SOE Fan Faire may be over, but our writers still have a lot to say about what they saw and heard at the event. Next up is Nic Stransky’s interview with Chris “Binky” Launius about Perpetual Entertainment’s Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising.
Perpetual Entertainment recently announced that they retain the full publisher credit for the upcoming Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising, while Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) focuses on marketing and retail distribution. This may have surprised those who thought that SOE was directly involved in the production of the game, but SOE made it clear that Perpetual was creating the game in their own studio and that their hard work day to day is what is responsible for its current success.
Even though Perpetual’s will be the only logo on the game box the two companies remain cooperative in their marketing efforts. This was evident at the recent SOE FanFaire where Perpetual seemed as much a part of the Sony family as any other title. The MMO Gamer got the chance to speak to Gods & HeroesCommunity Relations Manager, Chris “Binky” Launius, about his company’s philosophy and vision for their fledgling project.
As has already been reported in an earlier article the game’s story takes place during the 3rd century BC in Rome when the Republic became the dominant force in all of the Mediterranean. Equally as strong was the culture of polytheism, or the belief in many gods. The God’s & Heroes designers therefore have thousands of myths and stories to inspire their own interpretations of what a more fantastic historical era might have been like.
“Our game is [heavily focused] on role-playing,” says Chris of the development team’s intent.
The player’s story begins with the character creation system. Chris zoomed the camera in to show his character’s face and explained that everything was completely customizable. Using slider tools players can choose the size of each feature as well as other options specific to that feature. Without simplifying it too much, players can give their character the beady-eyed glower of a shiftless drifter, or the full-lipped regal countenance of a hero. Besides their look each character can use over 200 emote actions including 7 different dances making it obvious that this is definitely a team that sees value in the player’s ability to express themselves.
The next step is choosing one of the six classes. Players can choose a Soldier if they would like to be highly skilled in protection and commonly called the tank. They can choose a Gladiator to focus their hands on offense instead of defense and to be referred to as melee DPS. Those who become Scouts will do their damage from a distance with arrows or spears and will answer to ranged DPS. A player choosing to be a Priest will have significant boons to offer their party and can curse enemies, but will undoubtedly be asked to play the role of healer. Players who choose to play Mystics can look forward to using crowd control abilities as well as casting area of effect damage spells and will answer the call of CC/ DPS. Finally, if the player decides upon the Nomad class they will be the jack of all trades, and could feasibly fit the role of either healer, CC, or DPS depending on their chosen skills.
After choosing a class the player is given the option of one of two gods. These gods will define what special abilities, or God Powers, the character has access to as the game progresses. This choice also determines the set of Minions out of the 130 available that the player can acquire.
“Minions are NPCs that you control,” explains Chris.
“Kind of like some single player RPGs like Final Fantasy?” I inquire.
“Similar, except this is the first MMO to do it.”
Chris opens up the Squad Creation window and explains that since his character is level 40 he can have up to 4 minions in his Squad. Choosing from his Roster he can pick any class make-up he wants; as long as he has acquired the Minions they will always be with him, but only those that are in the Squad will gain experience. Players can still group with each other and combine their Squads, and will have to for the toughest encounters. Groups can have up to 5 players in them, and with 4 Minions each the group could have 25 characters.
“You can also set up your Minion’s behavior,” he continues.
Minions can be either controlled directly with the action bars on the screen, or players can setup pre-determined thresholds for certain responses. For example, a healer Minion could be instructed to only begin casting a heal spell when a party member has reached 85% health, or a ranged DPS minion could be told to only start attacking once a monster has reached 95% health. Chris could not divulge all of the possibilities the Perpetual team is working on, but it is clear that this dynamic offers a lot of potential and a type of game play not yet seen in any MMO.
The interface appears very usable, and the designers are employing a minimalist style in order to keep the screen clear of clutter. All of the windows can be moved and their positions saved, and the key bindings and action bars are completely customizable. The designers are adamant about making the game user friendly and have included an extensive set of maps for every zone, city, and dungeon. Many of these are high quality hand drawn maps, and all of them have a convenient “Find me” button to point out your position. The game has a mini-map to assist players in finding monsters and quest NPCs, and although they want the world to feel huge, the Gods & Heroes team doesn’t want players to get lost.
“[The team] wants to release with good solid content – quality over quantity,” insists Chris.
Gods & Heroes has been in development for almost 5 years, and the game has changed quite a bit during that time. They recently completely revamped the Feat Tree; where characters specialize their skills and abilities, in order to hopefully make it easier for players to plan out their character’s progression. The team hopes that changes like this help to make the game more accessible and more fun.
The game is currently in closed beta, and will only have PvE encounters at launch. Soon after launch they are looking to add instanced PvP encounters with a ladder system, tournaments, and even arenas where other players can gather and play spectator. Chris said they are also planning on including non-combat content like crafting, but no details have been nailed down yet. Their first planned expansion will be “Egypt” and will introduce Nation vs. Nation combat. This will be world PVP similar to the Realm vs. Realm combat of Dark Age of Camelot.
When I asked Chris if Perpetual had thought about doing micro-transactions, also known as secondary markets where in-game gold and items could be bought directly from the company, he offered a smile and a shrug.
“On-the-record: no decisions have been made,” he prefaces. “But if they did it would be server specific.”
The tentative release date for Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising is this Fall. The official community web site with forums and closed beta sign-ups can be found at: http://community.godsandheroes.com/
Special thanks to Chris “Binky” Launius for his generous offering of time and energy.