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Minions of Mirth Interview, Part #2
Corwin, 2005-11-16

Move over EQ, step aside UO, there's a new kid on the block - MoM. Ever wanted to take an online RPG and be able to play it single player? Have you ever thought how great it would be to host a living online persistent world and add your own custom content whenever you felt the need? Well soon you'll be able to, when Minions of Mirth a massively single and multiplayer RPG from Prairie Games is released on December 15. We continue our discussion with Josh Ritter in this second part - head here for Part #1.

RPGDot: I'm sure everyone will be interested to hear about character creation and all the options you have provided including both a light and dark side option with different starting locations for each.

Josh Ritter: The game features two opposing realms each with it's own main storyline. You can choose to play on either the light or dark side. The realm you choose opens up certain races and classes. It also sets your starting location in the world. You can have both dark and light characters in the same world. Though, they are prohibited from trading and sharing resources with one another. MoM's realm system extends gameplay immensely.

RPGDot: There are plenty of choices a player can make regarding class, but in addition you have created a novel way of multiclassing with sliders for Exp. Allotment. Would you care to elaborate on this.

Josh Ritter: At level 5, a character may gain a secondary class. At level 15, a character may gain a tertiary. The player can control XP gain for each class via a set of three sliders. This gives the player fine control of their character's advancement.

RPGDot: I've noticed an amazing variety of spells available to many of the classes in the game. What are some of your favourites and why.

Josh Ritter: The wizard has some really cool spells. They can cast invisibility, shrink, enlarge, and even transmute themselves into dragon form and fly around. Druids are another favorite with their pets and animal forms (including werewolf, werecat, and wererat). Revealers have a number of illusion spells and can charm other beings. Teleportation spells are great for getting around the world quickly. Clerics healing and buff spells are also very useful.

RPGDot: One of the things that almost overwhelms a new player is the number of available onscreen windows and the complexity built into many of them. Could you explain this design decision and the feedback you have been getting.

Josh Ritter: At it's most basic, a player can make a Barbarian, walk over to a monster, double click to kill it, double click again to loot it, rinse and repeat. On the other end, a player may form a party of 6 multiclassed characters and program up to 30 individual macro buttons for each!!! MoM provides a lot of options and there is a fair amount of information to show. We have worked very hard to provide "accelerators" for many of the game functions. We also provide tooltips and have in game documentation of common mouse and keyboard commands.

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RPGDot: Integral to any RPG, is Combat. There's lots of it in MoM and you can tackle it solo, or with a party. What do you see as the current strengths and weaknesses of the combat system?

Josh Ritter: MoM's combat system scales really well over a wide level range. There are frequent skill and equipment upgrades with advancement points to spend on combat abilities. Melee combat is further subdivided between combatant and rogue archetypes. Rogues rely more on criticals and special combat abilties. One area we need to expand combat is in more active skills for some classes. For instance, the Monk class has a variety of martial arts and abilities, whereas the Paladin has very few.

RPGDot: One of the most difficult areas of a game to balance, is the economy. How has this been handled in MoM?

Josh Ritter: We are currently balancing the economy. In general, you need meaningful items to buy and in multiplayer rare items that have trading value.

RPGDot: Something most people like to see in a game, is their avatar reflect what they are wearing or using. Has this been difficult to implement and how does it work when you are playing a party rather than just one character?

Josh Ritter: A lot of work went into the material based clothing system. We have clothing sets which can be separately applied to the body, legs, arms, hands, and feet. There are also 3d helms, weapons, and shields that can be equipped. We decided early on that we wanted to focus on gameplay and not navigating six characters in the 3d world. So, we chose to represent player parties with a single avatar. You can choose which of your characters represents your party in the 3d world.

RPGDot: The game is built around a number of Zones. Could you explain how this works.

Josh Ritter: A game zone is a discreet, themed area of the game world. For example, we have city zones, wilderness zones, and dungeon zones. Players can bind their location in zones that have bindstones. When a player dies, this is where they will respawn. MoM supports absolutely huge zone sizes and some zones even give experience bonuses.

RPGDot: Modding a game is very popular today. Will this be possible with MoM, and if so, how will it work?

Josh Ritter: The Python scripting language is used to modify and extend the role-playing elements of the game. Players can add new monsters, weapons, items, spells, quests, skills, etc. The game also ships with a built in real-time level editor for making new zones. In fact, we have already rolled several user modifications and additions into the official build of the game!

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RPGDot: You're still in Beta at the moment. What sort of feedback have you been getting from your testers and how will this influence the final weeks of development?

Josh Ritter: Tester feedback is very important to us. We have used feedback extensively on the combat system and XP gains. Our testers often catch many of the games data errors and other problems before we have a chance to spot them.

RPGDot: Will you continue to add to the game after it has been released?

Josh Ritter: We have implemented the Live Update system with this specifically in mind. We also plan on making expansions for the game which will include new zones, monsters, items, and gameplay features. It is very important to us that the game succeeds and is a great deal of fun!

RPGDot: What does the future hold for Josh Ritter and Prairie Games?

Josh Ritter: I have been far too busy to give this much thought. The technology that has been created for MoM would support a number of other RPG genres. For now, I wake up and go to sleep solely thinking about Minions of Mirth.

RPGDot: How will MoM be sold?

Josh Ritter: The game is currently in beta and can be pre-ordered for $25 here. When you pre-order, you get access to the beta and will also receive the full version which will be available December 15th, 2005. We offer a free demo that can be played in both single and multiplayer. The game runs on both Windows and OSX.

RPGDot: Josh, on behalf of RPGDot, I would like to thank you for taking the time from your unbelievably busy schedule to answer these questions. We wish you all the best with Minions of Mirth and hope that it will soon become the Number One online RPG.

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