the mobile platform. With that being said, there will be technical and interface targeted modifications to better fit the mobile market.
MMORPG: Can you share some thoughts and development progress on your other titles, especially Black Gold Online? A lot of our readers were very impressed by this one.
Shi Hai: With the exception of Age of Wushu, Snail will be launching Black Gold Online, a heart-pounding Steampunk versus Fantasy MMO, the innovative music/dance social game Music Soul Online and the ARPG Solar Tempest.
Snail is always on the frontier, pushing non-conventional themes and innovative game play towards our developmental direction. With the three games mentioned above, there are almost no identical themed products on the market. Our pursuit in games is directed by our passion and unique perception of player behaviors, less so on bleak market analysis. We choose to start with artistic creations and mastering what the players want, while taking commercial returns into secondary account.
This is our pursuit; this is our attitude at Snail Games.
MMORPG: The steam-punk genre is one that’s not been served with a proper MMORPG yet, what makes Black Gold Online the game to do so?
Shi Hai: With globalization accelerating at light-speed present day, The East and The West are no longer opposing cultures, but moving towards a perfect blend of cultural substance. In recent years, oriental themes are wildly popular: WoW: Mists of Pandaria is a great example. At the same time, western cultures are just as attractive in the East: Steampunk being one of the compelling themes frequently portrayed in the works of Hayao Miyazaki. We have long noticed the lack of a mature, iconic Steampunk product on the market, and as a result, Black Gold Online was set in motion. Snail wishes to utilize its unique perception of “Steampunk” culture and expertise in user awareness, in turn creating a vibrant world that would appeal to the western audience.
MMORPG: What about Solar Tempest? Our readers may be a bit unfamiliar (as are we honestly). What makes this MMO stand out from others and when can we expect to learn more about it?
Shi Hai: Solar Tempest is a game that revolves around player experience; the game itself provides an unchained, freestyle gameplay. It can be related to a sandbox experience, as there is no guided path or endless level-grind. You’ll always be surprised at what the game world can offer, even if you’re just roaming around enjoying the scenery.
The social option in Solar Tempest is something we focused on as well. In a standard online game, social options are limited to chat channels, grouping for instances, etc. In Solar Tempest, we offer players a choice to turn off all social interfaces: with a simple click whenever they feel the need to be in solitude. We will be announcing further details in the months to come.
MMORPG: Music Soul seems like an ambitious and risky MMORPG to make… how do you think Western gamers will react to a musical game MMO? How will you market it towards your average MMO gamer used to combat, dungeons, and the like? Or are you aiming for different folks altogether?
Shi Hai: First of all, Music Soul delivers a visual impact at first glance. This is the direction we wanted to achieve in aspects of environment and character design. On the basis of sensory “jolt,” we integrated traditional MMO play style with strong music and dance elements. Music Soul creates a virtual reality world for characters to live and have fun in; it provides an open world experience like MMOs, and incorporates the fun, entertaining factor of a music game. We believe it’s an innovative, yet robust combination.
Down to the core, Music Soul offers player a relaxed, refreshing and dazzling gameplay experience. You can describe it as a glamorous music game. I believe there’s something for everyone in Music Soul…be prepared for a feast of senses.
MMORPG: Thanks for your time!