Questions by Cody
Answered by Pierre-Yves
"Mirage" Deslandes, Community Manager for The Chronicles of Spellborn
Being an independent developer of any video game is no walk in the
park. Without the backing of a huge corporate entity, most development
studios wither away and die in a matter of years as the money simply
dries up and vanishes. Creating an MMOG as an independent studio
increases the difficulty level by extremes, ratcheting the money and
time needed to create the game into an area that may be a developers
However, the crew at The Chronicles of Spellborn seems to be doing a
phenomenally successful job of creating a game and a company that can
withstand the sort of pressure that's put on an MMOG studio. They
recently unveiled a precise release date for the game (Q1 2008) and
they're actually in the "polish and optimization" portion of the
development phase. With that in mind, we sat down with Pierre-Yves
"Mirage" Deslander, the company's community manager, to determine where
the development team is currently focusing and some of the nitty-gritty
details concerning Spellborn.
Ten Ton Hammer: For the
last few weekly updates and developer journals, we've heard mention
that many of the developers are "polishing" the work that's already
been done. Does this mean that the game is getting closer to an actual
release date or an open beta testing event? Can you give us any dates
or is it still a secret?
alt="" height="1" width="1">
style="font-style: italic;">The developers are
currently in their polish and optimization phase.
“Mirage” Deslander: We are indeed in a
polishing and optimization phase at the moment. All our departments are
making sure all their respective assets are in a
“ready-to-release” state. This goes for Art,
Gamedesign, and of course Tech.
With all the information from our weekly updates and dev journals in
mind you’re right to conclude release is getting closer. In
terms of date it will happen more precisely in early Q1 2008 as we
recently announced on our website. I cannot elaborate more on either
release or even Open Beta since our internal stress-test and
Q&A planning is the basis on which our plans are defined. One
thing is sure though, it’s just a matter of months, and not
Ten Ton Hammer: What
areas in the game are you focusing on the most at this point? What do
you feel needs the most work in the game before release?
the moment and in terms of Art, most of the zones (Shards) are getting
some additional eye candy as well as some little extras to make them
even nicer; like waterfalls, new props, new critters, and an improved
design as regards to the landmass. The world feels even more alive and
dangerous - what an amazing result! It might sound weird, but we
weren’t expecting these additions to create such an awesome
outcome. I guess it’s what game development is all about:
Gamedesign is busy making sure all the game mechanics are working as
intended, and - as you might have read in our previous Gamedesign
Developer Journals – we’re putting a focus on
combat. It’s one of the major features in The Chronicles of
Spellborn, so we have to be 100% certain it looks, plays, and feels
In terms of Tech, we are still actively stress-testing and optimizing.
We recently reached a major achievement of network/server stability,
when we had more than hundreds (500+) players gathered in the very same
map (Hawksmouth/Hawks Landing) without any server downtime or crash.
That is something we are very proud of, for our game has very
action-based combat system and advanced AI, and we know other MMOs are
still experiencing these issues even long after release and some with
less than 500 players.
The part we feel needs the most attention would be on the technical
side. After all, we’re developing an MMO, and MMO are social
games. We know from our past gaming and professional experiences that
not being able to play with friends or even not being able to play at
all is beyond frustrating. To make sure this scenario doesn’t
happen we want to have a robust, stable server and network
architecture. So yes, tech is the main focus; but of course, there are
“mini-foci” aimed at content, combat, level design.
Yet, I confess most of the discussions I hear (or overhear) are
revolving around Tech. Don’t you worry though, as I said
before, we reached a very important goal, and that opens up even
greater opportunities for Spellborn.
Ten Ton Hammer:
The item system in Spellborn is definitely a shift away from the normal
procedure in standard fantasy MMOGs, as your armor and clothing options
have no direct effect on your character in the game other than the way
you look. While this makes it easy to "look cool" in the beginning,
won't it be disappointing to players that want to see their characters
advance in physical appearance as well as skill?
won’t be disappointing at all for players, since there are
items that cannot be obtained before a certain level. This is kind of
normal since you can’t really expect to have access to all
the good stuff at the beginning, right? *winks* Physical appearance in
terms of armor will change eventually and throughout the levelling
alt="" height="1" width="1">
style="font-style: italic;">Players will be
able to wear whatever they please without taking stat penalties.
Of course, these items won’t have any statistics like the
rest of the equipment in Spellborn, but they’ll have a
different look. The “no statistics” items have been
put in place to offer more customization possibilities to the players,
not to restrict them. It’s always up to the player to choose
what he/she wants to wear. Feel like wearing a totally pink set of
clothes, without any armour pieces? Go for it! Tired of this higher
level armour, well, no problem, go back to lower level equipment. I
think it’s really great for the players to be able to choose
their equipment whenever they want without any penalty on their combat
The same applies to skills. The skills you learn at the beginning of
your adventure are not to be forgotten during the rise up to level 50.
They will still be useful during PvE or PvP. As a matter of fact
you’ll learn new skills with new effects as you level, but
just don’t forget all your old skills. If you consider the
fact that “sigils” can be inserted into skills to
grant them special effects, you can easily see that every skill,
whether they’re are obtained at the beginning or at the end,
will make the difference between life and death.
To sum up, we designed Spellborn with the following credo in mind:
“Players skills (in aiming, movement, combat tactics) prime
over random dice rolls (aka unfair mechanics).” Having no
statistics attached to equipment is the first step in order to achieve
such a goal. The second step would be an active and dynamic combat
system, aka our targeting system.
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our The Chronicles of Spellborn Game Page.