Interviews Category

We ask tough questions. Whether the devs answer them truthfully — or at all — is on them! [Follow this category’s RSS feed]

Black Desert’s Pearl Abyss on feedback, cadence, and avoiding ‘aggressive’ business models

Pearl Abyss’ Dae Il Kim sat for an interview with InvenGlobal earlier this fall that’s just gone live, and while it might be a bit old, it’s packed with juicy quotes of note to Black Desert players.

For starters, Kim says the game’s UI is due for revision, and those reivisions were inspired by – wait for it – the mobile and console versions. That includes the minimap, mind you. And feedback from players? Yeah, he reads it, unfiltered and raw, to ensure that his team gets the “specific emotion” from player complaints.

But Kim does reject Inven’s assertion that the game’s update pace has slowed down, which is certainly the case in the West, where PA’s western publisher has reduced updates from weekly to biweekly.

“The [number] of updates is the same as it was before,” he counters. “I pushed myself to make a system which makes the updating progress much faster and easier.”

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Interview: ArcheAge’s 4.0 Maelstrom launches December 13 with changes to lunagems, raid finder, and more

Batten down the hatches because a big storm hits tomorrow! ArcheAge’s Maelstrom, with its cross-server navel arena, launches on December 13th. We got to see some of the 4.0 expansion and learn more about it during our demo and interview at PAX West this last fall. And on the cusp of launch, I sat down again with Trion Associate Producer Seraphina “Celestrata” Brennan, Executive Producer Merv Lee Kwai, and Community Manager Joe “Muzzy” Brogno to chat more about the upcoming changes. What I learned is that the changes have changes! Lunagems, the raid finder bulletin board, streetlights, and some of the arenas updates have been updated. And one change — the addition of the new turtle ship — will actually not be happening.

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EVE Online uses city urban planning in its design

Who would have ever thought that something so mundane and everyday as city urban planning would be of immense inspiration to a game like EVE Online?

Develop has a fascinating interview with CCP about how the studio uses strategies from urban planning when developing its space MMO. Citing “unproductive” development around 2004 following the game’s rise in popularity, CCP drew its community into talks about what it wanted to see for EVE Online, which in turn led to the formation of the Council of Interstellar Management. Through all of this, CCP started seeing the game’s growth through the lens of city planning.

EVE is more like a city than it is a game,” said CEO Hilmar Pétursson. “If you are doing urban planning in a city, getting feedback from the inhabitants is important. You might have to bulldoze away some houses to make a highway, or you might have a garbage collection problem, and it’s impossible to know all this. We have no way of knowing all the things in EVE Online that the hundreds and thousands of people who live there every day do. They have way more information about it. So factoring in all the information about the game, their input on where the game needs improvement, putting those two things together is what the EVE team does every year.”

Source: Develop

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Warframe on how studios should ‘learn to fight superficial microtransaction integration’

Warframe has become aggressively popular according to Digital Extremes’ own metrics, and our own readers back that up. Part of the reason is the game’s business model, which as DE VP of Publishing Meridith Braun tells GIbiz this week that the studio has been working hard on its monetization over the last several years since the game soft launched open beta. (Yes, it’s still technically in open beta.)

“[Players] say they are blown away by the fact that we aren’t a full retail game with paid DLC, and that the monetization we have integrated is more than fair. We’re looking to redefine what free-to-play means to gamers,” Braun argues. That means making almost everything in the game earnable inside the game, downing content progression walls, allowing players to freely trade within the microtransaction system, and respecting the new reality that “a games service is always on and needs constant attention.”

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Bluehole’s CEO on how Ascent: Infinite Realm (A:IR) will breathe life into a stagnating MMORPG genre

Ready for some harsh truths, MMO players? Bluehole CEO Hyo-Seob Kim recently told GIbiz that he wasn’t expecting PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds to do so well globally, that the studio was “pitching up the quality of the game for the Western market.” Bluehole wasn’t a major player before that, even though it had been making MMOs for a decade. In fact, Bluehole hadn’t even gone to G-Star in six years – back during the rise of its MMORPG TERA in 2011, which was “targeting the Western market from the beginning.” You’ll recall that TERA actually did well – GIbiz fairly calls it a “hit” for the genre – but Kim argues the genre has since stagnated.

“MMORPGs were very new [ten years ago], with World of Warcraft and all the others. But the play style [stayed] very similar as time passed on, so the players got bored with the system. They started looking to other genres of games. […] But there are still people who are used to the MMORPG, and if a new game can give them a new experience they will come back and play again.”

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Are rank-and-file devs benefiting from MMO publisher ‘money-grabs’? Camelot Unchained’s Mark Jacobs weighs in

Last week, Massively OP’s Eliot Lefebvre wrote a (fantastic) Soapbox editorial arguing that Star Wars Battlefront II (and its concomitant monetization dust-up) is merely a symptom of the “long tail” trend of the games business. As he put it, it’s not a bad thing that game companies seek to make money; they need money to make games, and games make us happy. We’re happy to pay fair prices for good games! But EA, he argues, is merely undertaking a “blatant cash grab” over and above the rising costs of making games, and the worst part is that the game developers themselves aren’t reaping the benefits of the publishers’ increased revenue.

“The programmers and art staff don’t wind up seeing much, if anything, from these increased profit margins, still being subjected to an awful volume of crunch time and demanding workloads with ever-growing headcounts,” Eliot asserted. “And the people making these games aren’t seeing any benefit from all of these increases; salaries aren’t going up except for the people at the top end.”

But that might be true for only a segment of corporate developers. In conversation with Massively OP, Camelot Unchained boss-man Mark Jacobs suggests that over the last five years, developer salaries – specifically programmers – have increased significantly.

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Marvel Heroes: Former dev says Disney’s not the bad guy, Xbox One grants automatic refunds

Still reeling from the abrupt early sunset of Marvel Heroes yesterday? Same here. If you want a little closure, maybe check out Kinda Funny Games, which yesterday posted an interview with former Gazillion Systems Designer Anthony Gallegos, who discusses the collapse of the studio.

Gallegos suggests that Gazillion is going through “some kind of bankruptcy” and notes actually furloughed employees a week and a half before the layoffs – and indeed, lost a quarter of its staff from layoffs earlier this year. He also confirms that the license (he says “contract”) for Marvel Heroes was lost in October and negotiations with Disney/Marvel began anew.

This was a time when Gazillion reps were telling the press and the playerbase that “the company [was] functioning normally.” It clearly was not.

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Path of Exile’s War for the Atlas expansion opens December 8

It may feel as if Path of Exile just came out with its The Fall of Oriath expansion, but that was last August. The time is quickly approaching for the next one! If releasing expansions were an Olympic event, Grinding Gear Games would win the gold medal every time. This studio delivers loads of new content like clockwork.

Now, I could sit here and heap praise all day, but I know you want to learn about all about expansion number… some big number. Lucky for you, I sat down with Producer Chris Wilson and got a tour of the goodies coming our way. So what is this next expansion and its accompanying new league about? It’s a sequel to Atlas of Worlds!

In September 2016, players were introduced to the world atlas, filled with end-game maps to complete on the way to fight the ultimate boss, The Shaper. On December 8th, this Atlas will be redesigned with significantly more maps and a second ultimate boss that is vying for control in War for the Atlas. And the new Abyss Challenge League starts up as well. Learn more about it all and watch the official trailer below!

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Going clubbing with Trion in Trove’s new update

When you are invited to go to a club with Trove’s devs, you’d best get ready for fun time! Of course, I mean a Trove club: a place where you can design build your own special world with friends. And clubs are getting some serious attention in this week’s update. Earlier in November, I sat down with Trion Art Lead Robin Luera and Animation Lead Ted Sanger for a tour through the voxel’s games upcoming club-errific features. Here are some of the highlights!

One important and awesome change is that clubs will now have six different permission levels. And there are tons of permissions! This will allow leaders to customize who can do what in the club, which will really come in handy with the new building and adventure features. Leaderboards have been also changed up. The top 50 average power rank and level will be displayed (the PR will be calculated of each member’s highest pr character, not add them all together). Mechanics like using or destroying the most blocks, however, have been removed.

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Hands on: Having a blast in SMITE’s new adventure, Shadows Over Hercopolis

Although I have tried, the MOBA side of SMITE isn’t quite for me (yet). I’m just not terribly comfortable in the various lane modes like conquest, clash, and joust. But what is awesome about Hi-Rez’s title is that there’s more to do that can entice different types of gamers into the title — even MMOers like myself. I enjoy the arena mode, but I really fell in love with the first PvE challenge Xing Tian’s Mountain, and the subsequent Fafnir’s Wonderland. These special modes offered unique gameplay, which also allowed me to get more comfortable with gods and feel more confident venturing into other modes. So when SMITE adventures were announced at Hi-Rez Expo 2017, I was ecstatic! And I have not been disappointed by any adventure yet. But nothing has been as cool as the newest adventure that opened today, Shadows Over Hercopolis.

If you’d thought the past Trials of King Hercules gave SMITE a bit of MMO flavor before, the new Shadows Over Hercopolis does even more so! It’s an action RPG adventure with a number of new mechanics, and it is a blast! I got to play this adventure over the weekend with Hi-Rez’s Isiah Turner, community manager, and Gabe Mughelli, public relations manager. And I can’t wait to dive in again.

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BlizzCon gamers react to, reflect on Overwatch toxicity

Toxicity in online gaming is easily one of the biggest stories of the year, particularly in Overwatch, where Blizzard has been focusing its anti-toxicity efforts with such persistence that it’s almost become silly. And yet here we are, with the problem unsolved and a whole lot of people sure it’s unsolveable or content to direct victims to just “ignore” it.

So how bad is it? Eurogamer collected clips of female gamers and streamers being harassed via voice chat in Overwatch and toted them to BlizzCon, showing them to attendees who agreed to be interviewed about their reactions and their own experiences. Forewarning if you’re going to watch the video below: The clips are awful and will make you angry once you realize they aren’t parody. The worst part? Most of the men and women Eurogamer interviewed basically all have that same stony look on their faces that I currently have on mine because it’s par for the course – and it’s just the misogyny brand of toxicity. The video doesn’t even touch on racism or homophobia.

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BlizzCon 2017: World of Warcraft’s classic server will be a ‘massive effort’

In the process of picking yourself up off of the floor following Friday’s announcement of World of Warcraft Classic at BlizzCon 2017? As your mind grapples with Blizzard’s surprise revelation of a legacy server project that will take players back to the vanilla era of World of Warcraft, you probably share the same questions and concerns that Eurogamer voiced in an interview at the convention.

Executive Producer J. Allen Brack was reluctant to give the publication any specifics on a timetable, saying that the project was just announced, only basic infrastructure is in place, and that the team is forming. He did confirm that Classic won’t be taking away any people or resources from the main MMO, as Blizzard is treating this as a separate game with its own dedicated team.

“Our goal is to recreate that classic 1-60 gameplay,” Brack said. “Some things changed as time went on, with different patches. How does that get manifested? That’s one of the outstanding questions. But yeah, the goal is to recreate that exact experience, for better or for worse.”

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Secret World Legends teases season two, participates in Extra Life

Saying that revenue from Secret World Legends has “exceeded expectations,” Funcom opened up to Venture Beat about what’s coming next for the supernatural MMO.

“Season 2 starts to unravel new questions, while answering other questions that have been laid out before,” said Executive Producer Scott Junior. “Players will be traveling to a completely new location, encountering new NPCs with fully-voiced dialogue and cutscenes […] The plan is to continue telling the story and continue adding unique experiences that haven’t been seen before in the game.”

Funcom is supporting this weekend’s Extra Life 2017 event by encouraging players to sign up and help raise funds for this charity. Secret World Legends players who participate will receive a special in-game t-shirt from the studio.

And while Halloween is over, Secret World Legends players know that the holiday never truly ends in their game. Check out an amazing pumpkin carving that a fan did of “Flappy” in Agartha below.

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