Battle of the Immortals Interview: Clash of the Immortals
Questions by Chen Fo Po (cinderboy), OnRPG Journalist
Answered by BOI Product Manager, Jonathan Belliss
Battle of the Immortals is one of Perfect World Entertainment’s upcoming MMORPGs. The striking difference compared with other PWE games will be the graphics and isometric view. Battle of the Immortals is also the first game developed by Perfect World’s Shanghai studio (most games were developed in the Beijing headquarters). After taking a few months’ hiatus to revamp the game, will Battle of the Immortals take the Free to Play market by storm? We will soon find out.
OnRPG: Hi, I am Fo Po (cinderboy), an OnRPG’s journalist. Can you please introduce yourself to our readers?
Hi, my name is Jonathan Belliss and I am the Product Manager for Battle of the Immortals.
OnRPG: According to this blog post, Battle of the Immortals was delayed for several months to iron out details and improve the game’s overall experience among many other things. How satisfied is the development team at the current status of the game?
We’re very excited on how the game has turned out and the tremendous response we’ve had from the players. We had so many players logging into the game on day one that we didn’t have enough capacity to sustain the number of players flooding in. Luckily we have additional servers always on standby and were able to open up the floodgates and accommodate the amazing level of demand.
Battle of the Immortals is basically a new game because of the reworked game mechanics and an emphasis on PvP and working together in guilds. Players who have checked out the Chinese version will find that this game is a different beast all together and have localized the gameplay to suit North American gamers’ tastes.
Even though the player response has been great, we still realize that we’re not done yet. There’s a lot of player concerns and feedback, and we’re going to address as much of it as we can before we go into Open Beta.
OnRPG: I must applaud Perfect World Entertainment for delaying the game. Was it hard to come to a unanimous decision within the development team regarding the delay?
The decision was unanimous and we are sticking to our conviction that every Perfect World game will not only be localized to the highest point, but also that the gameplay will be very polished even in closed beta. Of course, there is some tweaking that we’ll be doing during the CB period, but we know that the closed beta is also the first impression many of our players will get out of the game and we want it to be the best possible.
OnRPG: Why the decision to adopt a new graphics engine for Battle of the Immortals?
We wanted to make a very different type of game and thus wanted to start from the ground up. Battle of the Immortals is also the first game developed out of our Shanghai studio and players will definitely see a different style in both the look and feel in the gameplay.
OnRPG: How easy is it getting to understand the game for a new player? Will there be an in-depth tutorial or even a Master-Disciple system?
We have a built-in tutorial system, which will pop-up and give you guidance throughout the game, similar to the help paperclip in Microsoft Word. We’ve also provided in-depth guides that players can read up on the Battle of the Immortals website here: http://boi.perfectworld.com/
The game itself is very casual friendly, but also has a huge amount of depth for hardcore players.
OnRPG: Why the special focus on gear in this title?
Who doesn’t like cool looking gear? If anything, the gear looks cooler as you progress through the game and will actually level up with you as you use it. Since the gear progresses as you do, you won’t feel held back or “nerfed” with your current set. This helps a lot when you are in-between levels and are waiting to use the next level of gear.
OnRPG: Will players be able to add their own attribute points after reaching a new level? I am really curious as this was not available for previous PWE games.
Yes, at level 30, players will be able to add their own attribute points, so that you can create your own unique character and gain an advantage in battle.
OnRPG: Talking about pets, what differences will there be compared to other PWE games? Is the pet fusion feature available in Battle of the Immortals?
The pet system in Battle of the Immortals is quite unique in that unlike any other PWE game, any monster or even boss that you fight within the game has a change to become your pet. When you fight a monster, there’s a chance for them to drop themselves. If successful, the monster will reappear and a lasso icon will appear when you mouse over it. You then have a 100% success rate to capture it.
Pets are essential in battle and can help tank or do damage against an enemy or another player. There is a pet fusion feature in Battle of the Immortals, which will be very important to help make your pet stronger at the higher levels. Also the customization of your pet’s skills will have a huge effect on gameplay.
OnRPG: I have read that unique pets based on the 12 horoscopes will be available for capture. How easy will it be for players to get one? These pets sound mighty awesome and powerful at the same time, but will it give players who own them an unfair advantage?
The Zodiac pets are pretty cool as well as pack a pretty big punch. Obviously we had to make it a little challenging to get these pets and they are only available during their corresponding Zodiac period. Zodiac pets can give a player an advantage, but it all depends on how an opponent has leveled up or melded theirs as well.
OnRPG: Games under PWE never fails to amaze me with their wide range of mounts. How many mounts will there be, and how many of those will be allocated to the cash shop? Once again, will there be any difference in the mount system compared with other PWE games?
Without giving out exact figures, there are tons of mounts. We have mounts that can be acquired through natural progression in the game as well as some that are class specific. In addition to some of the mounts available in the cash shop, there are special mounts that can only be acquired through credit and bonus currency.
I would say that Battle of the Immortals mush have some of the craziest mounts that I have ever seen including this Energized Spider mount, which is basically this huge mechanical spider that players can wheel around on.
Probably the biggest difference in BoI in terms of mounts is that mounts actually have skills as you level them up. They also graphically change each time they level.
OnRPG: I understand that there will be various instances for players to enter. Will the rewards gain from completing an instance be much greater than doing PvE in the open areas? Will this cause players to only do instances and not explore the vast open landscapes?
One of the first instances players can enter into is called the Knight’s Jail, which you have to enter into as a party and gives you some pretty good experience as well as drops Stamps of Promotions, which can be traded in for this high-level gear set called Green Gear. I think a lot of players will be repeating this instance because of the great experience as well as the fact that it scales depending on the level of the players.
I don’t think this will prevent players from exploring the rest of the world in Battle of the Immortals, but rather get people to play together in parties and form guilds to later take on tougher challenges at the higher levels.
The best party of the instances in BoI is they allow you to play the game in a similar fashion to Torchlight or Diablo. You can run a dungeon over and over with some friends, or you can play the game via the traditional MMORPG route and go do some quests. Being able to switch between these two different modes of gameplay is really what makes BoI special and unique.
OnRPG: What will the instances found in Battle of the Immortals be like? Will it be just a linear affair, where players mindlessly hack and slash their way to the final boss at the end?
Without revealing too much, the instances do have a point and will have players strategically making sure that they have specific roles/classes in parties. Higher level instances will support multiple parties, which mean that you not only will have to complete the objectives, but also look out from being killed by other players.
Also most instances have multiple modes. An easy low commitment mode where you can run in and complete it in a short amount of time, as well as a normal/hard mode that takes longer to complete, but providing you with greater rewards.
OnRPG: What are some of the PvP options available in Battle of the Immortals? Will there be PvE and PvP servers available?
Right now the servers are PvP with the option to turn this mode on and off in the earlier levels. This changes later on in the game and as we said before, Battle of the Immortals is for the hardcore gamer.
Currently a battleground system is under development, but tightly under wraps.
OnRPG: Will there be a crafting system in the game? How important is it? Many games allow mobs and bosses to drop various rare and powerful gears, hence players tend to neglect crafting their own gears. Will this be the same scenario in Battle of the Immortals?
Crafting in BoI is extremely unique. It’s actually called the Technology and Craft System. Crafting in BoI doesn’t need to be performed at any specific location in-game, but instead simply takes time as you run around the game world.
What does that mean? It means that you click a button to research a new recipe, then run around in-game completing quests or dungeons with your friends, then you’ll get a notification that tells you it’s done. You can then go into the Tech and Craft menu and build something or research something else.
OnRPG: From a recent developer diary (starring the one and only Jonathon Belliss), it was mentioned that gems needed to socket gears will be dropped from mobs and instances instead of being put in the Cash Shop. Can you tell us 1 or 2 more significant changes made to the cash shop in order to balance the game?
Yes, as you mention, changing the way gems can be obtained (dropped versus bought through the cash shop) is one of the many significant ways that we did to balance the game for the North American audience. We also made sure that fashion items were made permanent. Since the micro-transaction model is a relatively new concept for North American players, we wanted to ease the transition by making sure that what they purchase wouldn’t go away just because they were away from the game for a certain period of time.
OnRPG: Last but not least, are there any plans to develop content unique to the English server?
As time goes on, especially with the launch of the open beta, we’ll have the opportunity to add additional content and special events tailored to the feedback we’ve received from our players. In fact, during closed beta we’ll be sending out survey to our players to get feedback on what they think about the game and what we can approve on. Five players who complete all of the surveys will have a chance at $100 worth of Zen, so we’re definitely looking to our players on how to make Battle of the Immortals even better!
OnRPG: Thank you for your time! I can’t wait for the official launch to commence!