Exclusive interview with Maurice Kroes, Product Manager of Bounty Hounds Online

Today we present this exclusive interview by Juanjo de Goya about Sci-Fi MMOG Bounty Hounds Online with its product manager, Maurice Kroes.

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Thanks for giving us the opportunity to interview you about Bounty Hounds Online.

First of all, could you introduce yourself to our readers?

My name is Maurice Kroes, I am the Product Manager for Bounty Hounds Online at InnoGames. As Product Manager, I am the main contact between our developer XPEC and our internal team here in Hamburg, Germany.

How would you describe Bounty Hounds Online to someone who has not heard about it before?

BHO is a free-to-play Sci-Fi MMORPG with a great combination of action, strategy and role-playing aspects. The game features beautiful graphics powered by the Gamebryo engine (used by Fallout 3 and Oblivion for example). We have five unique character classes and four different factions; there are lots of gadgets like transformable robot pets and Anti-Grav boards. The game features regular in-game events, social features such as building a Squad or Mercenary Legion, Player versus Player combat and we plan to keep supporting the game for a long time with many additional content.

For how long has Bounty Hounds Online been in development?

The production started in 2008.

As a curiosity, why the game is called Bounty Hounds Online (maybe it’s not that obvious)?

As a player you take up the role of a mercenary, drawn to the planet Clear Sky as part of a recruitment process of one of the Private Military Companies (PMCs) that the government now heavily relies on. These mercenaries are also called “the Hounds”. The “Online” part points out that the game, unlike its PSP-predecessor, is an MMORPG, with thousands of players interacting and having adventures together.

Talk us about the backstory. Is there a galactic war going on?

It is more of a post-war scenario. The human race has encountered extraterrestrial intelligence and subsequently fought a huge intergalactic war. With the birth of a federal government on Clear Sky planet, mankind’s new home world, war is officially over. With the peace the military force got weaker and the government relied more and more on the four PMCs to maintain order. The PMCs’ mercenaries are uncontrollable and rapidly growing in numbers, and hunt for victory… or death.

Let’s talk about combat. We know it allows players to use both melee and ranged weapons, but there is a kind of auto switch. How does “the auto-switch” work?

Every character class has signature close and ranged combat weapons. Whenever I engage an enemy, my standard attack automatically switches between those weapons, depending on my range to the enemy. An enemy running away from my blade will get a few shots in the back before I close in to slash him again. It allows for very fluent, action-oriented gameplay.

What can you say about PvP? How many types of PvP modes Bounty Hounds offers?

PvP can be switched on by the player at any time, making him a dangerous presence. Players attacking him/her will automatically engage in PvP as well, however players that do not wish to participate also have the option to keep it switched off. There will also be a more structured type of PvP available that puts teams of players into special PvP created maps in a battlegrounds fashion.

We find Mercenary Legions a quite interesting and unique system to form groups. Could you talk about it?

Players can first form Squads. These Squads can have special missions issued by the Squad leader, have an income on regular basis or can be earned by the members themselves. This allows the Squad to attain higher ranks and perks. Mercenary Legions are a collection of Squads with their own tiered system and income which Squads together can level up and gain benefits from.

What are CTUs and what we can do with them?

CTUs are Combat Tactical Units and work as your personal robot pets. Every class has them, and as the game proceeds, you can unlock slots to carry more of them around. There are three different types of pets, some fight in close combat or from the distance, and some support you and your group with buffs and heals. They level up, they can be upgraded and painted, or even disassembled for spare parts. They also have a battle mode, where they transform into a very strong battlemech for a period of time once it is charged up with enough energy.

What are the minimum PC specifications to play Bounty Hounds Online?

The current specs are:

Minimum Requirements:
Intel Pentium IV 2.8GHz
Nvidia 6600 GT (256MB) or Radeon X1650

Recommended Requirements:
Intel Core 2 Duo 2.6GHz
Nvidia 9600 GT (512MB) or Radeon HD 3600

Any date for the Open Beta? And launch date?

Open Beta will start on August 2, with as much feedback from Closed Beta implemented. We are very excited to finally give everyone the chance to play the game. There is no official launch date yet. It will probably be announced in connection with the boxed version, another thing I am looking forward to!

From your point of view, why this game is more fun than others?

What I simply love about the game is the setting of the Bounty Hounds universe and visuals to start with. There aren’t many free to play Sci-Fi games out there and even less that have the same graphic quality. The game has so many features already in from the start that the player always has something to do, learn or become an expert in which we will keep expanding in the future. For example you can fly around on your Anti-Grav board (and even cooler transportation devices, that are planned for the future!). The crafting system, or Research & Development, is very extensive and allows players to craft, disassemble, upgrade and modify their armor and weapons. And of course, the unique weapons and special moves: One of the characters can shoot a miniature nuke, others have giant swords or ice powers and can unleash screen-filling attacks.

We will try our best to create and support an active and avid community that one can play with and interact while continuing to provide us with feedback. There will be events the players can participate in on a weekly and daily basis.

Would you like to add something?

I would like to thank the Closed Beta testers and fans that were really enthusiastic to try out the game and gave us lots of helpful feedback. Many others asked for beta keys but missed out on the chance to play, but I promise you, we will make full use of the downtime to process the feedback and improve the game. On August 2 you will see that it was worth the wait!

Thanks you so much. It’s always a pleasure.

By Juanjo de Goya