Soldier Front Interview: Alive and Kicking!

Questions by:  Vincent Haoson
Answered by: Vincent Sangho Kim, project manager
SF Online is one of those FPS games that have been a mainstay in the MMO scene for quite a while now. Even with other FPS games out in the market, SF has established itself as a game that’s more than just a passing trend.
With three years and tournaments under its belt, SF Online is sure to still wow its players as the months progress.
We here on Onrpg got the scoop to what’s happening behind closed doors in the SF world and here’s what they have to say about the game.
Onrpg: Soldier Front is nearing almost three years of operation, how is the game faring now?
With more than 3 million users since it launched on May, 2007, I think SF has more loyal users than any other first-person shooter (FPS) games in the Unites States.  In contrast to many other FPS games, SF also draws a number of hardcore gamers, who contribute considerably to the fast-paced, edge-of-your seat game play experience.
Onrpg: How vibrant is SF’s community?
With more than 1,000 clans in SF, new and existing members will always encounter a flurry of action and challenge.  Joining and initial game play in SF is quick and easy.  However, you should spend some time getting accustomed to it before you dive in, and you will need to know some skills in order to master it. Current players are very active in sharing advice and general information about the SF through clans and forums as well.  Minute-by-minute, experienced users anxious to share their knowledge answer fellow player’s questions.
Onrpg: What measures do you take when it comes to keeping your in-game community content and happy?
We are always contemplating new content and making it available to SF players.  Every month we push the envelope with new maps, weapons and game modes, and we have plenty planned for 2009.  Additionally, providing a clean and fair environment for our users is paramount. Our GM and security teams are consistently monitoring for illegal activity so our in-game community is disturbed as little as possible.
Onrpg: Do GMs take a direct role in helping out the in-game community in SF online?
Our most important goal is simple: make sure all players are happy with the game.  We appreciate that a community-oriented FPS like SF would not be possible without each and every player.  Accordingly, we do our best to assure user’s needs are met and surpassed. 
Onrpg: What do GMs do to make their presence felt in-game?
Believe it or not, the team here at NHN USA loves jumping in and playing the game as much as our users do.  Daily we can be found in the community, as gamers first, but also making sure Soldier Front is keeping up with expectations.  Once in a while we make our presence more obvious by hosting events for the users to try, events like ‘Kill the GM’, offering awards for participation.
Onrpg: What factors do you consider whenever you make an event when in SF online?
A positive user experience is top priority in planning an event, so we try to find new ways for players to enjoy SF.  We ran a video contest last year on YouTube, which surpassed our expectations by inciting the most interesting and creative outpouring of user-generated game play videos. By participating, users were able to really have fun with SF and share their fondness and skills with others. It was a great time!
Onrpg: Where do you get your ideas when including new game modes in SF online?
New ideas are constantly being kicked around for SF, creativity is key and can come from anywhere.  Generally the inspiration comes from sporting events and contests that actually exist in the real world around us.
Onrpg: What is your basis when it comes to choosing the weapons you put in SF online?
Actual, existing weapons are the initial pool we draw from.  From there, we have fun with rare weapons, such as the Gold AK-47 and the Engraving PSG-1.  The novelty of these particular items really seems to appeal to players.
Onrpg: Do you need to have a license when reproducing actual weapons in SF online? If so, would that mean that every weapon you sell or use in-game is a licensed copy of the weapon? If not, what then would be your basis for the stats of the weapons in the weapon market?
We use the actual weapon as inspiration, sometimes customizing them for in-game balance.  For example, the stats of the golden AK-47 found in the game have been altered to be more powerful in order to provide a novelty item for players.
Onrpg: How do you gauge the points you allocate on weapon strength, recoil, rate of fire, etc. whenever you include a new gun on the weapon shop?
Each weapon is categorized as one of the following:  rifle, submachine gun, sniper rifle, machinegun, shotgun or pistol.  Each category has its basic specifications, which generally outline the strength, frequency, etc. of the weapon. For example, sniper rifles have very high power and precision compared to rifles.
Onrpg: What other soldier units are you planning to include in SF online? Will you include some famous historical units?
Great question.  The answer is: yes.  We are going to introduce Australian and Chinese Special Forces, among others, in near future. While I cannot share the specific names of the units, they will be exciting additions – stay tuned!
Onrpg: What factors do you consider when you are thinking of new outfits to include for your characters in SF online?
I personally prefer Force Recon and SRG characters with premium gears who give players a boost in stats.  Others consider new outfits that can increase a player’s speed and special points. As a result, many different player styles and preferences are represented when we make decisions on new outfits.
Onrpg: What other add-ons are you considering for SF online in the future?
In 2009, we will host more tournaments, including a National Championship later in the year.  We are also touting even more opportunities to get involved in clan warfare, so new and existing players can reach a more involved level of game play.
Onrpg: Is there a possibility that SF online would have a global tournament in the future?
Actually, SF already holds a world championship every year where players from around the globe vie for a title.  The first World Championship was held in Thailand in 2007, the second was held in China last year.  We send a team representing the U.S. to compete every year. This year’s location hasn’t been decided on yet, so keep an eye out for that news.
Onrpg: Besides from the other plans and updates mentioned earlier, what other major updates should players look out for in the succeeding months of 2009?
Given the financial environment and users’ wishes, we are making SF free to join.  The ‘Free Join’ feature will be added this year, at which point users will not need to wait or wander from room to room to play.
Thank you!
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