Exclusive: Massively's Lineage II High Five interview

Today's the big day for Lineage II fans, as NCsoft is dropping the much-anticipated High Five content update on the game's live servers. The patch features a ton of tweaks, additions, and improvements for the world of Aden, and it offers quite a makeover in terms of character skills for the seven-year-old fantasy title.

High Five brings a new hunting system to the table as well as several Grand Olympiad enhancements (including new stadiums, visuals, daily quests, and rewards), difficulty tweaks on epic bosses, and matching system improvements designed to encourage more players to participate in raids and epic battles.

To mark the occasion, we nabbed an interview with Lineage II lead developer Steve Chae, so head past the cut to learn more about what's in store for you courtesy of the new update.

Massively: With the huge number of skill additions (as well as the new raid bosses and whatnot), it seems like the game is undergoing quite a significant change. Can you talk a little bit about the thought process behind these sweeping additions? Why now? Did the players request all these new skills?

Steve Chae: It's been a while since our last major update, and balance within the game is constantly shifting and evolving. Based on all these constant and continuous changes, we felt that it was really important to listen to and meet the needs of our players by revamping skills and bosses in line with the ever-evolving nature of the game. It seemed like a good time to go over the past seven years of content updates and make improvements where necessary.

Speaking of player feedback, NCsoft is talking up the fact that the High Five update was largely player-driven. For those who may have missed out on the chance to give feedback, what is the best way for players to communicate their desires? Are there certain official channels that are actively monitored or was the update the result of general feedback gathering?

We have very open lines of communication with our GM and Customer Service departments -- we talk to them on a daily basis. We listen to their experiences with the community and also to the feedback that they collect from the players themselves and try to reflect that in our development. Aside from that, we are constantly going through the player forums and listening to what our community wants through fan gatherings and meet and greets.

We've heard tell of lowered difficulty on epic bosses. Can you give us specifics? All epic bosses? If not, which ones? Also, are the encounter mechanics being adjusted or is it a matter of lower boss health (or higher player abilities)?

Currently, Lineage II boasts an extremely high number of raid bosses. We haven't gone in and made revisions or changes to all of them, but we went in and revamped the bosses that we felt needed changes to accommodate the current game status. Each boss revamp is different and suits that character, so you'll really have to come face to face with each one to see how different and more exciting they have become. As you and our players know, raids are all about strategy! So we'd like to challenge everyone to find their own ways and methods of taking the new bosses down.

How do the matching systems work? Is it like traditional looking-for-group tools in that it lists similar classes/levels/desired encounters or is there a bit more under the hood?

For Olympiad, opponents are now matched based on similar point levels rather than being selected randomly. For Party matching, players can now search by name or class, and they can display a user's class, location, and determine whether they are in an instanced dungeon.

Lineage II is still hugely popular in the east, but here in America it's taken a bit of a back seat to more traditional western MMOs as well as newer eastern imports. Is this High Five update part of a larger initiative to keep the game visible, and if so, can you talk about other plans for the game (long or short-term)?

High Five is all about meeting player demands; it's only the beginning. In the future, we plan on rolling out more long-term changes to make Lineage II more fun and exciting, and major patches like this are just one sign of commitment we've made to accommodate the ever-evolving playstyles and preferences of our players. We're hopeful that we'll continue to make and develop a game that only gets better and better.

Along the same lines, what separates Lineage II from other current MMOs -- i.e., what do you feel is the game's biggest selling point for someone who either hasn't played it yet or hasn't played it in a long while?

The beauty of Lineage II lies in its complexity, easy-to-manage control system, beautiful graphics and rich content. It's been seven years since the game launched, but the graphics of Lineage II are still some of the most captivating of all MMOs out on the market today. At the same time, characters are still easy to control so that new players can jump right into the game and maneuver through the game with ease. And at the end of the day, you can't beat seven years' worth of rich storylines and lore, which all add up to Lineage II's being a captivating MMO.

Thanks for chatting with us, Steve!
This article was originally published on Massively.