Exclusive Interview with Alganon Creator, David Allen
David Allen was the driving force behind Horizons, is the co-founder of QOL (Quest Online, LLC), and is on a mission to spread the word about his latest endeavor, Alganon. For every player that's complained about games not having enough depth of meaning, being forced to fulfill the same party role day after day, or wants a chance for their name to forever live on in a game's history, it's time to listen up. Eric "Dalmarus" Campbell sat down with David and Alganon Lead Designer, Hue Henry, to get the latest scoop on this ambitious new title. Alganon is 100% original IP and that actually gave us a lot of wiggle room for what we could do. Our goal was to create a living, breathing world, to where if you chose one side or the other, there was a reason for it and there were connections. In Alganon, there are deities associated with the races, there are reasons behind your participation, there's history to it as far as where your race comes from, what your obligations are, who your enemies are. Alganon really was a lore-based game as a whole. Read the full Exclusive Interview with Alganon Creator, David Allen here!
David Allen was the driving force behind Horizons, is the co-founder of QOL (Quest Online, LLC), and is on a mission to spread the word about his latest endeavor, Alganon. For every player that's complained about games not having enough depth of meaning, being forced to fulfill the same party role day after day, or wants a chance for their name to forever live on in a game's history, it's time to listen up. Eric "Dalmarus" Campbell sat down with David and Alganon Lead Designer, Hue Henry, to get the latest scoop on this ambitious new title.
Ten Ton Hammmer:
For some of the readers that may not be familiar with Alganon can you give us the basis of the game and some of the lore behind it?
The thing that made Alganon different from the other games is it was built around a world run by deities. I wanted to have large-scale interaction at some point in the game to where you were part of a world that was a living, breathing world that had these majestic deities that oversaw a certain domain, they fought amongst themselves, they had followers.
So the lore behind Alganon is really deity based with a lot of history. If you go on the website and read the history of the game, you can see it goes back quite a bit. There are wars, we have how the races were born, how they're intertwined, and how they followed the deities.
I wanted to create a foundation that served as a rich playing field because my original goal with Alganon was to have it so deities would actually appear in the world even as themselves, controlled by high level CS GMs. So you could be walking through the forest and suddenly Triatia would be 15 or 20 feet tall, and appear before you, and be like, "I have a mission for you!” You know, that sort of cool interaction because then that person could be, "Oh my god! I just saw Triatia!” Then once we get the Library to the point that we want it to be, which will also serve as a news center in addition to an information repository, then those stories could propagate.
Plus, domains also are supposed to be under the control of specific deities. So if you're a patron of Deity A and you entered a domain controlled by Deity B, you may have some weirdness going on. You may have some automatic deficiencies; it may be a little harder to fight. It would put you at a slight disadvantage more than anything else, but then you would have people that would rally around their patronage and their deities and that sort of thing.
Alganon is 100% original IP and that actually gave us a lot of wiggle room for what we could do. Our goal was to create a living, breathing world, to where if you chose one side or the other, there was a reason for it and there were connections. In Alganon, there are deities associated with the races, there are reasons behind your participation, there's history to it as far as where your race comes from, what your obligations are, who your enemies are. Alganon really was a lore-based game as a whole.
I came up with the concept for Alganon probably towards the end of 2005, and then we founded the company at the beginning of 2006. I spent probably a good month or two doing nothing but writing the lore, putting together the deities, drawing up the world map, and creating the different factions. You know, doing the fun, creative stuff.
I think the core of Alganon is very different from other MMOGs. Our initial release is not going to include the level of content that we wanted and a lot of it is the type of funding. We didn't have tens of millions of dollars to go towards extending our content. We aren't launching with domain control for deities for example, but that's actually going to be out, probably within the next six months so it's not going to be too long before that's actually out.
Alganon just came from a point of creativity, creating a world where deities exist, where gods exist and they're all very different. That's really the foundation of Alganon and the game will grow around it.
Ten Ton Hammmer:
Are there still plans to have high level GM's control the gods in the future?
Oh yeah, that's part of the design of the game, you bet.
Crusades were in the original design where players could become a patron to a deity and engage in crusades against other deities and we're talking potentially large scale combat. That sounds really good from a design perspective but technical implementation of that is very, very difficult. If we're going to do it, we want to do it right.
And that's one of the reasons also why we're releasing Alganon with the features we've got now. We aren't releasing with all the features we originally wanted. We decided to refine the other core features of the game to be better instead of giving them more that were not so good.
Ten Ton Hammmer:
Thanks for joining us Hue. Can you talk about the four core system with the classes and how players can manipulate their play styles?
Absolutely. One of the things we set up, we've got what we call the dual role system. The idea is that when you're searching for a certain role in combat in other games, you usually have a situation where one class has a single role and that's pretty much what they do. There are a lot of MMOs like that where if you're the cleric class, all you do is heal.
What we found was that had benefits and negatives. The benefit part was that if you needed a healer, you knew whom to ask for. The negative is that it's boring to play the same class over and over and over, doing the same role. So what we set up was a system where we have four classes and each of those classes has a primary role it performs by default and then they also can devise a secondary role that class can play in combat.
So for example, the Soldier is going to be our tank by default. If you ever need a tank, you call up for a Soldier and you've got a tank. If you want a DPS class, you might ask a soldier f they've set their second role to be DPS. That's one of their options. Their specializations allow them to do DPS. So that Soldier, without having to respec (though they may want to change gear to get their better weapons out), and without having to make a lot of changes, they can fulfill the role of a DPS class. So suddenly, that one character can do a lot more than just fulfill that one role.
Ten Ton Hammmer:
Right. So what would the alternate role of a Magus be?
We decided with this situation, we wanted to go big. We didn't want to make them DPS, then just different types of DPS like some games do, we wanted to go really big.
For example, the primary role of the Magus is sort of AoE DPS; they're trying to burn the whole room down at once. They can specialize into doing single target DPS with the Fire specialization where they focus on just that one boss to take him down quickly. That's one option.
Another option is actually tanking. So they can actually go into a frost form, cover themselves in ice, and use a lot of their frost spells to throw their defenses up through the roof. One of their spells called Shatter actually takes the debuffs they've put on their enemy and shatters them, thus healing the Magus. They become a sort of regeneration tank. With this combination of all these skills, they're regen-tanking wit their frost abilities, they're boosting their defenses through the roof, they actually become this tanking frost mage.
The third one we have is Storm (think magical storm, rather than electricity). Storm magic is all about controlling the aggro, controlling movement, a bit of crowd control. If I've got a friend that's a fire Magus, and he's burning down the enemy and creating a lot of threat, my storm Magus can say, "You know what? I'm going to take some the threat off of you and put it on me." That way the storm Magus, because their stuff is all low threat, can balance things out allowing the rest of the party to do their stuff. It's a really support oriented role.
Ten Ton Hammmer:
So every class has those multiple roles they can fill?
Yep. Every single one of our classes that we'll ever have will have one primary role and then three others to choose from. And they're all going to be this big. I mean, like tank, heals, AoE, support, all large changes. We don't want to have classes that are DPS then different DPS. We want them to be big changes and lots of fun with different game play styles while you’re on the same character.
Ten Ton Hammmer:
So to pick a secondary role, what do players need to do? Is there a quest series to complete, or a trainer to talk to?
The secondary role is chosen through the abilities system, which is very similar to World of Warcraft’s talent tree. You have a tree where you can spend points every time you level. It allows them to specialize in one of these custom secondary roles, but if they want to mix and match to create their own secondary role, they can do that too.
Ten Ton Hammmer:
Very cool. Can you explain the study system for our readers? I know it's similar to that of EVE Online, but is there a skill point cap, or any limits on what you can learn?
There is no cap, so mechanically, it's that idea of building points as long as you’re currently studying. So there isn't a cap. The only real cap is time. There are so many skills right now, it would take over three years for someone to study them all. So time is really going to be the thing that keeps you from getting all of them.
Ten Ton Hammmer:
Are any of the skills class-specific, or cross-class?
They're set so anyone can get any of the kills, but they may not want to. For example, anyone can study the sword skill, but if your class can't use a sword, then you really don't want to. We didn't directly limit them, you know. We let people choose.
We also put in secondary rewards. Take the magic tree for example. A Soldier doesn't use any magic, so why would he care about studying anything in that tree? We've put in items that require skills though. So suppose he finds a trinket that has acts as a cool damage shield but requires him to have a certain skill in the fire tree to use it. So a Soldier might want to go down that skill path to use it. Better yet, the way we look at it is if a Soldier did go down that train, they don't feel as though it was wasted.
That's one of the things about this study system. It puts a unique twist on it. The study system by itself opens up other systems, so by doing so it makes it that kind of idea that you log off and then log back on, your character is a little bit stronger. It's not much to make a difference, but you're a little bit stronger and a whole world of new things has opened up to you that you can do.
So let's say you go to work for the day, when you come home from work, the game's more fun than it was when you logged off the night before. There's more stuff to do, more things have opened, you're a little bit stronger, and you got that even though you went to school or work for the day. That's what I think is the coolest part about that study system.
Ten Ton Hammmer:
How did the inclusion of families come about?
Families eventually evolved into something more simplistic. Originally, we were thinking of making families this real elaborate thing, but then you whittle it down and ask yourself what's fun? What do people really want? And that's where we decided to just make families an encapsulation for like-minded players.
And it's actually working out great because you can run through the game and just by looking at the icon over their head, you can tell what family they're a member of, you can talk with them in the family channels. And all it is, is a method of defining someone's interest and then opening up a communication system for it.
You can get family heirlooms that change your appearance. So if you're an explorer, you can go out and get the explorer's cape, and the explorer's shoes, and all that and make yourself look more explorer-like if you want. We do have plans later on to allow the different families to compete in some friendly competition that will tie in with the Great Library.
The core family system is great. It's actually turning out to be something that some players go, "ah, yeah, family system." But it makes a big difference because the second you enter the game you have access to that chat channel with all of your family members and people are willing to help. If you choose a family that really does reflect your interests, you're going to be talking with like-minded people, doing like-minded things and you'll get along with them better.
Ten Ton Hammmer:
The Deities section on the website says that it will be possible in the future to have the deeds of your family and guilds etched into the Great Library?
Correct. That’s part of the competitive system that's planned and that's related to the upcoming achievement system and it's going to be available on multiple levels. Guilds will be able to gain recognition for feats that they perform. So will families. Obviously, you have to have different sets of rules because families are just everybody that chooses that and some families are going to be naturally stronger than others because one family may statistically have more teenage kids in it who really don't care and another one more adult people interested in more goals. We're aware of that and will take things like it into account.
Ten Ton Hammmer:
So throughout the website, and even through the interview so far, we've heard bits and pieces about the Great Library. What is it and how will it affect the playing experience of gamers?
Right now, if you play World of Warcraft, you either have an add-on or you go to Thottbot or Wowhead to get whatever information you need. The Library built into Alganon is pretty much like having Thottbot or Wowhead built into the game itself.
If you hit the Y key or hit the library button, you can type in the name of any mob, any quest, any item, any tradeskill, any class... anything. It's all in there and it's all straight from the horse’s mouth. There's no third party processing issue. It has *everything* from the game. Type in anything from the game, and it's in the Library for you to read. It can tell you where every NPC is, what creatures drop a specific item you're looking for. If you type in the name of a quest, it will bring up the information on the quest and has links embedded in it to show you who you need to talk to, where you need to go.
Go out to MyAlganon.com and play with it. We also have the equivalent of the WoW Armory already in there too. The Great Library is really an awesome feature of the game. This is embedded within the game itself and is fully functional right now.
Ten Ton Hammer:
Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to come talk with us today, David. The game is currently in open beta right now folks, so get over there and give it a try. Be sure to check out my first impressions of the game as well. Until next time, happy gaming everyone!