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Gods
& Heroes : Rome Rising
An
Exclusive Interview with Stieg Hedlund

By
Nicole "Awen" Hamlett

Last
year Ten Ton Hammer had the chance to visit the Gods & Heroes booth
at E3
and since then, we've been on the edge of our seats waiting for the
latest and
greatest information that they have to offer.  With two highly
anticipated
games, they've broken into the industry big time with not only Gods
&
Heroes: Rome Rising but also Star Trek Online.

I recently
had the chance to talk with Stieg Hedlund, the Design Director for Gods
&
Heroes: Rome Rising. Stieg is very passionate about the game and the
information that he gave me was "epic".

At
one point, there were rumors that the game was going to be put on hold.
Those
rumors were debunked when Perpetual announced that Sony Online
Entertainment (through its Platform Publishing
label)
would be
partnering with the company to distribute and market the game.  I
asked
Stieg when we could expect to see Gods & Heroes on the shelves.

"We
plan to ship fall this year." Stieg told me. "We didn't really put
production on hold last year. We just didn't ship. We took a look at
everything
and decided that we really wanted to try to get a higher level quality
across
the board. That was really what happened. We just put our heads down
and worked
really hard during that time."

We're
seeing that sort of behavior across the board right now. Due to the
polish of
World of Warcraft, developers are starting to ensure that their games
have a
higher level of polish and quality of product before they ship. 

Another
issue that developers are looking at is ease of play. With an influx of
new
players to the MMO genre, developers now have to ensure that these new
players
have the ability to dive into the game without previous MMO
experience. 
How would Gods & Heroes stack up in that area?

"I
used to work for Blizzard myself, on Diablo II, and on Diablo and
Starcraft and that was always something that we did in general. We
really tried to do
very few barriers to entry. But still have subsidy levels that you
could get
to if you were interested in that. So this is something that I believe
in
strongly as well. We do try to make it easy for people to start and to
get into
the game."

They
want to make sure Gods & Heroes is easy yet complex. With that
said, there
is such a thing as too easy.  We've been grousing lately about the
lack of
adrenaline and the lack of "epic" proportions to games since we
played EverQuest.  Because Gods & Heroes is set in such an
epic
backdrop, I wanted to see how Perpetual was dealing with this issue.

"Without
revealing too much, our game is geared toward that and the whole reason
that we
wanted to pursue the players having minions with them is to really get
to a
level of grand scale warfare. So with a group of five players with 8
minions
each, that's a bunch of guys in a group. If you get together a group
like that,
it's already equivalent to a raid group. It will get much larger as you
level."

How
would that work with guilds? If you have a seventy-five man guild and
each
person has eight minions, how would Perpetual deal with that kind of
lag?

"We're
not really worried about lag. Most of the areas that we'll send you to
with
that many minions and that kind of group will obviously be instanced
areas
rather than running around in the public world. Depending on what
kind of
zone you're in, there will be a limit on how many minions you'll be
able to have with you."

I
thought that it would be limited in scope to Rome
and Greece.
I was so very wrong. If you recall the Roman Empire during this time period, you'll realize as I did that there were many
continents that Rome
conquered.  What was the type landscape that we would be seeing?

"We
probably won't be able to do water battles at the level that we want to
get to
in later content updates and expansions right off. First of all we have
a very
fictionalized world around

Rome,
but frequently you get outside of
u1:st="on">
Rome
and there are other areas like Gaul and it
spreads to
the larger area of

Europe.
Actually it is a significantly larger area than most MMO's have. It
also has a
wider variety of terrain and vegetation because of the fiction."

"Our
plan is to do future expansions that will be other people around
u1:st="on">

Rome
that you will be able to play. So we might have an expansion that
is
Carthaginian and we'll have realm vs. realm warfare with the
territories."

As
the name states, there will be Deities that a player will worship. I
wanted to
know about the factions. How was this going to work?

"That's
something that we plan on adding later. For now, everyone is on the
same side.
But that is definitely something that we want to pursue later on."

It's
something that will play into the realm vs. realm content later on.
Where
there is MMO, there is death. What is the death penalty going to be
like in
Gods & Heroes?

"That's
something that is kind of tricky. You don't want to be too punishing
and create
a downward spiral. So basically what we have is a penalty where you'll
have a
debuff and your items will take damage. One way to get out of the class="msoins0"> debuff is to buy your way out of it.
You'll be able
to go to someone and pay them to cure you. The other way is to return
to where
you died."

So
there is no serious death penalty. It's said now that games are
becoming
entirely too easy. What was Stieg's response to that claim?

"I
think that there are two separate issues involved with that. I think
that the
difficulty of the game shouldn't come from a few things. One of them is
the
interface. It should be easy to figure out what to do."

"
The other one kind of goes along with that is that it shouldn't be hard
to
figure out what the challenge is, what you're expected to achieve in
order to
get your reward or what have you. So I think what should be
difficult is
actually achieving that challenge and figuring out ways to get around
it. I
think we will present a level challenge, especially with our higher
level
content. The things that I think that accomplishes that in an MMO, are
first of
all needing to cooperate with other people to achieve goals. And the
other
thing is needing to have a certain amount of trial and error in how you
take on
a challenge. You shouldn't be able to go in and have a set
strategy to a
challenge every time. You should need to adapt and figure out what is
going to
work to defeat your enemies."

There
will be 50 levels in the game.  With a lot of games that have been
released, namely World of Warcraft, it's entirely possible to reach the
max
level within a month to two months.   What is the expected
time to
reach Max level in this game?

"Our
goal is to make it a significant amount of time. That is something that
we'll
be tuning for, because yeah, it does seem like a lot of people are
getting to
the highest level pretty quickly. And there will always be people who
will do
that no matter how much tuning a developer does. We were very surprised
in
Diablo II, because we thought it would take a few weeks to reach max
level and
some people were reaching it in two days."

Speaking
of max level, we're seeing a lot of content for high end, but little is
being
developed for the mid to low level players. Will Perpetual create
challenging
and meaningful content for those lower players?

"Oh
absolutely! I think that it is important that there can be goals that
you have
for yourself as a player throughout the game. I think that it is also
important
that you have lots of stuff you can do once you reach level 50.
Levelling isn't
the only thing that we do in the game. Hopefully that will be something
that
people like."

How
would you fit Gods and Heroes in the MMO Genre? Would it be an action
RPG MMO
or more of a strategy RPG style?

"There
are actually elements of both. We have a very action oriented combat
system
that has a lot of interesting interactions between the characters who
are
fighting. But there are certainly elements of strategy that come to the
board
as well. What kind of squad you bring with you, what kind of formations
you will
use, things like that, are certainly more at the strategy level. At the
same
time we're trying to present that in a way that is easy to understand
and very
user friendly."

You
could almost look at this and say that it's more of a strategy game
rather than
a traditional MMO. However, that's what’s exciting with this game. It's not your
traditional fantasy MMO
where you can play with half an eye.  It's gotten to the point
that you
can watch your weekly episode of CSI while you're running through a
dungeon.
Something different needs to happen to bring back the interest in MMO
combat.

"I
think that the combination of all of the elements that we're bringing
in will
really create a different depth of play than we've seen so far." He
told
me.

With
the squad based combat system, you will be able to pull minions from
not only
humans but also from myth. They're hoping that as the game progresses
and
servers become more populated that you will see some truly epic
battles.
Anything from minotaurs, to casters and enchanted archers.  I
won't be
able to walk around with Medusa as my minion but we will definitely
encounter
them within the course of the game.

I
hope that the information that we got from this interview gets you
excited to
play this game. We look forward to hearing more from Stieg and the rest
of the
Perpetual crew when we see them at E3 in May. 

Until
then -- Awen out.

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

Jeff
Jeff joined the Ten Ton Hammer team in 2004 covering EverQuest II, and he's had his hands on just about every PC online and multiplayer game he could since.

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