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Free for All: A look into the Chronicles of Spellborn, Part 2


I wonder why I even wanted to know this, but many of us are curious as to what goes on behind the scenes. I couldn't resist asking. Michael said: "The game had to deal with a lot of challenges. In hindsight there were perhaps a few-too-many, but all in all I'd say that the game was not very hard to get if one read the quest text and had a feeling for the overall atmosphere of the location." Matt estimated that they "..ran out of time. The good people at Frogster [were] nothing but supportive, but in creative projects, such talent and support doesn't mean anything without experience." And according to Vince, "Most players simply didn't expect the game as it was. So we suffered the WoW Scan; people came in compared it to the last MMO they played, deduced it was 'different' from that and left."

I admit to thinking it would be much darker, more sinister (which it is as you get further into the game) but was happy to find a game that encouraged slower, immersive play that would take you on a great adventure. I just don't think that most players have this kind of patience anymore. In a word, many found it boring.

What would the team like to have changed about the game? "The introduction." Said Vince "In the end we did manage a proper tutorial and introduction to the game, but it was still a quick fix." And while they were generally very satisfied with the core combat and art style, they "tried to innovate on too many fronts at the same time." This must be one of the hardest things for a developer, especially a smaller one, to decide. What areas to concentrate on for launch? Is the game complete enough for release?

"So we suffered the WoW Scan; people came in compared it to the last MMO they played, deduced it was 'different' from that and left."

So, what would they like to see happen with Spellborn? Besides continuing to be played and enjoyed by the community, and besides becoming a "moderate success", there are many that have described the game as it is now as a grand single player action-adventure. According to Vince, "it's not 'standard' enough for the target audience." I tend to agree, but what is the target audience? How do you decide who will enjoy your game, or do you just make it to the best of your ability and hope for the best? Spellborn is just like that cult movie, or that odd song that you can't get out of your head. It's unique, creative, and feels like nothing you have ever felt before. Maybe that was the problem?

In closing, I wanted to know if unusual games like Spellborn have a chance in the world of standard MMOs? El "Definitely. I think they even have a better chance than cookie cutter 'established IPs' as much can still be improved and explored. It's important that the 'unusualness' is presented and communicated clearly to the target audience."

Matthew "Yes they certainly do! You need only look at Darkfall and see an example of understanding and reaching an audience. The game got a lot of flack but Darkfall spoke the language of its core audience and served them well." Vince: "Only if you manage to convince the players beforehand that they want it. A lot of players claim they want something else than the standard MMOs, but in the end they want the feeling of familiarity they've grown accustomed to in other more successful projects."

Thanks so much to the team for answering my questions. They sent me quite a bit more, but for the sake of space I had to choose the answers carefully. If you would like to play The Chronicles of Spellborn, the game is completely free-to-play and can be found here. If you haven't tried it yet, I would recommend it. Take your time and read the quest text. It's a grand story and I am glad to shine some light on some members of the original development team that brought it to us.

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