Eternal Lands Interview: Yes it's still in Beta-But it packs a punch
Questions by: Vincent Haoson, OnRPG Journalist
Answered by: Radu Privantu
OnRPG: Hello, thank you for giving us the opportunity to talk to you guys. It seems you've just released version 1.9.0 of the game a few days ago, what has been the effect of the patch update on the game?
Thank you for contacting us. The main benefit of the update is that 90% of the artwork (2D, 3D and animations) was totally redone. Now the game looks much better than it did before, and all players seem to enjoy it. Another benefit is that we added a few features that allow us to have better quests, and an improved tutorial. The interface has been changed a bit too and now some tasks are easier, and being able to have emotes is quite nice.
OnRPG: Is the game still in beta stage?
Yes, the game is still in Beta. The term "Beta" is not very well defined, it just means something like: "almost done, but not quite". There are still a few things that I would like to have before removing the Beta part from our game. One of those things is have full 3D terrain support. And I would like to add 200 new NPCs in the game and more quests. Many other games are Beta, they just won't admit it.
OnRPG: The game seems to be limiting itself and the number of actions a player to only 12 actions where other games have more than that. Is this a disadvantage for Eternal Lands or now? Why do you think so?
I think 12 skills is quite nice actually. Some games have a skill for everything, and then they can brag: Over 100 skills and professions. Does that mean you can do more things than in a game with just 10 skills? Some games have a skill for every weapon, like sword, axe, staff, hammers, etc. We have two skills for melee combat (attack and defense), one skill for ranged weapons (ranging) and one for making and placing devices such as caltrops and mines (engineering). Magic and summoning are also two skills that play a role in combat.
Harvesting is the generic skill for collecting resources of any origin. You can use it to pick flowers, mine coal, all kind of ores, and even dung from the outhouses to make potassium nitrate, which is used in the gunpowder for mines. Of course, we could have split the Harvesting skill in other skills, such as Plant Lore and Mining, but sometimes less is more.
The alchemy skill is used both for making ingredients that are used in magic spells and refining metals (smelting). Again, we could have split it in 2 skills, but I am not sure that would be better.
OnRPG: With the seeming graphic and feature limitations of the game compared to other MMOs, what do you think is Eternal Land's edge against them?
I think that after our latest update, Eternal Lands looks just as good, and sometimes even better than many other MMOs out there. You can compare our latest screenshots with the screenshots of other MMOs and see for yourself. And while we are still lacking true 3D terrain, I don't think that is a crucial factor. In fact, I don't think the artwork matters that much in a MMO. RuneScape is a testament to that, it is one of the most played MMOs in the world, and their visuals are not the best.
In terms of features, I don't play other MMOs, but the only big feature we are lacking is thousands of quests. We started adding quite a bit of quests lately, and we will keep adding. Since last year, we added 15 new quests (real quests, not just kill 10 rats), and many more small quests, as well as 5 daily quests, some of them with 20-30 random objectives.
But what I think gives us an edge over other games is that our players are more friendly and helpful. They will generally help you if you ask questions, some will even give you free items and many will return the items you lost when you died.
OnRPG: With the game having features that you can find in other P2P MMOs, what do you think is different in Eternal Land's features aside from it being F2P?
Feature wise, I don't think we have more to offer than big house P2P games. They have much more manpower than we do, so they can add a lot more in terms of world size, number of quests, animations, etc. But we do have more friendly people, and the game style is more laid back. Sure, some people grind a lot, but a lot of players are taking it slowly, with little pressure. From what I heard, in some games you need to spend a few hours on the computer during raids, or else your team is going to be really pissed at you. Here the raids are less frequent and usually take just about 1 hour, which is less straining.
OnRPG: What do you think is the game's main draw for players? Why do you think that?
A lot of people like the idea of no classes, of doing whatever you want to do. The community feeling is pretty strong. In a city, for example, people don't know each other. In a village they do. Similarly, in games with hundreds of thousands of players, you will only know the members of your guild. In a game with thousands of players, you will get to know people from other guilds as well, because you provide services for them and/or they provide services for you.
One other thing we have and most other games don't is the fact that the game is not only focused on combat and killing stuff. Some players are more peaceful and they harvest resources, make items and try to control the market. There is a lot of interaction between players of different 'professions'. For example, the fighters will have to buy their mana potions from potioners, their healing supplies from alchemists and gear from the manufacturers and crafters. All this adds to the community spirit and it is more or less how things were done in the medieval times.
OnRPG: Is Eternal Lands a PVE centric game or not? Why or why not?
I would say neither. Some people like the PvE aspect of the game, some like the PvP aspect, some both and some are not really into fighting, but more into harvesting, making items, or just doing a bit of everything.
OnRPG: How do you think is the game retaining the current amount of players it has? Why do you think it's that successful in retaining the game?
Actually, we did lose about 30% of our player base in the last year, so we are not retaining as many as I'd like to. One reason we lost players is that they got bored after playing the game for years, and went to play other games. We didn't really focus on making the game easier for new players until a few months ago, and the old tutorial didn't help much either. Now we are trying to get some new blood into the game and I hope that with some advertising and better tutorials we will start to increase our player base again. Those who stay usually stay because they have many friends and/or still have a lot to do until they get bored and try some new game. We also add new features every few weeks and that gives players a reason to keep playing.
OnRPG: How involved are the players in the game's development? Do you accept every suggestion that players give the dev team?
Our client is open source, so a few players contribute quite a bit to the client. Others write NPCs or quests, report bugs, or suggest changes or new features. Do we accept every suggestion? Well, do you accept EVERY suggestion from your readers? If so, I am going to suggest a new background for your site, something with a lot of glitter and a few of my favorite songs put on autoplay.
OnRPG: Is the game's f2p income system a factor in why the game is taking a long time to go out of beta? Why or why not?
No, the f2p system is quite viable, some companies make many millions every year from f2p games. The problem is that we are a very small, independent team competing with big companies that can spend million of dollars in development and advertising. In fact, I tried to advertise on Google recently, and the bid for words such as "Free MMORPG" was over 3 bucks per click! Considering that only a very small fraction of those clicks will generate new players (that will play the game for a while), and only a small fraction of them will ever buy stuff from our shop, it is not hard to see that a small team has a hard time competing with big companies.
OnRPG: Why does Eternal Lands provide botting service for paying players when other MMOs restrict such practice?
We do NOT allow botting in the game. Macro-ing or any form of automatization is forbidden, and the punishment ranges from an in-game fine to character deletion. What you are probably referring to is allowing sanctioned merchant bots in the game. Those bots must respect some rules (not allowed to make items, harvest, fight, move around, etc.) and they act as a storefront for players or guilds. They benefit the players and generate some income for us, so they are a good thing for the game.
OnRPG: The choices players can have in terms of character customization seems to be quite limited, will you be adding more choices to the game in the future? How customizable are the characters in Eternal Lands?
We try to have realistic looking avatars. We don't think huge oversized boobs, and armor that exposes everything is realistic.
You can however customize the colors of your boots, pants, shirt, hair and skin. You can chose your gender, head/hair style from a predefined list. You can even change your size a bit for a small fee.
Allowing total customization is nice, but there are some disadvantages that come with it. Not only that it is more complicated to implement, but you need to send more bytes down the pipe when someone enters your viewing range. Not everyone has broadband, and for big parties that can become a problem for those on dial up or mobile modems.
OnRPG: How many emotes are available in the game update? Will you be including more in the future?
Right now we have 9 emotes, and yes, we plan to add more. We will eventually have support for poses too, for example different ways to sit or walk.
OnRPG: Can players suggest quests that you can include in the game?
Yes! We implemented quite a few quests suggested by players. I can't give you an exact number, but over 10. In face, we added daily quests because some players suggested that we should have them. Regarding players suggested quests, there are a few requirements. First, they have to be implementable, and relatively easy to implement. Next, I only implement the quests if the players write all the dialogues and everything that is needed. I will not implement a quest if someone says:
"lol y dont u add a quest like where u have to kill 10 foxes then talk to this dude and make some fur clothes". I also ask some players if the reward seems reasonable.