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Flying Lab Software on Pirates, part 5


"That's sort of what we want the supernatural to feel like in our game. We want it to feel rare and spooky and we want you to have an oh-shit oh-my-god moment when a skeleton does show up and it's not just, 'Oh look, a skeleton.'"

Maginn: For those of you who are EVE players, we can't just create attack-tier ships because our entire combat system is driven by number of guns and the weight of those guns. We can't just wave our hands and...

Williams: Right. So basically building in the supernatural in more ways and making it accessible while not destroying the setting is the interesting challenge that we constantly face. And we've been working a lot on that.

Maginn: So, what we're doing is we're going to maintain the essence. We want it to still feel like you have the gameplay, but we're adding the supernatural in more places. We're bringing it more out into the open. We want it to stay rare, because it's more exciting if there's a cool, rare thing that... Here's my example:

In EverQuest, there's a place called Lake Wrath. When I played EverQuest there was this rumor that there was a sea monster in Lake Wrath and that no one had seen it or that one person had seen it and he had a screenshot – or was it really a screenshot or was it a fake screenshot. The lake was really deep. Really deep and really dark and it was hard to be down there. And then people were saying, "Oh, I saw it. It was just a big eye." Or the screenshot came out where it had a kraken hovering over its head.

The problem is that EverQuest had monsters that only spawned once a year. So it was a believable that there was a lake monster in there. That was the coolest thing I ever heard of in EverQuest and I never saw the monster. But every time I went to Lake Wrath and went swimming across it, I was scared. This time, that monster was going to come up and it was going to get me.

That's sort of what we want the supernatural to feel like in our game. We want it to feel rare and spooky and we want you to have an oh-shit oh-my-god moment when a skeleton does show up and it's not just, "Oh look, a skeleton. I guess I'll fight him and he'll make the ahahaha noise as I kill him."

Willaims: If you guys have ever played, and we sort of diverge on this, but for me Silent Hill, when I first started playing it – I'm walking through a town and there's this great, spooky atmosphere and it's scary as hell and I'm wondering what's going to come next and the radio starts freaking out. And then this thing starts shuffling towards me and I wonder what to do and I have a stick and I hit it and I whacked it and I killed it. And then there was another one and I whacked it and I killed it. I killed the next one... It's hard to keep excited about that when the content is just sort of thrown up as ten of them. That's why one skeleton is terrifying. Ten skeletons is a mob to manage and control and kill.

Maginn: So there is a mission in the supernatural area where you are pretending to be a zombie. You equip Zombie Guts as a piece of equipment and it makes you get the zombie walk and you look kind of nasty. You complete the mission and one of the things that happens as you complete the mission is that you're sort of uncovered and now the zombies come after you. And it was kind of creepy before with all of these zombies kind of shuffling around me. When they all turn towards you and unmask, start moving towards you slowly, it's terrifying. It's the most horrifying mission I've ever seen us do. And there's a fast zombie in among them, kind of racing around killing the zombies and you indiscriminately. This is the sort of voodoo god tearing everybody apart. Scares the hell out of me. I hate when we demo that mission.

Social gameplay. Social gameplay is probably the most important of these features that we decided we didn't have time to do. This is because critical features trump important features. It's a really important feature but it's not servers-on-fire critical. So, one of the criticisms we get about our game is that it feels like a really good single-player game. This is because we don't give you a lot of opportunities or incentives to get into groups and deal with some people. When players do group up, they go out and PvP in groups, they do economy in groups, they have a great time. People who come in and are solo and are just sort of wandering around saying, "Hey guys. What do I do?" have a terrible time.

It's sort of... in a lot of ways it reminds me of the first two times I played EVE. The first time I didn't have any friends and I thought it was the stupidest game I'd ever played in my life. The second time I joined a very, very large corporation and suddenly it was awesome. I still only played it for a month because I don't have time to play EVE, but it was just great experience to be part of that large group.

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