Danny “Ralsu” Gourley (Community Relations) and
Cody "Micajah" Bye (Managing Edtior)
When it comes to video games - especially massively multiplayer online
games - it's easy to href="http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2006/11/02/1777947.htm?site=science/greatmomentsinscience"
target="_blank">act like an ostrich and keep your head in
the sand concerning the going-ons of the international
marketplace. Even with Japan having a huge player base in the console
market and China acting as a veritable href="http://www.partycreations.co.uk/images/Treasure%20after.JPG"
target="_blank">treasure chest of money for online
games, most players - and even some publishers and developers - don't
pay nearly enough attention to what's going on overseas.
So when it was announced that Perfect
World was coming to the Western market, the MMO community
uttered a collective..." href="http://www.pacdv.com/sounds/people_sound_effects/huh_2.wav"
target="_blank">Huh?" The confusion was high, and
so the Ten Ton Hammer team began to investigate the gruesome scene like
the crew on target="_blank">CSI. What we found - at least at
first - was a target="_blank">poorly translated game and an
atmosphere that wasn't compelling for a North American gamer.
World International was announced, most gamers went "Huh?"
But the developers behind
style="font-style: italic;">Perfect World International
hadn't even started their work on the free-to-play MMOG. Since our
initial first impressions article was penned, style="font-style: italic;">Perfect World International
has received a renovation so thorough that Ty and the other individuals
behind Extreme Home Makeover would be proud.
Recently, Ten Ton Hammer's Danny "Ralsu" Gourley caught up with style="font-style: italic;">Perfect World International's product manager Jonathon Belliss and asked him a number of questions
regarding the background, Western transition and translation, and
status of his upcoming game.
One of the most striking elements that Danny noticed when he jumped
into the Open Beta of Perfect
World International was the strength of the translation,
which isn't a common trait in imported free-to-play games. Rather than
feeling like your reading the most href="http://www.starpulse.com/news/index.php/2008/10/28/funny_video_bill_cosby_talks_gibberish_o"
target="_blank">recent gibberish spouted by Bill Cosby
the current version of PWI felt incredibly cohesive and well-done.
"Being gamers ourselves, we know what it’s like to play a
great game, but find the game’s overall impact and
presentation stinted by inappropriate or even incoherent localization,"
Jonathon said. "All of us here at Perfect World Entertainment felt a
genuine desire to provide a free to play product with pay to play
quality. A game’s localization should accent and
compliment an end-user’s experience, not hamper or discourage
them from completing objectives and progressing through the game."
But if it means so much to players in the Western market, why wouldn't
every publisher and free-to-play game developer put every effort into
insuring that their games are translated correctly? The majority of the
free-to-play games on the market seem like they're translated by href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mr._Magoo" target="_blank">Mr.
Magoo. What causes that sort of laziness?
"In my past experience, it’s really a matter of return of
investment," Belliss answered. " A lot of free-to-play publishers buy a
title, providing either an upfront license fee or promising a minimum
guaranteed level of revenue. At that point they have a lot of
pressure to get the game out the door and start generating
revenue. What many publishers don’t realize is that
by not taking the time to properly prepare your game for launch,
you’re going to have a tangible, negative response from your
users at launch. More importantly, that first impression of
your title can’t be rectified. Once
you’ve lost that player, they’re most likely never
going to come back. That’s why we decided to take
our time and do things right."
The translation of a free-to-play game is probably the most apparent
issue that many F2P games face, but other issues are certainly
commonplace in other imported games. Namely, most F2P games coming from
Asia have an incredible focus on player versus player content and a PvE
grind that feels like chewing on pieces of granite. Of course, PWI took
a look at the elements that they could adjust and made some major
revisions catching the href="http://www.apple.com/trailers/paramount/eagleeye/"
target="_blank">eagle eye of Danny Gourley, who
asked Belliss about the other changes in the game.
gameplay localization were big factors in the redevelopment of PWI.
"Aside from text localization, we took a lot of time to localize the
gameplay," Belliss answered. "It’s no secret that a majority
of MMORPG gamers in the US are big on PvE. Our design team
was able to tweak our server settings in order to create PvE-specific
servers. So for players who are more comfortable with PvE,
we’re able to supply that demand despite Perfect World
International being an imported title."
Another big element of free-to-play games that often needs adjusting is
the crafting system of these games. Unlike the current crop of Western
MMOs, imported titles often have incredibly complex, incredibly
monotonous crafting systems. While Jonathon didn't exactly discuss if
any adjustments to the crafting system were made, he did mention the
fact that crafting will be an integral part of the game.
"Some of the best equipment can be made through crafting," he stated.
"Basically any time you craft an item, the level of quality of that
item can vary. Sometimes you will craft a basic item;
sometimes you will craft a truly epic piece of gear. Dungeons
and bosses even drop rare recipes called
“Molds”. Players can then take these
molds and craft incredible items that are immensely powerful. Through
the four crafting skills, players can manufacture weapons, armors,
accessories, and consumable items like potions."
Although PWI may sound like a perfect fit [ style="font-style: italic;">See what we did there?--Ed.],
there are target="_blank">bazillions of other free-to-play
games for players to choose from. Is Perfect World like finding a href="http://www.poopreport.com/Ask/Content/diamonds.html"
target="_blank">diamond in a big pile of poo? Or
is it more poo? In more polite words, Danny asked Jonathon this
question and wondered why he should put the game on his " href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/Top10F2P" target="_blank">Top
Ten Free-to-Play Games" list.
"What most people don’t know is that it [PWI] was initially
designed as a subscription-based game in China," Jonathon said. "It
experienced a fair level of success, but micro-transactions were on the
rise in Asia. PWI was then converted to a free-to-play model
and ever since then it has grown exponentially worldwide."
"I myself have been in the free-to-play industry for a few years now
and I can say with 100% certainty that PWI has more content than any
other free-to-play game out there. It has so many unique
features that really make it stand out from the crowd.
Whether it be the in-game GPS system, the incredible character
customization system, or simply PWI’s breathtaking graphics,
I have no doubt in my mind that Perfect
World International will convince you that the word 'free'
doesn’t always have to have an asterisk on the end of it."
To most consumers, free-to-play games sound like a terrific deal.
Because - well - they're free! In these unfortunate economic times,
players are often looking for a cheap way to get their gaming fix, and
unlike the href="http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=3663044"
target="_blank">Disney Princess Plug-N-Play game,
even adult gamers have the potential to enjoy an MMOG.
But what about the game's cash shop items? Can players really find
something useful - and not game breaking - in the cash shop?
"Want to unlock all of the teleportation waypoints in the game?"
Jonathon stated. "Buy a map and have them all
unlocked. Tired of harvesting materials in order to raise
your crafting skills? Buy some of the materials from the cash
shop and craft away. If customization is your bag, there is a
wide variety of clothing items that you can purchase in order to
compliment your own personal tastes. As you can see, there are many
items in the Perfect
World cash shop that both enhance and customize each
player’s gameplay experience; it’s just a matter of
your own preferences."
While buying in game currency may be perfectly acceptable in style="font-style: italic;">Perfect World International,
that doesn't stop the collective href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0HHl6d-zoQ"
target="_blank">scum of the earth - also known as
gold farmers - from infiltrating the game and attempting to sell their
wares to unknowing gamers. Danny asked Belliss if there were any
in place to protect gamers from these virtual terrorists.
The scum of
the earth - gold farmers - won't find an easy target in PWI.
"Thanks to our collective past experiences publishing other games, we
have implemented a series of systems and countermeasures that have
reduced the presence of these individuals to less than 5%. I
can’t go into any of the specifics of our actual methods for
obvious reasons. What I can say is that we have been very
aggressive towards secondary markets, and have been very successful
thus far in keeping those types of activities at a very minimal level."
Finally, in-game storylines are always interesting to gamers, but Danny
always enjoys concluding his interviews with a brief look into the
background and history of the game. Like a href="http://www.oldtimecandy.com/CandyList.htm" target="_blank">kid
in a candy store, Danny asked Belliss about the races in the
game and what players should expect as they play through the story.
"A major event in the backstory of Perfect
World is the war that took place between the Humans and
Winged Elves," Belliss stated. "While the Untamed race remained
the Humans and Winged Elves fought fiercely for control of the sacred
floating city of Heaven’s Tear. This war only ceases when a
new threat emerged, the wraiths."
"When you first enter the game, every race starts in a separate part of
the world," Belliss continued. "For the first 20 levels of your
adventures, you’ll have a completely different quest circuit
than players of the other two races. Once you reach level 20,
the challenges you’re faced with scale and require some
quests to be completed with a group. Additionally once you
reach level 20, players of all races are sent to the major capital of
Perfect World, Archosaur. Wraiths will also attack cities at
random, prompting players of all races to unite and fend off the
attacking forces. Additionally later in the game, dungeons
and instances become more and more challenging, requiring more balanced
groups for certain encounters. As the player progresses
through the game, teamwork amongst the races will definitely benefit
you. Ultimately, once a player reaches higher levels,
they’ll join a guild and start participating in Territory
Wars. At this point race becomes transparent, and players of
all races become united in their quest to conquer more and more land."
As always, the Ten Ton Hammer staff would like to extend a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ptAvSuL294"
target="_blank">giant bucket of thanks [ style="font-style: italic;">Courtesy of the Wonder Twins!--Ed.]to
Jonathon and the team at Perfect
World International. The bar needs to be raised in the
free-to-play market, and hopefully the style="font-style: italic;">Perfect World International
developers can achieve that. For more information on style="font-style: italic;">Perfect World International,
make sure you check out all our info at Ten Ton Hammer!
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Perfect World International Game Page.