Ten Ton Hammer has been eagerly anticipating the action-orientated
with its promise of combat mayhem for quite some time. To learn more
about this free-to-play game, we tracked down Chris Gyselinck,
Assistant Producer from Nexon. He agreed to give us our answers after
we showed him some of our patented fighting moves!
Ton Hammer: For those who are saying to themselves, “What is style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">Vindictus style="font-weight: bold;">,” give us a
little rundown. What is this game about?
Gyselinck: Well, style="font-style: italic;">Vindictus
is all about what we like to call ‘brutal
elegance.” It’s very fast-paced, action-orientated
online MMOG. You have some very brutal attacks and some of the best
looking graphics that you’ve ever seen, definitely within the
MMOG space. Really, it’s all about the action involved in all
of this. A lot of MMOGs and online games have auto-attacking or
pointing-and-clicking, push button and wait for it to recharge; this is
not that kind of activity at all. You’re controlling every
move your character does onscreen and it’s pretty brutal in
there. Everything in the environment can be destroyed or picked up and
used as a weapon, and that includes the bodies of your enemies after
they’ve fallen. You can pick them up and use them to beat up
their buddies. I think that those of you who haven’t seen the
game are going to be really shocked at how intense and fast-paced a
game this is. Also, it’s fun, which is the number one thing.
It’s a lot of fun to play, whether you’re trying to
solo through a dungeon or getting together with a group of friends.
It’s a blast.
Let’s focus on this combat aspect. Right away, it’s
what stands out the most. The combat is very fast and very furious. The
combat that I’ve seen from videos is pretty amazing. In most
MMOGs, you are given the time to consider what to do next, or at least,
you have stuff mapped out in your head what you’re going to
do. How does that thought process and planning out your attacks relate
to this world of style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">Vindictus style="font-weight: bold;">? How do you manage your
combat in this game?
you’re still going to be thinking about it, but
it’s not going to be as methodical a thought process.
You’re not going to be given the time to sit and make these
long decisions about what you’re going to do.
You’re going to have to take it as it comes, which I think is
a much more realistic approach. I haven’t been in a lot of
swordfights, but I have the feeling that you don’t have the
time to stop and think when you’re in one. But you still are
making a lot of decisions. There are a lot of combos in the game, there
are secondary weapons that can be used like the environment I mentioned
earlier, and there’s a lot of different strategies in
attacking your opponents. The real trick is being able to think on your
feet and make those things happen on the fly without the benefit of
waiting for a cooldown period or waiting for your enemy to start their
How does this relate to the UI? How big is it and what can you do with
it? Is there a lot of junk thrown in there or is it very minimalist?
Gyselinck: We made it
extremely minimalist, and that was a conscious decision. It’s
a very small section of the screen on the top and bottom, and
that’s pretty much your UI. We did that because the game
looks beautiful and we wanted players to see all of that artwork and
immerse themselves into the game as opposed to immersing themselves
into menus and submenus, which I think a lot of MMOGs have. In a lot of
MMOGs, it’s in the center of their games; all of these
windows open and each window has stuff in them. For myself, if I
don’t normally play that game, I don’t even notice
where the graphics are. If you are playing, you’re probably
spending more time looking at your UI than the actual game itself, and
it becomes more a game of management of buttons rather than immersing
yourself into the world that has been created. I think that by getting
rid of a lot of the UI, we still have a UI and still have the important
things there; it’s not the center of the focus. You actually
focus your attention on what is happening in the game.
I smiled when you mentioned focusing and managing the buttons. I think
that you’re absolutely correct when you say most games are
about managing your buttons, focusing on what buttons you need to push
to heal your party and such and how it detracts from enjoying the game
that is being played on your screen.
Gyselinck: Exactly. You want
immersion, where you feel like you’re doing the things that
the character does. We made the game so that it’s not button
management. If fact, you can play it with a controller as well as a
mouse and keyboard. While there is a lot of nuances to the gameplay,
it’s also very easy to pick it up and just play it. If
you’ve ever played any action game at all, you’ll
be to just pick up style="font-style: italic;">Vindictus
and get into battle and have a good time. Of course, it’s
difficult to master and it takes a lot of work to learn all the things
that you’re able to do, but as I said, if you’ve
ever touched an action game in the last decade, you’ll be
able to have some fun with this and get in there right away and enjoy
Can you go into a little detail on that it’s difficult to
master comment? What are you referring to? What aspects would be
difficult to master?
Gyselinck: First of all, like
any good game, it becomes more challenging as your progress through the
story. As you get stronger, so do your enemies. That, of course, brings
a level of difficulty into it. There’s also learning what
play style works right for you, what combos work right for you, what
secondary weapon works really well for you, and especially what
characters work well for you. We’re going to have different
characters which, essentially, are the different classes. Of course, as
with any game, different players are going to have preferences of which
character works best for them.
Let’s talk about the characters then. How many characters
will be in the game at launch?
Gyselinck: Okay. During our
beta phase, which is coming up soon, we will be having two characters,
Lann and Fiona. Lann is a dual sword wielding speedster kind of
character. He’s got a lot of very fast moves with dodges and
rollouts, all while utilizing those swords to take down as many enemies
as quickly as possible. Fiona is closer to being a tank sort of
character. She has a sword and a shield. She’s a little bit
slower than Lann, but she’s definitely more powerful than
him. We’re going against stereotype in this because you
don’t usually see the female character being the stronger
one, but I think that it’s cool that this is the case here.
Fiona’s play style is more different; she has the shield that
is used for blocking, which she does a lot more than Lann does. She
also has some really powerful shield bash attacks. There’s
definitely a different style of play for those two characters. Those
two are what we’re just starting off with. Soon after that,
we’ll be adding a third character that a lot of people have
already seen at E3. Her character is called Evie, and she’s
our mage character. She can do some really cool things; firebolts,
magic arrows, and a golem that she can actually create using the entire
environment around her. As I mentioned, everything in the environment
can be picked up. When she summons a golem, it is actually created
using the stones and pillars and things that have fallen to the ground
during your battles. It’s a very dynamic, cool feature.
We’re very excited about her, and we have other characters
that we’ll talk about more in the future. We’re
starting with the two, and then adding Evie.
With Evie, her golem ability is one of the coolest things that
I’ve ever seen. I was watching a video and was thinking, "How
dynamic is this process?" Are there about a dozen models of golems or
are there literally hundreds of variations of golems that you can build
based on what’s around you?
pretty much no limit to the variation of how the golem looks. It is
totally built from what is on the ground when it is summoned. While it
has a skeleton, if you will, that is always the same; the meat of the
golem is different every time. Especially in dungeons where you have
totally different backgrounds and types of objects. Even if you create
a golem twice in the same room, it won’t be exactly the same
because there’s so much for it to pick up and create itself
with. It’s pretty cool. We have this one dungeon that is set
in this cave where all the monsters have been what I call a
“monster barbecue” because they have all this raw
meat hanging around on the ground, and sometimes the golem will be made
out of that meat as well as tinder from the fire and a piece from a hut
that I just smashed. Other times in different dungeons, it might just
be boulders or a piece of a pillar. It’s a lot of fun in that
you never know exactly what you’re going to get from the
Sounds awesome. Right now, I can easily imagine players taking
screenshots and having contests on who can create the coolest golem.
Gyselinck: Absolutely. That
reminds me of a feature in the game that deals with screenshots. We
have it built into the game so you can easily take and manage
screenshots and videos of the game. They’re features built
right into the client. We really think there’s going to be a
lot of that player-generated fan art stuff out there once people get
their hands on it. There’s so much action going on that every
time you play, you’re going to have different things happen,
and sometimes you’re going to get this really cool looking
things captured with the screenshot. I think players are going to have
a lot of fun doing that and having little mini-competitions like who
can take the best golem screenshot or maybe the best shot of a gnoll
flying off a cliff. I think it’s very cool that the players
will have the chance to very easily create their own art from the game.
Along those lines of the most cinematic things about the game, I was
lucky enough to try it out at E3, was when Lann was throwing a spear
and it goes into the other point of view. Tell us about that.
Gyselinck: It is really
awesome. When you throw a spear, the
camera angle will change from the normal third person to a sort-of
first person spear point of view, I guess you would call it.
It’s a new kind of fps – first person spearing!
It’ll seem that the camera is sitting on top of the spear so
when you throw it, the camera is going right along with it until it
hits the enemy. It’s a really cool effect and fun. Especially
if you got a guy really good and he goes flying off a cliff or
something. You can feel your blood pressure rise if you get a really
good throw in there.
For sure. It reminds me of the movie trailer for style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">Robin
Prince of Thieves style="font-weight: bold;"> a long time ago. That
thematic following the arrow as
it flew. That’s exactly what it is like.
It’s a lot of fun. I find myself
throwing way too many spears and running out of spears before I even
get to the battle because I’ll be throwing them at my party
members half the time!
I know our readers are freaking over having to choose from two
characters. Does that mean that everybody is going to look the same?
How customizable are these two characters?
That’s why earlier when I was talking about the characters, I
mentioned that they were more like classes because you can customize
how they look from their hairstyle to their skin color and their
height. I like the fact that height affects your stats to a point. A
really tall character is going to have a slightly stronger attack
whereas a shorter character is going to be a little more quicker, but
not as strong. There’s all kinds of ways you can customize
your look. Also, there’s your gear. There’s a huge
amount of gear that you can craft in the game and you can even dye it
different colors. You can make yourself look very, very unique.
There’s been a lot of times in the office where we have a
group of four and everybody is playing as Fiona, but we don’t
look anything like each other because we’re all outfitted
differently, have different hair colors, and maybe different skin
colors. If we’re talking about Fiona, we might even have
different chest sizes. There’s a lot of customization there,
and that’s where the RPG comes in. You really get the chance
to make your character your own. Either from the way you look or the
skills that you focus on or what gear you’re putting on. You
can really tailor the character in a lot of ways. You can make it like
yourself or like how you want yourself to look like. You can make it
however you want it to be, pretty much.
Do any of these characters have range attacks? I assume Evie will
have ranged attacks, but you said Lann uses two swords and Fiona uses
sword and shield.
Gyselinck: For the most part,
it’s melee up close, but with their secondary weapons, like
the spear we were just talking about, there are some ranged attacks.
There’s a chain that works really well if you’re
part of a team fighting a boss monster. Some of your teammates can use
the chains to help pin down the monster so the other team members can
go in and attack. There’s even some small bombs. One that I
really like is that you can pick up a mining bomb, so it’s an
environmental bomb. You want to throw it towards things that when they
blow up, they’ll fall down and crush your enemy.
It’s almost an environmental attack, but you use a bomb. Of
course, you can pick up anything in the dungeons. So you can pick up a
rock and throw it at a guy or pick up his weapon and throw it at him.
Or you can use the item as a melee say pick up a rock and smash him
over the head with it. There is the ability to have some ranged attacks
even with the melee characters, even though they don’t have a
ranged ability built in per se.
You talked about the environment there a little bit. Can you expand
upon that? Because that seems to be one of the best parts about the
combat system in that it seems that everything is up for grabs. If you
can use it as a weapon, it can be used.
Gyselinck: Pretty much, yes.
It’s very cool in that it is all very dynamic. As
you’re fighting through the dungeon, stuff is going to get
smashed, a pillar might be collapsing down into five to ten different
pieces and you can pick those pieces up and use them as weapons. It
doesn’t have to be something that you’ve destroyed
either. One of my personal favorites is that there’s a few
dungeons where there’s these, I don’t know if
they’re melons or squash, food that lies on the ground. I
love to pick those up and smash guys in the face with it, seeing the
melon explode all over the place. It’s a little bit of fun
for me. I like smashing melons. I’m the Gallagher of style="font-style: italic;">Vindictus
when I’m doing that! Yeah, anything you see you can use as a
weapon. Like I said, the more things you damage, the more things become
weapons. On one of the levels, there’s some makeshift huts,
so at first, you can’t pick them up because you
can’t pick a hut up. But if you smash it, you can pick up the
pieces, whether it was part of the roof such as a strut, and use them
as a weapon. You can do the same battle twice completely different, and
then a third time totally different than the previous two. There are no
real limitations, because the only limit is you yourself thinking on
what you want to do. I like to beat up a bad guy, then pick him up and
beat his friends up with his body. To me, that’s rubbing it
in your face using a friend to beat you up.
How does this affect the combat system? It seems limitless. You said
the UI is minimalistic. In previous games, when you wanted to attack,
you would press ‘7’ for dual attack. Now , you say
you can pick up a body to beat the bad guys with. How does all this
relate to the combat system?
it’s actually pretty intuitive. Let’s break it down
to mouse and keyboard settings. You have your typical WASD to move
around, and your left click and right click are your light and heavy
attacks. Of course, chaining different combinations of those create
different combos. The E key is how you pick up anything that
you’re close to. Once you pick it up, you still have the left
click and right click still acting as a light or heavy swing with
whatever object it is. E becomes sort of an auto-aim throw, which
throws the object at whoever is in front of you and F to actually aim
it. If you’re trying to be a little more accurate, you can
aim it with F and then one of the clicks to throw it. So,
it’s actually intuitive once you’ve done it once or
twice, and even with the minimalist UI, a few commands will pop up when
you grab something. So, if you forget about using E or F, you can just
glance down to the corner, but it’s not invasive.
It’s there, but it doesn’t take up your whole
screen and distract from what’s going on.
What is this game like story-wise? Is it catering to the roleplayer,
because it sounds so action-packed, it sounds like something you would
see in style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">God of
War style="font-weight: bold;">? What is the target
audience? Are we looking at the action-RPGer or roleplaying story-based
kind of event here?
I think that we’re looking at both really because it does
have a very deep story and it’s not necessarily a linear do
this mission which leads into the next mission like most action games
do. There’s definitely a lot more freedom and a lot more
customization, and the story also plays out like an RPG. What I think
is great is, if you are a traditional RPGer, you’ll
definitely be able to get into it and love it and there’ll be
things that you recognize there that are a little bit different from
most RPGs. On the flip side, if you’re more of an action
person who may have never tried an RPG because they seem slow-paced to
you, you’ll still be able to love this because the action
sequences are much closer to an action game than they are to your
traditional RPG. I really think that there’s something for
everybody there. The story itself deals with a promise made by the
goddess Morrighan that if our heroes can defeat the monsters called the
Fomors, then they can get to this promised land. Of course,
there’s all these twists and turns that you’ll
encounter right from the start to keep you on your toes and involved in
How difficult is the game then? This is my thought process. When I
think of the starting process, I can imagine picking up a dude and
beating someone else over the head with him while thinking
I’m totally awesome. Later, say I’m in a dungeon
facing this fierce dragon, there’s only so many bodies I can
throw at him before realizing that it isn’t cutting it. What
is the difficulty level here? How does it work?
Gyselinck: It definitely gets
more difficult as you go along, and, of course, some of our boss fights
can be really challenging and not necessarily recommending that you do
on your own. At first, it does let you feel powerful and then it
changes and becomes a lot more difficult for the average player. That
encourages you to team up with your friends and to come up with
strategies amongst each other. Like I mentioned before,
there’s the chain that a player can use to subdue the enemy
so he can’t attack you while the other players attack. You
also have items where you can revive each other if you get knocked
unconscious to keep you socially engaged. As for saying how difficult,
it is hard to say, but I can say that you can set different difficulty
levels (we’re starting with a normal and a hard) and then
there’s the system we call the Oath of Honor. When you go
into a battle, you try to also accomplish certain side missions, and
every battle has different Oaths of Honor that you can accept one at a
time. Sometimes, those oaths require you to take on a battle at an
insanely stronger, harder level so if you really want to challenge
yourself and go for the much more difficult version of it, you can do
so. If you do so, you are rewarded with battle points which are used
for unlocking further quests in the storyline. I don’t know
if I answered correctly your question on how difficult it gets, but I
think the point is that it ramps up as you go along and encourages team
play, but there are different ways to approach the various dungeons.
Let’s get into detail then. You said that some of the later
bosses, you would need to group up. Can you tell us what you can solo?
How much of the game can I play just by myself?
Gyselinck: In theory, you
could try to play all of it. As someone who likes to play solo from
time to time, I have gone through quite a bit of it solo. Some of it is
just brutal, and if you just want to solo, I think that
you’re missing out on a lot of the fun of playing
with other players, but if you want to remain solo, you’re
going to have to realize that you’re going to have to grind
your character up a bit so they’ll be able to face these
enemies. It’ll take you longer to get to that point as
opposed to grouping. There are dungeons that you can solo, especially
towards the beginning of the game and there are dungeons that have the
Oath of Honor of trying to run it solo. So, there are times when it is
encouraged to give soloing a shot. I do think that the game caters to
whatever player you want to be, but certainly the most fun is to gather
a group of friends together and go on as a party.
You mentioned the two modes, normal and hard. Are the rewards
different for each? Are you encouraged to do the hard mode?
it’s about the experience points. In the hard mode,
there’s going to be more mobs that are slightly stronger, so
you’ll be getting more experience killing more mobs. In the
future, we’re talking about possibly introducing a hero mode,
which would have some differences in the item drops. That’s a
little bit down the road so we can’t go into any real detail
on that. For now, the difference between normal and hard is the
experience, as well as the challenge and the fun. You can feel very
accomplished taking out a whole dungeon of really tough monsters. It
can be a lot of fun and very fast paced.
How many people can go into a group? If I’m going into a
dungeon, how many people can I bring with me?
Gyselinck: For most dungeons,
you can take four. There are a few raid dungeons where you can take
eight, but the average dungeon is four players together.
Let’s get into detail with the character customization then.
Is anybody going to be a healer? How do those characters you take work?
What about the holy trinity of MMOGs of tank, healer, and DPS?
Gyselinck: First of all,
while there is a little bit of that holy trinity, it’s not
quite the same as your average MMOG. I think the reason for that is
that this is more of an action based game so it has a different dynamic
to begin with. We really don’t have a healer class in the
initial two characters, but they do have items that they can use to
help heal each other. The first thing that comes to mind is the Phoenix
Feather, which is a resurrection feather. If you get knocked down, your
team members can use this item to revive you and get you back into the
fight. There are other items that you can also use to help each other.
The character Evie, that we’ll be introducing later, does
have the ability to cast some healing spells if that’s where
you choose to focus your energies, so you can essentially turn her into
a healer. As for Lann and Fiona, they’re more about the
attack than they are about the helping.
Let’s say I’m in a group and we’re all
Fionas. How will we be able to achieve our goals?
Gyselinck: That’s a
good question. It’s all about how you set your character up.
You have a huge amount of skills that you can learn throughout the game
and that you can train up. First of all, your character build up is
what skills you’ve decided to focus on are going to make you
a little more unique than the other Fionas, so to speak. Then
there’s your weapon selection, and different weapons have
different strengths. She can focus on sword and shield. Later on, she
can learn how to use a hammer, which is a much more different
experience than using a sword. Then there’s your secondary
weapons. You could each be equipped with different secondary weapons,
each which has a different purpose and strength to them. Then, of
course, it’s all about your individual play style. What
combos you like to use, are you someone who prefers to use the grab
attacks to do some wrestling move, or are you someone who wants to dart
in quickly and then pull back while blocking with your shield?
Everybody is going to have their own play style. I think because the
game is so fast paced that it becomes a lot more varied because instead
of being a person whose play style is based on hitting 1, then 3, and
then 5, it’s a bit more involved with the twitch factor as
they call it in first person shooters. Your play style is determined by
what’s happening in the moment. I think that
there’s a lot of variety. We often have people in the office
playing the same character, but you can see the differences between
I don’t want to put you on the spot, but I think I am.
Imagine you and I have both leveled a Fiona character choosing
different skills and gear. Can you explain to our readers how they
would be different?
definitely huge differences in the skills because there are a lot of
skills available, and there’s no way that one player is going
to be able to get all those skills, unless you do nothing else with
your life. The way you learn skills is that you buy skill books from
one of the in-game NPCs. Once you have the book, you can learn the
skill. Then there are several levels to which you can level the skill
up. You use points that you accumulate in battle to level up those
individual skills. The chances of two people going through the game,
unless they intentionally do it, I don’t see it very likely
that they’re going to have the exact same skills at the same
Some of the differences that I can think of is that with Lann, he can
focus on two swords or he can start to focus on two spears, which
creates completely different combos and completely different moves
because they’re two different weapons, despite the fact that
you’re using twin weapons with the same character. With
Fiona, you can focus on hammers or swords. That’s a very
basic way that I can show some differences. As you play through and
strengthen up different things, it’s going to change the way
your character behaves.
There are also special moves. Of course, different people are going to
gravitate towards different special moves. Each character can have a
couple of those active at any given time. Some of those are buffs
either to yourself or to your party, some of those are straight up
attacks, and some are defensive moves. I think that as you play, the
character is going to evolve on their own based on how the player
focuses their energies.
One of the questions we have is about microtransactions. A lot of games
now have microtransactions. What kind of items will be offered in the style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">Vindictus style="font-weight: bold;"> microtransaction store?
Gyselinck: By asking that
question, you reminded me of the most important thing that I could have
mentioned during your first question which I totally forgot to mention,
which is that style="font-style: italic;">Vindictus
is totally free-to-play. There’s no initial cost to play,
there’s no subscription fee, and you can go from the very
beginning to the very end-game content without ever paying a dime. We
will have some microtransactions. We haven’t announced what
items will be available, but I can give you that the basic overview is
that it will be mostly cosmetic with some small items of convenience,
but no items that are game breaking. By paying money, you’re
not going to have a major advantage over somebody who
doesn’t. You’re going to be able to have a cooler
looking outfit, or maybe you’ll be able to buy some health
potions. Like I said, these are just examples. We haven’t
settled on what we’ll finally be offering for sale. Our
philosophy is that we want it to be fun and accessible to everybody,
whether they have a million dollars or none. We want everybody who has
access to a PC online to be able to play the game, and then, of course,
for certain people, we would like to offer the option to make their
character a certain way for a small fee or get some item of convenience.
We know that the game has already launched in Korea under a different
title. From our understanding, you’re bringing it to the
Western market as well as updating it for a Western audience. Will that
carry over to the microtransaction store where different items will be
offered in the West as compared to the East?
Gyselinck: Like I said, we
haven’t fully finalized our commercialization plan, but I
would say that it won’t be completely different, but it will
be different. We’re not just copying and pasting, so to
speak, when it comes to bringing this game over here. We are definitely
developing it for a new audience, and keeping some of the things that
we think work and changing some of the things that we think
don’t. We’ve worked with the music to kind of get
the Western view, so to speak. We flew the developers out of Korea to
be a part of that, and get their reaction to seeing how people in the
West reacted after playing the game for the first time. We work with
our developer, devCAT, in Korea every single day. It’s
actually a neat relationship because with them being in Korea and us
being in Los Angeles, the way the time difference is makes it seems
that somebody is always working on this game 24 hours a day. Their day
basically starts at 4pm of our day, so at the end of the day,
we’re able to share notes with them and maybe we do a video
conference. Then they can get working on whatever we’re
working on at that time, and when we come in the morning, we have their
progress waiting for us. It’s a really cool symbiotic
relationship going on. In terms of our cash shop, we don’t
know exactly what we’re going to be using, but there will be
a look at what makes sense here in the USA and what doesn’t.
What one thing do you want people to take away or experience when they
first play style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">Vindictus style="font-weight: bold;">?
Gyselinck: I want them to
have the same reaction that I had when I first saw it, which was,
“Holy crap, this is awesome!” It’s
addictively fun. What I love is talking to people in the press after
they’ve had a chance to play it because they get to play just
about everything. I haven’t had a negative comment yet from
somebody in the press. In fact, it’s always this positive,
almost giddy young kid kind of reaction once they get their hands on it
because it’s fun. At the end of the day, that’s
what games are about.
target="_blank">Listen to Ten Ton Hammer's interview
with Nexon's Chris Gyselinck.
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