We had a fairly long talk. Like true wuxia fanboys, we derailed quite a bit to talk about Legend of Condor Heroes, but we discussed where Wushu is, where Snail would like it to go, and the relationship between Snail USA and the dev team in China. It was pretty enlightening because he clearly plays the game and is acutely aware of the impact the company's decisions has on players.
Snail and its relationships
"We really try to listen to players," Kang told me as we discussed the harvesting limitations that were introduced in the expansion and subsequently rolled back. "We don't implement every suggestion, but we really try to feel the community pulse on changes." I asked him why the community wasn't notified in advance, and he simply agreed that Snail should have. "We definitely should have been more open," he said.
We also discussed Snail USA and its relationship with Snail China; he was pretty forthcoming. "We have a really direct line with them. If there's something that we feel needs to get implemented on the US version but is pretty far back on the release schedule, we can have that pushed up." He also explained that if issues are found by players, those reports can result in changes for both versions. When I asked whether the US version could have changes that the CN version doesn't get (or vice versa), he stated that it was possible but pretty unlikely: "We want to have the Western version of the game be authentic, but if there is some big problem, then yes we could do something like that."
We talked a lot about the localization of the game. In fact, he told me that Snail USA's largest department is localization: "There's so much dialogue in the game, so we rely a lot on player feedback." Through a long discussion, he emphasized how hard it is to translate a game so thoroughly rooted in Chinese culture. "Sometimes there's a reference to Chinese culture that a Chinese reader would just understand, but when you directly translate it, it doesn't make sense because an English reader doesn't have the context," he explained. (That's when we, like true wuxia nerds, were sidetracked with a discussion of the merit of various Jin Yong novels and the references present in Age of Wushu.)
Mount Hua tokens and the currency war
For those of you who don't know yet, gold and jade coins are special currency that drops from certain actions. Most of these actions are the same kind that awarded silver coins previously, such as escort missions, assassinations, and general PvE content. These coins can be exchanged for a wide variety of things, including non-school martial arts sets.
"We're really trying to move away from silver taels for everything," Kang explained as he went into discussion about the new jade and gold coin currencies. "We want players to not get discouraged if they farm for days trying to get something, and we want to provide an alternative to just buying everything with silver taels." I specifically brought up farming for Devil Breath, and he emphasized, "If you want to get Devil Breath now, you don't even need to farm tons of fame to unlock that instance; you can do any instance to get jade tokens and buy it. Before, you'd have to buy it from someone else for silver taels."
In general, he pointed out that Snail is really trying to present more options besides normal currency to get things. "We just want to give people more ways to go for the things they want," he said. "If you still want to buy things with silver taels, everything in the coin store is tradable, so I'm sure someone will sell it if you don't want to farm the coins."
Additionally, the Mount Hua expansion added a lot of PvE content, and he was eager to show me. He showcased the new challenge system where NPC bosses can challenge a player if he kills enough world spawns, giving more reason to explore the world. The bosses also have new, player-like mechanics; Kang demonstrated a boss fight where the boss used knockdown combos from Eagle Claw, which was easily identifiable just from momentary observation.
He also showed off some of the new Yanmen Pass bosses and world bosses. "We're adding a lot of more complex boss mechanics to these," he said. "Most teams are having a lot of trouble because they're not used to the mechanics yet." The mechanics he showed me felt very reminiscent of World of Warcraft boss fights, which is probably a good thing for those players who like raid mechanics. The world bosses he showed me are insane, capable of one or two-shotting groups of players. "These guys are made to have guilds fighting over them," he said. The loot drops, which included some extremely rare items, seem to be worth it, though I mentioned that loot distribution might be a pain with so few drops. "Yeah, you're going to need to have someone trustworthy in charge of handing out the loot," he agreed. Overall, it reminded me of old EverQuest raids with tons of guildies fighting for a very small number of drops.
"Age of Wushu is the MMO that really captures the wuxia world, and we really want to keep creating that sort of dream for the players," he explained to me. "It's really the only game that lets you live in a martial arts world."
Thanks to Peter Kang for his time!
Age of Wushu is a wonderous place, full of hidden secrets, incredible vistas and fearsome martial arts. Join Patrick as he journeys through China, revealing the many secrets of this ancient land. The Ming Dynasty may be a tumultuous time, but studying The Art of Wushu will give you the techniques you need to prevail.