We had a pleasant chat with Brice Lucas about the upcoming MMO Action RPG title - Warrior Epic.
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Mike Bowden: At the moment it seems that we can’t move without stumbling over a new MMO. Why do you think the genre is so popular and what will Warrior Epic bring to the table that we haven’t seen before?
Brice Lucas: You're right; the market is being saturated with MMO's. Massive, online gaming has completely changed the social experience of games in general. People love to socialize and work cooperatively in their games, so developers are going to continue delivering games around that type of social experience.
The current crop of MMOs only explores a very narrow slice of what is possible. Players are definitely ready for something new in online games, which is where we come in. Warrior Epic is an Action RPG that is unlike anything that is currently out there.
I read that the dev team behind the game are somewhat an all star cast, boasting team members from none other than Gears of War to name drop just one game. How did this team come together? Do you all know each other or was there something else to it?
Brice Lucas: The founders of Possibility Space have known each other since 1998 when they were both working at Origin. Since then, they have gone on to work on many awesome projects together and separately. They had always planned to do a studio together when the time was right. With broadband internet and electronic payments systems in widespread use around the world, and with the average PC capable of running reasonable 3D games, there has never been a better time to go independent.
We have reached a small window of time where the game creators have regained creative control over their projects.
Tell us about the story setting for the game. Who are you and what is it you must do?
Brice Lucas: Warrior Epic’s story unfolds around the Kingdom of Providence. This kingdom was built in secret as the surrounding nations collapsed under corruption and war. The leaders of Providence have assigned the responsibility of returning order to the world to you and your fellow players.
Your role in Warrior Epic is that of a commander. As a commander, you build and operate out of a base known as your “Hall”. As your Hall develops, more Warriors will offer their services to you. The Hall can be upgraded and leveled like your warriors, which can do things like buff your warrior’s stats or give you access to better equipment. For example, you can build a Fighting Pit which will enhance your melee fighters’ abilities. The strongest commanders will have huge halls with a small army of powerful and specialized warriors.
All Halls will operate from the Kingdom of Providence. Your band will travel into the wild regions of the world, purging it of the foul evil that plagues it.
The game description says that each adventure lasts about 15 mins thus promoting a pick up and play feel to the game. How is it possible to create enough 15 minute quests in order to quench the thirst of those who sit by their PC’s and don’t sleep...ever?
Brice Lucas: It’s not too hard actually. Games have been doing this for years, just not in the MMO space. Take CoD4 for example. This game is amazing and can deliver a complete experience in a 15 minute sitting. Even after a short session with CoD4, you still make progress towards unlocks, stats and rankings.
Warrior Epic is not a First Person Shooter, but the action is delivered in finite missions that are analogous to this. The campaign quests in our game are broken up into 15 minute adventures that lead into one another. Each adventure will deliver a complete and satisfying experience.
I see you advertise that the game will run well on low end computers. How important is this a decision for the team? Will you have to make any trade-off's in the final build in order to ensure that lower spec machines can keep up?
Brice Lucas: It is important to deliver a consistent, quality experience on the widest array of hardware possible. We feel that many of today's PC game developers are creating games that can only be run on a small percentage of the computers actually out there. With graphics technology being as complex as it is today, and issues involving drivers being so prominent, it is difficult for players to have confidence that a new game will run well on their machine.
This problem does have a solution. As a game developer you can invest in technology that attempts to create beauty at run time, or you can invest in an art process that ensures beauty on any hardware. Nearly every mainstream product does the former, and we have decided the time is right to do the latter. We have hired a team of truly phenomenal artists and have created a unique and innovative art process unlike any game we have ever been a part of. Our game has a different type of beauty than its pixel shaded cousins, and with the ability to run smooth and look great on pretty much any machine made in the last 3 years we feel it’s the right kind of different.
Tell us about the various Warrior classes you will be able to choose from and how exactly will the ‘right Warrior for the job’ statement on your website play out?
Brice Lucas: Breaking away from the mould of single character level grinding has allowed us to do some amazing things with our game. Ever wish you could play as a spear toting demon or a cute flame spewing caterpillar? Sure you have! Who wouldn't want that opportunity? There are hundreds of really cool and creative character ideas that have only appeared as NPCs and not been playable simply because it wasn’t possible to create 60 hours of content for them. In Warrior Epic, we want you to have an insane array of crazily specialized characters. Each warrior class has its own strengths and weaknesses. Building up a specialist character will be of tremendous benefit to the party as a whole, so long as the party compensates for your character’s vulnerabilities.
By having very specialized warrior classes, you will want to create a diverse group when you quest with friends. Obviously, taking an entire group of non-healing warriors to an adventure would be detrimental to your survival, since Warrior Epic is not a game where you can lay on the ground to recharge your health.
The monsters in our game also have their strengths and weaknesses, and there is not a generic super-warrior that is effective against everything he/she goes up against. The way you confront monsters in your quest will change with each encounter...everyone will have an ever changing role to play during a quest. You have to know your warrior's strengths and weaknesses and work as a team to succeed.
Given the fact the game is free how will the team turn a profit? Do you really feel people will buy enough tattoos/upgrades to keep the game profitable or will there be expansion packs?
Brice Lucas: Warrior customization is only one aspect of our business model. Other things, such as consumables, buffs, Hall upgrades, and new warrior classes will also be available for purchase. Purchasing in our game will be painless and inexpensive. We are counting on our game being so good that a very large number of people will want to play it, some of whom will want to buy upgrades and buffs. It is important that I point out that you cannot buy unbalancing power in Warrior Epic. You can buy customization and convenience. The people that spend the most money will not necessarily be the strongest in the game. You get the best gear and make the strongest warriors by questing and progressing in the game. In fact, you will be able to play through Warrior Epic without spending anything at all and still have a completely satisfying experience.
Are you looking to compete directly with Blizzard or are you simply offering something different? Their fanbase is a rock solid one and it will take some enticing to drag them away. We are offering something that isn’t available from Blizzard or anybody else. Warrior Epic is a first class action RPG that is free to download and free to play. It accommodates both casual and hardcore players, and has unique technology and game features not found anywhere else. It doesn’t demand you change your lifestyle to play it, and can be played within minutes of visiting our website for the first time. Warrior Epic is not a game that will compete with other games for player exclusivity. Games like WoW are very complex and require a large investment of time in order to gain satisfaction, our game is not like that.
Staying on the unfortunate, but inevitable WoW comparison, it has certainly raised the bar in terms of the MMO genre; does this milestone inspire the team?
Brice Lucas: The successes of WoW and other huge games have greatly contributed to building awareness of games as a mainstream leisure activity. It is beneficial to all game developers when companies like Blizzard and Bioware continue to raise the bar and attract more players into the online gaming experience. These benefits are shared by all studios who are making high quality online games.
What can you tell us about the game that is previously unrevealed? Go on, just for us!
Brice Lucas: The game is funded by the Leroy Jenkins Institute for Advanced Teamwork.
How long do you think it will be until the closed Beta? Is it possible to stick a time frame on it?
Brice Lucas: We are looking at 2-3 month time frame for the closed beta release. For any readers interested in participating, be sure to hit our site www.warriorepic.com and register. Leave your email so we can contact you.
Speaking of the Beta, are their any specific things the team are looking at or is this just a blanket trial period?
Brice Lucas: The closed beta will be used to test our Download on Demand distribution system. It will also give us the opportunity to check out in-game balance issues. We will encourage testers to provide us with bug reports and constructive feedback so that we can make Warrior Epic as awesome as possible.
I know release dates are taboo, but if all goes to plan, are we looking at a Q4 08 release or can we hope to see it earlier?
Brice Lucas: Definitely earlier.
Finally, apart from thanking you for granting us this interview I'd like to ask you what features you’re most pleased with and conversely those that need the most work? What would be the reasons behind your answers?
Brice Lucas: This game is going to surprise a lot of people. The feeling I get after playing with a group of friends is very satisfying. I have spent a lot of time with Warrior Epic every time I walk away I want to turn around and start another quest. Warrior Epic is fun to play and the way it is delivered keeps you wanting more.
The game still needs quite a bit of story content. Our writers are working around the clock to ensure that the quests and campaigns are of the highest quality. Even after launch, new quests, creatures, skills, weapons, upgrades, character classes and much more will be added regularly. We love our game, and we want the world to love it too.
Don't forget to visit www.warriorepic.com for weekly updates. If you register be sure to give us your email so we can invite you to the closed beta. Also, the account you create on the website is the same account that will be used in Warrior Epic and other titles that we release...so sign up now and get the account name that you want.