Tales Runner Interview: Racing Innovation

Questions by Vincent Haoson, Onrpg writer

Answered by GM Sl0th, Tales Runner Community Manager

With the boom of casual gaming in the MMO scene, racing would in fact be a staple genre. Tales Runner, a racing MMO from Gpotato enters the casual gaming scene with a racing MMO that is different from the current trend. Onrpg had a chance to talk with GM Sl0th Tales Runner’s Community Manager on what you can expect from the game in the coming months ahead.

Onrpg: What makes Tales Runner different from the other MMO racing games available in the gaming market?

Sl0th: Every Racing MMO on the market uses the same formula: race, shoot, win, and repeat. Tales Runner escapes from that formula brilliantly.

Yes, you race but you’re given choices. Do you race by yourself? Or on a team? Do you race against players? Or try to survive an attack from one of the Boss Monsters? How many players do you want to race with? 1? 2? 30? It’s really up to you.

Weapons are available but there’s no weapon selection. There’s none of that, “Pick such-and-such OP weapon and you’ll win every time” mentality. You get weapons by running through Capsule Items, similar to Item Boxes in Mario Kart. Cross your fingers and maybe you’ll get an Exploding Chicken (Yes, that’s right, Exploding Chicken.), or the Boots of Speed, or any of the other 15 weapons.

Character Customization seems to be lacking in the Racing MMO world as well. Most games allow you to customize your avatar or your vehicle, not both. In Tales Runner, your avatar is your vehicle, so customizing it with stat increasing gear, cool clothes, and other accessories will not only change the way you race but change your appearance as well.

We are fond of saying that Tales Runner is “beyond racing” and it really is. The amount of content we’ve released so far is just the start, in the following weeks we’ll be releasing stuff that rivals most MMORPGs and blows other Racing MMOs completely out of the water.

Onrpg: Can you give us a sneak peek into what’s coming?

Sl0th: I can give you a little bit of a peek, definitely.
We’ve started localization on our upcoming item crafting system called Alchemy. This system will allow users to take special “Cards” that they will earn with each race and create custom items. It’s a pretty big system and nearly all of our players have been asking for it for a while. I can’t say exactly when it’s coming but I can say that it is almost ready.

We’ve also been looking closely at implementing a system that allows users to create their own island in-game. This system is still in development but it will essentially create a whole new game for users to play within Tales Runner.

Beyond that, most of our projects are quite secret. Our goal is to make the racing in a Tales Runner a coincidence, something that compliments the Tales Runner experience. We want our players to be able to say, “Hey I play Tales Runner. You can do all this stuff and oh yeah, there’s really fun racing too.”

Onrpg: When are you going to release the other 4 characters in the game? Are they the only ones you’ll add to the runner roster? Or are you going to make usable fairy tale characters as part of the lineup?

Sl0th: For now, we’d like to give our players enough time to unlock all of the current characters before releasing a new one.

With all the events and giveaways that we did for our Closed and Open Betas our veteran players are rich in in-game currency and have had enough time and money to get most if not all of the current characters. Our new players, however, have not really had a chance to experience that yet and we’d like to give them that chance before throwing more their way.

We’ve almost reached the point where it’s time to release a new character and no one should be surprised if we release a new character sometime around New Year’s.

Onrpg: What are the things you consider when thinking of a track?

Sl0th: We watch player trends very closely. When the time comes to release a map we look at who is playing what. Is everyone running Survival Maps, where you run from bosses, or are they doing more team based races? Depending on the current trend and various other criteria we decide whether it’s time to give the players more of what they’re currently playing or shake things up a bit by adding a map that takes them completely by surprise.

Onrpg: How are the bosses in the survival maps tied into Tales Runner?

Sl0th: Each Boss Monster has their own little side story. The one thing they have in common is that they’ve all come to stop the Runners from racing for one reason or another.
Daddy Octopus is tired of seeing his children used as weapons (you can launch electric octopi at other players), Mommy Octopus is mad because the Runners have kept her husband away, Angry Lizard hopes that by fighting with Runners he’ll be able to escape his overzealous fiancée, and Sailor Joe, well Sailor Joe just likes eating people.

Their stories are fun and nearly whimsical, so it can be quite surprising that they resulted in the creation of some really impressive baddies. The Survival Maps are by far the most challenging maps in the game and it’s very easy to forget that the giant lizard shooting balls of fire at you is actually trying to avoid getting married or that the giant octopus launching highly destructive bolts of lightning in your direction actually just wants to stop you from using his children as weapons.

Onrpg: Would there be added missions in the solo play of Tales Runner? What kinds of missions are you hoping to include in the game?

Sl0th: We’ll definitely be adding more Single Player missions in the future. The Dr. Hell stages, which are a series of difficult maps designed to turn average players into good players and good players into pros, are being polished and localized at this moment. When they’re ready we’ll have nine more missions to add to Mission Mode. More than that though, completing the 9 missions will grant players access to a hidden game mode.

Onrpg: What’s your overall plan in the park? What other additions would you include on it?

Sl0th: Right now we’re using the Park as a place for players to gather and show off the work they’ve put into customizing their avatars. In the long term we’ll be adding an Item Shop, a Fortune Teller, as well as ways to enjoy the Tales Runner Soundtrack. Before we add any of these things we’re going to be adding more Mini-Games to the Park. What we currently have is fun but we’d like to give our players even more to do while they’re taking a break from racing.

Onrpg: Where do you get your ideas for the items you sell in-game?

Sl0th: We have a schedule planned for most of the items we’re releasing. There are also seasonal items that are sold according the time of year, like our current set of Christmas clothing or the Halloween outfits we had earlier this year. Some items, like special Emotes or Dances, are released according to the moods of the community.

When we first released our Two-Step dance item, it was impossible to enter a room without seeing everyone dancing at the same time! So, of course, we released a few more dances for the players to mess around with. After that trend died off we decided, rather than try to push items that were no longer “in” that we’d give the players something new and exciting to play with. Currently, our Magic Scarves and Backpacks are quite popular and we’ll continue releasing them until it’s time to move in a different direction.

Onrpg: The pet system in the item mall is unique only to Tales Runner, when will you add more pets to the item mall? What kind of pets are you planning to include?

Sl0th: Having pets that help as much ours do is a rarity in the gaming world; Tales Runner pets can block attacks, give you bonus stats, bonus XP, bonus currency. Having pets that you can purchase with in-game money as well as actual money is unheard of in the “Free 2 Play” gaming world. Because of the fact that we’re doing something that no one has ever seen, we’re taking our time with pet releases to give our players time to absorb the fact that with these pets, they have a choice.

We haven’t told anyone yet (except the people reading this I guess) but we will be releasing our long awaited Flying Pig pet on Dec.17th. This is something our players have been asking for since Closed Beta and now that we feel they are comfortable with how the Pet System works, it’s good to finally give it to them.

Onrpg: Don’t you have a GM named FlyingPig? Was the pet named after him?

Sl0th: Yes, we do actually and no, he named himself after the pet, not the other way around. He thought it’d be funny if people ran around saying, “Wow. I just bought Flying Pig.” I asked for a sloth pet but was turned down because having a slow pet in a racing game doesn’t make sense and because I was only asking out of jealousy anyway.

Onrpg: What’s in-store for tales runner in the succeeding updates?

Sl0th: Geez, what’s not in store for the future? We have so much available to us that it’s becoming quite difficult to decide what to release. For now, we’ll stick to our release schedule when we can and look to our community to guide us with their suggestions.

We release content in “Chapters”. Each chapter starts off with an initial block of content and is supplemented as the chapter goes on. We’re currently in the final half of “Chapter 1: The Monsters Attack!” which will see all of our Boss Monster Maps released before it’s over. Chapter 2 begins in February and we’re doing a lot to make sure that the next chapter really rounds out the game and gives it more depth.

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