Interviews Category

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

Divergence Online’s Ethan Casner on SWG 2.0, open PvP, and edgelords

Star Wars Galaxies-inspired indie sandbox Divergence Online busted out its third alpha and third crowdfunding campaign last week, prompting many of Massively OP’s readers to wonder, “What the heck is Divergence Online?” That’s precisely why I chatted up the game’s lead dev, Ethan Casner, about the status of the game, its open PvP system, and its edgy non-marketing. Enjoy!

Update 9/23/2015 9:30 a.m. EDT: In response in part to your feedback to this article, Casner has announced a stretch goal for a second server that will feature a TEF-based, consensual PvP system.

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Talking to Cryptic about Neverwinter’s new Stronghold PvP

We’re on the horn with Cryptic Lead Designer Scott Shicoff and Senior Content Designer John Hopler to talk about Neverwinter’s brand-new Stronghold siege PvP mode. Could you start by discussing the demand for and feedback on large-scale PvP demand within the playerbase?

Scott Shicoff: As with all living games, Neverwinter is constantly adding new things for players to experience. With the release of Neverwinter: Strongholds, we added a new way for the players to come together and grow as a guild. To further expand upon this concept, stronghold siege delivers a way for the guild to show how they operate as a unit against other players, while also leveraging the progress they’ve made together in the PvE mode. From the beginning stages of planning Neverwinter: Strongholds, we felt that this large-scale PvP game would tie the whole experience into a complete package.

When we played this mode within the studio, we found that even people who didn’t normally play PvP would have a lot of fun contributing to the battle with their guild-mates.
As for feedback within the playerbase, we got a lot of positive response during alpha testing, and are excited to see what people think now that it is live.

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World of Warships makes history come alive (and shoot you)

In honor of World of Warships official launch today, we’re celebrating what makes this naval combat game come alive. Previously, I explored the details and realism in the sights and sounds of the game, but there’s another aspect that really amps up the immersion factor: the historical accuracy of the vessels. WoWS is not just about blowing enemies out of the water with battleships, cruisers, and aircraft carriers; it’s about doing so with authentic historical recreations of said ships!
During my behind-the-scenes tour of the Wargaming office earlier this summer, I had the pleasure of speaking with Sergey Gornostaev, who as the “Museums and Militaria Relations Specialist” has arguably one of the coolest jobs at the studio. Gornostaev shared the great lengths the team goes to in order to ensure historical accuracy in the ships sent into battle in WoWS.
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Hi-Rez’s COO on console e-sports and why people watch

Hi-Rez Studios COO Todd Harris says that the popularity of e-sports has more to do with the human element than the games themselves. “From a viewership standpoint the human interest stories about the players is what makes people tune in,” Harris told “The reason I watch the Olympics even if I may not care about the sport is the awesome videos they have that show me where this person came from, what their journey is, and all these kids for the most part have similar stories.”

Harris goes on to say that he expects e-sports to become more popular on consoles, though one might expect him to say as much given SMITE’s recent appearance on Microsoft’s XBox One. “The console providers, both of them, are much more flexible now about allowing a developer to give ongoing updates,” he explains.



Hi-Rez Studios’ COO Todd Harris on Paladins, Tribes: Ascend, and e-sports

It was kind of a surprise when Tribes: Ascend fans were told this week to expect new stuff for the game after it sat in maintenance mode for such a long time. Usually, that’s the kiss of death. And yet here we are, with the game facing a new lease on life. Will this be the new state of things? Is Global Agenda next on the list of games to be reanimated? Why is stuff so hard?

Obviously, we couldn’t figure all of this out based purely on speculation and possible Metalocalypse references. We asked a few questions about the future of Hi-Rez Studios and received answers from studio co-founder and COO Todd Harris. Read on to find out more about development plans for both tribes fans and the extended catalog of the studio as a whole.

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Trion Worlds shies away from sub-only games, praises Defiance’s console success

RIFT fans with long memories will recall how the game first launched in 2011 as a subscription-only title, staying that way for about a year before going free-to-play. These days Trion Worlds is harboring a library of hybrid free-to-play and buy-to-play titles with nary a sub-only game in sight. So would the studio ever consider another sub-only MMO?

“I don’t think I would,” CEO Scott Hartsman said in a recent interview. “I don’t have a religion about business models. What I really care about is matching the design of the game to an audience for the game. If somebody said hey, here is a game and we know for a fact that the model that makes sense is a subscription. Then I’m all on board here. I’m really just about, what is the right model that will get enough players to make the game make financial sense, so it will live a happy and long life. And it’s just become more challenging to do that with subscription.”

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A fireside chat with Firefall’s executive producer

For a tumultuous period of time, Firefall was in freefall, having crossed the spectrum of gamer goodwill about as fast as was humanly possible. This talked-up title was soon dismissed for Red 5’s radically shifting design that alienated more than it attracted.

However, Firefall’s been making steady and encouraging progress over the past year with content updates, welcome features, and market expansion. We checked in with Executive Producer Chris Whiteside to get more details on what’s going on behind the scenes, both in development and operation, of this sci-fi MMO.

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PAX Prime 2015: Guild Wars 2’s free-to-play model and publishing takeover

When I spoke to ArenaNet’s Colin Johanson about raids in Guild Wars 2 at this year’s PAX Prime, President Mike O’Brien was sitting right next to him. Johanson was the frontman for raiding, while O’Brien took a brief moment to discuss the game’s business model announcement and address rumors about its future.

One question on a lot of minds at the moment is whether or not Guild Wars 2 is now a free-to-play MMORPG. And the simple answer to that question is no, according to O’Brien.

“I look at free-to-play as a business model. We aren’t going to go back and redesign the business model. It’s not about monetizing free-to-player players. This is Guild Wars 2. Guild Wars 2 was designed as a buy-to-play game.”

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PAX Prime 2015: Guild Wars 2 is never getting a PUG raid finder

Guild Wars 2 set its fanbase on edge this last week on Twitter and at PAX prime. We learned that raids are coming to GW2 with its next expansion, and on Saturday the base Guild Wars 2 game became free for everyone. Of course, the announcement left fans with more questions than answers. What are the raids going to be like? How are they going to work without the traditional trinity? Are we ever getting a LFR tool?

Since Game Director Colin Johanson of ArenaNet was at PAX Prime, it only made sense to ask him directly about how it’ll all work in the game itself and what it means for the future of Guild Wars 2.

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Star Citizen’s Chris Roberts on dedication, delays, and Derek Smart

In a new and very lengthy interview with Polygon, Chris Roberts fields a wide range of questions about the development and delays of Star Citizen. He points out to fans that he’s been working on the title non-stop for three years now and is proud of the progress and communication being put out by the team.

“I’m personally working harder than I ever worked in my life, including going back to the early days doing the first Wing Commander,” Roberts said. “I find it very challenging. It’s a bit like being a politician. Not only are you trying to develop a game and run multiple studios with a lot of different people, but we’re also being open and keeping the community informed of everything we do, while we have work that is out there and being improved upon all the time.”

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PAX Prime 2015: Guns of Icarus breaks ‘preconceived notions’ of naval combat simulation

There are always some games that you look at and think that it would be great to try when you have the time. My Steam library is full of them. One game that might have made it into your Steam games is Guns of Icarus, but even if it hasn’t yet, perhaps it should. And you should also make time to actually play it.

This weekend at PAX, I sat down with two of the creators of the game, Howard Tsao and Joe Lieberman (not to be confused with the former US Senator), and they were extremely excited to let me be one of the first people to step into the PvE module for Guns of Icarus.

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Eco as an academic tool: Educating with PvE survival and permadeath

Like the idea of survival games, but not PvP? Wish your class involved video games? Maybe you want to doom humanity to choking itself on its own filth?

Well, good news for all of you: Eco made its initial Kickstarter goal!

The game is basically a PvE survival game launching with player made governments where players use server-provided data on the environment (such as number of deer, population over the past month, and cause of death) to make laws. These laws aren’t just ideals but server enforced rules created and voted on by players, so if people choose to allow players to kill only three deer a day, the game prevents you from killing a fourth. Over harvesting leads to extinction, not just of that species but others related to it, which can eventually lead to the death of a world (read: server-wide permadeath via PvE). The emphasis on social tools, data use, and environmental balance isn’t a coincidence, however; Eco is built to be used as an educational game.
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