Secret of Solstice Interview: It's Been A Summer of Fun!
Questions by Bryan King, OnRPG Journalist
Answered by GM Phibes
Summertime had us all inspired, and it's great to have an MMORPG that provides a somewhat casual experience which allows players to balance their time between playing indoors and playing outside (accursed sunburn!) during the hot holiday season. I had the chance to speak to GM Phibes, of Outspark's Secret of the Solstice staff team. For those who haven't heard about Secret of the Solstice, (SoS for short) it is a 2.5D MMO with an anime-inspired visual style. It's been more than two years since the Open Beta, and Phibes and I will be discussing the present and the future for this game.
OnRPG: Hello Phibes, thanks again for speaking with us and our readers. Can you please formally introduce yourself?
I am GM Phibes, the primary Game Master for Secret of the Solstice. I have been with Outspark for a year and have enjoyed working on all of our free online games, including Fiesta and recently Fists of Fu and Divine Soul.
OnRPG: For those who are not familiar, is there any story that is involved?
The Solstice Sphere is a powerful relic bestowed upon the ruler of the Land of Xen. Two feuding Princesses within the land, Adeline and Marian, are battling for control of the sphere and the ability to unlock the secrets of its power.
OnRPG: There are plenty of features available within SoS, the expansive class system for one. Can you please explain to readers the other features available?
Our most popular feature is our pets. Players can earn their own in-game pets which can be enhanced to add buffs or bonuses to their stats or even be gown into mounts and ridden into battle. There are numerous pets available 100% free by quest as well as a few you can only find in our popular "lucky ball" premium items. We also have a housing system that will soon include special furniture that provides discounted in-game shopping, stat buffs and extra healing. Solstice is always adding new features for our players to enjoy. I'd try to list them all, but I think we'd run out of space!
OnRPG: With the above in mind, how do those features separate SoS from other MMOs?
Solstice is an easy game to learn because of how classes and combat are structured, but that doesn't mean it's too "simple". As you grow your character, you can customize it further with more skills, stats and items. Our more advanced players spend hours adjusting their characters to "perfect" them for exactly the style of play each individual person prefers. I think this makes Secret of the Solstice an easy game for a new player to learn, but with the depth and customization an advanced player will love.
OnRPG: Where there any major changes made when the game was imported from Korean shores and localized for the Western audience?
Aside from language changes and adapting a few cultural nuances, we tailored the game to Western players, and we never stop seeking their feedback to keep the game fun and challenging.
OnRPG: We're approaching three years since Secret of the Solstice has hit Open Beta, how far has the game come since then?
Solstice has grown tremendously! We have a larger community of players, more maps, adventures, class changes and new quests. I think it is a testament to our dedicated community that we're still around and going strong after 3 years!
OnRPG: Has Outspark's SoS team faced any major problems since then?
Like all online games, we have had our share of growing pains. I think our biggest challenge has been detecting and fixing exploits used by dishonest players to gain unfair advantages over their more honest friends. This is something we have always taken very seriously and will never stop working on fixing.
OnRPG: Has there been any recent major updates to the game that should encourage players to come back?
We've been busy adding new monsters and quests on a weekly basis. What players are already coming back for is the major updates we've got scheduled for the fall months. We will be adding new maps & towns and quadrupling the number of quests!
OnRPG: As shown on your website, the community emphasis by your staff team seems to be very important to Outspark. What type of events can players expect to see running in-game or on the forums?
We are constantly trying to find new and innovative events to keep things humming along in the land of Xen. We have Facebook and forum events, so you can participate and win even when you're at work or school and can't log in to play the game. We also have short, fun events in-game where players may race to follow a GM character, defend the game's major cities against monster invasions, or find GM's hiding away in one of our dozens of maps or dungeons.
OnRPG: What audience is Secret of the Solstice geared towards? Casual or Hardcore? What age group does the game market most to?
I think Solstice is great for both casual and hardcore gamers. It is easy to learn in the first levels but have levels of customization and complexity that keep even the most die-hard players involved and challenged. Just look at the numerous, player-created wikis and guides all over the web!
OnRPG: Has your community pushed you guys to take that "extra step" to make SoS a better game? Do you guys take feedback into consideration while working with DNC Entertainment for a new patch?
Our community is lucky to have a core group of players who love the game through thick and thin. When something isn't working, they let us know and they are passionate about making the game better. We work hard with our partners at DNC to be responsive with each new patch; whether it means new premium items, tougher monsters, better treasure or even adjusting the experience earned on existing quests.
OnRPG: Are there any upcoming updates?
We have updates every week, adding new items, dungeons, characters, and monsters, etc. With some planning, we've even been able to update our content in direct response to player feedback (like adding bosses that drop premium items or introducing the game's first dragon).
OnRPG: In one sentence, describe why players should download Secret of the Solstice right now.
Because you really do control the future of the game.
OnRPG: Where do you see SoS a year from now?
We are working on enormous amounts of new content for the months ahead, including a dramatic increase in the number of quests (we'll have over 1,000), new monsters, items and in particular, we're working hard to really give our players some input. We have added new fantasy pets and clothing items in direct response to player requests. When you play Secret of the Solstice, you REALLY control the direction of the game's development.
OnRPG: Is there anything else you'd like to tell readers?
Only that the best things are yet to come and this summer is going to be amazing!