Alliance of Valiant Arms Interview: Not Just About The Pretty Graphics
Questions by Chen Fo Po (cinderboy), OnRPG Journalist
Answers by Wook Kim, Product Manager
Alliance of Valiant Arms (or A.V.A) is a MMOFPS published by renowned MMO portal, Ijji. Developed using the Unreal 3 engine, the game boasts insanely detailed graphics and realistic gameplay. Based on a fictional war between the EU (European Union) and the NRF (Neo-Russian Federation), how will the game be compared to the various MMO shooters out there?
OnRPG: Hello, I am Fo Po (cinderboy) from OnRPG. Can you please introduce yourself?
Hello OnRPG, My name is Wook Kim and I am the Project Manager for A.V.A at NHN USA.
OnRPG: Can you briefly describe to us the background story for A.V.A?
The storyline of A.V.A is that in the near future a war breaks out in fight for oil and power. Europe is split into two factions, the EU (European Union) and the NRF (Neo Russian Federation). While the NRF becomes really powerful and dominating all across Europe, the struggling EU gets assistance and support of the American troops. And that is where the story of A.V.A begins.
OnRPG: It has been more than 6months since A.V.A launched. Your thoughts so far?
It's doing really well. Since launch, we have been updating twice a month so that we can offer our users as much content as soon as we can. There are now over 30 different primary weapons and 15 maps compared to 13 primary weapons and 8 maps when we launched. We also updated Prison Break AI Missions as well for users who enjoy Co-op missions against AI/NPCs. Not only the content, but we also updated features such as Daily missions for rewards and revamped the in game economy system for more in game money output. I think A.V.A in its current state is the best Free to play FPS game in the market and we are very excited for the future.
OnRPG: What were some of the difficulties the team faced initially?
One of the difficulties we faced initially was server setup. In Korea where A.V.A is originated, they use a P2P system. Korea is about the size of California so they can service in a P2P method and have no lag in game. But here in the US, P2P system would be very inconvenient for our users. We have two IDC server locations setup, one in West Coast and one in East Coast to accommodate the entire North America. The difficulty here was managing the cost of the dedicated servers. We wanted to provide the best user experience in a high quality game like A.V.A with no lag issues. Without going into too much boring detail, it was a difficult issue at first but we have it covered now.
OnRPG: The game is developed using the rather advanced Unreal 3 Engine. Does it mean that players who are interested in the game, but with a older system, will have difficulties playing?
Using the Unreal 3 Engine means that among Free to Play games, A.V.A's graphics are unmatched. Users will need a decent computer to take advantage of the beautiful graphics on the highest settings, however, the game is still very much playable with some of the options turned off for users with older systems.
OnRPG: From your point of view, what is the one thing that makes A.V.A stand out from the crowd?
Well, I really want to mention more than one thing. haha. Sure I want to mention the high quality graphics, all the game modes, weapon customizations, and more, but if I had to mention just one thing about A.V.A that stands out is the balanced gameplay. It is really well balanced for the gameplay for all 3 character classes; Point Man, Rifle Man, and Sniper. One class does not stand tall amongst the others. It really depends on the skills of the player in using the right class for the situation. It is best to choose a class that fits your playstyle as well as the balance of your team. In A.V.A, players can choose to switch classes after each death or round and it gives the player the option to change and enhance their game play. Keep in mind, your opponents have the same option so that makes it much more interesting and balanced in that you are always trying to play strategically and to outsmart your opponents.
OnRPG: How detailed is the tutorial for players who are new to the game?
The tutorial at the beginning of the game is very helpful for players to learn how to play A.V.A and understand A.V.A User Interface. It roughly takes about 10 ~ 15 minutes to complete for new players. Also a reward of In Game Money is given to those who complete the tutorial.
OnRPG: Can you briefly give us a refresh on the different modes available in the game?
Currently, there are 7 game modes in A.V.A. There will be more game mode updates in the near future.
* Demolition - This game mode is a Search & Destroy or to explain simply 'plant bomb & defuse bomb' game mode.
* Escort - In this game mode, EU team's mission is to escort a Leopard2A6 tank to the other side of the map while the NRF team's mission is to stop the EU from achieving their mission at all costs. This game mode is team based with a team death match type of style where players respawn after each death instead of each round like Demolition. NRF will use a RPG launcher to attach the tank while EU repairs and keep the tank moving.
* Annihilation - Annihilation is the team death match game mode in A.V.A. In this game mode, both teams have the same objective, annihilate the opposing team. In A.V.A annihilation game mode, you score a point for your team by killing your opponent and you also get bonus points for your team by collecting a number of enemy dog tags from falls enemies. The team to get to the pre-set win score amount wins.
* Convoy - In Convoy, there are two parts to the objective. Both teams have the same objective which is to retrieve the objective item then make way to the objective point to escape or deliver the objective item. This makes for very strategic game play that both teams can either attack or defend.
* Domination - Domination game mode is similar to King of the Hill in Halo or Conquest in Battlefield. The team to hold the domination objective point for the winning condition amount of time wins the match. In A.V.A, the losing team can ask for help by calling UAV and AI controlled allies flying in helicopter to assist them for a limited time.
* Free For All - Free For All is a individual game mode where there are no teams. Simply put, it is a individual deathmatch, every man for themselves.
* Prison Break AI Missions - Prison Break missions are Co-op missions where players are on the same team (EU) fighting against AI controlled NRF prisoners. Each team can have up to 4 players. There are 3 different missions in Prison Break; Survival, Escape, and Rescue. Each of them are different in that it has different stages and different objectives. Rescue is the hardest and it also has a easy mode where players can form 5 man teams to conquer the rescue mission. Each mission has rewards for completing the mission.
OnRPG: In most online shooters, players do not have the option of customizing their weapons or equipment compared to traditional MMORPGs. Will A.V.A be any different?
Yes, one of the great things about A.V.A is the weapon customization. Customization to your weapon gives the player the option to add various custom parts that can increase or decrease the stats of your weapon. For example, on the AK47, one of the custom parts that can be added is the Reinforced barrel. This custom part increases 3 damage points while decreasing 1 stability point and 1 Rate of Fire point. So it is up to the user how to customize the weapon. While most guns have a customization option, some of the guns in A.V.A have a modification option. For example a G36 by default can be modified to G36 Rail. Again, the option is given to the player to customize or to modify - it is up to the player.
OnRPG: What roles do the different classes play? Is there a medic class?
There is no medic class. There are 3 classes in A.V.A; Point Man, Rifle Man, and Sniper. Point man uses SMGs and Shotguns and has the ability to unlock various skills such as running skills that increases their mobility, knife training for more melee attack damage and range, and other various skills. Rifle man using Assault rifles has the ability to unlock various skills such as Advanced Defense that increases defense rating, Grenade Throw skills that increases the throwing range of grenades, and other various skills. Snipers obviously using a sniper rifle have ability to unlock skills such as Pistol Training that increases reload speed of pistols and ammo capacity increase, SR Training that increases weapon draw speed, and other various skills. All 3 classes play a very important role for the team and all have their advantages as well as disadvantages.
OnRPG: How does A.V.A promote team play within the game?
A.V.A promotes team play in the fact that basically almost all modes in the game are team-based. In PVP game modes, the highest rank player is given the title of Squad Commander. Squad Commander is the only player who is equipped with binoculars. There is one squad commander for each team who can use the binoculars to zoom in to look for enemies and take a snap photo. When this occurs, the locations of enemies who have been observed through the binoculars are given away to the rest of the team. In Escort, when repairing a tank, having two people repair at the same time cuts down repair time by half. There are also radio command messages along with hand signals that teams can use to communicate to each other of what they are doing at the moment. Team play is one of the biggest factors of winning in A.V.A. In AI missions, teams have to be made to go up against the AI controlled NPCs.
OnRPG: Will there be a big gap between cash shop spenders and non-spenders in terms of gameplay?
There isn't any gap between cash shop players and non spenders. We kept the game balanced so that there is no big gap at all between the two groups of users. We didn't want to push away our non spenders from the game by making things overpowering to the cash shop users. All the weapons can be purchased through G Coin which is ijji.com's portal cash currency or In Game Money.
OnRPG: How is A.V.A holding up against hackers who disrupt the game?
We are holding up very well against hackers. We use gameguard as anti-hack system. We also have the server detecting hack usage itself and kicking out those hackers detected. And then there is an in game hack report feature where players can report hackers. With all 3 of these systems in place, A.V.A is so far doing very well against hackers. And then there is our legal team that takes legal actions against those who create or distribute the hack programs. Our users will also agree that A.V.A is the most hack Free to play FPS game there is on the market.
OnRPG: What are some of the future updates and improvements players can look forward to?
There are still numerous maps, weapons, and items to come. By end of 2010, we also plan to update a new game mode called Cross Steal. In this game mode, teams go back and forth obtaining the opponent's objective and taking back to their own base. It is similar to the Capture the Flag game mode. And we will also have another all expense paid trip for International Tournament in Korea hosted by IeSF, International E-Sports Federation. We attended last year and USA team got 3rd place. Hopefully this year, we can place higher than we did last year.
OnRPG: Are there any upcoming events planned for the game, especially its first anniversary?
We don't want to spill the beans of our event plans just yet since it is still quite some time away. But we will definitely have an event planned for our anniversary.
OnRPG: Before ending this interview, is there anything you will like to say to our readers?
I would just like to thank OnRPG for conducting this interview and I would like to invite all the readers to come and play some A.V.A. We feel very confident that A.V.A will be a great experience and you will not regret downloading and installing it. So come and join the fun at http://ava.ijji.com.
OnRPG: Thanks for your time!
Thank you OnRPG!