KARMA Online Interview – World War II: Now w/ 80% zombies!
By Michael Sagoe (Mikedot), OnRPG journalist
Developed in conjunction with Dragonfly, and published by Joymax, KARMA Online: Prisoners of the Dead is the newest installment in the KARMA Online series, a popular online first-person shooter series in South Korea. Players will go back in time to World War II, where they must choose to side with the Axis or Allied powers and join the fight for global victory - with a zombie twist.
Mikedot: Hello there! Before we begin the interview, would you mind telling me a little bit about yourself for our readers?
Jae: Hi, I’m Jae-young Park. I’m the LEAD GAME DESIGNER for KARMA Online.
Mikedot: Now the first question is an obvious one: There are lots of free-to-play shooters out there, so what makes KARMA Online so special?
Jae: We could name a whole heap of things that set Karma Online above and beyond the competition. First of all it is developed by Dragonfly who is known for developing very high quality FPS titles. In addition, we’re particularly proud that we’ve committed to keeping to the most authentic WWII weaponry. This level of historic accuracy is something not often found! But players of Karma Online: POD will also find that the addition of zombies and the fact that in the game it is as if WWII never ended mean that the experience is a combination of a WWII experience and a modern day shooter combined.
Mikedot: There are also lots of shooting games that feature a zombie mode of some sort. Is KARMA Online following this trend or does KARMA’s zombie mode have something special?
Jae: The difference is clear upon competing in your first zombie mode match: We don’t treat zombies like they’re stupid; if you want a challenging AI enemy, this is the game you want to play. The zombies in Karma Online: POD are formidable enemies and the feedback we are getting from people who have tested out the Zombie mode so far is that it is really intense and exciting.
Mikedot: Besides zombie mode, what other game modes will be available?
Jae: While the game will have a total of 23 maps and 33 modes when it is fully launched, during Beta we will initially provide 8 maps and 9 modes. Once the beta is complete, we’ll be adding in the rest over time as well as developing new content.
Mikedot: When playing as either the Axis or the Allies, will there be any major differences between them? Ex: Weapons, skills, power-ups?
Jae: Since this is an FPS game, it becomes difficult to maintain a balance if there is a big difference between factions, so each faction has similar appearances and skills. The difference in terms of appearance is that most Axis forces have bluish uniforms, and most Allied forces have reddish uniforms in a military style.
However, the factions develop characteristics according to the differences in characters and skills of each faction (This is the difference from other FPS games too). The Axis forces have many characters with skills based on strong firepower, and Allied forces have more characters with skills for fast movement and accurate firing. This is something that shows the individuality of the factions.
Mikedot: Speaking of weapons: What kinds of weapons will be available? Will they be customizable?
Jae: Players have to select appropriate weapons according to the structure of the team and the size and structure of the map, such as an SMG for close distance, an MG that is slow but strong, and a rifle that is extremely powerful for middle to long distances.
Also, thanks to the Karma inventory system where you can carry many main weapons as long as it does not go over the weight limit, you need to strategically think about what combination of weapons and armor you will carry.
The weaponry for Karma Online: POD is being revealed slowly through our Facebook and Twitter; so far we’ve shown nearly a dozen that will be available, but we’re keeping the total number a secret! It will include rifles, handguns, grenades, and more of course.
Mikedot: How demanding is KARMA Online for the processing power of an average PC?
Jae: Players can adjust the game options to meet the requirements on their PC environment, so the game can run on PCs with both high and lower specifications.
Mikedot: How does the skill point system fit in with KARMA Online?
Jae: There are so many different types of skills that it is difficult to explain them all. One thing I can say is that it is impossible to develop all the skills when developing one character, so you have to be cautious about selecting a skill within the limit of 20 skill points. I personally like the “assassin” skill, using a knife.
Mikedot: Tell us a little bit more about the game’s pacing.
Jae: We’ve combined a quick-paced environment with strategic thinking. Play patterns change drastically according to level. You quickly have to adapt to that. For example, the bunker level has a lot of narrow passages so there are many short-distance battles, but the fortress map has many large spaces with a wide view so you will be doing a lot of long-distance battles. In addition, some upcoming maps will include both short-distance and long-distance battles.
Mikedot: Voice chatting has become a very integral part of FPS titles. Will KARMA have a voice chat feature?
Jae: Unfortunately, the Voice Chatting feature isn’t available in KARMA Online. Actually, there are a lot of voice chat features outside the game, which a lot of FPS players already use. Since a lot of players already use these programs on their own, which they feel comfortable with, so supporting this feature in the game itself might not be in great demand. We’re looking into this and considering implementing the feature in the future, though.
Mikedot: What kind of matchmaking features will be available?
Jae: The basic structure is 8:8, but there are slight differences according to map. We can also say the matchmaking system will call up allies and foes of similar levels.
Mikedot: Lastly: When will public beta testing for KARMA Online begin?
Jae: Closed Beta will begin in June, with open beta testing to follow this summer. We find the best way to communicate all of our plans for the game with the growing community is through our Facebook or Twitter so we highly encourage people to follow us there!
Mikedot: Is there any other comments that you would like to add?
Jae: Bringing Karma Online to the global audience for the first time has been an exciting and challenging process. Every time we find these players out there, questioning and waiting for Karma Online, we feel so grateful and lucky. Every concern is precious for us and it makes us push ourselves harder to perform better. We’re really thrilled to introduce our game to the global community and the huge responsibility is very welcomed!