Early Access: Duke of Mount Deer (Working Title)
By Darren Henderson (DizzyPW), OnRPG Editor-in-Chief
Up to the present, MMO publisher Changyou has been a relatively unknown name in the western marketplace. They’ve published a title from time to time such as Zentia, Dragon Oath, and recent iTCG Swordgirls Online. However, not content with their current presence in the western market, Changyou is preparing to make a splash with their upcoming Next-Gen MMO tentatively titled Duke of Mount Deer!
Duke of Mount Deer has been in production for over four years now, with studios in China, the U.S, and Korea all working together towards this momentous project. Though I’ll leave the exact development dollars out of this article, I will emphasize that they marked it in BOLD and RED on my press packet, and it’s a big number! It’s also headed by Jae Ho Kim, former Art Director of NCSoft, and takes cartoony 3D modeling and environment rendering in a beautiful new direction. The environments have immense details and maintain them even when at great distances from the player. Its style is not exactly what most people think of when talking about “Next-Gen,” but I can’t deny the originality or splendor of it.
Social System and Dedicated Crafting
The game has a strong emphasis on social interactions between players and the societies they form, as this will have major impacts on the server versus server war system I will discuss later. For starters, Duke of Mount Deer has a focus on cooperating with your soulmate. Though few details were provided, this is likely similar to a system that has been popping up in more and more Asian developed MMOs in which players gain bonuses for long term interaction with their soulmate, including exp bonuses, buffs, and special skills such as ‘teleport to soulmate’ ala Eden Eternal.
For those wanting to take their love bird status to the next level, a wedding system is included with the usual bells and whistles like the ceremony and (westernized) wedding outfits. That’s where the traditional comes to an end though as you can build your own house (or apartment complex) using crafting skills in this game. Then you can even buy or craft custom furniture to decorate your house. Believe me when I say that handy men and day dreaming girls alike will have a blast with this unique system of crafting and housing being combined.
Aspiring guild leaders can also plan to take advantage of this system by recruiting a large force of craftsmen to build an entire village or city under their banner. What better way to invite new recruits into your guild than by offering them prefurnished housing?
Speaking of guilds and soulmates, there seems to be a vast array of social relationships you can establish with other players in this game. The list includes ‘soulmates, kin (likely similar to a physically established joint friends list), Master-Apprentice (likely high levels and low levels allying for mutual benefit, or perhaps it might involve the crafting system), Clans (guilds within guilds perhaps?), and Guilds themselves. A large portion of this game’s resources seem to have been put into organizing a social setting on an entirely different level from most MMOs on the market today and I can’t wait to interview Changyou to discover more information on the details of these systems.
Duke of Mount Deer plans to take what has worked successfully in public quests systems from Warhammer Online to the present and make them a bit more twisted. Rather than just fighting progressively harder monsters culminating in a boss battle, Duke of Mount Deer pits players against other players against the monsters themselves in an epic struggle that should make your PvE experience a bit more exciting. Some of these events even felt reminiscent of Donkey Kong in which players compete while riding on a type of mining cart.
So how do they select which players will fight which players? Well you will be pitted against players from opposing servers. This is where the politics and Server Versus Server intrigue comes in…
The “Infinite Universe”
Changyou really wanted to ensure that its future player base will gain maximum interaction from each other, even though they are split between various servers. The first solution they had to this was to max out every server with as many players as possible without going over the limit and causing server instability. Currently Duke of Mount Deer’s servers max out safely at 20,000 players per server with 99.999% stability.
Their next step was to create interaction between servers in a meaningful way, to the point that your politics were influenced by players on a completely different server in a seamless fashion. At first they developed chat systems so you could communicate directly with friends on other servers. However this wasn’t enough, and they created a zone known as the Dragonblood Land.
Dragonblood Land is a world parallel and interconnected to the Central World, but supports interactivity between players on different servers. Here players can construct magnificent castles, farm resources only available in this land, and wage intergalactic wars with enemy servers. The individual as well as the interconnected worlds will be forged by the decisions made by players throughout the game.
In this unique setting, the pen truly is mightier than the sword. Players will need to negotiate and coordinate not only among friendly and opposition factions in their own world, but also with guilds in other servers to unite for common benefit. There likely won’t be enough grand resources to go around for everyone so if you want to claim some benefit for your server, you’ll have to put your political prowess to the test.
Of course trade has always been the limiting factor of war between nations. Changyou recognized this and created a utopian city known as Peace City at the center of Dragonblood Land in which merchants and craftsmen from around the gaming world can gather in one place to exchange their goods for other goods or currency. These trades can be taken back to your own gaming world; true server versus server trading. I sincerely hope they implement resources only accessible on certain servers so that the trade system can experience something akin to Pokemon Red Vs Blue where your unique goods will be highly valued in foreign trade and diplomatic negotiations.
Classes, Professions, and Companions
I think by now I’ve probably teased you long enough. Let’s discuss the unique class and companion system present in Duke of Mount Deer.
In terms of combat, players will have the ability to learn up to three classes. These classes can be switched between freely, even while in combat! The classes are Musketeer, Warrior, Edgemaster, Animist, Sage, and Diviner.
The Musketeer is ranged DPS, wielding steam-punk styled rifles with some pretty interesting scopes on them. Though the can handle themselves in close combat situations when necessary. They specialize in movement debuffs and traps as well to keep more dangerous foes at bay.
The Warrior wields a gigantic battleaxe and specializes in tanking, agro management, and protecting allies from damage. Of course they are naturally the tankiest and highest HP class in the game.
The Edgemaster on the other hand sacrifices survivability for speed and stealth on the battlefield. They dual wield swords and can go stealth, allowing them to get well within the comfort zone of enemy casters unnoticed. Once there, they use a combination of enemy CC and personal speed buffs to stay glued to their target until they or themselves are eliminated from the battlefield.
The Animist is isolated by nature and has honed their mind to tap into the weaker wills of those around them. They can be played as either a crippling ranged debuff class or a support class equally well. Most of their debuffs are time based and so the longer they remain unharassed, the more devastating their skills become on their chosen target. On the support side they can heal and buff allies as well as invoke temporary personally invincibility by shutting their minds off to the outside world. Their weapon of choice is the Soul Tablet.
The Sage is a solid support class with the usual party and focused healing abilities. They channel their energy through their staff and rely on pressure point martial arts when forced to engage in close combat with foes. In tight situations they can put foes to sleep, giving them time to slip away or be rescued by allies.
The Diviner follows something akin to a classic mage role but isn’t quite the same. They wield a fan rather than a staff and spend countless hours studying the merge the normal with the sublime. This not only grants them incredible ranged powerful AoE magic but can be used to inflict negative status effects on foes and even control foes temporarily.
In addition to this, players can also gain up to 5 followers known as companions. These include a talisman, a pet, a soldier, a mount, and a star pet. The purpose of the talisman eludes me, and the star pet seems to involve some type of zodiac system. The pet, soldier, and mount are pretty straight forward though. Pets and soldiers are both followers that can be equipped with various gear, and probably specialize in various skills. In essence the 5 companions are said to combine in a way that single players will be able to solo some instances by balancing their companion talents together in a way to form a balanced party, much like henchmen did for players in Guild Wars.
Finally the profession system consists of 10 very detailed professions. Changyou claims that their profession system is so intricate, that players can gain levels purely off of crafting should they choose to. In other words you could be a master blacksmith, yet completely incapable of wielding your great masterpieces in battle. This seems to indicate that combat experience and profession experience are not connected in any form, giving players maximum freedom over their style of play.
Though not all 10 professions are revealed yet, they did mention or preview videos of blacksmiths, fishers, chefs, botanists, tailors, carpenters, and decorators. Two of the pictured individuals I would swear to you are engineers but I’ll withhold this claim until further evidence is presented.
Unfortunately that’s all the information I have on the game tentatively titled Duke of Mount Deer. If you want more Duke of Mount Deer be sure to visit our video section for some preview trailers and a very informative Features Video that really sums things up nicely. OnRPG will stay closely in touch with Changyou and report any new information as its made known to the press.