LOONG Interview w/ Nicolas Estrem, Product Manager at Gamigo GameOgre: LOONG - The Power of the Dragon is one of Chinaâ€™s most anticipated MMORPGs thatâ€™s finally coming to North America. LOONG is described as the most successful new MMOG released in China in 2010. Do you feel that LOONG will receive this same compliment in NA, and if so, what has helped it gain this reputation? Nicolas Estrem: Definitely. Loong is a new kind of free-to-play game that has stunning graphics and in-depth gaming systems. It gained massive popularity in China by offering balanced gameplay that appeals to both casual and hardcore gamers. Loong brings a breath of fresh air to a crowded MMORPG market. GameOgre: What is the story behind naming the game â€œLOONGâ€? Nicolas Estrem: â€œLoongâ€ is the original Chinese name for the game and means â€œdragonâ€ in English. GameOgre: Have you made any changes to LOONG to make it more suitable for the Western market, which often has different tastes and opinions about MMORPGs than the Eastern market? Nicolas Estrem: No. Loong already had a strong Western playing style, so there was little we had to do to adapt it for that audience. We tried to keep its original Asian feeling because so much of the lore and flare of Loong is rooted in Chinese mythology. GameOgre: How does LOONG stand up to other Chinese-based games like Nine Dragons and Conquer Online? Nicolas Estrem: Loong is a modern MMOG with high-end graphics that offers intricate gameplay suited to all types of players. It really brings something new to the free-to-play MMOG genre. Lots of effort has gone into the gameâ€™s localization while staying true to its Asian origins. GameOgre: Character classes have no limits on skill development in LOONG, which allows players to develop their characters with a lot of freedom. Can you tell us more about the classes and skills available? Nicolas Estrem: There are currently eight talent trees: sword, sabre, polearm, bow and zither. These trees are exclusive to the weapons they represent. Yin, yang and healing can be used with either of the magical weapons â€“ gloves or a totem. The last talent tree, battle, can be used by everyone and provides additional regeneration buffs as well as jumping and running bonuses. There are no set classes. Players can choose two talent trees to spend their talent points on, plus the battle tree. Tanks can be sword, sabre or polearm characters or something else entirely. Attribute points can be distributed separately, giving players the freedom to become anything they want. GameOgre: It seems that players will have a lot of freedom in terms of physical movement in the game too. Qing Gong seems to be a feature that allows this. Tell us more about Qing Gong. Is it something all players have to start with, or do you have to train or earn the skill? Nicolas Estrem: There are already quite a few interesting screenshots on the forums of players climbing the highest mountains they can find. Qing Gong is available to everyone, although some talent points need to be spent on the battle tree to unlock its full potential. You can, for example, run on water, glide through the air and leap to incredible heights with skills in this talent tree. Almost everything in Loong can be climbed if you want to give it a try. GameOgre: Tell us about the different pets that can be trained to become mounts. Are some of these traditional Chinese mythological creatures? Nicolas Estrem: Actually yes, quite a few of the pets are based on beasts from Chinese legends. The â€œFire Beast in the Skyâ€ mount, a fiery lion creature, is based on the Qilin â€“ a mystical Chinese beast whose appearance was considered a good omen. There are numerous pets and mounts available in Loong. Not all pets can become mounts, but every pet has its own benefits. You can teach them to give you potions in battle and pick up your loot. Mounts can also be trained to carry more than one player across the lands. Even just having a rare pet active will increase your characterâ€™s overall power. GameOgre: Can you tell us about the Power of the Dragon. Is it an in-game legend? Will this power be obtainable by regular players? Nicolas Estrem: Dragons are an important part of Chinese mythology. They stand for everything that is good and powerful. Dynasties of Chinese emperors used the dragon as their emblems. They are considered invisible yet decisive forces in the world. In Loong, dragons have left their marks on the world in the form of powerful items and relics from the past. Players are looking for these remnants of power as they adventure through ancient China. The goal is to claim these items for themselves or perhaps for their guilds. Each level gained brings the player closer to finding out the true power of the dragon. GameOgre: Can you tell us about the different zones players will be exploring? Are they inspired by or based on any real places in China? How much Chinese mythology or tradition is instilled in LOONG? Nicolas Estrem: The world of Loong is entirely based on Chinese mythology. The eight factions are named after legendary rulers, gods and important people from China. Fashion sets are based on traditional Chinese clothing. The regions and cities in the game are based on real or legendary places. Each region was created with its own style and look so there is great diversity from one map to the next. Kunlun is quite stunning - its capital is a floating city anchored to Earth by gigantic chains. The mountains of Kunlun are an actual mountain chain in China and are believed by some to be paradise. GameOgre: What are some of LOONGâ€™s best in-game features and why? Nicolas Estrem: The event system is definitely one of its best features. A few times a day, special monsters appear as part of an event. If players manage to find these monsters and kill them, they will rake in special and rare rewards like pets and weapons. Many monsters can only be taken down by a group of people, so teamwork is a must. Another great feature is the questing system. In many MMOGs, questing is seen as a chore. First you have to find the quest givers, then find the required items or mobs and finally return to the same NPC. In Loong, the questing system is designed to be an added bonus to your level progression and more of an optional asset than a requirement. The waypoint system allows you to quickly locate any NPC or required item/mob and automatically run to them. And best of all: you often donâ€™t need to return to the NPC who gave you the quest in order to receive your reward. Instead you get to move to the next area and turn in your quests there. GameOgre: Complex AI is involved behind the PvP and combat system in LOONG. Can you tell us more about the different modes of PvP? Nicolas Estrem: Loong has an open world PvP system with ways to keep yourself safe if you do not wish to participate. The main PvP warfare system right now is through guild relic wars. A guild will bid on a relic and, if they win the bidding, may try and take the relic. If the relic is already held by another guild, battle will ensue. The winners then gain control of the relic until the next round of bidding. These relic battles happen at a specific time each day. More PvP options will be available in the future such as city warfare and private battlegrounds. GameOgre: What endgame content is currently available at the level cap of 50? Nicolas Estrem: The mentoring system opens up at level 50. You can then have apprentices who will give you important bonuses. More dungeons, better rewards and events also become available. Much-needed materials for crafting and enhancing your weapons will become easier to find once your character reaches higher levels. It is important to note that level 50 is a temporary cap. The level cap will rise to 80 in OBT and future updates will raise it to 100. GameOgre: What are three things starting players should know about LOONG in order to advance out of newbie mode? Nicolas Estrem: 1. Press F9 to hide other players. It might sound silly, but many newcomers get frustrated because an NPC is cluttered by dozens of other players. Simply pressing F9 will make them all disappear and you will be able to access the NPC. This may also help lower-end systems run smoothly. 2. Pick up every quest before heading out Doing one quest at a time is not the most effective way to play the game. Grab all the quests you see before leaving the area as you might not have to return there to get your rewards. 3. You have 30 levels to try everything out. Up to level 30, players will be able to reset both their talent and attribute points whenever they like. So donâ€™t be shy - try everything! GameOgre: What should all players make sure they try at least once in the game? Nicolas Estrem: Join a guild and participate in relic wars. PvP might not be your thing, but relic wars are a lot of fun and a good way to meet other players. GameOgre: Is there anything else you would like our community to know about LOONG? Nicolas Estrem: Loong brings something fresh to the free-to-play genre, with loads of variety, great depth and amazing graphics. There will never be a shortage of events of either the PvP or PvE sort. Spend your time crafting, fighting or selling, in groups or alone â€“ and create truly unique characters with any combination of weapons and attributes you wish.