Runes of Magic
has continued its domination of the blog-o-sphere as more and more MMO bloggers
give in to the temptation of sampling this free-to-play game. We here at Massively have done our fair share of dabbling, including an article on the game's open crafting system
With the game set to launch in just about a month from now
, we jumped at the chance to have a chat with the folks at Frogster
concerning their much-anticipated fantasy MMO. Are they on track with this March launch date? How has beta reaction been so far, and what do they have to say about the growing concern that the game is "nothing more than a cheap WoW
clone"? See what they had to say just after the jump below, and let us know what you think in the comments.Massively: Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do for the Runes of Magic team.
Daniel Ullrich: My name is Daniel Ullrich, Director of Product Management at Frogster Online Gaming GmbH. My team and I are responsible for nearly everything connected to the game on the publisher side including communication with Runewaker Entertainment, game improvement, quality assurance, product management, community management and a lot of other things like box production for example. We build a central interface between marketing, public relations, localization, cooperation department and support. So we make sure that everything goes according to plan.
Together with Runewaker, all local publishers and of course our beta testers, we are permanently trying to correct and improve the product.
This structure is maybe something different but we always tried to build a good tester base to improve Runes of Magic
more and more. From my opinion without involving the community this is not possible. The game was announced recently as having a launch date in March of this year. Are you still on track for that month?
I just reviewed an older version of our product planning, I think it was around the last Games Convention in 2008 and indeed we changed a lot within the last months. In the first month of the Runes of Magic
beta, we were really surprised about the quantitative and qualitative feedback of our closed beta testers. And much of their feedback was really good. So what had to happen, happened, we moved some of the internal feature release dates a little bit to work on balancing and community suggestions. At the moment we are very optimistic that we will release Runes of Magic
on March 19th in great shape, but I would like to remind anyone waiting for a "complete" or "finished" game that we are developing an MMORPG and these games are always changing and evolving. And this means that the development will, of course, never end.
At the moment, Runewaker is finishing the last features for the release version while at the same time another team within Runewaker is developing new content. This won't mean that players won't see a lot of new content after release but we might have some things postponed until after the release in order to complete other, more important issues. But yes, it seems that we are on track. I'd like to tell everyone who would like to be a fly on the wall at Frogster that we are releasing and announcing new issues and new features as soon as possible, but we are only going to do so when we're relatively confident we can hit the dates we announce. If you're interested in more details on the release features, I suggest you keep an eye on the forums within the next weeks.With such a large number of current open beta testers, we hear that these beta characters will not be deleted at launch, as happens with most MMO betas. What can you tell us about that?
Well that's true. You know that we are free-to-play, so it's nothing spectacular for a free-to-play game to transfer OB characters into the release version. We believe that players should have the chance to explore new features after the release and our research shows that most people haven't reached level 50 yet.What has the feedback been like from the beta testers so far?
With more than 450,000 players in the beta, we've received a lot of good feedback. Runewaker and the Frogster team are working very hard on getting the game ready for launch. This means that we take the negative feedback, analyze it and try to rework the pertinent issues. But this also means that we take the positive feedback and try to improve the good elements too. So far, we think that Runewaker has built a very good game with a lot of features including dungeons, raids, PvP, housing and a lot more things I've talked about many times before. Judging from the reactions of the press and the community, we've got a really good MMORPG to show for all of the hard work.This game has been called a "free World of Warcraft" several times in reviews. What main features set this game apart from being "just another WoW clone"?
As it stands today, any new MMORPG will be compared to World of Warcraft
. It is the biggest MMORPG out there - it has reached an incredibly huge player base - and we congratulate Blizzard for that.
We have always said that Runes of Magic
has been inspired by many MMORPGs and World of Warcraft
is one of those. Indeed not the only one, but one of them. Many of us are MMO veterans and we have seen a lot of the features incorporated into WoW
that were out there before. We mustn't forget that there were such great games as Ultima Online, Everquest, Dark Age of Camelot, Lineage II
and the like which set standards for our genre. Standards is a good topic in this context. Games like World of Warcraft
add a few improved or innovative things. Why should we move back a step instead of improving upon working mechanics that millions of people understand and like? We think that we have taken many of these great ideas and took furthered them.
One of our main goals was to offer our community a world with story and magic. At the moment, our quest lines include more than 1000+ single quests, and this number is rising month by month. Like I said before, the community and the press reactions are very good, so we think it's possible to build a free-to-play game with a lot of good, proven and new features, and less grind.
In this context I have to note that our community is a great source of inspiration for us - we have already taken and implemented numerous suggestions. The fans have good ideas for further improvement and their ideas have already influenced the game's development.
But I'd like to come back to your question. The main difference between Runes of Magic
and other games is the total amount of features and the free-to-play model. Runes of Magic
will include group and raid PvE content in different types of dungeons, arena-style PvP content, battlegrounds, guild fights, guild siege wars, server vs. server wars and a lot of other things like housing and guild houses. Runes of Magic
is free to download and free-to-play with a great community who is actively suggesting really good ideas, while helping other players in the game.
Along those same lines, there are many major features in the game -- such as housing and mounts -- that are available very early in the game, as opposed to how many MMOs make these available much later. What can you tell us about the decision to bring these game concepts and themes in so early?
We believe that mounts are always important for players and indeed they can really increase the traveling speed. We don't want to sink players' time in the newbie area and we don't want to sink time for groups that have to wait too long for missing players. So Runewaker built an in-game rental system to provide players with a mount from level one onwards. You do have to pay a little gold for it, but this is something we know the players don't mind paying for.
Concerning housing, Runewaker thought that it would be very cool to give players the choice to have their own central storage and class change ability at level one. Because others can visit a player's house, it's very cool to see that people are building crafting sites and taverns by providing the passwords to their houses to other players.What are your main goals with Runes of Magic, and where do you see it a year from now?
Our overall goal was to create a free-to-play game that can compete face-to-face with subscription based games. We really believe in the community and their opinions, so the other goal was to build a game which deals with community suggestions and ideas, such as familiar game mechanics. In the future we would like to put in a lot of the community's ideas, as well as our own, to make Runes of Magic
one of the most successful MMORPGs of all time.Thank you for your time!