Hero 108 Interview: The Winning Formula
Questions by Chen Fo Po (cinderboy), OnRPG Journalist
Answered by Kevin Crawford (CremeBrulee), Product Director, Gamania Digital Entertainment (US)
Hero 108 is an upcoming action MMO developed through the joint efforts of Taiwanese developer Gamania and Cartoon Network. A similarly named cartoon is currently shown on Cartoon Network in several countries, including North America, the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy.
Hero 108's storyline is loosely based on Water Margin, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of China. In this interview, we will be learning more about the title and what it has to offer to the MMO players.
OnRPG: Hi, I am Fo Po (cinderboy), OnRPG journalist. Before we start, can you please introduce yourself to the readers.
Kevin Crawford: Hello there, I'm Kevin Crawford (CremeBrulee) from Gamania Digital Entertainment (US). I'm a little bit Moderator, a little bit Game Master, a little bit Product Director, and a whole lotta awesome! Not really, but I like to puff myself up a bit. *Stares deeply into hand mirror*. J/K!
OnRPG: Gamania is a big MMO publisher in Asia, particularly in Taiwan and Hong Kong. How did the collaboration with Cartoon Network come about, and why?
Kevin Crawford: Apart from licensing and developing popular online games, Gamania also began entering the animation industry in 2004 by developing original content through the Gamania Creative Center (GCC). The goal was to maximize the value of original content through animation, games and franchising, in order to realize the vision of making Gamania a platform for digital entertainment.
Hero 108 was also selected for broadcasting by the US Nicktoons Film Festival in 2004 and chosen for the 2004 Taiwan International Animation Festival. That was also when we got the opportunity to partner with MoonScoop Entertainment and co-produce an animated series based on Hero 108, along with Cartoon Network UK. The core content, story and characters were developed by Gamania in order to maintain its high level of originality.
So the MMO was actually based on the cartoon, so that kids of all ages from around the world would be able to have fun playing the Hero: 108 Online game after watching the Hero: 108 cartoon!
OnRPG: Hero 108 was created by Moon Scoop, a company from France. With the three companies primarily based in three different regions - Europe, North America and Asia - how hard was it to communicate with each other and develop the game?
Kevin Crawford: You got the three continents right, but not the companies in each continent! To produce Hero: 108 the cartoon, Gamania Creative Center worked with Cartoon Network UK, and Moonscoop Entertainment in the US to create the storyline, production of the cartoon. The MMORPG, Hero: 108 Online, was developed solely in Taiwan by our subsidiary company, RedGate Games.
Combat in H108
OnRPG: The game looks really colorful (in a good way) and cheerful. Is there a specific age group Gamania is targeting? Will the bright nature of the game keep older and more mature gamers away?
Kevin Crawford: Well our core target demographic is 13-16 year olds but we're pretty sure anyone can jump in-game and have some fun. I think you'll find some features in the game that can cater to the casual, the hardcore, the young, and the "not-quite-as-young". Who doesn't like pretty colors? Skittles are colorful. I like Skittles. I like turtle... tanks.
OnRPG: I was looking at some of the screenshots and I thought I saw gourd tanks attacking each other. Even the characters look really, really cool! What was the mindset applied when designing the game?
Kevin Crawford: The Redgate Games team in Taiwan really wanted to kick "Plain Jane" out the window and step it up a notch while still holding true to the show. Everything is extremely stylized which sets Hero: 108 Online apart. Quirky characters, interesting storylines, and fast-paced action-packed gameplay were top priorities in the development phase. As we add additional content, we'll stick to that winning formula to provide non-stop fun for our fans.
OnRPG: Hero 108 is loosely based on Water Margin, where the main characters are a group of 108 renegade heroes. So will there be 108 playable characters to choose from in the game?
Kevin Crawford: 108?! Uh oh, time to call up the dev team. I think we came up a little short. Heh. The game and show are very loosely based on Water Margin and really focus on the exploits of the First and Second Squad, which brings us to a total of 8 playable characters at the launch of the game.
Character overview in Hero108
OnRPG: How is the character progression? Will players be able to add to their stats and choose skills to learn upon reaching a new level?
Kevin Crawford: You betcha! As players gain levels, either new skills or new ranks of existing skills will be available to purchase with in-game currency which will enable the characters to learn those skills. Each character has certain base stats which can be modified by wearing gear (armor, accessories, etc).
OnRPG: Will Hero 108 have an equal mixture of both open Player Vs Environment (PvE) and instances? Will there be a big difference in terms of experiences and drops between the 2 areas?
Kevin Crawford: Yep. The open world PvE is all about questing and exploring the environments of the different animal kingdoms while the mission instances are all about teamwork, strategy, and accomplishing tasks in groups. The drops tend to be better in the instances as the mobs are a bit tougher. You will notice the experience is better while trouncing enemies with your friends.
OnRPG: Let's move on to the game features. Mission instances are a staple in most MMO titles. In Hero 108, up to 8 players can form a party and challenge the mission instances. How will the instances be structured? For example, will there be different level of difficulties?
Kevin Crawford: Now we're talking about my favorite part of the game! These missions are really cool because they all have different objectives and you're racing against the clock to complete them. The rewards are great (experience points, money) and you have to work as a team. I can't tell you how many times we thought it would be a breeze to shoot through some of them, by trying to berserk the place, and we ended up getting ripped apart by the mobs and missing the deadline by a mile. Group instances become available by level so make sure you take advantage of them while you level up!
OnRPG: I read that no usage of the mouse is needed, as players only need to use the keyboard to play the game. In the MMO market, games usually have a system which utilizes both the mouse and keyboard. Why the decision to do so with Hero 108? Will there be an option to use a mouse or even a gamepad?
Kevin Crawford: Mouse, gamepad, keyboard, whatever you want. Hero: 108 Online fits your gameplay style. We try to focus on touting the full keyboard option as it's less of a system shock for those youngins coming over from console to try out their first PC MMO experience. That being said, the more hardcore will tend to use the mouse a bit more while those that wish for a more arcade-y (is that a word?) experience will tend to try out their gamepad with the game.
Fighting zone in Hero108
OnRPG: What are some of the guild features you can tell us? Will there be any unique guild features compared to other games?
Kevin Crawford: Members can hold different positions within a guild that allow them certain privileges and authority. For example, there are these really awesome "calling bomb" items that allow you to call upon one of the animal kings to assist you in battle. They come in different levels of power and effectiveness depending on which Raid Boss they drop off of. Certain higher level bombs require the player to be of a certain position in a guild in order to use them. Your position in the guild will also grant you certain permissions such as inviting members, disbanding, etc.
OnRPG: Are mounts only available to players who are in a guild? I read that mounts will increase a player's movement speed and defense. Will we be seeing mounted combat in the game?
Kevin Crawford: Nope, you don't have to be in a guild but there are a few perks to getting grouped up. There are some really special mounts that become available to leaders of a guild when a guild reaches a certain level. They are really eye-catching and will get you some "Oohs" and "Ahhs". As for mounted combat, not at launch, but we're always looking for ways to spice up the game in future expansions.
OnRPG: I understand that Hero 108 will be using a micro-transaction system (Free to Play with cash shop). How will the cash shop items affect game-play between the bigger spenders and the non-spenders?
Kevin Crawford: We definitely didn't want the game to be Free-to-Play but Pay-to-Win, so the items that are purchasable are more "convenience" and "vanity" type items that will enhance an individual's gameplay experience. The items are not geared to give you an unfair advantage in PvP combat, nor do we directly sell weapons and armor as that would unbalance gameplay.
OnRPG: Will there be any Player Vs Player (PvP) features found in Hero 108?
Kevin Crawford: But of course! PvP is however a more advanced combat system where there are risks as well as rewards. If you are defeated in combat within designated "arenas," there is a chance that you will drop gear/items. On the flip side, that shiny new weapon that the n00b in the corner is wielding does look very attractive and would look very nice in your inventory. J
OnRPG: According to reports, there will be Facebook and iPhone versions of Hero 108. Will they somehow be tied in with the client version?
Kevin Crawford: We're still evaluating all of the possibilities of Hero: 108 on multiple platforms. I can say that we have some Hero: 108 iPhone mini-games on the way to the App Store that will tie into Hero: 108 Online. Shhhh, it's a secret!
OnRPG: How long are we away from an Open Beta? Are there any events and activities planned leading up to the official launch?
Kevin Crawford: The Early Access Open Beta went live on June 26th and a tentative full-scale Open Beta launch will take place in early July. Once we've got everything fine-tuned like a well-oiled machine, we'll open up our Premium Item Shop for all to enjoy. Throughout Open Beta we'll be holding events run by our Game Masters along with fun and tomfoolery on our official Hero: 108 Online forums.
OnRPG: Thank you for your time, and I am sure the readers will be looking forward to a smashing good time in Hero 108!