Nexon's Chris Gyselinck on Vindictus - An Exclusive Ten Ton Hammer E3 Q&A

At E3 2010, Ten Ton Hammer had a chance to look over Vindictus, the upcoming free-to-play fantasy MMOG developed by Korean publisher Nexon.
At E3 2010, Ten Ton Hammer had a chance to look over Vindictus, the upcoming free-to-play fantasy MMOG developed by Korean publisher Nexon. Vindictus boasts some interesting features such as fully destructible environments and dungeons that change each time you enter them. Ten Ton Hammer sat down with Nexon's Chris Gyselinck over some cool mead to get some answers about this intriguing game.

Ten Ton Hammer: At launch, Lann and Fiona will be the only two characters available?

Chris Gyselinck: Yes, they’ll be the two characters at launch. Evy will be added shortly after that. She’s my favorite character. I like playing mages and using spells and she’s got some pretty cool spells. You saw the golem that she creates using stuff from the environment.

TTH: With the environment, will that change with differences in the environment?

Chris: Yeah, it depends upon what is on the ground. If you try to create one in an area where there’s not a lot of stuff, you might just have one or two things created.

Ten Ton Hammer: So it’s not just looks, but the environment also affects the power as well?

Chris: Yes it does. The golem is pretty tough; he’s a good asset.

Vindictus Screenshot

Ten Ton Hammer: We know Lann is dual wield while Fiona is sword and shield. What are the principal differences between the two? Is Lann more attack oriented and Fiona more defensive?

Chris: Actually, it kind of goes against the stereotype. Fiona is almost stronger than Lann, but Lann is faster. He has combos that involve his dash a lot, so he’ll dash into a combo. While she (Fiona) can pull her shield up to block or use it to bash. When it gets to special moves, he’s got some buffs for the whole party while she has stuff to repair her shield or use it to make a really heavy shield attack. They have a lot of different strategies. She’s slower, but not a lot slower than Lann, but when she connects, she does more damage.

Ten Ton Hammer: Do these skills and combos use some kind of power? Is there some kind of power gauge?

Chris: It’s a stamina thing.

Ten Ton Hammer: We didn’t get a chance to look at the UI. Is it pretty minimalist?

Chris: There’s just a bar on top for your health and another bar for your stamina. There’s a bar that shows your teammates’ health. There are some item slots at the very top and a chat window on the bottom, and that’s pretty much it. It’s a pretty slim UI.

Ten Ton Hammer: We saw a little bit of the ship. I’m guessing that’s your training area to familiarize yourself with the controls?

Chris: That’s actually where you can party up before going into a dungeon. You can have some fun there; you saw everyone throwing pumpkins around. There’s a town, where you do most of your RPG type of thing, and from the town, you go to the docks. There, you can join a boat or create a boat, and then the boat will take you to the dungeon.

Ten Ton Hammer: We know crafting is going to be a big thing in the game. From what I remember, there isn’t a lot of loot in the game. You pretty much develop everything you have over time. Is that the case?

Chris: You do get a lot of loot, but most of the loot that you pick up is components of what you’re going to craft. Some of it is usable, but most of it is stuff that you’ll take to the town where there’s different NPCs who have different crafting specialties. You’ll use the components you loot, plus you can buy stuff from the NPC, such as armor, that’ll already be crafted.

Ten Ton Hammer: So it’s the NPCs doing the crafting, not necessarily the players?

Chris: The NPCs are where you go to do the crafting, but you’re really the one doing it. Even though you have to use the NPCs, it’s based upon your skills and knowledge. So, when you finish something, it’ll say…I can’t remember any NPC names right now, so let’s call him Jim…when you learn something new, it’ll say Jim learned how to craft that item. While they’re technically the ones doing the crafting, it’s based on you learning it. It’s basically the player doing it, but for story elements, it’s presented as the NPCs are the ones doing it.

Ten Ton Hammer: What other sources of RPG elements are going to be found in the town?

Chris: Well, there are different types of quests and there’s going to be some fun, non-combat type activities, which we haven’t revealed yet, so I can’t say exactly what they are. That’s also where you’ll do a lot of your leveling up and learning your skills. You can buy skill books. Once you have the skill book, you can level the skill up, but you have to buy it from the town.

Ten Ton Hammer: Is there anything the players can do interactively together, even if it’s a silly thing?

Chris: Absolutely. In the town is where you’re going to see all the different players. There’s marketplaces for player to player trading, there’s message boards, and in the future, we will have PvP, but not at launch.

Ten Ton Hammer: Like an arena style PvP?

Chris: We have a few different modes. Of course, we’re going to have some of the typical ones, and some that are a little bit different from what you expect, which are kind of fun. As I said, they won’t be available at launch, but they’ll be coming shortly.

Ten Ton Hammer: So, with two characters, how will players differentiate themselves from one another?

Chris: First, they’re very customizable in their looks.

Ten Ton Hammer: Not just their underwear?

Chris: Not just their underwear, (laughs) although that does end up being a very popular thing. Their facial features can change drastically, you can alter their height. One of the things that I find really cool is that the height you select has differences. If you’re short, you might not hit as hard, but you might be faster than somebody who’s tall who might have a stronger attack, but run a little bit slower than the shorter guy. You can customize their hairstyles, their skin color, and you can put scars and tattoos on their faces. The girl characters can have makeup. So you can make your characters look very different from each other. And of course, all the different armor and stuff. You can dye your clothing to be different colors. Even though they’re based off the same character, you can think of it more as classes than as actual characters. When we play in the office, it’s rare to see two Evies that look the same or two Fionas that look the same.

Ten Ton Hammer: So you can change hair color and all that then?

Chris: Absolutely. At the demo stations, we randomly selected the looks, but we’ve got some guys with greenish skin and red eyes and other guys who look more African-American and guys who look more European. We’ve got girls with red hair, girls with dark hair, and girls with blonde hair, and so on.

Ten Ton Hammer: You talked about how when you’re running, some of your potions may spill out. Is there any other kind of reality check stuff that you do in the game?

Chris: Of course, the physics are very realistic. Not only is the environment destructible…say I break a pillar, I can then pick up one of the pieces of the pillar and use those as weapons. There’s a chain as one of the secondary weapons, and if we’re playing together and I throw the chain at a monster and hook him, he might struggle with it allowing you to attack him. We have some environmental bombs, such as mining bombs, which you can throw at, say the side of a cliff, and that cliff could crumble down onto your enemy. There’s a lot of interactive realism and of course, the breakable armor. It breaks where you’re hit. If you’re getting hit a lot in the chest, your upper armor might shatter. The same thing happens with your boss enemies. If you’re fighting the orc chieftain and he’s wearing a helmet, if you throw a boulder and it hits him in the head, his helmet will actually fall off. If he drops his weapon, you can pick that up and hit him with that. I can’t remember if you can pick up the helmet or not. I think that you can because practically everything that falls to the ground, you can grab. When they drop loot, some bosses will drop loot based on where they have been hit. If you’ve been hitting him in the arm, he might drop his club and that might be some of your loot. If you’re hitting him in his head, his helmet might be something you’ll get. The loot can change based on how you’re attacking your enemy.

Vindictus Screenshot

Ten Ton Hammer: The size of the instances where the players will be. How are they set up?

Chris: The instances vary. Some levels are pretty quick, with only a few rooms. Others might be much longer. It varies on a lot of factors. Basically, as you get later in the game, those are going to take a lot more work to get through. Also, the ways the dungeons are built are a lot like LEGO blocks. Other than the boss monster room, which is always going to be the same, the other rooms are going to be randomly selected from a series. An example is that this instance is always four rooms, but the three before the boss room might be different every time. I don’t know the numbers, but there might be twenty possible rooms and three of them are randomly chosen from out of those twenty. Those aren’t actual numbers; they’re just there to illustrate my point.

Ten Ton Hammer: What about character progression? Is it level based?

Chris: It is level based and skill based. There are several different things you get in battle. You get xp for your leveling up, and as you level up, that will increase your stats. You get ap, which apply to your skills, and your skills level up through several different stages as they get stronger. You also get battle points, called bp, and those are for accomplishing different things. You get a certain amount of battle points for finishing a mission, but perhaps if you do it solo, you get some more battle points, and then maybe if you do it under a certain amount of time, you get some battle points. Those are how you unlock other missions. You might be given a quest, but you might have to do other quests to get enough battle points to be able to go into the dungeon you were given.

Ten Ton Hammer: That’s interesting in that you have to unlock content by doing content.

Chris: Exactly.

Ten Ton Hammer: Will there be an option to scale down? Say Ben, who’s an awesome player, is 20 levels above me. Will there be an option to scale him down to be able to play with me?

Chris: When you enter the dungeon, you can select from 3 levels of difficulty for each level. Some of the dungeons have a selection for the ultimate hard one. You can kind of tailor the dungeon to your experience. Of course, the rewards will change on whether you’re doing it on easy or hard, but there is some flexibility in how difficult you make the dungeon.

Ten Ton Hammer: So the dungeon doesn’t scale to your level?

Chris: No. The dungeons are kind of set for certain levels. Within those, there’s a little bit of a slider to make it an easier or harder one. They definitely get tougher and tougher as they go along. The first few dungeons are relatively easy as they’re sort of your training, but as you get later into the game, it gets really tough. In the demo, we have characters who are level 30 so player can really enjoy them, but that dungeon that they’re in is normally set for characters level 7. It’s a lot more difficult in reality, and we shortened it so that people could get through it in a reasonable amount of time. We shortened it to a few rooms, but it’s a much larger level. I can’t remember the exact name, but there’s a challenge where you can do a harder version where you fight two bosses before you get to the final boss. Or you can do it the regular way where you fight through the rooms until you get to the final boss. There are different variables in how you can play the dungeon and you can replay all the dungeons.

Ten Ton Hammer: How long are the dungeons?

Chris: It depends. Some of them are relatively short, and some of them are pretty long. They’re designed so that you can play through in an entire dungeon within 15 to 20 minutes.

Ten Ton Hammer: What if you can’t? Can you resume the same dungeon later?

Chris: No. You’ll start the same dungeon over, but it won’t save your progress within the dungeon.

Ten Ton Hammer: Can you quickly escape the dungeon?

Chris: You can leave the dungeon.

Vindictus Screenshot

Ten Ton Hammer: You can just log off?

Chris: You can actually leave the actual dungeon, which will put you back to town. Of course, you’ll lose any xp you’ve gained so far. You actually have to finish the dungeon to get the xp for it. If you die and don’t make it through a dungeon, even if you already had 2000 xp from that dungeon, then you won’t get any of it. You have to finish it to get all of it.

Ten Ton Hammer: The ship that you take to get to the dungeons. Is that optional or is that a loading screen?

Chris: It’s really so you can party up and make sure that everybody’s ready. So, it’s not optional, but you can get through it real quick. Here, we have it so that it’s on a two minute timer, which means that you’ll be in it for two minutes and then you’ll go into the dungeon. But you can actually sit there all day until everybody has clicked on ready and the party leader has clicked on start. It’s a good place to familiarize yourself because you can try out your combos and stuff, and you don’t have to worry about getting attacked while you’re doing it.

Ten Ton Hammer: How big a part of the game are consumables going to be, such as potions or arrows?

Chris: They’re definitely a big part of the game with the potions and revival feathers. The potions, in particular, become crucial although you can get extra points from finishing a dungeon without using any potions. They do become crucial for your health as that some of those boss monsters can practically one hit kill you. Not quite, but it depends on how skillful you are and what level you are. Some of those guys, if they get you once, you’re in a world of hurt.

Ten Ton Hammer: So you need to stock up on those things before you set out?

Chris: Yeah. Once you’re in the dungeon, you can’t re-equip. So there’s a little bit of strategy because you only have four, I think, item slots of what you can use. You have a much bigger inventory in your backpack, but as for usable on the fly, I think it’s four that you can equip at any given time. There’s a little bit of strategy in selecting which items you want to take with you. You can take an armor repair kit so that if your armor breaks, you can still repair it while in the dungeon, or you can take a health potion or a stamina potion. If you want a feather to revive yourself or bring a feather to revive other party members, you’ll definitely need a strategy to decide on what to bring with you.

Ten Ton Hammer: If your armor breaks, do you lose it?

Chris: Eventually, yes. It will degrade over time as it breaks. If it never gets broken, you can have it forever, but as it starts to break, depending upon what type of armor it is, you’ll be able to repair it a few times. However, when it degrades to zero, then you’ll have to throw it away.

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