Interviews Category

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

Catching up with Shroud of the Avatar’s Starr Long

As Kickstarter projects successfully funded via the power of nostalgia have proven, gamer loyalty can burn strong even decades after experiencing titles that make such a profound impact. For a subset of players, the Ultima franchise will forever be one of the most influential RPG series in existence, which is why thousands of them have migrated over to Shroud of the Avatar to give it such an active following during its early access period.

Shroud of the Avatar isn’t merely a game being formed, but a community coming together to live in this virtual world. Massively Overpowered caught up with Portalarium executive producer Starr Long this week to get a status check on the project and to ask a few burning questions about how SOTA plans on being a worthy spiritual successor to Ultima.

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Shards’ project lead talks development, pay-for-mods, and more

What’s up with Shards Online this week? Well, quite a bit according to project lead and Ultima Online veteran Derek Brinkmann. MassivelyOP recently caught up with the Citadel Studios founder to ask him about the sandbox title’s development roadmap, some new additions to the dev team, and his opinion on the game industry’s recent pay-for-mods controversy.

The full interview is just past the break!

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BioWare’s analytics manager talks SWTOR stats and their effect on design

If you’ve ever been curious about how data analytics impacts MMO design decisions, a new interview at SWTOR Network is worth your time. Alex Tremblay, manager of analytics for BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic, talks about everything from architecture and the speed at which statistics can be retrieved to examples of engagement stats affecting design.

“Our regular monitoring of PvE content turned up a substantial discrepancy in usage between the Czerka and other tactical Flashpoints,” Tremblay explains. “Working with design and QA, we developed a hypothesis as to the cause, tested and verified its veracity, and ultimately increased the reward per time spent to align them more closely with similar content. It allowed us to give players a broader range of experiences in the game to reduce content fatigue and add enjoyment to the gameplay experience.”

Source: SWTOR Network; thanks Bob!


Chaos Theory: The lowdown on The Secret World’s motorcycles

Ever since The Secret World’s debut dev livestream two weeks ago teased motorcycle mounts, players have been abuzz with anticipation. The desire for vehicles in the game stretches way back; more than two years ago I mounted a campaign to bring scooters, bicycles, and even motorcycles to the game. I just knew it could be done, and now it is happening! From the moment that first screenshot was shown in the last minutes of The Steaming Ones accompanied by the promise “This is coming to TSW,” speculation has run wild. Perhaps the mounts will be scenario-based. Maybe they will be time-based, with the motorcycles effectively running out of gas and stopping. Some suggested that the bikes will be nothing more than an advanced sprint.

Amid the excited conjecture, a number of fans have also voiced concerns about how the machines will affect the immersion and player-experience in the game. Will the scenery fly by at a rate that players can’t soak up the nuance? Will the ambiance be ruined by the revving of hundreds of engines on the streets?

Now, much of that conjecture — and hopefully the concerns — can be laid to rest. I spoke with Lead Designer Romain Amiel to learn more about these new mechanics, which aren’t actually mounts. Better yet, Amiel says that players will be able to experience the feature, currently dubbed the Custom Sprint system, for themselves next week.

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Turbine on the future of Dungeons & Dragons Online

Dungeons & Dragons Online is not one of the biggest titles on the market, but it was one of the first major subscription games in the west to make the switch to free-to-play. It’s also one of two games based on the original tabletop roleplaying franchise, which makes it a bit of an oddity in that few IPs have more than one licensed title active in the MMO space.

We had the opportunity to ask the design team behind the scenes at Turbine a few brief questions about where the game is and what it’s doing in the future, and we got answers from senior systems designer John Cataldo. Jump on down below for more information on the setting, the further development of the game, and what players can expect to see next.

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Linda ‘Brasse’ Carlson on ArcheAge, community management, and her new role at Trion

Linda “Brasse” Carlson is one of the MMO industry’s most beloved community specialists, and genre fans everywhere boggled just a bit when Daybreak laid her off along with a number of other high profile employees last February. Carlson landed on her feet at Trion, and Massively OP recently caught up with her to ask about the new gig as well as her plans for managing Trion’s rambunctious playerbase.

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Behind the scenes of the Marvel Heroes machine

With Marvel movies and television shows coming out left and right (and the comics, of course), hitching your game to this hot property is a good way to ensure a prosperous future. And prosperous Marvel Heroes has been doing just that, throwing new heroes, costumes, events, and promotions at players even as more gamers throng to the action RPG.

We got in touch with Gazillion, the folks behind Marvel Heroes, to ask a few burning questions about what goes on behind the scenes of this active MMO. From the process of creating a superhero from scratch to hints of the game’s future content, we’ve got the skinny on how this studio machine churns out the geeky goods!

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Albion Online’s newest dev answers community queries, snaps at EVE trolls

Albion Online is surely milking its acquisition of Game Designer Matt Woodward for all its worth. After Albion heralded his arrival with a level of pomp normally reserved for royalty, Woodward took to the wilds of Reddit for a round of questions and answers with the community.

When asked what he is working on right now, Woodward replied, “First thing I’m working on is a mission/quest-style system, just to get my feet wet. From what I understand we’re going to have another internal planning session once the summer alpha is over, and hopefully I’ll be able to contribute some ideas there.”

He also had a snarky rejoinder to the EVE Online fans who showed up to troll him in the thread: “Hey guys, you know I stopped working on EVE, right? How about you make your obligatory witty, biting comebacks, and then we all just move on with our lives?”

Source: Reddit


Ex-City of Heroes devs answer insane number of lore questions

The now-annual City of Heroes “Loregasm” is complete, with ex-developers Matt Miller and Sean McCann delivering another wealth of insights into the late, great superhero MMO.

The pair tackled dozens and dozens of questions like champs in the community Q&A. One revelation is that the team never planned to fully redeem the sinister Lord Recluse: “I don’t think we planned to ever fully redeem him, but there were plans to make him a more relatable super-villain. […] We wanted to make it a big deal that Lord Recluse was one of the few super-villains in charge of both an army and an entire nation, the Rogue Isles. That makes him a villain with something to defend and something to lose, and he would behave in that way.”

While he was quite open about many subjects, Miller clammed up when he was pressed for details on his pitch for a proposed City of Heroes 2: “Well, you see… waitaminute, this isn’t a CoH question, this is a question about CoH2! Nice try!”


World of Warcraft dev attributes subscriber drop to ‘cyclical’ play patterns

Losing three million subscribers? That might be a big thing to some people, but for World of Warcraft Lead Game Designer Ion Hazzikostas, it was to be expected.

In an interview with VentureBeat, Hazzikostas attributed the drop to the cyclical pattern of MMOs and gamers. “Especially nowadays, players aren’t necessarily viewing World of Warcraft as a year-round lifestyle so much as a game that they love,” he said. “And to some extent, that’s OK. We don’t want to prevent people from enjoying the game that way. Part of the cyclical nature is that, yes, when we have a large upsurge, it’s not surprising that there’s a bit of a dip after that.”

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DC Universe Online: Halls of Power II and the end of DLC

If you are not a subscriber to DC Universe Online, you’re still sitting back on the sidelines anticipating the release of Halls of Power Part II next week. We all know trying to be patient isn’t the funnest thing when you are looking forward to diving into your favorite game’s new content, so we talked with Senior Creative Director Jens Andersen and Design Director Jesse Benjamin during a DLC preview to glean some interesting tidbits to share with you while you’re wait.

Of course, we also have some information that those members who are busy playing through the DLC right now might want to stop and take note of. Andersen shared some words on plans going forward, probably the most notable being DCUO’s planned shift away from DLC.

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‘No more grind’: PvP sandbox Das Tal launches its Kickstarter

As promised, buy-to-play indie PvP sandbox Das Tal has begun a Kickstarter campaign today to coincide with the launch of the German wing of the Kickstarter platform. Das Tal isn’t a new game for many of you as we’ve been covering it on Massively OP and Massively-that-was, but the pitch puts the game’s development goals in focus:

Das Tal is the world’s first Open World Battle Arena. It is the love-child of a Sandbox MMORPG and a fast-paced PvP Arena. Our goal is to make MMOs fun again for PvP fans. No more grind. No more pay-to-win. No more tab-targeting. We are creating a game designed to be compatible with the busy life of an adult gamer.

Das Tal’s devs have already been working on the game for several years and have plenty of game footage to show for it. The title is due to launch next year; the alpha is expected in the next few months. The Kickstarter, they say, is specifically intended to pay artists to flesh out the world.

I spoke with Fairytale Distillery Managing Director Alexander Zacherl last week to pick his brain on the PvP MMO market, the B2P model, graphics snobbery, and the apparent contradiction in the game’s hardcore-but-not-entirely design. We’ve got a fresh Kickstarter video as well. Read on for all of it!

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Crowfall’s Walton wants to shake up the MMO business

Crowfall producer Gordon Walton features in a new interview at MOTD Media. If you’re a big fan of the crowdfunded PvP MMO, you won’t find anything here that you didn’t already know. If you’re on the outside of the fandom looking in, though, the piece might be worth scanning in order to see what all the buzz is about.

Crowfall’s design is boiled down to eternal heroes and dying worlds, with players flitting between the wars on the latter before heading home to their permanent Eternal Kingdoms. Walton told MOTD that part of the problem with MMOs is that they’ve been made the same way for two decades. “We want to go back and redrive that way,” he said.

[Source: MOTD Media]


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