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Shaiya Online: An Interview with Producer Joshua Sell

Posted Tue, May 13, 2008 by Cody Bye

Questions by Cody “Micajah” Bye, Managing Editor
Answers by Joshua Sell, Producer of Shaiya Online

Compared to our Korean counterparts, the MMOG market in North America is fairly stagnant. With only a few MMOGs released a year, we don't receive the awe-inspiring number of products that the Koreans get to try out every 12 months. That's been changing, however, as more and more publishers are bringing Korean MMOGs to North America, and the latest of those products is Shaiya Online. To learn more about the product, Ten Ton Hammer's Cody "Micajah" Bye asked a number of questions to Joshua Sell, Shaiya's North American producer, who answered with a eagerness only displayed by those developers who love their game. Take a look - you won't be disappointed!


Characters posing for the picture.

Ten Ton Hammer: To start, where was Shaiya originally developed? When was the title first released to MMO gamers and how many expansions are there currently?

Joshua Sell: Shaiya was developed by a Korean company called SonoV.  The title was opened to players commercially in December of 2007.

There is one expansion already applied to the game and we are releasing a second expansion this month.  A third expansion is already being prepared for release.  All expansions and updates are completely free!

Ten Ton Hammer: For those gamers that aren’t familiar with Shaiya, how many races and classes are in the game? Can you give a brief description of them?

Joshua: Well, I’ll first start off with the two factions:  Alliance of Light and Union of Fury.  It’s fairly obvious, but these are essentially the good guys vs. the bad guys.

Within the Alliance of Light are the Elves and Humans.  The races of the Alliance of Light are further broken down by character classes.  Humans can be a Fighter, Defender, or Priest.  Elves can be Ranger, Archer, or Mage.

The Union of Fury also has two races.  These are the Vail and Nordein.  Vail may be Pagan, Oracle, or Assassin.  Nordein may be a Warrior, Guardian, or Hunter.

When it comes down to it, some classes are nearly identical clones.

Fighter/Warrior:  The damage-dealing, up-close melee berserker.  You don’t want to get close to these guys.

Defender/Guardian:  The defensive tank of Shaiya.  Defenders and Guardians can take a beating and provoke monsters into attacking them.

Hunter/Archer:  This is the ranged melee class of Shaiya.  Hunters and Archers wield axes, javelins, and bows and rely on staying as far from their opponents as possible while dishing out as much damage as possible.

Assassin/Ranger:  Stealth, deception, and cunning.  Assassins and Rangers hide themselves from the enemy, ensuring the first strike and surprise tactics.

Priest/Oracle:  Priests and Oracles heal and resurrect other players.  They are the lifeblood of any successful party.

Mage/Pagan:  Mages and Pagans use ranged magical attacks to dish out damage and destroy the enemy.

Ten Ton Hammer: Over the past few years, a number of imported massively multiplayer games have hit North American shores without being appropriately localized first. How much emphasis have you put on the localization and translation of Shaiya, and what should gamers expect when they first enter the game?

Joshua: We have put forth a lot of effort and dedicated resources to localizing over 1,000 quests, hundreds of skills, thousands of items, and more.  When you step into Shaiya you’ll notice a completely different level of quality when compared to all other free to play games out there.

Ten Ton Hammer: On the official website for Shaiya, it’s mentioned that there are Easy, Normal, Hard, and Ultimate mode characters in the game. What’s the difference between the four difficulty settings? How does it affect the gameplay?

Joshua: Excellent question!  This is one of the big mechanics of the game that differentiate Shaiya from all other MMOGs.  The different modes provide a unique experience within the world of Shaiya.  Each difficulty increase provides more stats, new special skills, and access to better quality equipment at the cost of slower leveling.

Easy mode will allow a casual player to reach the maximum level of 60 within a week or two; however they stop gaining special skills at fairly low levels.

You must reach level 50 in Normal mode, which generally takes 2-3 weeks for the average player, to unlock the Hard mode.  You must reach level 50 in Hard mode to unlock the Ultimate difficulty mode.

The hardest difficulty mode, Ultimate, results in such a powerful character that there is actually a possibility for perma-death.  If you die in Ultimate mode you only have 2 options to prevent perma-death:  have another player resurrect you within 3 minutes or purchase an item from the item mall that prevents character deletion.  Ultimate mode is not for the impatient or weak at heart; not many make it to this mode.

A poster of the Dark and Light godesses.

Ten Ton Hammer: In your game, what sort of guild activities are there? Are raids a common occurrence? Are there any major siege battles that players can engage in?

Joshua: Guilds are the backbone of the community, but are not a necessity to advance.  Aeria’s game masters provide events that Guilds can participate in, generally including PvP tournaments and community building exercises.

Our upcoming expansion will also add in a Guild house and Guild rankings.  These rankings may rate a guild on how fast they cleared a certain dungeon or how good their PvP team is, but certainly isn’t something a guild must participate in if the members just want to be a close-knit group of friends to hang out and chat with.

There aren’t exactly sieges in Shaiya, but players may affect the game through battlegrounds.  These battlegrounds determine which faction has access to certain maps and which faction has the blessing from their Goddess.  Only one faction may have the full blessing at a time.  The Goddess blessing provides the winning faction with several advantages that actually improve a character’s ability to fight, enchant, level up, and more.

Ten Ton Hammer: Is Shaiya an MMOG focused on PvE or PvP? Or both? What sort of PvP options are available in the game?

Joshua: Shaiya is a PvP game at heart with underlying PvE character advancement through items, experience, and more.  The two factions, Alliance of Light and Union of Fury, are at constant war.  The faction Goddesses show their support through their blessings, which actually affect a character’s abilities depending on how well the player’s faction is doing at the time.

There are many forms of PvP in Shaiya.  These range from open-world PvP within certain zones to level restricted battlegrounds to certain maps that are only unlocked through achieving favor from your faction’s Goddess!  

You may also find our rankings leaderboard, which includes the number of kills, a kill to death ratio, player levels, and more, on the Shaiya website here: http://shaiya.aeriagames.com/sygame/ranking

Ten Ton Hammer: What sort of items does Shaiya have in its item mall? Do you sell items like weapons, armor, XP enhancements, or healing potions?

Joshua: We sell all of the above, though we do keep things under control.  We won’t sell you a max level character equipped the best gear, but we’ll sell you items that help you gain experience somewhat faster or give you a chance to purchase a moderate quality item.

We respect the accomplishments that players can achieve within the game and try to maintain the same level of rarity for items that is normally supported by the game mechanics.

Ten Ton Hammer: Does Shaiya support in-game events for the players? Do you have any events coming up soon?

Joshua: Shaiya has several in-game events.  Our game masters try to run 4 or more events per week!  In these events players can win some great in-game items or change the course of the Goddess Blessings to help their own faction more.  Events range from Guild tournaments or massive PvP battles to challenges against the greatest monsters in the land.

Not only that, but we have some more long-term events occasionally where players may win Wiis, iPods, or huge prizes for their game characters.

Shaiya is apparently one of the better free to play games on the market.

Ten Ton Hammer: In your opinion, what sets Shaiya apart from the rest of the free to play MMORPGs on the market? What makes your game unique?

Joshua: There are a few things that separate Shaiya from all other free to play MMORPGs out there.

Number one is quality.  PC Gamer has gone as far to say that Shaiya is comparable to subscription based games such as Lineage.  Free to play does not mean low quality, it’s simply a different business model used to support the game.

Not only is the quality of the game top-notch, but so is the community.  While faction-based rivalry is good, it sometimes creates ill feelings towards the other factions beyond the game avatar.  The community in Shaiya is excellent because there’s almost always someone around that is willing to help, people are active, and guilds are thriving.

Ten Ton Hammer: Finally, is there anything else you can tell the Ten Ton Hammer readers and Shaiya fans?.

Joshua: I know there are a lot of skeptics of the free to play gaming market… I was one of them.  I’ve really had my eyes opened to the quality, balance, support, and updates that these games are truly capable of.  The free to play gaming marking is growing quickly because the quality of the product is there to support it.  If you’ve never tried a free to play game now is a great time to try out Shaiya and get your feet wet.

Just ask anyone that has played Shaiya before and you’re sure to hear some great things!

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