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Imaginary Numbers
MMORPG | Setting:Fantasy | Status:Cancelled  (est.rel N/A)  | Pub:Imaginary Numbers
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Mini Q&A #2

Tactica Online Interviews - By Dana Massey on April 29, 2005

Mini Q&A #2

Tactica Online Mini Q&A #2

Two weeks ago, MMORPG.com debuted a new Q&A series with Luke Carruthers of Imaginary Numbers about the upcoming Tactica Online. Tactica aims to change the way we think about online gaming, as they create a tactical MMO where you control a group, rather than a single character. Every two weeks, we will attempt to include as many questions as we can from the community. If you want to have your voice heard in a future Q&A, please visit this thread on our Tactica Message boards.

MMORPG.com:
(Rikimaru_X)
Because this is a turn-based strategy MMO, I am very interested in TO. Games like Final Fantasy Tactics (Playstation) and Front Mission 4 really made me look forward to playing more games like this. My question is how will movement be in TO? I examined one screenshot were it seemed like the player dragged a path for the character and the path was shown by green dots. If that is how character movement go, is there a limit to movements you can make? Kind of like how in some turn-based strategy games, there are squares and a number of squares you can move into based on experience and/or gear?
Luke Carruthers:

Great question, this highlights one of the differences between Tactica Online and a lot of turn-based strategy RPGs. Movement in TO is free-form, as opposed to based on grids – subject to the accessibility of the terrain and your movement rate, you go where you want to go, without being restricted by arbitrary squares on a map.

Similarly, line of sight is actually the line from your character to their target, no artificial calculations depending on who's in what square.

Each character has a movement rate, and a viewing range, determined by their stats, skills, and equipment. When you move, you can either check your path – which is the series of green dots you see in some of the screenshots – and make sure that's where you want to go, or you can just move. Don't forget, moving, like all actions, takes up Action Points, and you need to make sure you have enough left over to do what you want to do when you get there!

MMORPG.com:
(Antioche)
I'd like to know how advanced the options will be for character appearance. It would be rather lame to have a lot of 5 man squads that all have people that are very similar in appearance. So things like height, weight, sex, age, facial hair, head hair, special scars, tattoos, etc. that players can modify would be nice.
Luke Carruthers:

Character customization is a big thing in Tactica Online. One of our tenets is "every battle is different," and this isn't just about every character being able to have different skills and equipment, it's also about every set of opponents looking different as well.

You'll be able to choose both male and female characters, as well as customize your skin color, hair color, hair style, and facial features (including scars and tattoos). Equipment, like plate armor, will change your shape appropriately. Tactica Online's style is gritty and realistic though, don't expect 8-foot-tall barbarians with four-foot-wide shoulders.

MMORPG.com:In Q&A #1 you mentioned that combat could take up to twenty minutes. How do you propose to keep this exciting? Obviously, there are the tactical decisions you've mentioned, but in what other ways will this be done?
Luke Carruthers:

Twenty minutes is a fairly common length of time for a match in a strategy game, and it tends to work well because it allows for a beginning, middle and end game, each with its own dynamic. Twenty minutes seems to be the sweet spot – short enough that you're left wanting another game, long enough that you feel like it was a substantial experience.

Setting up your combos, maneuvering your enemy into the position you want them, countering their combos, being aggressive in the late game without running into any traps, being cautious in the early game without sacrificing position, there's never a shortage of things you need to be thinking about, and the challenges are different at each stage of a battle.

Combat that lasts for fifteen-twenty minutes also allows for building tension. As a battle gets closer to its end, the stakes get higher. It's quite possible to pull off a combo that will reverse your fortunes even if you've lost half your team, so a battle is never over until everyone's dead, and we're betting that this makes for a gripping experience beyond the combat usually found in online RPGs.

MMORPG.com:The screenshots seem to show a 3rd person top-down view. How configurable will this be? And how did you arrive at this decision?
Luke Carruthers:

The camera is fully controllable, down to a minimum floor and angle. You can't get to a first person viewpoint, but you can pan around the map, zooming in and out, to get the best angle for the current situation.

This perspective was a given, really – combat is tactical and you control a group of characters, so you need a viewpoint that can show you what's going on around the map.

What's interesting is that a lot of people have been looking at Tactica Online as if it's a more traditional, single character online RPG, and seem to be a little thrown by the top-down perspective. Perhaps it's the way that the label "MMO" is used and the image that people have of what an "MMORPG" is. Tactica Online is a different sort of game, and its gameplay requires a different camera perspective.

Thanks again to Luke of Imaginary Numbers for taking the time! Check back in two weeks as we continue this series. Remember, you can have your questions in this series if you post them in this thread on our Tactica Message boards. Also, feel free to join in and discuss the game. The board is monitored by developers from Imaginary Numbers!