|Forsaken Studios is working on a new hybrid sandbox MMORPG called Embers of Caerus, so we sat down with Rob Steele - Creative Director & Founder, Lee Perkins - Art Director & Founder and Dave Belcher - Technical Director & Founder to know more about the game and his features.|
Rob Steele: Forsaken Studios is an independent game developer that was founded by a group of friends with the purpose of designing and creating an MMORPG that would fulfill the wishes and dreams of so many players across the various gaming communities. We felt that for too long gamers like us had gone without a game that lived up to the promises we had believed in, and we sought to make a game that would finally fill the void in the sandbox MMORPG genre. For more than a year now, our team has worked tirelessly on Embers of Caerus in an attempt to make this dream come true, and we have made excellent progress so far. In our team we have some absolutely incredible talent and skill, with varying levels of experience. One thing the entire team has in common is the love for our project, and it is that which drives us forward.
MMORPGITALIA: Could you talk about the background of the game?
Rob Steele: Embers of Caerus started as nothing more than an idea and dream to create the MMORPG we had all been waiting for since we had all been let down so many times before. The world is based loosely on a novel that was in progress at the time, with multiple additions and expansions to the core story. The main plot of the novel is being used to guide our world's lore and history, as well as many of the events and experiences that players will take part in as they live in Embers of Caerus.
MMORPGITALIA: What are your plans to "revamp" the social experience of the players and the tools for the guilds?
Dave Belcher: A starting point to begin to understand our approach to guilds would be to read our first blog post, entitled simply Guilds. We intend to remove the traditional hard restriction of affiliation with just one guild entity, and introduce new ways to link yourself with various groups, and those groups with each other. The aim is to provide the tools to create your own social hierarchy, with various related groups and subgroups, each potentially with their own rules and agendas.
The simplest form would be a player both being a 'member' of a Family, and an 'employee' of a Merchants Guild. Inter-group relationships could include that Merchant Guild hiring a Mercenary Group to safeguard their shipping lines, with associated contractual obligations.
The most complex form could be a fully functioning player kingdom, comprising a Royal Family, multiple vassals/cities/villages, an elected parliament (comprising politicians from each vassal/city/village), an army (which combines the militia of each vassal), multiple political parties, various trade guilds, as well as smaller social groups (musicians forming a band, hunters forming a lodge etc.).
The key is for us to break the hard bonds of a traditional one-guild system, and provide the tools to create a more meaningful social network within the game. As we have seen in recent years, people love their social networks; we are just extending this into the game.
MMORPGITALIA: Many times (and many players) seem to consider sandbox games only for PvP and full loot, and not for cooperate, socialize and build something together. How to evade this situation?
Rob Steele: Being gamers ourselves has allowed us to experience first-hand many of the problems that lead to open sandbox worlds becoming PvP-centric games. We believe that a large part of that problem comes from the games being designed around the PvP aspect, with all other elements of the game supporting combat. We have taken an entirely different approach creating the game-world, with a multitude of paths for players to take that don't necessarily force them to choose PvP and constant war. By offering many other options and ensuring that they are in fact core parts of the game, instead of supporting components of PvP, we believe that a large portion of that problem will be resolved.
Dave Belcher: There are a couple of ways to avoid a game's focus becoming purely about the PvP side. The trick is doing so without dumbing down, or all-but-removing the PvP side altogether. One way to look at it is with a 'carrot and stick' mentality. The carrot is to provide many non-PvP-related things for players to do that are fun and useful. This will encourage players to explore and partake in those things. We can also put in place larger ventures that require players to help, support, and in some cases rely on each other. This helps entice players into making friendly, social bonds rather than just killing everyone they see. We can also put in place ways to achieve your aims that don't require PvP, such as political systems and treaties. The stick is more about consequences. If you go about randomly murdering innocents, you need to suffer the consequences, and because of this you need to consider your actions more carefully.
That is all fine for deterring PvP, but the game wouldn't be what we want it to be without any PvP, so we also need to encourage it in a meaningful way. This means there needs to be ways to engage in PvP without falling victim to an arbitrary worldwide 'murderer flag' style punishment, either on a small scale (such as gladiatorial combat), or a larger scale (such as conflict between guilds, kingdoms and nations). Having a regional faction-based system helps with this, allowing players to wage war against their enemies, while still being accepted (or even, in times of war, adored) by their home counties.
Of course, whatever systems we put in place, people will want to be murderers, assassins, outlaws and bandits. This all adds spice to the world, so we need to be careful not to cut out these play-styles completely. Those who do follow those paths, however, should know it won't be an easy life, but I think quite a few players will enjoy the additional challenge.
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