Exclusive Interzone Futebol Interview - Bringing Soccer to MMOGs

Questions by Cody “Micajah” Bye, Managing Editor

by Cody “Micajah” Bye, Managing Editor
style="font-weight: bold; font-style: italic;">

by Jeff Lyndon, Vice President of China Operations, Interzone

When most gamers think about massively multiplayer online games, a
number of examples probably come to mind. However, most of the
individual titles on the gamer’s list probably
doesn’t include a sports-based MMOG. While sports MMOGs have
been discussed for a number of years, few titles have really made an
impact on the global marketplace. But that may all change in the near

A new development company known as Interzone has unveiled its first
product, which happens to be a soccer MMOG. Dubbed style="font-style: italic;">Interzone Futebol,
the company is actually hoping to release their introductory game in
Brazil first, with subsequent releases in the other major world
territories. To many it sounds like a risky venture, but one that just
may pay off. Ten Ton Hammer’s Cody
“Micajah” Bye had a recent chat with Jeff Lyndon
about the upcoming soccer-based MMOG and the future of the company
known as Interzone.

Ten Ton Hammer: To start,
can you give the Ten Ton Hammer readers a brief summary of what
Interzone Futebol
is all about? Why go with a sports game as the
company’s first MMOG?

Jeff Lyndon:
Imagine living in a world where soccer is everything. This is what
Interzone Futebol
is about.

The initial idea came from our president, Marty Brickey, when he was
flying his plane over Chicago. Soccer, or Futebol as it is called in
Brazil, is the most popular sport on the planet and yet no one has
created a true multiplayer online version of it. We talked about for
awhile and we understood that there were a lot technical and design
obstacles that we would have to overcome but we realized the end
product would be something very cool and fun to play.

Ten Ton Hammer: Opting to
introduce Interzone
in Brazil first is a tremendously different
approach compared to the tact most MMOG companies take. Why did you
decide to enter the Brazilian market first rather than Europe or North
America? What sort of opportunities do you see there that
aren’t available in those other markets?

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An exclusive
screenshot from Interzone Futebol.

Lyndon: When
we decided to create the game we thought a lot about the people who
would play it. We talked about futebol fans and places in the world
where futebol was most popular. This all lead naturally to Brazil where
“Futebol is Life.”  We even went down to
Rio and Sao Paulo to experience that culture first hand. 
It’s an amazing place and their appreciation and enthusiasm
for the sport is not only unmatched, it’s
infectious.  Going to a World Cup game in Brazil is something
everybody should do at least once in their life. It’s
just… wow!


Ten Ton Hammer: Do the
developers at Interzone have experience creating MMOGs at other
companies? Where did the staff work previously to joining Interzone?

Lyndon: We
have put together a great team overflowing with experienced and
talented people not just in design but in all departments of the
company. Joseph Hewitt, our Lead Designer, worked on the original
Command &
Conquer, Earth & Beyond
, and just recently
completed Fury
Scott Gall, our Localization Manager, was
involved with Final
Fantasy XI
and Dragon
Quest Monsters
.  Our QA Manager, Richard Maxwell, worked
on Heavenly
and I personally worked on style="font-style: italic;">Shadowbane.

Ten Ton Hammer: As a
gamer, how should we compare
Interzone Futebol
to other MMOGs that are
on the market? Does it play like a sports game, a sports-based MMORPG,
or somewhere in the middle?

Lyndon: The
benefit of games like this is that you can be somebody you’re
not. In that sense it is like other online games.  You can be
a Professional Futebol player in Interzone
, just like in other
games you can be an axe-wielding dwarf or a Princess of Mars. Some
people might even argue that all online multiplayer games are a sport.
It is the skill and determination of you and your team in Team Fortress
as much as it is in futebol and any other
“traditional” sport.

What we do have is a true Futebol experience. style="font-style: italic;">Interzone Futebol
is the
real thing done right. The designers have taken special care to
identify exactly what makes the game fun and to not compromise that
fun. They have made sure the game doesn’t turn into
“kiddy soccer” with every player clustered around
the ball and they haven’t let it become something with
players having outrageous powers. The abilities, moves, and techniques
your character performs are real futebol moves and you are playing real

Ten Ton Hammer: What sort
of character creation and advancement function do you have in style="font-style: italic;">Interzone
? Do players “level up” by
scoring goals or
defending shots in the game? How does the game track these advancements?

Lyndon: You
do earn experience which you can use to unlock new abilities and
techniques, but we don’t really use
“levels” because they feel so artificial. 
Instead, your character has a proficiency in each position on the pitch
(that’s the playing field).  Progression is really
just you specializing your character and giving you more strategic
options and elements to use on pitch.  You can also earn
achievements and even get rewards from catching the attention of

Ten Ton Hammer: The press
release for Interzone
also discusses a social element being
included within the game. How will players socialize with others
players outside of competition? Will they be able to explore virtual
cities and party at virtual clubs?

Lyndon: Our
current social space, which we will be expanding in the future, is a
little idolized section of Rio, specifically the neighborhood of
Ipanema. We want players to have lots of cool things to do in the
social area even if players don’t ever go into the futebol
stadium.  In the beginning we are keeping it simple and
focusing the futebol game. We have seen too many online games fail
because they over-reached too soon and instead of doing their core
thing very well they did several things poorly.  That being
said we are sticking in a number of fun activities to keep you occupied
in Ipanema at launch with many more things to follow. Eventually it
will be a whole virtual environment.

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The Interzone Futebol

Ten Ton Hammer: How much
of Interzone Futebol’s
gameplay will depend on the skill of
the player? Will gamers who are already skilled at sports games excel
in Interzone Futebol?
Or will it be a completely different sort of

Lyndon: The
skill and knowledge of the player are the key elements. We want to make
sure that everybody is competitive from the first day they start
playing. In your first game you should have fun with just as much of a
chance at winning as everybody else playing. We don’t want
progression to be nothing but a power curve like it is in a lot of
other games. When that happens, the main thrust of the game becomes
just about grinding to higher levels and that isn’t
fun.  In Interzone
you will get better and your
character will become more specialized with only a shallow power
difference between a new and veteran player.

Interzone Futebol
is real futebol. It is an accurate representation of
actual play where you can expect the same elements of play to be
important. In real futebol, passing always beats people swarming for
the ball and the same goes in our game.  So somebody who is
already familiar with how futebol is played on a high level may have
some strategic advantage like knowing how to set-up and use the offside

Ten Ton Hammer: By
including a social element into Interzone
obviously encouraging the players in the game to learn about each other
and get to know other players. Once that’s accomplished, will
players be able to create their own futebol teams? Can the teams level
up along with the players?

Lyndon: Yes,
once that is accomplished we will have player run teams and clubs that
will compete against each other in leagues and positions on the leader
boards.  We also want to implement a fan-based system where
those clubs and their fans can have a mutually beneficial relationship
with each other. The goal is to give players the full experience of
being a professional futebol player both in and out of the stadium.

Ten Ton Hammer: Will the
game be free to play or subscription based? Microtransactions are
mentioned in the press release; will players also be able to buy
virtual in-game items?

Lyndon: The
game will be free to play with some in-game items and other things
available on the web store.

Ten Ton Hammer: Is there
anything else you’d like to tell the Ten Ton Hammer readers
and fans of Interzone

Lyndon: That
is all we can say for now but we’ll definitely have some more
news for you soon.  Players can visit href="http://www.interzonefutebol.com" target="_blank">www.interzonefutebol.com
for more information.

Thanks for the interview Cody. Stay tuned on Ten Ton Hammer!

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Interzone Futebol Game Page.

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