Questions by Rick Charbs, Onrpg writer
Answers by …Chief Designer Pan Deng
Conquer Online is one of those MMORPGS that just never cease expanding for better or for worse. I was given the opportunity to interview Pan Deng, chief designer of Conquer Online. Conquer’s newest expansion: “The Raiding Clans” was released on July 16th. It offers a ton of new features: “Its all in the name, the Mount System would be the most significant new feature” said Pan Deng. Having the honor of interviewing the chief designer of the game, we received some very comprehensive responses to our questions. We hope you enjoy this interview!
Onrpg: What is your main focus for your upcoming major update??
Well, as everybody knows, the new expansion, “The Raiding Clans”, released on July 16th. Its all in the name, the Mount System would be the most significant new feature. Of course there are many more in this expansion, including a Clan System, a new map, the Frozen Grotto, which is pretty cool, as well as a good collection of new quests, events and festivals. We are trying to give those players who have been faithful to our game the new high level content they’ve been wanting .
Onrpg: It has been said that the future updates are all according to the community’s demands. What steps have you taken as a company to learn of the community’s interests and desires for the game?
Since the release of CO in 2003, the company has been paying close attention to the community’s responses to our moves. We are always willing to hear all kind of voices. No matter if they are praise or critique, we would try to build on all the ideas we get from players. Sometimes the players would post threads on our CO official Forum, where we have professional staff dealing with their opinions and comments. And sometimes they email us or go directly to our GMs on Help Desk to offer their suggestions. Most of the requests and problems reported are viewed by our GMs, and the ideas they judge to be good get passed on to our designers. Some of our best ideas in game are a direct result of this. Take the new Ninja class for example; it was selected by our players in a Ninja vs. Pirate contest. We just tried to make it happen. And we would like our players to see that we are always trying to improve.
Onrpg: Raiding Clans were one of the first announced features to be added into the game. What are they, and how will they affect Conquer Online’s gameplay?
We have prepared several major new features, including mounts, a Clan System, a new map, as well as a good collection of new quests, events and festivals. Players will be able to summon their new steeds and will have a new area to explore, while having different events to play around with along the way.
In regard to gameplay changes; first is the speed. Characters move faster when on a horse, this adds a new dynamic to the Clan and Guild Wars, as how fast you get somewhere can mean the difference between winning and losing. Conquer is a PvP oriented MMO in which players are confronted with intense conflicts daily. These steeds will not merely serve to glorify the riders, but more importantly, they can help their masters in their PvP battles. The master of the horse can receive a bonus point of Battle Power, which has a critical influence on the results of PvP combat. Moreover, the lineage level will also affect the rider’s attributes like physical/magic attack and HP.
Onrpg: Will this update further the customization aspect of the game?
Yes! This is one of our main points. The expansion enriches the players’ game experience and choices in many aspects, which might change their preferences. Mounts are just another addition to the rich customization system in Conquer. However as an older 2.5D MMO, Conquer’s character customization system is not good enough when compared to most recently released MMOs, and so a gorgeous mount is one more way for our players to decorate their characters.
Onrpg: Could you please give us a little information as to what is the CO carnival?
The Carnival Season is something you really can’t miss out! It’s a series of events and festivals we’ve prepared for our players to celebrate the upcoming new expansion. It lasts from May to August. In this magical carnival, players will be able to join in a whole host of exciting events: dance contests, steed warpaint/naming events, player recruitment, carnival quests design event, TQ headquarters tour, Kung-fu tutorial, and much more is yet to be revealed! And the prizes are will delight the most stubborn player!
Onrpg: Another early announced feature was the dramatic quests: quests that are written by community members. What gave you the idea to come up with such a unique feature, and what steps are you making in order to make it possible?
Well, the team realizes that the quests would be one of the most important parts in game for our players. Since the quests are for them, why don’t we take ideas from the players? Nobody understands the game better than our players. We did this in some offline events before but using a slightly different model. We used to prepare a poll of some event ideas provided by the team and ask our players to vote for their favourite. The one getting the highest votes will be presented. This time, we included the community in the brain storming by asking them to send us their ideas directly. With the inspiration provided by our players, we are working to build new, customized adventures, especially for our fans!
Onrpg: What are your ambitions for this update? What are you expecting from the community?
During the past 6 years, Conquer has been blessed with a vast and talented player community. For this expansion, our aim is simple and clear – to rejuvenate and refresh the game for the community, and consequently keep old players interested, while attracting new players to the fabulous world of Conquer. We hope our players love what we build for them.
Onrpg: What issues are you expecting to resolve with the coming of this release?
We hope by delivering more new features in game, our players will be able to have more fun and revitalize the community. We always look forward to seeing more friends join in.
Onrpg: What is your personal favourite aspect of this expansion? Why?
Oh, I can’t wait to get my first horse in CO. I am just dying to see it. It would be a brand new experience in Conquer. Riding on my steed and moving like a wind…To me, the feeling is more like raising a pet. It would be a great fun. You have to take good care of it. It would be your very special friend who will accompany you along your journeys.
Onrpg: Do you intend on expanding the playerbase with this expansion? If so, what measures will you take to ensure the smoothest gameplay for newcomers?
Of course, we do, as always! From lvl.1 to lvl.15 is the most difficult period for the new players. We will improve the in-game guide system to help the newbies to learn some basic game knowledge and a beginner pack (lvl.15-lvl.120) will be given to help them better fit in. Once they reach a certain level, they will receive a good amount of gifts: meteors, super equipments, expballs and gems, etc. The higher your level is the better gifts you get.
Onrpg: Is the upcoming content inclined to veteran players? Is there a balance of updates for casual players as well?
That was one of the biggest concerns of the mount system. The mount system, the core of the new expansion, is accessible to everyone. No class or level restrictions. You only have to go to the NPC and learn the riding skill, and then you’ll be able to ride on your horse. If you are lucky enough, you can even obtain mounts by slaying monsters.
Onrpg: What events are you planning to accompany the content update?
The CO carnival season will be a non-stop series of events and celebrations, from May to August. Till now, we have released the interaction system, the CO Dance Contest 1 &2, the Children’s Day Event, and most lately, the Mounts Warpaint/naming Competition and Player’s Recruitment. We are expecting more, the carnival quests design event, TQ headquarters tour, Kung-fu tutorial, and much more is yet to be revealed!
Onrpg: Will you be modifying the item mall in this update? If so, what changes are planned?
The mounts will be added to the shopping mall. In the 1st batch, we will provide players with 49 types of different horses. According to their rarity, these horses can be divided into 3 groups: basic, unique and rare. Basic horses are only in 3 colors: white, black, and maroon.
Onrpg: When do you plan on unveiling the other goodies this expansion will have to offer?
The first batch of mounts will be available for players on July 16. Hopefully, there will be more coming out soon. A new sub-class system will probably be released at the end of 2009.
Onrpg: Lastly, what approximate date are you aiming to release this fantastic addition to Conquer Online?
The new update has been in full effect as of July 16, 2009. Have fun and good luck.