Interview With Eric DeMilt, Dev. Director at Obsidian
Last week we got the chance to talk with Eric DeMilt, Development Director at Obsidian Entertainment, a company that is currently working beside Allods Team on the development and "westernization" of Skyforge. Check it out!
First of all, thank you for giving us the chance to interview you about Skyforge. Would you be so kind as to introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is Eric DeMilt, I am a Development Director at Obsidian Entertainment. I lead the team of developers at Obsidian, collaborating with Skyforge's lead developer the Allods Team. The team at Obsidian is responsible for; developing additional player classes, developing instance and raid content, and supporting the product's culturalization and preparation for western markets.
How would you describe Skyforge to someone who has never heard of it before?
Skyforge is a AAA free to play sci-fi fantasy action MMORPG where you will walk the path from an immortal warrior to a mighty God, gaining followers as you fight to protect your world from alien invaders. Your loyal followers will help you increase your power as you rise to become a God.
What can you tell us about the story of Skyforge?
In the universe of Skyforge, each planet is protected (or controlled) by a powerful greater god. These gods derive their powers from the followers on their planet. The more followers a god has, the more powerful they are.
Skyforge takes place on the planet Aelion where their greater god, Aeli, who once protected it has disappeared leaving the world unprotected and open to invasion. Aelion is now under constant attack by hostile gods and their armies who want to control the planet and its followers, to gain more power and to be able to control even more worlds. The story of Skyforge will be written by players themselves - the young gods that will unite to save their world.
What makes Skyforge stand out in its genre? Why should a player choose to play Skyforge over any other free-to-play MMORPG?
There are quite a few gameplay aspects in Skyforge that are a new and unique take on what is typically done in other MMORPGs, but to highlight a few:
1. Gods – Player's start off as immortals, gaining power and earning prestige as they protect their homeworld from the invading armies of hostile gods. Player's heroic actions and development of their followers can propel them towards unlocking their god form, becoming capable of much more than mere immortals. But becoming a God isn’t the end of the game! Once you unlock your God form it opens up a whole new level of game play content and character progression for you to tackle.
2. Action-Combat Gameplay – The combat in Skyforge is inspired by best features of the top action and fighting games. Skyforge's over the top combat visuals, easily accessible mouse-look targeting and W,A,S,D controls, with optional direct targeting, enables players to deal breathtaking combo strikes, devastating finishing attacks and show off their larger than life powers.
3. Character Progression System – Skyforge has a unique non-level-based development system. This system is deep enough to allow for players to create a truly unique character. Talents and abilities are unlocked in the Ascension Atlas, which provides a multitude of ways to grow in power and customize your character. And with the ability to switch classes on the fly there will always be new and interesting ways to progress.
4. Unique Server Architecture – With one server for all players in each geographic territory you’ll never be in a situation where you’ll find yourself alone: unable to find full PvP queues, separated from your friends by arbitrary shard boundaries or having no one to raid with!
Can you tell us something about the available classes? Is it true that the game doesn’t have traditional healers like other MMOs?
At launch we plan to have 10 or more playable classes, some of which have already been revealed such as the Paladin, Cryomancer, Gunner, Archer, Lightbinder and Berserker. We will also continue to add more classes to Skyforge post launch. At the start of the game, 3 classes will be unlocked and playable by all players - Cryomancer, Paladin, and Light Binder. Players will be able to try out and develop classes from the 3 core combat roles - DPS, Tank and Support right from the start.
It is true that there is no traditional healer class in Skyforge. We've abandoned the notion of direct heals common to many traditional healers, in favor of support roles that allow for more interesting moment-to-moment and situational gameplay in an action-based MMO. Buffs, debuffs, damage mitigation, etc…these things will all be a part of Skyforge's support class gameplay.
What about the character progression? How will we be able to customize our characters? What can you tell us about the Ascension Atlas?
Abandoning the traditional notion of levels and classes in favor of a prestige system freed us up from several pain points found in traditional MMOs.
First, players are no longer forced to make a critical choice about their gameplay "What class should I play?" - early on in the game, when they know very little about the game experience. Second, players are not taught to focus on one number "What is my level vs. opponent level?" through the leveling portion of the game, only to reach a level cap and realize that a different number –a gear score- is what really matters.
What this means for Skyforge is that players are free to spend their progression rewards in the way that best suits their gameplay, using the Ascension Atlas to spend rewards on the unlocks they want, which suit their play style or goals, rather than being locked into a path based on early choices.
As the player completes quests and adventures they will acquire resources (Rubies, Emeralds & Sapphires) that are used in the Ascension Atlas to progress their character.
In the Ascension Atlas itself, there are two levels. In the Lower Level you’ll be able to develop the classes you've unlocked, learning new skills, abilities and talents.
The upper level of the Atlas is massive! This is where you will unlock new classes and perks as well as progress your character's core attributes such as Strength, Defense, Life, etc. For example, if you increase your characters strength you’ll increase the amount of damage it deals regardless of what class you’re using at the moment. This really give players the ability to try out all the different classes without having to worry about spending time progressing each class individually. The upper level of the Ascension Atlas is also where you can work towards unlocking your God Form
There is another level dedicated just for Gods but we’ll be revealing more details about that at a later date. However, one thing that’s the same for all levels of the Ascension Atlas is that you can see what each and every “node” gives you ahead of time. Allowing you to really plan how you want to progress your character in advance, without having to worry about learning the wrong skill or increasing the wrong stat by accident.
What is the God Form?
First things first - Being a god in Skyforge is not just a title, we want you to feel supremely powerful and be able to show it off! Being a god means breaking the game balance in your favor. Being completely over powered is a lot of fun, as developers we like it a lot and so we want players to feel the same way. Once you've unlocked your God Form, you'll have a new gameplay ability, powered by a new resource (currently called faith) which allows you to use your God Form, for limited amounts of time (limited by the faith resource) in different gameplay situations.
Once in the God Form, players take on a unique look - you are much larger than your traditional character size, you float above the battlefield with unique visual FX, glowing runes in your skin, and you fight with the power of the gods. Your god abilities are derived from the classes you play, so if you were into playing the archer, you are now the god of archery! You don’t have to learn an entirely new combat rotation.
The God Form is great in PvE, where being OP feels awesome! Players who've unlocked their god forms can also perform "feats" where they are summoned to help their lower level friends, using their over the top powers to assist them in particularly difficult PvE encounters.
The god form also adds a unique dimension to high level PvP as each team knows the other may have access to their own God Forms and they’ll have to decide when to use their powers and when to hold them in reserve.
There are other benefits players using their God Form enjoy, including being able to switch classes in combat, but you are also able to heal in combat – something immortals can’t do. Outside of combat, Gods will have the ability to craft unique objects like equipment as well.
Becoming a god is just the beginning of your progression, not the end. When you finally become a god you will also unlock an entirely new development matrix - a new level in the Ascension Atla. There are many additional systems we’re excited about that we've only shown a first look of so far so expect much-much more to come.
Tell us something about the Faith and Follower game systems.
Faith is the resource that characters use to transform into their God form and in order to gain the faith of your followers you will need to protect and develop them. You do this through your "Order”. Characters can gain roughly one third of their power from their followers, so gaining followers and developing your Order are very important aspects of the game.
The Orders of Aelion is really a game within a game. In your order there are unique followers called adepts. These are followers who not only give you their faith but are willing to perform deeds in your name. You must manage your adepts, send them on missions to complete in your name, develop them, to increase their abilities so they will be able to perform even greater deeds. The more adepts you have, and the more deeds they complete the more faith you will gain. You can also convert an adept into a missionary who will search out more followers and more faith.
While your adepts are busy performing deeds they will also build temples and chapels in your name. The world of Aelion is divided into eight provinces, and as you complete adventures you can build a temple and develop chapels within each of them. Each temple can contain a number of chapels, only one of which can be occupied by an adept at any given time, but when occupied, the chapel will give your character a special perk or an increase in attributes.
One of the great things about the Orders of Aelion is that you can manage your adepts or build temples even when you’re not in the game. Just login to the Skyforge portal on your smartphone and mobile device and you can continue this game within a game there.
What kind of combat system will Skyforge use?
Skyforge is an Action Combat MMORPG inspired by the best action-combat console games, we’ve improved the traditional targeting system and turned the old point & click style combat into spectacular and animated action, which will always be entertaining and satisfying.
You'll dodge enemy attacks, perform powerful combos, and vanquish your enemies with devastating finishing attacks.
The heart of our combat system lies in our easy to learn mouse-look targeting and WASD movement. Right from the start, players familiar with PC action games will be able to jump right in. In addition, we've mapped a lot of the characters primary actions to the two mouse buttons, using press and hold, rapid tap, and combos to add depth and complexity to a simple user interface. Each class in the game plays with its own unique combat rotation, style and tempo, allowing players find classes and gameplay which best suit their preferred play style, strengths, and weaknesses.
How is the PvE going to be structured? Are we going to see quest chains, instances, raids?
Skyforge is focused on getting players into the content they want to play as quickly as possible. In Aelion's capital city, players can access the Divine Observatory. This user interface allows players to quickly see all the content open to them at any given time. This is based on both the player's prestige and the current state of the game world. Here players will see all PvE, PvP, solo, group, open world, instanced and dynamic content currently open to them. We will even show players the rewards available for each piece of content, so players working towards a certain goal, can focus on the content which best suits them.
What this means for players, is that you can easily get to the content that's just right for you. Often, during the week I am super busy with work and family commitments and I don't have a lot of time for long involved quest lines in a traditional MMO. I'll come back to a game after being away for a few days and have to spend the first 30 minutes trying to figure out what I'm doing on an island surrounded by monkeys rather than actually getting in to play the game. On the other hand, on some long weekends, I want nothing more than to spend hours and hours in an open world zone, escaping to a larger than life game world.
PvE will be structured around both short instances and large open world zones with the Divine Observatory serving as the player's portal and entry point to the content they want to play. At the high-end, for those times, when you are looking for a longer tougher test of your skills, or want to face new challenges with your group there is raid and invasion content which will take more than an hour to complete. There are many other activities to do in Skyforge and we'll be talking about them more later on.
Can you tell us something more about the PvP elements of the game? Will there be open PvP or only instanced battle zones?
Generally, all PVP will happen in a battle zone, we call the “Ring of Immortals”, which can be accessed through the Divine Observatory. Our goal with PvP is make the fights fair and to only allow players to fight in designated areas. Ganking is fun for some players, but being the one getting ganked is generally no fun at all. In keeping with our goals of getting players to the content they want to play quickly, and not forcing them to play someone else's game, PvP is not allowed in open world areas. This means it will be almost impossible to gank someone and we can rely on the matchmaking system to keep PvP "noobs" from coming face to face with masters of PvP.
Players will have the ability to challenge other players to duels outside of the Ring of Immortals but both players have to agree to the duel first.
We have a number of different PVP game modes available including:
• Free for All – Every player for themselves! - 6 players
• Team Deathmatch – 3v3
• Control Points – 8v8
• Payload - 8v8
• Capture the Flag - 12v12
And more! We'll talk about our other PvP modes in more detail at a later date.
Is there any kind of crafting system?
Yes, but we will be revealing additional details concerning Crafting at a later date.
Can we expect to see something like mounts and pets?
Skyforge will have mounts that will be exciting upgrades for players, but it’s too early to go into much depth about them or our plans (if any) for pets.
Will you implement a cash shop into the game? If so, what can players expect to find inside?
We are not going in details about our monetization system or business model right now. This aspect of the game will be revealed later.
Do you already have any release date planned?
Right now the team is most focused on are our technical beta weekend which will be held in North America and Europe on November 13-16. As for further tests – they will be announced a bit later. Stay tuned!
Thank you for all your answers. Would you like to add something?
Thank you! We really can’t wait for more players to get their hands on Skyforge. We believe we have an amazing MMO on our hands and are really looking forward to getting feedback from the community during the upcoming closed beta tests.