Sword 2 Interview: A Hybrid Game
Questions by Tully Ackland, OnRPG Journalist
Answered by Myra Widodo, Associate Producer
OnRPG: Firstly, congratulations on your recent launch and thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions, could you start by giving those who might not be familiar to the game a run down what Sword 2 is?
Sword 2 is our MMORTS/MMORPG hybrid title. The game’s RTS/RPG features, Political PvP System, and beautiful graphics set it apart from other titles within the MMO and Free2Play markets. If someone were to ask me what the point of this game is, I would boil it down to the following; exploring the New World, uniting with your friends, and dominating control over the New World.
OnRPG: Sword 2 isn’t entirely a sequel to Sword of the New World; could you describe what sets them apart?
We have completely revamped the first 20 levels and changed the new user experience. Previously, we had you start your journey on a boat sailing for the New World. For Sword 2, you are left shipwrecked and have to gather your basic armor and weapons. There is a “Tutorial Help” window that informs you where you are, what resources are available to you in that location, or what you can do. We’ve made it really easy for new players to get through the general tutorial and learn how to play the game so they can get to the real meat of it. In the end, after completing the tutorial players get awarded with a pet. Pets are an added benefit to players as most pets offer some enhancement of game play – whether that benefit be buffing or looting.
Some of the major improvements we have made to the UI include a more robust Zone Map. We make it really clear where NPCs with available quests are located and we have a “Move” feature within the Zone map which will allow you to quickly move to an area or character of interest. We also now list all NPCs in an area on your map for easy reference.
We’ve added a new friend summoning feature that allows players to summon their friends and clan mates to their location from anywhere in the New World. This really makes it easy to get around without a lot of hassle. Players can start instances and raids very quickly instead of having to run everywhere.
We’ve revamped our entire leveling process to include more low level instances. Additionally, we’ve adjusted our raiding system to use instances as well. We still have open world raids (where clans fight for control over certain bosses) but now the majority of raiding happens in a private instance. In all we’ve added 4 new raid instances.
We’ve added a lot of new content including new costumes, stances (special set of skills that players develop for their characters), weapons, armor and more. Character face customizations, mailbox system where you can message letters to other players, and improved Secret Guard System are some of the other changes.
Secret Guard System is an in-game feature that allows advanced players to pair up with beginner players and have both parties benefit from playing together up until the beginner players have reached level 15. Players can chat with each other prior to committing, so they may avoid any “bad roommate” situations. That isn’t even the tip of the iceberg; there are about 30 pages of changes. The only things we didn’t change was the core of the game. You control 3 characters and fight for ownership of the New World.
OnRPG: What drove the idea to revamp the first 20 levels of the game instead of laterally continuing the end game?
Our goal with the revamp of the first 20 levels of the game were focused mainly on allowing new players to grasp the basics of the game quickly to expedite getting them to the meat of the game – which includes high level instances, raids, Faction Wars, and Elections. In this respect, we didn’t exactly compromise working on laterally continuing the end game. We are ingraining new players with the end game in fact.
OnRPG: The game features RPG strategy elements, the feature of controlling up to three characters at a time is a huge selling point for Sword 2, so could you tell us what advantages this gives the player?
The Multi-Character Control mechanic where players can control and develop up to 3 characters at the same time reinforces the RTS aspect of the game more so than the RPG aspect. Since different characters have different skill sets, players can create a multitude of combinations out of those 3 characters to do different things. One big thing we never really liked about other games was the requirement that players had to find another player that was a healer or a tank to succeed. In Sword 2 everyone has a tank and a healer. But with the ability to create up to 63 characters players can create a balanced 3 person “team” with a Tank, Damage Dealer and a Healer or they can be a focused team of 3 Healers or 3 Damage Dealers or even 3 Tanks or any combination thereof. It adds a real level of detail to PvP and PvE game play that you won’t find in any other game.
One advantage the Multi-Character Control mechanic gives players, in the RPG aspect, is that it maximizes their time in developing their characters. Players do not have to grind to level and develop one character at a time because they are able to play with up to 3 characters at the same time. As mentioned earlier players also get a variety of the type of characters they want to experience playing with. They don’t have to commit to choosing a specific Class and then find out half way to max level that they prefer another Class.
OnRPG: Political Player vs Player is another major feature for Sword 2, could you give those unfamiliar a brief explanation as to what it is?
Political PvP is definitely a huge selling point because ultimately ruling the New World is the end game. I would go as far to say that this is even more significant than the Multi-Character Control. Political PvP comes down to two major features – Elections and Faction Wars. Players can run for office and lead one of two Factions – the Republicans or the Royalists. While all players can vote for elected Faction Leaders, only Clans (a group of Families) can ally themselves to a Faction and only Clan leaders can run for office. When a Clan leader joins a Faction, all players in that Clan are immediately apart of the selected Faction. The elected leader of the Royalist Faction is called the Duke and the elected leader of the Republican Faction is called the President.
In Faction Wars, individual clans fight to obtain and retain Colonies located all around the New World. At the end of Faction Wars, the Faction with the most Colonies is named the Dominate Faction. The “Dominate Faction” gets a large payment of in-game currency at the end of every month paid directly to the Faction’s elected Leader. That Faction leader of the Dominate Faction, (be it the Duke or the President), will become the Premier. It is expected for the Premiere to divide the winnings out to all players in the Faction. However, there is nothing stopping them from keeping them, so it’s extremely important to pick a leader you trust!
OnRPG: What major features have players got their hands on recently after you just unleashed the last huge patch?
The instanced raids are a big deal in terms of the new content we released. As mentioned earlier, we’ve adjusted our raiding system to use instances as well so now the majority of raiding happens in a private instance. This solves the problems of kill stealing and boss camping which are prevalent in many other MMOs. So certain areas in game don’t become overcrowded with different parties all fighting for the same goal. As many of us know it stink to have kills taken away from you after you’ve spent all the time and effort.
OnRPG: Sword 2 is developed in Korea, have you made any choices to Westernize the title?
Sword 2 was in developed in Korea, by IMC Games. Hakkyu Kim, the famed creator of Ragnarok Online, is the lead designer of the game and was inspired to create the Sword 2 universe after visiting several countries in Europe and learning about the history which carried over to the Americas. In one sense, the content of the game is Western as it was inspired by Western History.
Upon seeing the game, this inspiration is apparent in the design of diverse environments and ornate details of in-game items and costumes. Using Europe and colonial America for the world design, allowed Hakkyu Kim’s art team the leisure to survey some of the most iconic sights in North America and incorporate them into the game. From a re-creation of the Grand Canyon to the frozen Canadian tundra, players will discover and experience breath-taking environments.
In terms of the deliberate choices we have made to Westernize the game, most of it falls within translations of texts and community run events and contests. While we try to user more colloquial terms when translating dialogue of NPCs or descriptions for items, we still maintain the style of language that matches the world of Sword 2. Often times when we come up with ideas for promotions or events we’ll make certain cultural references that could otherwise be considered Western. For example, we had a Lolcats Weekend event a couple weeks back that many of the players from our markets enjoyed.
OnRPG: Sword 2 is back on retail store shelves, what drove this decision instead of opting for what much of the competition is doing with digital distribution?
Sword 2 is actually not back in the retail stores yet. We are working out some plans for that so I would say just keep your eye out in the near future. We do a lot of digital distribution mainly because that’s what our market has kind of pushed us to go that route. Especially, with Free2Play there is a lot of opportunities with digital distribution. Those opportunities are included in some of the “pros” for digital distribution, however, some of the “cons” include certain regions having bandwidth limitations or slower connections.
Overall, our idea behind a future retail box is based off of what our players want. Our game is Free2Play, so the purpose of a retail box isn’t so much selling the game client. With retail boxes we would sell rare packages of items, in-game currency, and exclusive digital content. There’s something that players still enjoy about going to a physical store, picking up a box and game guide that you can hold in your hand. It is especially enjoyable when on top of holding that box in your hand you get items and content that you can’t get any other way.
OnRPG: Your next expansion Revelations is coming this fall; can you tell us what players can expect to see in this?
Actually, we have decided that instead of releasing two expansions – Revelations and Renaissance – we are combining two expansions and releasing one MEGA expansion!
Usually, with any expansion we’ll have new items available for players in the in-game Bazaar. That may include costumes, weapons, etc. The two major things that we think our players are going to go crazy for are the new Unique Playing Characters and our World-Cross PvP Arena.
For Sword 2: Renaissance, we will have three new characters – Sorceress Emilia, Catherine Torche, and Asoka. Sorceress Emilia has been seen in many of the associated imagery we have released with Sword 2’s launch. For example, at E3 Los Angeles we decided to have a larger-than life-size wall panel at our booth. I know players will be excited about Catherine Torche and Asoka. I personally love the design of Asoka and can’t wait for her to be in game!
Now the World-Cross PvP Arena is the other major gem players will get with Renaissance. This feature will allow players from different worlds to play each other. Currently, players can only play with other players on their particular world, so now we have opened up doors to the community even further.
OnRPG: Can you tell us your timeline for the future regarding content?
As we mentioned with Renaissance, we are looking towards releasing this expansion this Fall. We also have a web browser game that should be coming out around that time frame as well.
OnRPG: You have a Flash browser based game coming out for Sword 2 “in the near future” can you tell us what this is about?
Our web browser game we created for additional content for our community. The game gives players the opportunity to win some crazy in game items, and it gives us an opportunity to create some crazy promotions and events with this added content.
To give you a general overview, the web game highlights and emulates Colony Wars, a major aspect of Sword 2. We’re starting off with releasing a variety of two types of mini-games. One is a memory card game and the other is a jigsaw puzzle. Both games are timed so players must complete the mini-games within that allotted time. Players with the highest scores for those games will have their name appear in the leader board.
Now the leader board is where we got a little creative and tried to emulate the meat of the game. The leader board is designed similar to the in-game World Map for Sword 2. There are seven Colonies highlighted on the leader board. Each of those seven Colonies has some mini-games associated with them. If a player obtains the highest score for a particular Colony their name will appear over that city on the map. This is similar to how in Sword 2, when Clans take control over a certain Colony the Clan name will appear on the map. High Scores will get more substantial prizes for having their name appear on the map.
However, if players don’t just have to have the highest score in order to win prizes. If they successfully complete or beat a mini-game they get a prize. There is also a spinning Level Selector in the web game that directs players to the mini-games associated with one of the seven Colonies. On that spinning Level Selector there is also a chance to win prizes.
OnRPG: Thank you very much for your time, would you run us out with a brief summary of what you believe makes Sword 2 great?
First thing that comes to mind would be that it’s Free2Play. Having the freedom to try something without having to commit to a subscription of said amount of days (unless you really want to), has always been appealing for our player base and it’s the reason why our games are Free2Play. Secondly, but more importantly I think that the world and lore behind it is great. The struggle for power and the lore behind it is one of the major aspects of the game that attracted me to produce Sword 2 in the first place. Here you have a long standing history of various Nations from the “Old World” battling over power. That struggle for power, the politics, the drama, and the characters involved in that drama – all of those things carry over to the New World. As a pioneer sent to the New World, you are caught in the middle of all of this!
Within the game lore, we have two major Factions – Royalists (those loyal to the Queen and fighting to preserve their power) and Republicans (those fighting against the old establishment and trying to gain their own freedom.) Many of the characters you meet throughout the game and many of the quests you will complete slowly reveal some of the stories, mysteries, and conflicts existing in the New World.
Often times, in video games we find the “story” to be somewhat lacking because there is a focus on game mechanics. I feel with Sword 2, that the story has not been compromised. There is a good balance between game-play and immersing the players into the world of Sword 2.