Welcome to our first campfire conversation! No, we didn't actually go out and make a campfire, but we recently had a pleasant conversation with the folks at Net Charger. Since they're currently working on the rather unknown mmorpg Freeworld, we decided to ask them a couple of questions concerning their game. Freeworld is currently in alpha testing. Also, the screenshots in this article are new ones and the developers themselves reveal something altogether more interesting in the interview...MMORPGDot: First of all: could both of you give a brief description of who you are, and what you do?
MMORPGDot: Obviously there are many different types of games within the genre "Mmorpg." If you would like, please describe your game and what sets it apart.
Draconus: My name is Clyde Bielss (a.k.a Draconus). I run the Freeworld art/sound teams. I'm also a texture artist and the world designer.
KD: My name is David Blasdell (a.k.a. King Dave or KD for short). I'm the project leader of FreeWorld, and I do all the coding.
MMORPGDot: Many newer entries have claimed to move away from the tried and true method of hack n' slash leveling. The most common incarnation of this effort being "skill" systems. In most cases this has only turned out to be another grind. How does Freeworld fit into that scheme?
KD: Hmm, ok - FreeWorld in some ways is very similar to games like EverQuest, Anarchy Online, etc.. However it's also very different. In the long run players won't have to just kill a lot of monsters to get far in the game, you could instead learn to become a blacksmith and gain experience that way instead.
Draconus: We are trying to get away from the leveling tread mill. There will be many ways for people to play Freeworld. If you do not like to kill monsters there will be many things you can do to get away from that. For instance, we already have a feature where you can play poker with other players and bet money.
MMORPGDot: You mention side-quests and mini-games a lot. In most titles it seems like the power levellers and 24/7 gamers are favored over the casual player in terms of quests and events. In order to effect the world you have to be powerful in combat. The social, or non-combat gamers are left in the dust. Simply unable to change the world. Does Freeworld try to come to terms with this issue in any way?
Draconus: Unlike other games you will be able to do anything you like. There will be no classes, everything will be truly 100% skill based. Also, all the other thing you do like crafting and so on will give you experience. You will never have to kill a single monster if you do not want to.
KD: Since there are still a lot of players who do prefer to battle like crazy, they still can of course.
Draconus: There will also be many side things you can do. We will have Capture the Flag maps and Guild battles. Even the lowest level player will be able to take on the highest players in PvP. They will not have to spend all the time to level to have the fun of PvP combat. It will be harder for them, but it will be possible.
MMORPGDot: Many game developers currently see the levelling treadmill as a "necessary evil", as to create a better connection between the player and his character. You don't agree with the point of view that a longer time for levelling will increase the attachment of a player with his character?
Draconus: As I said above. Even a level 1 player will be able to kill a level 200 player in PvP. It maybe harder from them to do it, but it will be possible.
KD: It would definitely benefit low level players to work as a team in that case.
MMORPGDot: For the role players: There have been complaints that most Mmorpgs fail to create a sense of immersion. A player is simply thrust into the world. Often there is no story guiding the character along. Failing to create a whole new reality to explore. Is there an ongoing plot in Freeworld? More importantly, is it deeply emmersive, or simply a tacked on addition like most games? Will it be dynamic?
Draconus: I do see it as a necessary evil in a way, but how you get there is two different things. In Freeworld doing common tasks like chopping wood can give you experience for levels. Crafting and side games will also give experience. So you not limited to just killing.
MMORPGDot: Sounds very interesting. You said it was an FPS/RTS/RPG. If you can tell us, what does that actually mean in terms of gameplay?
Draconus: I'm glad you brought this up. The Story line will be a very big part of FreeWorld. We are also going to be releasing a game before Freeworld, named "Elven Descent." It will by an FPS/RTS/RPG Hybrid. It will tell the story about how the Elves were all killed, and will lead you up to the story of Freeworld.
MMORPGDot: I see... we're talking multiplayer here then? But still with a storyline?
KD: There will be two teams, each team will have several members that will be able to run around the world in first person and attack the other team directly. There will also be god players on each team that have a complete view over the world and the ability to create monsters and cast spells over the world.
Draconus: The players in game will be in FPS mode and the god will be in RTS.
MMORPGDot: In a sense then, you're trying to build up a progressive environment over multiple games. That's very ambitious. How will you optimize release so that either game doesn't overshadow the other? Especially considering that you're a relatively new company with limited resources.
KD: Yes, it will be about the battle that wiped out the Elves from FreeWorld. Not so much story line in Elven Descent as in FreeWorld, but more of a lead up to FreeWorld.
Draconus: All the battle maps in Elven Descent will have a story based off a battle in the great Elven Wars.
MMORPGDot: Alright, back to FreeWorld. A couple of years ago you decided to change the game from 2D to 3D. Why did you make that decision and are you satisfied with the results so far?
KD: In terms of size, Elven Descent is much smaller than FreeWorld. A lot of the features in FreeWorld won't be available in Elven Descent. We're hoping creating ED will give us a bit of help when launching FW (which will be much harder to launch in terms of costs).
Draconus: We will try release ED at lest a year before FW. So I do not think the two games will overshadow each other.
MMORPGDot: What kind of testing schedule does Freeworld and Elven Descent have? Any plans for an Open Beta?
KD: It was originally going to be 2D, but after a couple of months I decided to redo it in 3D as it offered many more possibilities in the long run. I think it was a good decision.
MMORPGDot: About the skill system: Will you be using a skill system in which you can distribute a number of points at each level; or do skills increase by using them?
KD: We will remain in closed alpha testing (we accept a completely fresh group every 3 months or so) until the game is near complete, and then have open beta for a few months to iron out any bugs that remain.
MMORPGDot: Any chance you could give us an example of a spicy skill from the game? One of your personal favorites?
KD: You will be able to gain skill points either by using them, every other level (may change) or via PvP (you won't gain normal experience from PvP). ie. you can cut down trees for wood, go mining, etc. but not get much out of it.
MMORPGDot: A quick question on game infrastructure: For a game to succeed socially there needs to be ongoing systems and locations set aside for that specific task. Such as centrally located bars where people come to gather. In other words, will there be places in game where a player can go to find others to role play with? Will there also be support for making these locations interactive?
Draconus: At this point all the skill stuff is in idea form only. We have the base for a skill system added but not much more. A lot of the elements are there but we are lacking the system at this point.
MMORPGDot: Well gentlemen, I think that about wraps it up. I'd like to thank you both for taking time to talk with Mmorpgdot.
KD: Hmm, well thats definitely something for us to think about. I beleive something like that would be needed to encourage players to socialise. It's definetly possible even in the games current state to set something like that up.
Draconus: I know this does not really relate to the Question....but I would like to mention that we have added portable camping gear to the game (ie tents blankets and camp fires) so players can set up camp sites for meeting places where ever they like.
KD: Its little features like that that set us apart from the other MMORPGs.
KD: Its a pleasure, really. Thank you for your time too.