IncGamers caught up with Perfect World’s Andrew Brown to get the latest on their upcoming free to play MMORG Forsaken World which is being crafted to cater for both the western and asian audience.
IncGamers this year and Beta testing is now underway before launch next year. We talked to Andrew to find out what the team have been working on leading up to the launch.
It’s been a few months since we last talked about Forsaken World so what has the team been working on specifically since the E3 demo?
Since that last time you saw Forsaken World at E3, our developers have been working on fleshing out the new classes, tweaking then new Guild Command Centers and the God System. Players will be very excited about these new features that really set Forsaken World apart from other MMORPGs to date.
For those who don’t know, Forsaken World is a pretty massive project at Perfect World and it it’s being developed with the western market in mind. Can you explain how Perfect World has approached this MMORPG differently from previous titles developed by Perfect World?
We’ve taken our experience of catering games to the Western audience and have incorporated it into the development of Forsaken World. For example, players perceive additional content differently in Asia than they do in North America such as grind. While grind is seen as a challenge and additional content in Asia, many Western players dislike it. Knowing this, what we’ve done with Forsaken World is create a game that focuses more on players fulfilling unique quests versus repetitively killing the same type of monster.
How hard has it been to fuse the western style of MMO gameplay with the eastern style?
We have great players who tell us what they like and dislike, so it has made it much easier for us to identify and incorporate the best elements from both Eastern and Western MMOs and fuse them together.
We understand the development team is spread across the world. How hard has it been to coordinate the project between all the different developers?
The majority of the development is happening in our Beijing studio; however it can be quite a challenge communicating to other parts of the world and there have been many late night calls to discuss how we can make Forsaken World the best game possible.
Forsaken World features some pretty standard classes that we would expect to find in today’s MMORPGs but there are a couple that stand out such as the Vampire and Bard. Can you tell us a little bit about the more unusual classes featured in the game?
We like to take the typically fantasy-themed classes and give them a bit of a darker twist. Unlike typical vampires, our Vampire class uses a giant cross on their back as a weapon and use their own blood/health to both deal damage to enemies as well as heal allies. Bards are able to use their musical instruments to add enchantments to their allies while we’ve added a very steam punk feel to the Marksman class by giving them unique skills such as Crack Shot Time, which allows them to deal additional damage between clips.
How will players be able to augment and improve their skills or items in the game?
There are plenty of skill trees for each class, so that players can go in-depth when customizing their characters. In addition, players will be able to boast their weapons and equipment through slots and various enchantments.
Perfect World have been very careful with regards to microtransactions by making purchasable items in the item shop convenience items and not giving players the opportunity to power-up their character based on purchasable items. How has this been employed in Forsaken World and what kinds of items will be available from the item shop?
Similar to other Perfect World Entertainment games, the cash shop is focused around fashion and convenience items, so that all players can enjoy our games whether or not they have all the time in the world or money. The interesting thing about Forsaken World is that there will be a free market economy where players will use their occupations to create goods, set their own prices and sell their wares to each other.
In the game players will have the opportunity to work toward a common goal and open up new areas on the server which you are calling the Zodiac system. How exactly is this going to work and what can gamers expect to happen on servers as they progress?
Without revealing too much, players will be able to affect their server progression at different rates, making the player experience on each server new and unique. Details are still being finalized and part of going into closed beta is to get feedback on these types of features.
Many players love dabbling in professions and Forsaken World features some rather, what some may consider, unusual professions such as being a Socialite. Can we look forward to some rather unusual takes on the more ‘standard’ professions?
With Forsaken World, there will be your typical professions or occupations such as Armorsmith, Bladesmith etc…, however we also wanted to add some unique ones such as Socialite, Astrologist, which adds an additional layer to character customization and leads to more dynamic grouping. For example, having a Socialite in a group will allow everyone in the party to access additional quests from NPCs otherwise inaccessible.
Can you explain a bit about the different PvE and PvP model s that are being employed for Forsaken World and how they are going to appeal to such a diverse playerbase in all markets?
Forsaken World has both PvE and PvP elements. On the PvP side, open world PvP starts at level 30 and depending on if players on a particular server are leaning more towards PvE or PvP, the server world will reflect this. For example, a PvP oriented server will have a more chaotic environment to reflect the player discourse versus a PvE server.
How are the development team approaching the ‘end-game’ and are there plans in the pipeline for regular content/expansion updates, and if so how often?
Right now we are still testing the beginning content, but as with all Perfect World games, we plan on supporting Forsaken World with updates and expansions based on player feedback and how we want to progress the game story.
The Chinese Beta test has been ongoing for a while, how has the Beta been received so far?
We’ve received very positive feedback on Forsaken World in the Chinese closed beta, which has been surprising since this was designed with the western audience in mind and what we’ve come to find is that there are western elements that also resonate well with Asian players.
Some gamers think that because a game is free to play the quality may not be up to scratch, but Perfect World have become one publisher/developer that is pushing the boundaries of free to play quality. What have you learned along the way when developing Forsaken World to make sure that the game shines in this competitive market?
Free-to-play has come a long way since its inception and with Forsaken World, we’re proving this with a high-quality MMO that combines the best gameplay elements from the East and the West. By focusing, first and foremost, on creating the best gaming experience possible for our players regardless of business model, we ensure that our games like Forsaken World standout in the MMO industry, which has been one of the reasons why our games have been so successful around the world.
What are you opinions on the current state of the free to play market?
The free-to-play market has grown both in size as well as quality by leaps and bounds. There is still a negative stigma attached to the term, free-to-play, however this has started to change with many of the big MMOs that were previously subscription based turning to the free-to-play model. Our aim is to raise the bar of not only what players should expect in free-to-play, but also MMORPGs in general, regardless of subscription model by releasing great looking, quality games.
The game is scheduled for a Q1 2011 launch so are you still on target with this date?
Yes, we are still looking at a Q1 2011 launch date.