Dark or Light

Interview with Stephane Quilichini

Dana Massey Posted:
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We interview Stephane Quilichini and Géraldine Lescs about Dark & Light launching next week

In the chaos of E3, we missed out on a chance to meet with Lead Designer Stephane Quilichini and the rest of the team behind Dark & Light. This morning, I spoke with Quilichini and Farlan Marketing Manager Géraldine Lescs about their game’s progress, past and upcoming launch.

During E3, on May 10th, Farlan issued their latest release delay, pushing the game back to May 30th. Now, after years of waiting, the game will be live in a week’s time.

“So some developers [were] sick, we lost a few weeks with this and we were not ready,” explained Quilichini.

To play, players have two options. They can pay $54.99 (US dollars or Euros, depending on where they live) for a game key and their first month’s subscriptions, or pay the same price for the key and something called a Freedom Pass.

Normal subscribers pay $14.99 a month for full access. Freedom Pass subscribers pay the same price for 15 credits. These credits are used to unlock things like new areas, high level equipment and other content. Freedom Pass members cannot be guild leaders, fort leaders, have limited access to titles and must use one credit to unlock each item above the companion level.

“It will be less expensive for casual gamers,” explained Quilichini.

Freedom Pass players can play eternally with this mode, so long as they are prepared to abide the restrictions.

“Until level 30-35 there is no limit of anything,” he added. “At level 30… if they want to be competitive with others and mobs, they need to spend some credits to equip [themselves].” He added that hardcore players will find it more cost effective to move to a monthly fee at this stage.

Once the top hyped MMORPG among our readers, Dark and Light has suffered since the release of Settlers of Ganareth last year. This prequel came about after another launch delay and allowed players to take part in a version of the game set two-hundred years before the timeline of the commercial launch.

“I think SoG was a mistake on our part in communications,” Quilichini explained. “If you compare Settlers of Ganareth and Dark and Light, it’s not the same thing... In SoG there are no features for sure.”

“Players find [Dark & Light] more beautiful,” he added, before listing off improvements to lighting, animations, characters skills and more as major differences between the two iterations. They have also planning to move to a new version of the game client and fix up the server issues from SoG.

Part of the problem they faced with Settlers of Ganareth was that expectations were simply too high. They promised a lot on their website and through the press that simply was not there. Will players suffer the same fate with the commercial launch of Dark and Light?

“To be honest, only 70% of all the features on our website will be in the release,” admitted Quilichini before adding that the rest would come through patches.

The game’s political system and exploration skills are the two major features mentioned as post-launch. The later is planned for the game’s first major patch.

The initial launch also contains only five of thirteen planned kingdoms - three PvE and two PvP – although they are the five largest and represent approximately 40% of the game world’s landmass. They plan to open more as demand warrants.

The game’s combat system is the “classical one for MMORPGs” with spells, special moves, etc. He added though that the entire experience looks better thanks to motion captured animations, but admitted there were “no specific innovations” on that front.

The game’s crafting system should create a world with a completely craft based economy. As an example, Quilichini explained that if all items were rated on a quality scale of 0 to 100, only level 0 items would be available on NPC vendors.

Making items also requires practice. To avoid flooding the economy with useless items, as many games do, they have a concept of practice items, which are required components for making the real thing. Thus, the more pairs of practice gloves you make, the better chance you have of making a real pair of gloves. Practice items can be traded among crafters.

As an added touch, at higher levels, crafting can be influenced by factors as minute as the position of the constellations.

Resources are gathered partly through NPCs, who can gather them when a player fortress chooses to exploit nearby resources. These refined resources are then available to the player and are required for most items. In addition, most recipes also require ingredients only available on monsters and, as mentioned, a number of practice items. Thus, crafters will need to be multitalented individuals.

“We feel you have a game lifespan in Dark & Light that is really long and really addictive.” explained Lescs.

Ultimately, Dark and Light provides players with a PvP experience, a craft based economy and the ability to conquer new lands. Appropriately for such a large project from a first time developer in Farlan, Dark and Light is about new frontiers.

“Even if its not all finished like we’d like, but we have too much delays so now we have to get it out, its time,” says Quilichini

And when it comes down to it, he’s right. It’s been a long time coming and on Tuesday, we’ll find out how Dark and Light can stand up against a tough field of MMORPGs.

Editor's Note (05/23/06 10:15PM EST) - Corrected the initial price of the game. It is actually $54.99, not $59.99 as first reported.

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Dana Massey