Massively Exclusive: Jordi Grau Davis answers our Xsyon questions

Jef Reahard
J. Reahard|01.06.11

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Massively Exclusive: Jordi Grau Davis answers our Xsyon questions
With Xsyon's impending release date just around the corner, we thought it was high time we sat down and had a chat with the brains behind the indie post-apocalyptic sandbox. Notorious Games' Jordi Grau Davis was kind enough to answer a few of our questions relating to the game he's wanted to make "since I first sat at a computer," and he has a lot to say about Xsyon's unique features and how it differs from other PvP-enabled sandbox titles.

Join us after the cut for all the details.

Massively: Can you tell us how long you've been working on Xsyon? How much, if any of it, is inspired by or derived from lessons learned on Roma Victor?

Jordi Grau Davis: Xsyon has been in development for three full years now. We spent about half a year before that with some preliminary work with mostly a different team but that was discarded and we started with the current team in January, three years ago.

Xsyon was designed under a different title (Apocalypse) and was inspired primarily by Ultima Online and other games. When I joined the Roma Victor team, I was a good fit as the game had many sandbox elements and ideas that were already part of the Apocalypse design. So while I did learn some lessons from my experience with Roma Victor on how to develop with a small team and limited resources, I didn't draw much inspiration for the design of Xsyon.

Xsyon survivorRecently there seems to be a bit of a trend toward independently produced open-world games with sandbox elements and a heavy focus on PVP. What sets your game apart from titles like Darkfall or Mortal Online? Do you see PvP conflict as the driving force behind Xsyon?

What sets Xsyon apart is a focus on building and creating a new world and not relying on PvP as the driving force. The Xsyon setting is also based on reality and not a fantasy universe. This gives us the opportunity to introduce real locations and later historical lore to make Xsyon a somewhat educational experience.

Following on from that, both Darkfall and Mortal Online have attracted what many people consider to be undesirable communities (griefers, etc). Are there any mechanics in Xsyon created to keep anti-social behavior in check or is it truly up to the players and 'anything goes?'

In Xsyon, tribe zones are safe zones. While wilderness areas will be mostly anything goes, encumbrance limits will prevent extensive looting and mechanisms are in place to prevent camping spawn locations. The goal is to have open PvP in general but not cater to griefer types.

Can you talk a bit about the status and details of the character aging system?

The aging system for player characters is simple, [it's] primarily visual but it does affect stats. As characters age at the rate of 9 years per real year, the effects of this system won't be really noticeable for a while. Aging of creatures will be more noticeable during the Prelude phase as creatures age at an accelerated rate, develop from child to adult, and grow in size and power if they avoid being hunted.

Local or universal banking? If universal, why?

Local for each tribe. Trade will be centered at tribal totems.

Your feature list is quite long, and only a very small portion of it lists combat-related items. Did you consciously set out to create a game that doesn't revolve around combat? Is there enough depth to Xsyon's non-combat activities to sustain a player who doesn't wish to fight at all?

Xsyon girlYes, the goal is to create a virtual world that acts much as the NPC world and towns of a themepark MMORPG. Combat should be part of this world, but not the sole focus. We will soon introduce our quest system, which, along with the tribe mechanics, are meant to keep players entertained who are not interested in PvP combat.

How customizable is player housing? Can you drop items in your house and decorate (similar to Star Wars: Galaxies or Vanguard), or is it mostly storage space?

Currently housing is simple and consists of tents and components. Furniture and later decorations will be added as the game progresses.

There have been some concerns in the beta community that combat isn't quite ready for release. You obviously feel differently given the March 1st launch date, but can you talk about any plans you may have to continue tweaking and balancing combat post-launch?

We've had some problems with the current combat system not producing the desired effects. This will be revised before launch, but we do have bigger plans for a major revision post launch. Our player base has been asking for a Mount & Blade type of combat system and this is something we will look into when we are capable.

The Xsyon website lists a huge number of features and ultimately makes the game sound like a sandbox fan's dream. Is there any particular feature that you're the most proud of or that you'd like to call attention to?

I am proud of all that we've accomplished with such a small team and overcoming some huge hurdles, especially in this past year!

If I had to single out one feature, it would be the terraforming system. This has become a much more interesting feature than I anticipated and I've enjoyed seeing what players do with it. One of my goals with Xsyon is to provide players with the tools and systems and evolve them according to how players react.

Can you clarify the way the Prelude works for people who are unfamiliar with the game? Are there a limited number of pre-orders? Is the release limited to a certain number of players? If so, what are the post-release expansion plans?

The Prelude is basically a simple version of what I originally designed many years ago. A lot of features are in a simple form, intended to get better with time as we grow the company and the game. It serves as a base for players to construct a virtual world that can then expand to support a lot of unique features I have planned. For those, you will have to stay tuned!

Thanks for your time!
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