Questions by Vincent Haoson (Vincenthaoson), Onrpg writer
Answered by Wilson Ling Marketing Coordinator for Subagames.com
When it comes to F2P space games, no other game has the rich history ACE Online has. The game has spawned from various titles up until to what it is now. Under Subagames, home of other famous MMOs like Pristontale, Ace Online is now a thriving fully established MMO.
With Ace Onlines episode 3 released the game has finally received the content update that players were looking for. Now with months after the release episode 3 we here on Onrpg got a chance to talk to the people behind the game.
Onrpg: What is the storyline of Episode 3: War of Pandea?
Ling: Episode 3: War of Pandea takes place a few years after the events of Episode 2: Aerial Strike. At the end of Episode 2, the Deca Race, including the nations of Arlington (ANI) and Bygeniou City (BCU), declared a truce to end their long-drawn war. Now at peace, both nations have started expansion projects to gather resources in the neighboring continent of Pandea. At the same time, the Vatallus race, who previously resided in Pandea, was building up their military power in order to become the dominant race on the planet Phillon. This is where the player comes in, as the rest of the storyline is revealed through completing new missions that are exclusive to the Episode 3 expansion.
Onrpg: How do the new maps integrate into the storyline of episode 3 as a whole?
Ling: The new maps add an interesting twist to the existing flow of the game. Originally in ACE Online, there was only a single primary line of maps and whenever various nation war events were triggered, the war was very much a one front war. The addition of the new maps opens up a new direction adding a whole new front to nation war events. Also, there are new missions which take place exclusively on the new maps, which serve as the setting for Episode 3s expanded storyline.
Onrpg: What factors did you consider as you thought of new concepts for episode 3?
Ling: As new features for the expansion were slowly revealed, we were forced to consider very carefully their implementation into the North American version of the game in order to maximize the players experience with the new content/changes. As Episode 2 came to an end, we carefully adapted the game itself, and our tech, in anticipation of Episode 3. Player feedback and feature requests were also considered in formulating the content, and implementation of, Episode 3.
Onrpg: What was the response of players after episode 3 was released?
Ling: The response has been very good. ACE Online was in need of a breath of fresh air, and new content has helped to reinvigorate the community and the game itself. Prior to the introduction of Episode 3, ACE Online had not changed much since its early days as Space Cowboy Online.
Onrpg: With the latest episode already released and that the game is already into months of operation after the Open Beta Test how is Ace Online faring now?
Ling: ACE Online is currently doing very well, despite the highly-competitive environment of the current free-to-play games space. At launch, there were many obstacles and issues working against us, that we have since successfully overcome. Even now its a very tough uphill battle, but we are putting our best effort forward with plans for continued growth and expansion of the ACE Online game and brand.
Onrpg: How vibrant is the community of Ace Online?
Ling: The ACE Online community is one with a long, storied history and a passion that is unsurpassed. Many players came from previous versions of the game (for example, Space Cowboy Online) so there are plenty of ties in the community that run very deep. Its a unique community that has gone through a lot due to the games rocky history. Fortunately, the community is highly resilient and has grown stronger because of this shared history.
Onrpg: In what ways does the GM team help out in keeping the community in-game as alive as possible?
Ling: An ACE Online GM has two main responsibilities: keeping close contact with players and providing fresh and exciting events and in-game content. The ACE Online community is a highly-vocal and highly-active one, so constant communication and involvement with players is always a top priority.
Onrpg: How do you keep the balance between the two factions in Ace online? Do GMs in-game participate in helping out in balancing?
Ling: The game balance in ACE Online is a very delicate issue. The GMs have methods of stimulating a shift in balance, but at the same time GMs would rather not intervene too much because doing so comes with its own problems and repercussions. The game balance is closely monitored to ensure the proper actions are taken at the right times. If the game balance reaches a critical point, then it is permissible for GMs to take more obvious actions, to the benefit of the game community as a whole. This said, ACE Online GMs are always willing to accept suggestions from the community on the issue of balancing. So far, we have found that the game tends to balance itself out, as long as players are well-informed as to the current balance within the game and are willing to cooperate for the good of the community.
Onrpg: Speaking of balance in-game, do Ace Online GMs directly participate in balancing the in-game economy? If so, in what ways is this achieved?
Ling: The GMs do not directly influence the in-game economy. This is because ACE Onlines economy is finely tuned to operate on its own, adjusting the supply and demand of items and resources in the game naturally. The GMs do try to prevent rampant scamming that might cause shifts in the games economy though.
Onrpg: What factors do you consider whenever you are thinking of events for Ace Online?
Ling: When coordinating events, there is a lot to consider. For larger events, things like timing, the effect of event items on player growth, the effects of the event on in-game wars, are all closely analyzed. Also, we often try to tie events to a specific theme related to the time period in which it is released. For medium scale events, we often consider the current in-game balance, the average level of players and some other more specific information. So far, event planning has proven to be a constant learning experience and source of information.
Onrpg: Do you consider the events suggested by players in your forums whenever you are conceptualizing events for the game?
Ling: We greatly appreciate event suggestions from the community. Unfortunately, there are very few that are actually implemented, for a variety of reasons, though we do view and consider them all.
Onrpg: What hints can you guys give us regarding the soon to be released episode 4?
Ling: Unfortunately we cant say too much about Episode 4s content. We can say that players shouldnt expect the update to Episode 4 for some time.
Onrpg: It seems that there are players who wish to ban the IPs of players outside of NA. Whats your say on that?
Ling: IP blocking is something of an ongoing topic/concern. On issues like this, we try to do what we feel is best for the community and the game currently, however we are also thinking about the future of the game and the implementation of new content down the line. If blocking IPs outside of NA becomes the best or necessary option to take, we will definitely consider it.
Onrpg: There has been an ongoing discussion titled, Would somebody ****ing listen? in your forums regarding the service rendered by Ace Online. Could you tell us what steps you have taken to address player inquiry?
Ling: At Subagames, we maintain many avenues by which players can contact GMs and technical support. Currently, the most effective way to communicate with Subagames support directly is through our Customer Service tickets. The forums are a great place for the entire community to gather and discuss, but it is not a very good place to get individual problems solved because it is a public space. Our Customer Service tickets provide a private and highly-personalized channel to respond to the needs of players. We have recently upgraded the Customer Service to log every ticket that comes through in order to ensure that customer inquiries are constantly monitored and responded to. These tickets are accessed through the support section on the ACE Online Home Page.
Onrpg: What can players expect from Ace Online in the succeeding months of 2009?
Ling: We plan to continually host exciting in-game events throughout 2009, with many already in the works. Players can also expect constant improvements to the game-system, in order to make things easier for both the players and our staff, and to improve the games quality on the whole. Though I cant talk about them specifically, players can also expect a variety of exciting new developments from ACE Online and Subagames in 2009.