Fantasy Earth Zero Interview: Behind Closed Doors
Questions by Vincent Haoson (Vincenthaoson), OnRPG Journalist
Answered by Sheloman Byrd, Business Development and Marketing
Fantasy Earth Zero has been pretty much on track with the game updates and fixes for its upcoming commercial launch. We here at OnRPG got a chance to ask around and see how far the team at Gamepot USA has gone since its first OBT.
OnRPG: With the game recently going for a 2nd Open Beta What major changes have you done in the game since the 1st OBT?
First, let me give a shout-out to the FEZ community on your forums. They’ve been following it for a while, and some of their input has helped. So, from the FEZ team, thank you.
Ok, let’s get down to business. The 1st Beta test was mainly for the server performance, lag issues, stuff like that. We were able to take that data and scale the servers appropriately. With that finished, we added a lot of quests, Nation missions, all 5 kingdoms, 6 continents, along with all 85 battlegrounds, full guild features (custom armor), Nation Shops (for equips) and set the ground work for a lot more.
For instance, take the Nation missions. These are missions for each Kingdom that directly affect their status-completing these leads to certain rewards within. A great way to think of them is as permanent, country-wide achievements. One is “Around the World” which means your country has to capture all territory on the outskirts of the central continent. This is all done with 100-player, massive wars, so it really is you and your friends and fellow citizens against the world. It’s a much different way to progress, rather than say, killing random stuff.
OnRPG: How has been the player support and response been to the game?
Passionate. Many players have found our combat refreshing, and the gameplay very addicting. The idea of a 3rd person Action MMO with RTS and RPG elements has struck a curve with players who love PvP, and are looking for something new. The fact that Voice Chat and Controller support is icing on the cake.
OnRPG: Why is the game restricted to only three general starter classes? Will you be adding more in the future or does the job class branch of from the three? Why?
Well, we say there are three classes, however, each class can take its own path and select their skills as they see fit. Scouts can wield Bows and Daggers, or choose to specialize. Warriors can wield one-handed swords, axes, or have a mix. Sorcerers can choose multiple elemental spells, from AoE spells to single-target. The system in FEZ is designed to give the player freedom as to how they play the game-they can choose their own path, and the game will support them.
Combat Style in FEZ
OnRPG: How deep is the game’s character growth? How far can players customize their characters in Fantasy Earth Zero?
Well, if you can see it on your character, you can customize it. Face-type, hairstyle, skin color, eye color, hair color, body type, gender for characters. Skills I briefly described, however, within your class, its open progression. The choice is theirs.
OnRPG: The game’s controls are the biggest difference Fantasy Earth Zero has compared to other games. Isn’t it a big risk that the game took this kind of control system?
We knew we wanted an Action-game type feel, with over-the-top moves. Huge jumps, dodging, always running, that sort of action combined with a fantasy environment on top of WASD-based, FPS style controls was something we felt players would adapt to fairly quickly. Timing in FEZ is everything. We know it’s a departure from traditional point-and-click movement, but we thought that players would like it, and so far, we’ve been right.
OnRPG: Are the game’s controls more tailored for gamepad users or the keyboard + mouse users? Why do you think so?
Both. We tested both control schemes in house, and they are equally effective. We support a wide range of controllers by default, and you just select that at the Game Launcher. We wanted to make it more accessible, and thus far, players have enjoyed that as well.
OnRPG: The game concentrates on a lot of PVP action. Will you be including the results of the nation wars into the game’s storyline? Or will the storyline related content be separated from the actual battles that happen in game? Why?
That would be telling. =) We do have some plans like that in the works. The players and their fight are telling the story, so we feel that has to be represented in some form.
OnRPG: With five nations vying for power in the game, the issue of game balance is going to be raised especially for nations that have little player participation. Will you be actively participating in trying to balance things out or will you let the players decide where to tip the nation balance? Why?
Nope. For the First Open Beta, we had to test some things, but we are leaving nation balance alone-the players will determine their nation’s fate.
OnRPG: What do you think is the game’s defining feature? Why do you think so?
Without a doubt, the wars. We’re talking fast-paced action, 100 players, hybrid classes, players-as-Summons, and strategy elements on a massive scale. That type of chaotic, yet strategic gameplay is what sets FEZ apart from the field.
Unique features and art style
OnRPG: What do you think will be the reason for players to flock Fantasy Earth Zero? Why?
We think that players want something different, something they can invest time in, something where their skill is rewarded on a consistent basis, something that is unique.
That game is Fantasy Earth Zero. We don’t really like grinds-by the time you’ve finished the tutorial, you’re already level 16 with a good assortment of skills, a new weapon and armor, so you can go fight immediately. The gameplay is twitch-based; all players have the same HP and Power regardless of level, so it is your skill that really sets you apart. When you throw in the scale of each battle, and how tactics must change both in battle and the overall war, that is something that resonates.
Battles you control, with your nation’s progress directly dependent on how well you and your friends do. Players want a game they can control, this is an excellent choice.
OnRPG: The game visually feels that it was taken right off an old-school RPG game, was this the target reaction of the game’s developers? Why or why not?
Somewhat, yes-the artists at Square Enix are known for high-quality, stylistic art. That feel, combined with the customization, music and battlegrounds, capture a type of old-school feel. It also has to support massive amounts of players with minimal lag, which was another target.
OnRPG: How expansive will the game’s story be in the future? How big do you plan the game to be? Why?
We’ll elaborate on this in the coming months, but there’s A LOT we have in store for the soldiers of Melpharia.
OnRPG: What will be the things you guys will be working on during the game’s 2nd OBT phase? Why?
Client-Server performance, seeing if there are any further issues with the content or quests, those tasks are at the top of the list. After that, we’ll introduce some graphics-enhancement optimizations.
OnRPG: How long will the 2nd OBT last? Is there a possibility that you may go to a 3rd OBT? What will you be including in the game’s commercial launch?
No 3rd OBT, this is it. For commercial launch, we’ll have some details about that shortly, it won’t be small though. =)
OnRPG: What’s in store for players in the months ahead?
They can look forward to a host of events and an expansion of the world of FEZ like never before. And it all starts on Day Zero, which is our Commercial Launch. They will know what it means to be a soldier in their King’s army, what it means to be distinguished for their actions, and how their actions define a global conflict.
They have a lot to look forward to. Stay Tuned.
OnRPG: Thank you for your time!