Continuing at the PC gaming show Rezzed, we interviewed Frogster's Rudiger Moersch about bringing the free-to-play monster hunting MMO to Europe.
In most MMOs, we’re content to go with the easy kills. One time we might be rampaging through a village of defenseless Jawa. Another might see us obliterate waves of cheap murlocs. All that counts is that they swarm like a hive of bees and make a satisfying squish when they die. Sometimes, the destruction of digital cannon fodder is all you need.
Other times, I get a craving to go after the big fish. I see the Big Ass Monster towering over me, taking entire fields in his stride. I watch the other players flee, lest they become squashed underfoot. And I tell myself: one day, we will dance the whirlwind of death. It will be an epic clash of might versus agility, of steel against sorcery. And in the end, when the dust settles, I’ll take you down.
If playing the role of David in a world of Goliaths sounds like a dream come true, then monster-hunting MMO RaiderZ might be just what you need. As part of our grand tour of PC gaming show Rezzed, I spoke to Rüdiger Moersch, Producer for Frogster, about bringing this free-to-play action-MMO to Europe.
ZAM: When I played RaiderZ on the show floor, it felt like instead of getting quests to kill ten wolves, it was “go out and kill this giant boss”. Is this the centerpiece of RaiderZ?
Rüdiger Moersch: That’s a fair thing to say. The monsters, the big monsters, are in the center of it. That’s why we put them on the center of our poster too, because they’re a unique part of the game. There are still some other parts that are unique and special, but the big monsters, they’re the ones everyone’s standing in front of saying “Whoa.” They can pick you up, they can stamp you into the ground, they can chew on you, and they can spit you out. They’re so interactive with the player, which you haven’t experienced in any other MMO so far.
ZAM: I was doing one of the early boss fights, where you’ve got this kind of frog creature with a big horn…
Rüdiger: Eluga! He’s one of my favorites, yes [laughs]
ZAM: In other MMOs I would stand at the back, throw spells, try and slow him down, and then move. Whereas with this one I was running in circles, watching for tells, and so on. Is that used purely for questing, or does it extend into dungeons?
Rüdiger: It ggoes into dungeons and into the open world experience, because the world is basically open. Some of the quests and some of the instances are blocked, where you need to be a certain level or have a certain quest in order to go on. But the normal world is open. So you can go, with your level 5 character, into zones where you have enemies at level thirty. If you want to! It’s your own life, be my guest [laughs]!
For example, fighting a normal mob in a level thirty area with a level five character, you have to run a lot. You have to evade, you have to block, and you basically have to develop survival skills.
ZAM: But is that possible?
Rüdiger: Yes. It’s very, very hard. You will have to use all the tricks in the book, but you can survive there. I won’t say that you’ll be able to kill the boss monsters there on your own: that would be impossible, because they’re very high level and very difficult to fight. But, every once in a while, you’ll kill one of the normal mobs that has something like a ten level advantage over you. It is possible, if you do it right.
ZAM: When MMOs first started going mainstream, you had classes that could kite and manipulate and maneuver. Is this going to bring it back for players who love that?
Rüdiger: Yes, I would say so. Not only that, it’s trying to get a new, fresh approach into the MMO scene. One thing I got really bored about in MMOs was this point and click, or having a really sophisticated bot in there. What’s the point of it? They’re programming it, you’re letting it run for 24 hours, coming back and saying “Yeah, I killed a random monster!” No you didn’t, your bot did.
Here in RaiderZ, you have to do it yourself. There is no bot in there. You have to go in there, you have to fight yourself, and if you die, it’s your fault. But OK, we have instant reincarnation, so it’s no problem.
ZAM: The respawning at a stone point?
Rüdiger: That’s right. One of the items that we’ll bring out in the micro transaction system is a scroll that will let you spawn at the point where you died.
ZAM: So you are going to include a micro transaction store alongside it?
Rüdiger: Sure, it’s free-to-play, so we have to get some money into it. But I can promise you that we’re trying to avoid having items in there that are pay-to-win. We will have items in there that give the players a bit of an edge, yes. Things like the scroll I just mentioned, a health potion that gives you a little more health than a normal one, or maybe even things like if you pay, you get two weeks early entry into a new zone. But there will not be anything that is pay-to-win, and there will not be anything that is blocked from any other player who is not paying.
ZAM: Are you going to include cosmetic items and pets?
Rüdiger: Yes, sure, it’s one of the areas we get revenue from. Pets are still in development - we have a rough plan for them, but I can’t actually tell when they’re coming. There are so many other things on the plan list that are also cool and also great, so we don’t know yet.
ZAM: This time you’re partnering with [Korean developer] Maiet. Has delivering TERA helped with bringing unique MMOs to Europe?
Rüdiger: Actually, it’s two different teams, two different developers. We got a bit of experience with how to deal with Koreans, yes. But the rest is totally unique. RaiderZ and TERA are two different companies and two different relationships. I’ve just come back from two weeks in Korea talking to Maiet, and the guys are very cool, very excited about the game, very in the game. They’re listening to us very much, and we’re listening to our players. It will be fun and interesting in the future to see what comes out of this.
ZAM: You’ve got a really tight partnership – it’s much more than a localization effort?
Rüdiger: It started with this. We got the game as it is, we looked into it. But our feedback is appreciated, and some of the stuff we started reporting back is already in the game. Not everything will be possible; if the engine doesn’t support it, we can’t do it. And some stuff will simply take too much time – they don’t have an infinite pool of programmers to do everything. But yes, we can request stuff, and we can tell them what stuff we need for the European market, because European players would like to have it, and so we get it.
ZAM: What kind of stuff do European players request?
Rüdiger: I’m looking forward to finding out – I don’t know yet! One of the last games I was working for was League of Legends, and that was completely different. Now working for RaiderZ – and I’m very happy to work with them; it’s a fun and challenging job – I’m looking forward to finding out what kind of things we have that the Asians don’t have.
One point you mentioned was localization, which is much more than translating the stuff. You have to get into the culture. To give you an example, we decided deliberately to go with British English. We don’t have the American market, so why should we use American English? Now we only have to worry about the Europeans, so it’s perfect for us!
ZAM: Character development – it isn’t based around classes per se, but instead hinges on weapons. How do weapon upgrades and characters work?
Rüdiger: We have four fighting styles – the sorcerer, cleric, defender and berserker. They all use different sets of weapons. For example, the sorcerer uses a staff, or they can use a one-handed sword. The defender has shield and sword, the berserker has two-handed weapons. Normally a character carries around two sets of weapons which can be switched very rapidly. On these weapons are also linked your talents, so the talent bar changes when you change the weapon, giving you a different set of talents.
When you create your weapon, you don’t buy them, you have to get the ingredients and go to a blacksmith, and he produces it for you. Now you have the weapon, and it has certain stats and abilities. You can then upgrade it – not so much on the simple ones, but say you have a sophisticated sword – you can put on 1 or 2 magic stones to make it even more powerful. At a certain point, say the sword is level 10 and I’m level 15, you go to the blacksmith again and create the next weapon.
ZAM: You’ve mentioned dungeons, but what about large-scale raiding and PVP?
Rüdiger: Both are in there already. Large scale raiding is something that we are still developing in principle. At the moment there are some quests in there where you are going to raid. And of course, the big monsters, like our Ziggy here [points at poster], will need a big group to have a chance at defeating them.
In PVP we already have two systems in there. One is a duel system so you can one-on-one, while the other is open PVP zones. As you go in there, at the moment it’s a free-for-all, but we also have some quests that we can start. For example, escorting a high priest from A to Z, where one group defends and one group attacks.
If you can’t wait to get stuck into RaiderZ, Frogster will be running a closed beta for European players throughout August. North American players can also join the carnage through Perfect World Inc. Sign up now for a chance to get in!
Gareth "Gazimoff" Harmer, Staff Writer