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September 11, 2007
Pi Story - Interview with Mary Min
 

By Donna Desborough

Pi Story proclaims to be a casual play MMO. With its instanced world and free play story it could be a world full of interesting times. I got to talk with the Mary Min and developers to find out a bit more.

MPOGD: What are the future plans for the lore? Will the players be able to help shape it?

After this round of closed beta, our developers, marketing team and management will sit down to discuss our next steps. We may do a few more betas, but we are definitely moving in the right direction towards getting the full version of the game out there.

The reason why we started with a very limited closed beta is because we value our players' input above all else, and we wanted to customize the game's features and game play to what the users wanted. Our company's motto says it all: Games made by gamers for gamers. We want our users to actively participate in shaping the future of this game.

MPOGD: What kind of events do you plan to run? Will players be able to help with them or affect their outcome? Will they be live events?

On opening day, we had an event where players could play and hunt with GMs. There will also be a number of surprise events, both official and informal, that will be going on. One of our favourite ones is "Play hide and seek with the GMs." It's great to see players have fun running around town trying to track our GMs down, and our GMs trying their best to hide from players! We also require our GMs to be on constantly during service hours to answer questions and assist players, but also to talk and get to know our players better. Throughout the rest of our beta test we will do sporadic, fun events. You never know when one will be announced, so stay logged on!

After the beta test period is over, we will continuously run events via our website. Players who participate in these events will have a chance at rare game items and other prizes, so even if the game is not in service right now, please check the website often. GMs will also monitor the website and participate actively in the forums on a regular basis.

Any event suggestions that players submit, along with any suggestions, are reviewed and given consideration. You can send suggestions to game@ncony.com, and we will review the feasibility of doing a certain event. If we think an event will be fun, zany, wacky and a little bit goofy - which is what we are, then we'll definitely do it! Our plans are to involve users as much as we can and get them to participate in the shaping and running of the game. We may have developed the base for the game, but it is our players who are the true owners of Pi Story.

MPOGD: Currently you have dungeons. Are there plans to have other types of encounter zones? Will more dungeons be added at regular intervals?

A very limited number of dungeons were released for this first beta, because our priority was to ensure that the game was stable and running as smoothly as possible. The instanced dungeon system allows us to constantly add new dungeons, and we look forward to our players helping us design them! As for other types of encounter zones, there are some things in the works right now, but we can't reveal everything - got to leave a little bit of mystery behind.

MPOGD: Does the strategy based guild system work?

One of our greatest pet peeves with some other games is that if you belong to a smaller guild, most of the time you are at a huge disadvantage in guild battles. That means you have to either target a smaller guild to pick on, or hope that you get lucky when fighting a bigger guild. In other words, the playing field is not always level. We didn't think that was cool at all. So we wanted to design a guild system that would employ both strategy and guild member participation.

Each guild has a guild house and a guild guardian. The guild guardian is looked after by all of the guild members; you have to feed it items and take care of it as you would your own pet. The guild guardian may come to your rescue when you're fighting a particularly tough monster or boss, which comes in handy when you're trying to clear a difficult level.

But the crown jewel of guilds, which is the guild battle system, is centered around the guild guardian. Each guild is allowed a certain number of guild members and the guild guardian in the battle, and you have to protect your guardian while trying to defeat the other guild's guardian. Guilds are going to have to get creative in formulating a strategy for victory, as well as defense.

MPOGD: What are your future plans for the game? Will there be a regular release schedule?

We will collect all the feedback, opinions and user data we collected from this beta test and use that information to make changes to our game. For example, players have given us extensive feedback on what they think of the user interface; we will be changing it around a little more to suit player preferences and make it easier for them to navigate through the game.

The regular release schedule has not been set yet, we don't want to make promises we can't keep, and to be quite honest, we want to squeeze in as much player input into the full version of the game as possible. As soon as we can calculate a service schedule and launch date, we will be posting an announcement on our website as well as sending out press releases and informing our player community.

MPOGD: Will the game be 100% free to play or will it employ subscriptions or cash shops? Why did you take this route with the game?

The game will be free to play with a cash shop. This is a model that we chose because we wanted everyone to have a chance to play this great game, but at the same time we do have to pay the bills. Going the subscription route would mean limited access, we didn't want to do that.

MPOGD: Please explain the Ghost Mode system in the instanced dungeons.

When you die during battle in an instanced dungeon, you become a ghost and the screen turns black and white. You become an observer in the battle that's going on around you. We figured, why not let people who died stay for the rest of the battle? After all, they are still members of that party.

Dungeons, instances and story galore all make Pi story look like it could be a game to deliver what it promises. For the hardcore or the casual, Pi Story looks like it will be masses of fun.

 
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