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June 21, 2007
Sword of the New World: Granado Espada - Interview with Phil Maurer
 

By Jason Van Horn

It's often hard enough juggling one personality, but with Sword of the New World you'll be handling a total of three in one party at a time if you want to have any hope against the countless mobs that hound you in spades at every turn. The unique ability of always having two party members right by your side is one of the game's strongest selling points, but it is far from the only one. We here at MPOGD got to chat with Phil Maurer, Operations Team Leader to find out more about the game and what else sets it apart from the MMORPG crowd.

Jason:   By now we know the general gist and setting of Sword of the New World, but we were wondering how involved are the story elements outside of establishing the world of the game itself? Is there a continuous main narrative that runs throughout the game, a story players will experience from beginning to end?

Phil: During the localization process, we completely rewrote the quests and added new quests to provide an over arching narrative for the game. The players will first be introduced to the story as they step off the boat bringing them to the New World and finishing the tutorial quests. The story will continue to unfold as they progress to the higher levels of the game. Later on they will need to make choices that influence the direction of the Story.

Jason:  When you start the game, you first select your family name and create your first four family member characters. Besides picking a class also at this point, we've heard about the possible inclusion of additional options available at this initial junction. Are there any of those you can talk about more openly now that the game is closer to releasing? Will we, for instance, perhaps be making family crests or anything like that?

Jason:  Character creation always plays an important factor in MMOs, but not much has been said about Sword of the New World's character creation system. What tools and options are going to be in place, so players can design their characters to look like their own family members, or make them however they want to look?

Phil:  I am going to answer these two questions together. At this time you will be able to select gender, as well as a costume for each of your characters, with every class having loads of unique looks available to choose from right from the start. Currently in other versions of this game there is no character customization at all. You cannot change hair or facial features at this time, though it is possible these things could be added in future patches. It is also important to understand that this game supports hundreds vs. hundreds of player PvP battles, and when you put in the fact that each player has 3 characters on the screen, excessive amounts of customization features could possibly place a huge overhead on the system. All that being said, with the huge amount of costumes available, the odds of any 2 families looking identical will be extremely low.

As for items like family crests and other features to make your family more your own, we have extensive post launch plans to move your family and clan into your own personal website so you can share the history of your family and manage your clans outside of the game.

Jason:  What importance will the importance of squads and clans really be in this game? In most other MMOs you only control one player at a time, and team-up with others for the extra help of tackling a tough foe or situation. If you always have a party of three thanks to the MCC (Multi-Character Control) won't you need to team with others less than usual?

Phil:  Squads are important. Grouping is just as important as other MMO's, just in a different way. You do however have more freedom to not group in Sword. While the ability to take a tank and a healer with you allows you to tackle all but the high end content by your self, we have seen that people are using the squad feature a lot more then expected. While grouping you can clear areas much faster then a solo player and you can challenge higher level content in groups getting a nice bump in exp earned.

Jason: How is the math going to work when forming squads? In theory, if I'm playing with my three characters, and I meet up with someone and we team, there are six players right away on a team. What is the maximum number of players who can form in one squad, and how many total characters (including the other two you control at the same time) will be in squads at once?

Phil:  12 players in a squad x 3 characters per player = 36 characters in a squad = pure pwnage…

Jason: We haven't heard much on death in the game. Will there be any penalties, such as experience loss, durability loss, a status effect, etc.? Also, since you have more than one player under your control, what happens if out of your three two survive and encounter but one dies? Will they go back to your quarters and leave you with two? Will one of your family jump into that slot? Will one death count as death for them all? Etc.?

Phil: Before level 50 if one of your characters dies, they will revive on their own after a short period of time. After level 50, if you do not have a character that can cast resurrection, you just lost that character until you return to your Quarters.

Jason: What travel scenarios are we looking at for Sword of the New World? Is the game going to have fast travel options, or the ever popular mount system incorporated into many current MMOs?

Phil:  Sword has a full transportation system that will allow you to get to most areas in a matter of minutes. We also have a teleport system where you can save a location to warp back to with the use of a warp scroll.

Jason: The website mentions very briefly the rare drop of costumes from enemies? It sounds like they can be made more powerful than the best armor later on, but what purpose do they serve until then? Do costumes go over the armor you wear or do you wear it in place of the armor? Also, what kind of costumes are we looking at for the game? Are we looking at period pieces keeping in line with the current motif, or more abstract things like Halloween type cat costumes and such?

Phil: Items are very important to your family and your success at high levels, and in the PvP system. As for the visual effects of this armor we cannot reveal all of the details at this time, as we're still working on some final polish. As for holiday themed costumes, I can pretty much assure you that they will be in the game.

Jason: In a previous interview it was mentioned that both the free version and boxed version of the game would have exclusive content such as unique player characters tied to each version. Are we looking at the paid for version having everything you could possibly get, or will the free players get exclusives with theirs too that aren't available in the retail. If that's the case, isn't it a bit of a cheat that here is someone who purchased the full game, and yet they still don't get everything there is?

Phil: If you purchase a box copy the only difference you will have from a player that upgrades from a free account is that you will have access to a unique player character that is not yet available in the game. This character will offer some different skills and abilities to starting level characters that otherwise would not be available until higher levels. The boxed version also comes with 1 month free subscription.

Jason: Since the MCC system is completely new and never really done before, how easily are people taking to it through the testing process? What character classes are you seeing a lot of people using too?

Phil:  It takes people about 5 minutes to completely get used to the basics of the system. There is an excellent tutorial for new players built into the game, and the control system scales very well to the ability of the player. The system is simple enough to control your family with just a mouse and 3 buttons, but it can also scale to using all the keys on your keyboard including the f-keys providing an incredible amount of micromanagement. Personally I fall somewhere in the middle using the mouse and few hotkeys while playing, but in a boss fights and while dueling my hands are flying over the keyboard trying maximize the use of each of my three characters in the fight.

Jason:  Is it still too early to consider end-game content and things like expansion packs or extra downloadable content, or do you already have ideas of what will be implemented later on?

Phil:  At K2 our motto is "Gamers First." We already have some stuff in the works for post launch, but we will also be talking with our community and adding the features that they want. We may have thought we came up with the coolest feature ever, but if none of our players care about it then we are not living up to our motto.

Three Dog Night once sang about how "one is the loneliest number" and that can often be the case as well when exploring the vast, open worlds of a MMORPG. Though it's still always nice to have someone to talk to, at least in Sword of the New World you'll always have a friend (or two) to watch your back and keep you safe from harm. With Sword of the New World's MCC system and plenty of other unique features to set it apart from the usual fantasy worlds, Sword of the New World is a game you need to keep on your radar.

 
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