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Atlantica Online Interview

Discussion in 'MMO Interviews' started by alistaly, Jan 20, 2009.

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  1. alistaly

    alistaly Spiked Club The Pit

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    Aurora: As an introductory overview, what kind of online world is Atlantica? What is its underlying premise or concept? With respect to its high-level design goals, and what types / balance of gameplay does it provide? What does it offer that will differentiate it from the many other massively multiplayer games, both current and upcoming? What kinds of gamers comprise your core target market? What is the derivation of the name Atlantica?

    Ndoors: Atlantica is a fantasy world unlike any other; that’s because it’s set on our very own planet, Earth. With so many myths and legends from our rich history and culture —including the legend of Atlantis (which we derived our name from) — it became clear to us that there is no world more fantastic than our own. But still, there are those who like to breeze through the content, and we knew the importance of providing an element of gameplay that would continue to bring our players back for more — strategic turn-based combat. It is fresh and unique and provides something different to MMO fans, while also appealing to classic JRPG fans as well.

    Aurora: Who is the developer of the game, where is it located, and what else has the company developed? When did development of Atlantica begin? When and where did it first enter live service? In what markets is it currently available, and since when? How successful has it been? What are the key reasons for this success?

    Ndoors: Atlantica was developed by the great team we have at NDOORS, and we are based in South Korea. Some of our previous efforts include Luminary: Rize of the GoonZu, Time N Tales, and KoongPa — all of which are MMOs that have built the foundation for the game we have today. After three years in development, Atlantica was finally released in Korea in January 2008 and localized for the English-speaking market in October. The reception has been nothing short of amazing; as of this interview, we’re the top ranked game on both MMORPG.com and MMOsite.com!

    Aurora: Why do you believe the game to be attractive to North American users? What do you regard as the main opportunities and barriers to success? Why do you feel it has a better chance of success than the other Asian imports we’re seeing here? What is your revenue model, and why did you make this choice?

    Ndoors: A large part of our success can be attributed to the worldwide appeal of a turn-based system, along with the numerous quests that ease the grind that some Korean MMORPGs are accused of. A lot of Korean MMOs have forgotten the importance of the “RP†in an “RPG,†where more emphasis is put into stats and power, and leveling is usually so difficult that it eventually feels like a chore. With Atlantica, we wanted to create a world where players get completely immersed in the magic of Atlantica. Atlantica uses a micro-transaction model. All NDOORS games are free-to-play, as we prefer to give players the option of first trying out the game and seeing if they like it before forcing them to spend their money on the game. Even then, players can choose not to pay anything, and the game experience will still be the same.

    Aurora: What’s the overall setting / environment in which Atlantica takes place? How much of a backstory / story element will there be in the game, and to what extent can we expect ongoing story lines?

    Ndoors: As much as we take pride in our gameplay, we know that the story of Atlantica will push players to discover more. Atlantica is set on a parallel Earth, where some 1,500 years ago, a powerful, yet belligerent civilization of Atlantis mysteriously vanished overnight as a result of their greed for power. Having their powers derived from magical artifacts, Atlantis was the envy of the world. But that too, soon disappeared. The artifacts have since reappeared and are now poisoning people, wreaking havoc on the world. It is up the protagonist, a descendant of Atlantis, to traverse real-world locales, fighting classic monsters of legend, and solve the mystery of Atlantis and its artifacts, saving humanity in the process.

    Aurora: In overview, how does the gameworld differ from those other of MMOGs? How large will it be, and how varied in terms of different types of size, terrain, architecture et al? How much of the gameworld will be instanced?

    Ndoors: A lot of the locales players come across in Atlantica are real-world locations. Each zone has its own unique look and feel; players will be able to see the inspiration drawn from the many cultures throughout history. Players will quickly become familiar with some of the cities such as Rome and Athens while the great wonders of the world, such as the pyramids of Egypt and the Great Wall of China, will immediately catch the attention of watchful explorers. And for those warriors always looking for a fight will soon become acquainted with Dracula, who resides in the dungeons of Bran Castle.

    Aurora: What choices will players have when creating characters? How much freedom / latitude in customizing their starting characters (i.e. are they able to choose class, abilities, gender, physical features, etc.)? What steps will be involved in character creation, and what key decisions will have to be made during this stage?

    Ndoors: New players just starting out will have a wide array of choices as far as character creation is concerned. Aside from their appearance and gender, players can also choose the weapon they want to specialize in — players have a choice of axe, sword, bow, cannon, gun, spear and staff, each of which has its own strengths and weaknesses.

    Aurora: How will the character advancement system work? Is it skill-based, level-based or something else? Will all skills and abilities be available to a given character, or will some have prerequisites or other limitations? How will advancement happen (practice, purchase with exp or level points, something else?), and how much choice and what kinds of choices will the player have in how a character develops over the long-term? Will it be it possible to "max out" any skill or attribute? Will skills decay if not used? Will there be ways for players to reverse their choices?

    Ndoors: Characters will advance in typical MMO fashion. Characters gain experience points to level up from questing and killing monsters. Every level bump will increase stats and allow for players to increase their skill points for class-specific skills. It’s completely up to the player if they want to spend all of their points on one skill for one uber powerful spell, or spread them out to be able to perform various spells. If players mess up in allocating their points, they can always reset their skills through a special book that can be acquired in-game or at the item mall.

    Aurora: How combat-oriented will the gameplay be? How will the combat system function? What are your overall goals for the combat system, and what important, interesting or unusual features will it incorporate? What are the main differences from other MMOGs in this aspect of the game, and what led to them? Is there PvP in the game? If so, how does it function and how important is it?

    Ndoors: One of the key features of Atlantica Online is its turn-based combat. While most MMOs simply require players to hack and slash their way to victory, our game requires the player to use his or her head a little bit. In Atlantica, players will be assigned Action Power which players will have to carefully manage in the 30 seconds they are given. Action Power, assigned to the main character and all the mercenaries, can be used to move, guard or attack. The addition of a Mercenary System also adds another element of strategy. Players will eventually be controlling up to eight additional characters in their party. Yes, PvP is in the game, and that too is an important part of the game we wanted included too. So there are many opportunities for players to fight each other in Atlantica, with the Free Leagues, which are regularly scheduled PvP battles held throughout the day, and Challenges, which allow players to call out other players and then take their gold in the form of a wager.

    Aurora: Will there be a large, diverse range of computer-controlled opponents, or is Atlantica primarily or completely played against other players? What are the main considerations that have gone into designing the NPC opponents? What are some interesting examples? How would you describe your goals for the enemy AI?

    Ndoors: With character advancement based on quests and killing monsters, it only makes sense to offer hundreds of computer-controlled opponents. In the same way the locations we created, a lot of our inspiration for NPC design came from the myths and legends of various locations, such as vampires in Europe and mummies in Egypt. But simply having cool looking monsters wasn’t enough. We wanted our game to be strategic, so we needed the NPC opponents to meet the challenge. Monsters will help each other and strategically target the weakest links to provide players with exciting battles.

    Aurora: Can we expect to see many friendly and/or neutral NPCs in Atlantica? What kinds of roles will they play, and how important will they be overall?

    Ndoors: Having all of these familiar towns and landmarks wouldn’t be as lively without people occupying them. Again, we wanted to create an immersive world, so players will come across many friendly NPCs with various roles. Even the NPCs will take on the roles of real historical figures such as Julius Caesar and William Shakespeare. The NPCs that players come across will also have various roles. Some will train new skills, while some will sell supplies that may aid players in their journey. Other NPCs include wandering mercenaries players can eventually recruit, as well as quest givers who advance the Atlantica plot.

    Aurora: Will the game offer lots of different weapons, armor and items in general, and how important will they be? Will it be possible to upgrade items, and if so how will this work? Will there be rare or unique items? Will there be limitations on the use of items (e.g. minimum level or attribute score), or will any character, even a newbie, be able to use anything? How will weapons and other items acquired? Will any items degrade and break? How about the variety and importance of other items (e.g. currency)?

    Ndoors: There are many items and equipment to be found in Atlantica. Weapons and armors are tiered so only players who’ve reached a certain level can equip them. Weapons and armors are selected randomly through equipment boxes, but they can also be purchased at the Market. Items can also be upgraded through Enchant and Enhance Stones, making weapons deadlier and armors impregnable. Rare items are much harder to come by and are usually found in dungeons.

    Aurora: Please describe the game’s magic system. What different types, classes or schools of magic are you including? How will spells be acquired, learned and cast? Will players need mana, runes, reagents or any other components? What are the primary differences from other online worlds in this aspect of the game, and how and what led to them?

    Ndoors: Magic in Atlantica is unique to the weapon a player wields. For example, a swordsman can use the magic skill Flame Sword, a skill where fire literally engulfs the sword and does a devastating attack for massive damage. To use this skill, players will need to have sufficient Magic points in addition to their Action Power (all actions require Action Power points). If a player is short on Action Power, he must wait an additional turn to accumulate more points, while if he is short on mana, he can simply use a mana potion to replenish his Magic points.

    Aurora: What will happen when your character dies? Are you implementing penalties such as lost items, experience points, etc.? What led to this decision? Will it matter whether you’re killed by an NPC opponent or another player?

    Ndoors: Players will incur penalties when they die. This is to encourage players to err on the side of caution and to understand there are consequences. Death will result in the loss of Experience points and gold. However, players who wisely use the bank will not lose any gold they have stored. However, penalties are not applied in PvP.

    Aurora: How significant will quests or missions be in the game? How will they be acquired, and what can you tell us about the various types in the game or about specific ones? How will you make and keep the quest element fresh? To what extent can we expect GM-driven quests or events as well as any other non-static quests, puzzles et al?

    Ndoors: Quests are very significant: it allows players to progress without missing all the great content we have to offer. Most quests can be acquired from NPCs to advance the story, in which they may ask the player to slay monsters, recover items, and discover certain locations. Quest givers may also ask the player to perform any of the features Atlantica has to offer, such as navigating the UI, crafting items, and mailing gifts to other players. We understand the importance of a strong community, so we want to stay involved. Players can expect to see GMs hanging around in towns and engage players. We also hold GM-staged events where monsters are released in towns just to mix it up a bit.

    Aurora: How will temporary grouping function? Is anything unusual or different about this element in your game? Will players derive any bonuses if they group? What kinds of limitations will there be? How will loot be split? Is the game design oriented more towards groups or players who prefer to solo? Will there be in-game guild-type groups (i.e. long-term groups), how important a role will they play, and what benefits will players derive from joining?

    Ndoors: Everyone is encouraged to party and play together; it is an MMOG after all. Players can invite anyone to join their group and form a party of up to three players (for a possible total of 27 characters). The groups are arranged side by side, and each player controls their own team in the 30 seconds provided. Grouping also yields bonus experience points, to further encourage party play, but this doesn’t mean we didn’t keep the solo players in mind. While some of the dungeons will be very difficult clear alone, we offer scrolls that allow players group with some of the nearby enemy NPCs, which offer the same benefits as grouping with one’s fellow players. We also have high-level guild dungeons that offer great rewards but are restricted to guilds and their members.

    Aurora: What kinds of major activities will there be aside from combat? Please describe the system(s) of non-combat skills or abilities. How extensive and how important will they be? How much emphasis are you putting on a player economy and crafting? How feasible will it be to play and advance a low-combat or no-combat character?

    Ndoors: Although the only way to advance one’s character and story is through combat, we understand that players need alternatives to prevent burnout, and offering extracurricular activities helps create a more interactive world where players can socialize. One of the major activities that players can find is our in-depth crafting system. Nearly every item in Atlantica can be crafted with the right materials and be sold for a profit. Atlantica also offers a town management system where guilds can control towns and tax its citizens. Guilds can also align themselves with other guilds to form Nations, and then declare war against other Nations.

    Aurora: Please describe the major features of your game’s engine and overall technology, especially any aspects that particularly important due to the nature of the game. What third-party technology are you using, if any, and what factored into this decision? What points of view are supported, and how much camera control do players have? What are the system requirements likely to be for good game performance?

    Ndoors: We used the Gamebryo game engine for its flexibility and reliability. It also has a great track record with RPGs and MMORPGs. The camera can be freely adjusted and moved by simply right-clicking. We also have a special feature during combat called Camera Effects for dynamic action scenes when characters perform specific actions.

    Aurora: What about your server technology? What are the significant features? What is your target capacity in terms of simultaneous players per server cluster? Why did you choose this capacity?

    Ndoors: We have one database server supporting multiple game servers for increased efficiency. We have efficient encryption technology to strengthen security and our system allows for great flexibility, making it easier to up constantly update Atlantica.

    Aurora: Community is obviously critical for MMOGs. What are the key goals you’re focused on in this area? What kind of support are you providing for the player community, both in the game and outside?

    Ndoors: An addition to Atlantica during the closed beta phase was the Stamina System, and it has seen mixed reactions. But the primary reason we implemented this feature was to strengthen the community. We wanted players to help each other, send each other gifts, party and clear dungeons together. and just overall enjoy the game together. While each battle consumes a Stamina point, performing all of the aforementioned activities will slowly restore stamina. We also have a Mentor System to offer rewards to veteran players who help beginners. Outside of the game, we have set up community pages and have been holding events to encourage fan sites and participation.

    Aurora: Since MMOGs evolve over time, what are the key directions we can expect Atlantica to follow in this market?

    Ndoors: The top MMOGs all have a persistent world, and to keep our game fresh, we have to keep the world of Atlantica constantly evolving. Players can expect to see new locations opened up as well as level cap increases, new mercenaries, new quests and new dungeons. Plus with all of the rich lore we can draw from history, the possibilities are endless.

    Aurora: What kind of user is your game most likely to attract? Why would serious MMO gamers want to play it instead of or in addition to other titles? On the other hand, how viable will it be to play Atlantica only a few hours a week, and what are you doing to accommodate such players? How suitable is the game for players who prefer to solo?

    Ndoors: We hope to attract anyone who just wants to have fun and be challenged. Any fans of turn-based games will find Atlantica to be a welcome addition to the genre. Console gamers familiar with JRPGs will all find the strategy and combat intense and exciting, and serious MMOG fans will find all the features of the typical MMOG in Atlantica. The game is accessible to MMOG beginners and veterans, as well as casual and hardcore players alike. People with limited time can use a few hours a week to go on quests and work their way to Atlantis, while serious can immerse themselves with their guilds and and work to take over towns and then govern them.

    Aurora: Is there anything else that you’d like to tell our readers (e.g. have any important features or elements not been addressed?), something you’d like to ask them, or any other closing thoughts?

    Ndoors: Atlantica is a break from the cookie-cutter MMORPGs that fill the marketplace, with their similar grinding gameplay and fictional worlds that no one can relate to. We think we’ve created something new that will provide people a uniquely fun and exciting gaming experience.

    Interview taken from the official Atlantica Online website.
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