Sword of the New World Interview: What’s In Store for 2010
Questions by Vincent Haoson (Vincenthaoson), OnRPG Journalist
Answered by Myra Widodo
Sword of the New World is one of those MMORPGs that has used a certain period in human history as its backdrop and has since then created its own world. The right mix of the game theme and game elements plus, the unique 3-character control system makes this game one of the better F2P games out in the market.
We here in Onrpg were given the opportunity to talk with the people running Sword of the New World and with the year just starting, we got the chance to check up on what’s in store for Sword of the New world this 2010.
OnRPG: With the game years under your banner, how is the game doing?
Since its debut we’ve released three major expansions to the game. Manifest Destiny was released in January of 2008. The title, Manifest Destiny, expanded upon the theme of exploration and destiny – to make a mark and conquer the New World. Nocturnal Sonata was released in June of 2008. A player actually submitted the name and it was voted by players as the best title for the expansion. Recently, Echoes of an Empire, Volume 1 was released in September of 2009. The interesting thing about this expansion was the significance of the number ‘3’; the expansion was Patch 3.0 for the game and it introduced a Third Civilization to the world. We have seen a positive impact from each expansion we’ve released. Echoes of an Empire, Volume 2 is around the corner and players have waiting for this expansion in anticipation. After that we have something even bigger and better looming in the near future…
OnRPG: How has been the overall support of the players to the game?
We’ve had a long standing history of a great community for Sword of the New World. Many of our active players and our forum moderators have been with us since our initial launch from 2007. Players have contributed a great deal to content for our official sites, administrating fan-sites, reporting any abuse in game, reporting bugs, moderating the forums, and participating in our community and in game events. Our players have been very open to giving us feedback and ideas of what they want from the game.
OnRPG: What was the biggest problem you faced during the game’s operation? How did you handle that said problem?
Mass distribution for the game’s client size has been one challenge we have faced. The high end graphics of Sword of the New World attributes to its 5GB size. Surprisingly, however, the system requirements are low for a game that has graphics of this caliber. One thing we have implemented across all of our games is the GamersFirst LIVE Download Manager. GamersFirst LIVE uses the Bit Torrent technology to help expedite the download time, which in the past took longer than we liked. This solution has especially been helpful to our community within North America. We are also in the process of planning a retail box distribution. We include some cool exclusives and bonuses in our retail boxes. Game DVDs have been successful for our game in many of our marketing and distribution campaigns, so we look forward to doing this again in the near future.
OnRPG: How important are the NPCs that characters use in their gameplay? Do players use them more often rather than creating their own characters?
The NPCs play a significant role in quests, in game events, and as characters within the game’s narrative. Many of the NPCs have a back story contributing to the lore of Sword of the New World. Slowly revealed through these back stories are mysteries of the New World, political drama, historic legends and much more.
The game also offers UPCs (Unique Player Characters) that players can recruit to join their families. Those UPCs are also involved in quests and have their own back stories as well. One of the great things that I feel brings the community closer together is everyone has the opportunity to easily access and experience a variety of characters and classes; there is almost an unsaid universal experience that every player shares and I feel that this may be a contributing factor to a successful MMO game.
Grand Classes and Beautiful Outfits
OnRPG: What do you think is the game’s main appeal for players?
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, I think the Multi-Character-Control (MCC) feature is something that really stands out for Sword of the New World. Players can get more with investing less time as they can simultaneously level and develop up to 3 characters at the same time. They don’t have to grind to level one character at a time and they’re not restricted to playing one class or one type of character on a given server.
Third, I would say would be the graphics quality of the game. The graphics are pretty refined and really show off all of the ornate detailing of the characters, items and environment. Graphics that can really immerse a player into a world are extremely important – especially in a Fantasy MMORPG genre game.
OnRPG: What game feature does Sword of the New World have that sets it apart from the competition? Why do you think so?
MCC as I mentioned is a game design that really sets Sword of the New World apart from most other MMORPGs. Another unique feature is the Political PVP System. In the game we have what we call Faction Wars, where Clans battle against other Clans to dominate control over Colonies within the New World. I guess if you were to compare, one might say this Faction Wars is similar to Risk, where players must strategize to take control over points in the map.
There is also an Election system where players (regardless of belonging to a Clan and/or a Faction) may vote for the leader of a Faction. The internal struggle for political power is something all players may participate in.
Ultimately, the end game for this Political PVP and Election System is to become the Premiere – dominant ruler of the New Word. There are two Factions in game – 1.) Royalists and 2.) Republicans. The elected leader of the Royalists is called the Grand Duke and the elected leader of the Republicans is the President. The Faction that has the most Colonies, is the dominant Faction, and the leader of the dominant Faction is the Premiere. The Premiere has control and can levy taxes on all the Colonies.
OnRPG: Isn’t it a little strange for you to take on this genre with the theme set during the exploration period in history?
The Age of Exploration really marries well with the MMORPG genre. Having players assume the roles of families pioneering to the New World is an adventurous journey. In that respect, I don’t think it is strange for us to take on this genre. However, the game is “strange” in that it’s a pretty unique universe set in a very specific historic background that has not been explored before in many other MMO games.
OnRPG: What’s the most sought after item in the game right now?
We recently released a New Year in-game event called “Year of the Tiger”. We are actually extending it for a week due to its popularity. Players had a chance to win one of three pet tigers – a white tiger, a black tiger, and a ginger tiger. Pets are always highly sought after, and it can’t be helped – they are pretty adorable. Anyone who has seen the designs for those pets would agree. Depending on which pet you get they might help to gather or give buffs.
OnRPG: Are there any balance issue that arose with the game’s unique system where you can get to control three different characters at once?
The game was designed with the concept that balance is done at a micro level. Many games do not do this however, much like table-top Dungeons and Dragons, Sword of the New World does. What this means is there is a baseline set for what can happen in a certain period of time. Meaning a skill can only do X amount of damage in one second (unmodified). If a skill take 5 seconds to activate then that skill can only do 5*X amount of damage (unmodified).
There are also a number of design rules in place to ensure that when new skills, weapons and UPCs are created they are always in balance with everything else in the world. For instance, we have a rule for stances that says “If you are in a healing stance you may not contribute damage”. That means that while you may have stances that deal damage, while in a healing stance you can only heal and buff. This alleviates A LOT of balance issues that many other games find themselves in. There are many other design rules.
So far this system has worked very well for us. Everything stays in its box and we haven’t had too many balance issues. Usually when we do, it’s because we went outside of our rules. After making the offending skill, item or character conform to the rules, the balance issue go away.
OnRPG: Where do you get your inspiration, whenever you release an item or clothes in the premium store?
The world lends itself to the creation of items and costumes. When we released Echoes of an Empire, Volume 1 we included new Cash Shop items such as the OoPS Erracan Box and Phoenix Wings. Those items were related to the new geography and culture introduced into the game. Another example would be our Andre Costume Boxes and Karjalain Costume Boxes. Andre Janzur is a famous costume designer in of the New World and Karjalain is his aspiring apprentice. We’ve had different variations recently released of Costume Boxes based off of these two characters.
OnRPG: How active is the game’s community right now? Are they actively participating in the forums and in-game?
Over the Winter Holidays we’ve released several in-game and forum events in which we’ve seen a good deal of participation from the players. Recently, we’ve had a show of what creative potential our players have from some of our forum contests and that has inspired us to challenge them further with bigger forum contest in the near future. For instance, we had a “GamersFirst Holiday Festivus Contest”, where players had to submit holiday and game themed images. Each of the participating GamersFirst Games, including Sword of the New World, had three top winners who received prizes and then all the GamersFirst employees voted for a Grand GamersFirst Winner. We had some pretty impressive entries this year.
OnRPG: How big is the community’s influence in how the game is being developed and played?
I would say that the community has a great influence on what events, promotions and additions we develop for the game. Our job as a publisher is to localize content for our users. That content encompasses every detail from our official websites, tool tips for items in game, NPC in game text, in game character voice over recordings, to promotional sales. While I can’t disclose the exact number of active players we have for Sword of the New World, I will say that some of our largest markets include North America, the U.K., and Germany. We’ve also seen a growth of players in Brazil and Turkey. Knowing who’s in the game allows us to make the appropriate choices for how we present our content.
OnRPG: Is the game limited to only a certain group of users or is it open to everyone in the world?
Our game is Free2Play and open to anyone interested in playing. I’d say many of our players fall between the ranges of teens to early twenties. We offer PVP and Non-PVP servers so players have that option, and it doesn’t limit the “type” of user that can come and fun in the game. If you love PVP we have you covered, if you don’t care for it we have something for you too. As I mentioned, our bigger markets come from North America, the U.K. and Germany but we have a decent diversity of players from other areas of Europe and South America as well.
OnRPG: Can you share us a tidbit of what other game features your company is planning to include into the game?
Many features I’m hoping to implement this year revolve around loyalty programs, referral programs, and improvements on existing systems in game. Our goal in developing more loyalty and referral programs stems off of the fact that we have a loyal community and we want to continue to encourage that. We’ve done things in the past that have tried to support loyal players and I think we can find a way to improve upon those ideas. While I can’t get into the nitty gritty details of the improvements we are developing for existing systems in game I can say that our goal is to maintain a healthy balance for the in game economy and Political Systems. Those improvements are all geared towards the benefits of our players.
Another major change coming to the game will be a complete revamp of our Political PvP System. This change will make it more difficult for large clans to single-handedly dominate Faction Wars. The new Faction Wars will require a series of challenges be completed for every colony. We aren’t extending the Faction War time period so Clans will have to cover more ground with the same amount of time. In effect this will empower smaller Clans and allow them to obtain 1 or 2 Colonies every week.
OnRPG: What’s in store for the players in the succeeding months?
Within the next month we are planning on the release of a Closed Beta for our Echoes of an Empire, Volume 2 expansion. After that we will go into commercial launch. The expansion will introduce new characters, new Cash Shop items, new costumes and more. We have some promotions, contests and events planned in preparation for the launch of another mega expansion coming up in Spring 2010. (Yes, I know I’m being cryptic but not really.)
OnRPG: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions!
Thank you for having us!