Questions by Darren Henderson (DizzyPW), OnRPG/MMOHuts General Manager
Answers by Marc Singer (Tsuda), US/EU Prime World Producer
Into MOBAs? How about RPGs? Ever considered experiencing a true hybrid with persistent character development and customization that has real impact on your MOBA character’s development? Well do I have the best kept secret on the market to tell you about! But better than just hearing from me again, I spent some time with the Prime World community over the past few open beta weekends to reach out to Nival’s team and learn more about the game and its future. Thankfully the game’s producer was willing to take the time to share some answers.
DizzyPW: Marc you have a knack for getting involved in some pretty unique titles. Can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your history in the gaming industry?
Sure! You already know my name, but I also go by Tsuda and have been in games for as long as I can remember. I got my start in the industry as an intern/tester at Trendy Entertainment in Gainesville, FL. I found the company at a local LAN event and showed them my resume. They were so impressed by the long list of applications I knew and things I had been teaching myself that they invited me to their new offices the very next day.
Once I started playing Dungeon Defenders I broke the game wide open multiple times and established myself as the Lead QA fairly quickly. Over time I began learning the Unreal Engine and contributing to designs left and right and before I knew it I was basically the right hand to the head of the studio managing the production of the game, design work, QA, and a plethora of other things. In the end my final titles were Lead Gameplay Designer and Gameplay Producer.
Towards the end of my time on Dungeon Defenders I was not only designing and building levels and boss battles, I was even doing the voice overs for them as well. Final Boss voice can be heard here, obviously I processed it.
There are several voices I have done in other smaller Indie titles, all for free and through the job section of IndieDB. VO is a ton of fun to do, and I hope to get to do more of it in the future.
Alas, as time went on and Dungeon Defenders grew, so did I and it was time to move on to a new project. After a lot of searching I arrived at Nival, and more specifically Prime World. I have been playing MOBA games for years, so I am really excited to be working on this project.
DizzyPW: Ok let’s jump right into it. Prime World has been making waves not only for its one of a kind take on MOBA character progression, but the sheer number of modes Nival is rolling out. How is the team tackling hero balance with so many match types available?
We recognize that some types of gameplay seem better for certain heroes on some modes and other heroes on other modes and this is no illusion. Part of having all of these different game modes is to encourage players to build up and play many different heroes across the modes instead of just the same hero for everything.
We hope that with the addition of more PVE type modes that players will begin to branch out more in terms of looking at hero abilities not just in the sense of how fast it can kill a player, but how viable it is for taking on masses of monsters.
Ultimately we feel the balance is quite good, but there is always room for improvement.
DizzyPW: In the same regard, the more modes you unlock, the more the playerbase is divided between them. This of course causes issues with extended queue times for less popular mode (an issue not exclusive to MOBAs at all). Currently the modes are on a long rotation. What is the plan going forward as the playerbase grows?
For players who are familiar with the Russian version of the game, they will know that normally we have Borderlands (5v5), Practice Mode, and now the new PVE Challenge mission open 24/7 while the other modes rotate on an hourly schedule.
We hope to do the same thing with the English version but it really comes down to player numbers. Once the game goes into full launch soon we hope to bring it to the same rotation schedule, but again, we will always make adjustments based on the community feedback and what we feel needs to be done.
DizzyPW: On a similar note, Prime World utilizes a 2 faction system with some heroes exclusive to each and various other aesthetic differences to separate them. As the playerbase grows how will you maintain balance and reasonable queue times for players of each faction?
We have a lot of data on how our players are playing the game, and more importantly how many players are on either side. There are many ways to manage this balance, one of which is to offer free faction transfers for a limited time to one side or the other to even things out. We want players to be able to comfortably play whichever side they like, and if queue times become a major concern (which we do not anticipate they will be) then we will make some adjustments.
DizzyPW: The gold shop has been disabled so far in the beta testing. As much as I love rubbing my fluffy Stewardess Fire Fox skin and dog pet in the faces of my enemy knowing they can’t yet purchase it themselves, surely the gold shop must be returning soon to fund the project. What is Nival testing/waiting on before doing so?
We have received a lot of feedback about our monetization and have taken a lot of steps towards making it better for our players. We currently have the purchasing of gold disabled simply because we are still working with payment processing partners so that we can offer players as many options as possible to be able to purchase gold. Expect the ability to purchase gold to be re-enabled with the launch of the full open beta.
Players are still able to earn gold through various contests, tournaments, and other events we have on our Forums, Facebook, Twitter, and Twitch channels.
DizzyPW: Right the Meme Contest has been amazing so far. Moving on to balance. Prime World is seemingly built more around fun factor and player freedom rather than coarsely defined balance and competitive equality. This hasn’t deteriorated the community from being competitive as well as organizing tournaments to showcase the power of their clan. How does Nival plan to balance and build on this fighting spirit?
While we are not E-Sport centric, we do love a good fight. We fully support community ran events and tournaments and are willing to award prizes to those who organize them and those who compete in them. Nival will also be hosting official tournaments as well as maintaining ranking charts on our website so players and clans can keep track of who is the best of the best.
We don’t just mean Gold and Resource prizes either; we’re talking REAL prizes.
DizzyPW: It’s clear from one glance at the building menu that there are more construction options in the castle building segment of the game than players have room for in their castle walls. Is it a design philosophy to block players from having access to every building? Will the rumored second wall expansion address this or maintain this design decision?
While I can’t comment on any territory expansions, the Castle is a constant work in progress that we want to continue to improve upon. Yes, the Castle is most definitely designed so that players need to make choices about how they want their production to be managed. Do you rush talents or resources? Are you working for yourself, or to help level your Clan? All of these choices are critical in how you establish your economy.
DizzyPW: Prime World seems to be seriously interested in building its lore, going so far as to publish a book expanding on it. For some reason this is quite uncommon in the MOBA genre despite an obvious audience that clamors for it. The new PvE challenge mode seems to have introduced this into the gameplay. What other plans are in the works to build the lore? And will the community have a chance to impact its progress?
I think having any real deep lore is quite uncommon for all games, not just MOBAs. That being said, there are things happening in the Prime World universe that are yet to be seen and we are excited where the lore is headed. There are 3 other books currently in Russian and if the players want them bad enough we will work towards translating them.
While I cannot comment on anything official, I personally would love to have events that shape the Prime World universe permanently based on community activity. One of my most favorite gaming memories was opening the Gates of Ahn’Qiraj in World of Warcraft.
DizzyPW: Recent beta events have felt far smoother to me with less lag time between issuing a command and seeing it realized in-game. Am I just imagining this or did Nival change something?
We are constantly working to improve our latency and response times not only to the servers but in the game architecture itself. You can thank the programmers 😉
DizzyPW: Many of these issues I’m sure have been faced and addressed already on the Russian server. It’s still early on but do you see any particular solutions to the Russian server issues that will need a different approach when dealing with the US/EU?
As of yet, there isn’t much we plan to do different. Chances are we will have more access servers so players are able to have a more stable response time since the area we are covering with the English version is much larger.
DizzyPW: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. For those who haven’t taken the time to try Prime World for themselves, how would you convince them Tsuda?
I always like to describe Prime World like a layer cake. It looks like a normal cake on the outside to some, but once you bite in you start to see all the complexities and layers of things to discover. I try and emphasize that we are not just another MOBA, and even more so we don’t want to consider ourselves a MOBA at all. We don’t toss around buzz words like “Innovating the genre,” or “taking things to the next level.” We know what we are, and we are proud of it. More importantly, I feel like Prime World offers something for everyone and since the game is free-to-play, why not give it a shot?
DizzyPW: Awesome. And for those that have already experienced the game during beta, be sure to check today’s announcement to snag a special limited edition beta tester badge!