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October 5th, 2006: Live Chat with Namco Bandai, the Developers of Mage Knight: Apocalypse
[Xfire] Chatteox: Hello and welcome to the Mage Knight: Apocalypse Developer chat! Dave from Namco Bandai will now introduce himself and start answering your questions.
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Howdy, all. I'm Dave Georgeson, one of the two Sr. Producers responsible for "Mage Knight: Apocalypse".
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): The other guy isn't here now...but to give him credit where it's due, his name is Chris Wren, also a Sr. Producer.
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Together we came up with most of the ideas behind the game, and worked with InterServ, the developer in Taiwan, to make the game.
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: thrash: What gave you the idea to make this game?
Answer: Tough question to remember the answer that far back. :) But basically, we wanted to make an action RPG...because that's what we wanted to do. When the "Mage Knight" license became available, it seemed like a good match and we went for it.
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: oeas25: After Large success in The time Crisis'Soul calibur series what was your reasoning to switching to an RPG
Answer: Basically...we didn't really switch. Namco (now Namco Bandai) is a big company with many development teams working simultaneously.
MKA is the first product in NBGA's "PC group" though.
It's our first major PC title.
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: Seizure: How does this game relate to others in the Mage Knight series?
Answer: We use the same background, but the storyline and the gameplay are completely unique to our game.
The Mage Knight DS game that we released recently is related, because of the fiction, but is a completely different game...much closer to the tabletop miniatures game, actually.
MKA is an action roleplaying game. I'm sure you've seen the screens and the website, so I won't belabor that. ;)
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: SexyJames: How many hours of gameplay do you think people will get out of this game?
Answer: A lot. At least 25 to get through one playthrough. After that...well...multiplayer lets you play a loooong time if you want to.
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: RabidGuardian: Will this game be free? Or pay monthly or one time pay?
Answer: Free, free, free. Well...okay...you pay us for the box, but free after that.
We're not an MMO.
We're also not a pure RPG, like "Oblivion"
We're an action game with lots of RPG aspects and a deeper storyline.
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: Mental: Is this game going to revolve mostly around solo play, group play, or a balance of both?
Answer: Solo play, with NPC sidekicks along (in single-player), and group play (in multiplayer). But if your question is "What is the game balance *tuned* to...the answer is...both. We use dynamic scaling to very good effect in this game.
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: soma90: will there be a tie in with the table top miniatures so as to reach both computer players and tabletop gamers?
Answer: The tie-in is the background fiction and artwork. Everything else is original in this game (although we lean heavily on the flavor of the tabletop game for style and ambience).
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: soma90: will this game be upgradeable through downloads or expansion packs?
Answer: We'll release free patches from time to time. If the game is successful in the long-term, then yes...expansions would be very fun to make. (We already have one outlined... :)
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: talathorn: will you need a next gen. computer system to play this, at its full extent?
Answer: No. System reqs are pretty gentle on this game.
If you could run last-year's games, you'll find that our engine embraces your system just fine.
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: stsquiggy: What major creatures will make an appearance as large bosses/challenges for the players?
Answer: Well...lots of them. Here's a few:
The Landshatter Dragon, of course. (Actual size shown on the box image...)
Orc Cyclops (huge green beasties with loud footsteps)
Welll...hmmm...I can't tell them *all*. I'll reveal too much storyline.
Anyway...suffice it to say, we like to use monster scale a lot. It's fun and it's impressive. That's one of the reasons we have the free-camera system. Big monsters don't look impressive from a locked-down camera perspective.
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: -(OcS)-Dr.Doom<cdt>: Where did you get the storyline from
Answer: WizKids (the makers of "Mage Knight" tabletop game) suggested an outline to us. We took that and ran (and man, has that storyline changed a ton since those days. The storyline was pretty much created by Chris and I. He created a lot of the game systems, and I worked on gameflow, dialog, and...well...heck...we both did so much it's hard to define. But the story morphed as we went along.
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: death3045: how many skills/spells did you put in the game
Answer: I should know the answer to that immediately...but I didn't count ahead of time, so I'll estimate.
There're about 20 skills in each skill tree...three skill trees per archetype...five archetypes...so...300 or so.
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: [IronChef]Chinese: What is the camera style like in MKA? Will we be able to rotate it freely?
Answer: Yes. We have a free-cam that can swivel around your body. It zooms in and out on a curved ramp, so that you can easily move from "over your shoulder" view to full-on "top-down" (like in traditional Action RPGs).
It lets you look down corridors and up at rooftops and wall signs...which is a nice plus in a game like this.
Let's you see ambushes coming before they’re suddenly racing toward you from the edge of the screen.
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: stsquiggy: Will the factions from the tabletop be a major influence within the pc game? Many storylines have the factions fighting each other eternally, so that could be an interesting subplot.
Answer: The faction relationships in the tabletop game are definitely preserved in this game. Some of the player characters are from the Black Powder Rebellion, and let's just say that the Atlanteans are not their favorite people. And so on. :)
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: metalgearray09: Will players connect to one server for online play like Guild Wars or will each player create their own server?
Answer: Each player can create their own server. Creating a dedicated server is a push of a button in this game, so it's extremely easy to do.
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: DarkTetsuya: Was it difficult converting the tabletop game to an action-rpgish game?
Answer: No. I've done it several times before. Examples: I worked on "Mechwarrior II" games and "Heavy Gear II"...both of which converted tabletop wargames into computer action.
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: smalldeaths: are there any item crafting possibilities?
Answer: As in "making bits of armor out of bits of metal"? No. However, we have an extensive "forging" system where you can imbue magestones into your armor and weapons, changing their powers significantly.
Lots and lots and LOTS of combos of magestones to try. There are six "flavors" of magestones: Water, Earth, Air, Fire, Holy, and Death...and different combos make different end results.
Three magestones per item.
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: death3045: Do you think it would be laggy if someone used a 56k
Answer: Most likely. But it's worth a try.
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): <reading questions...>
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: djchooch: What was the most challenging obstacle in the development of this game?
Answer: It had to be the fact that we are in California, and the dev team was in Taiwan. We were doing all the design work here, and then trying to explain it by email and document to folks far, far away and in an extremely different time zone.
Let's just say it was challenging. :)
Luckily, InterServ was extremely responsive and cool. So we got 'er done.
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: F1R3W0LF: Will singleplayer stats, loot skills and levels, be transferred to multiplayer?
Answer: Yes. This is one of our more popular features since launch here in the States.
You can play single-player for a while, load that character into multiplayer and play for as long as you'd like, come back to single-player and pick up *with the character you advanced in multiplayer*.
This is accomplished due to that same dynamic scaling I mentioned earlier. The single-player campaign just ramps up to give your more advanced character a challenge and away you go.
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: -(OcS)-Dr.Doom<cdt>: Will skills use energy pools like some other action rpg games or what?
Answer: Two of the archetypes (Vampire and Draconum) use mana pools and magic like you might be used to in Action RPGs. The Dwarf uses an overheat bar so he has to juggle heat from his attacks. The Amazon uses stances and an energy bar that feels very different from the others.
And lastly, the Elf uses a Faith system that only replenishes when he "saves" the souls of the fallen (that he and others around him dispatch on the battlefield) or if he uses a Prayer skill.
They're all very different to play.
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: Wan: Will there be any type of voice chat system imbedded in the game to make team communication easier?
Answer: No. It's tough to beat the VOIP programs that are already out there, so we opted to let players use those instead. (Heck...they would anyway. Everyone uses what they're familiar with.)
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: coentas: You mentioned dynamic scaling. Will the enemy's strength be based on your own strength or your overall level (this was a problem with oblivion)?
Answer: Ah. Someday I have to play Oblivion. We keep getting grief about dynamic scaling from Oblivion players. It must not have been pleasant.
Anyway...ours is focused directly on you.
We measure your stats, the skills you've acquired, and the ranking you have with each skill and take all of that into consideration before ramping the monsters and encounters.
It works. That's all I can say. You can choose Easy, Normal, or Hard...and multiplayer games scale differently than single-player ones (because groups of players are SMART).
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: Penguin Boy: You said four of the Archtypes (Vampire, Draconum, Dwarf, and Amazon). What is the fifth?
Answer: Elf is the fifth. Scroll back up and look at the line after the one you mention about the other four. :)
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: -(OcS)-Dr.Doom<cdt>: In multiplayer how many different maps are there and what are some features of them?
Answer: Ah...this is a good opportunity to talk about what our multiplayer is like...
In a nutshell...we're a coop multiplayer game.
We're not a PvP game.
The idea behind our multiplayer is to let up to five friends play through the entire saga together, if they desire.
You can experience the entire quest together, as a group, like a big MMO tailored to just you five.
Okay...I shouldn't have said the MMO word...but you get what I mean, I think.
You can play single adventures, entire chapters, or even the whole saga, if desired.
There's also a Hostile mode you can turn on that enables "friendly fire" so that you can kill each other...but PvP is not its intent. It's just a way to ratchet up the difficulty of the game for gamers who feel that "friendly fire OFF" is not as fun as where you have to watch what you do to avoid killing the other players.
So...the number of maps is...everything that's in the single-player campaign.
About 25 mission areas or so.
Phew. Long answer.
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: clippy: You mentioned uploading offline characters being uploaded to multiplayer. Does that risk the chance of changing your character offline with hacks or coding, then bringing them to multiplayer?
Answer: Another indirect answer...
Basically...we have a different view of cheating.
If you want to cheat...then cheat. It's your game.
This is a single-player game and a coop multiplayer game...it's not a PvP game and it doesn't have competitive ladders.
So if cheating your character to max stats makes you happy...more power to you.
We didn't make it *easy* to cheat...but we're not going to be cops on the beat after release either.
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: SSU]emusan: Are the dungeons randomly generated or have they all been made separately?
Answer: Everything is scripted and tailored to add drama and pace as you play through the saga.
So...no random generation of dungeons.
But we like the end-result better.
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: stsquiggy: Are the skills on trees or can you gain all the possible ones in your class?
Answer: You can't gain them *all*, but you can gain a good chunk of the skills out of the three your archetype has available to it.
And then you can spend a looooong time ranking those skills up.
Each skill has five ranks (you start at rank 1).
As you use a skill a bunch, you'll gain rank with it.
So your character morphs over time, (statistics, which skills unlock, and how many ranks you have with those skills) based entirely on what YOU do (as the player) within the game.
It works very naturally.
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: FяǿZэŋĐεMөИ=FD: Will there be "beginners guide" or you have to find out how to play the game yourself?
Answer: There's a tutorial within the game, and of course, Brady has the strategy guide available. (They did a nice job on this one...not that I'm pimping strategy guides...but I liked it.)
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: oeas25: Will there be events during the course of this game that requires more than 1 group to defend, maybe like a town invasion or anything along that line
Answer: Funny that you mention a "town invasion". heh. Plot spoilers there, so I'll avoid it...but we have some *really* big battles in the game.
But no...there's no way to group two parties together in multiplayer. Great idea, but we just didn't build that feature in.
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: metalgearray09: Will developers continue to add on to the quests to keep players playing after the story mode for both online and off?
Answer: The idea right now is that we wouldn't continue this particular storyline. (In fact, if you play the game, you'll see that we really *couldn't* continue this storyline.)
But we could continue the lives of these characters...or start totally from fresh. I favor the "fresh" perspective because the world is very rich, and I'd love to craft a story where the bad guys of this story (and their unique motivations) are the protagonists of the sequel. We'll see.
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: [IronChef]Italian: How would you describe the Mage Knight series to someone who has never heard of it?
Answer: The best part is that unfamiliarity with the Mage Knight universe is NOT a detriment to enjoying MKA. We tell you everything (and possibly more) than you need to know.
But the Mage Knight universe is a fantasy world torn in war by many political factions.
There is an entire city of the undead, steam-powered machines, "technomancy" of the Atlanteans that allows floating cities, and a lot more.
We picked various factions that we felt were approachable to players and crafted a story around them, but we kept all the political intrigue intact and used it all for background and rationale.
You'll like it. Come on in! The water's fine! :)
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: SexyJames: Do you think Mage Knight: Apocalypse is a worthy contender to challenge the most popular RPGs or is this a game that can be enjoyed for being unique, and is not particularly trying to "beat" all other games?
Answer: Nicely phrased. It's definitely the latter. We built a game that we think is fun and which embraces all the things we like about the genre while also adding things that we thought were missing.
It's not designed to be played for years as a multiplayer game. It's designed to be played for a month or two, enjoyed immensely, and then remembered fondly. We hope for that end-result.
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: [AoHx]Fr0z3n-316-[CSR]DN: Are there multiple difficulty levels to challenge the higher level characters?
Answer: Yes. In fact, the next patch is probably going to make "Hard" setting more difficult because we had players clamoring for more challenge.
[Xfire] Chatteox: 10 minutes remaining.
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: Bob dole: what to u as the developer, do u think is your favorite playable character in the game?
Answer: It used to be the Elf. Now it's the Vampire. I like the additional challenge of her hit-and-run playstyle, combined with the stealth assassin attacks she gets.
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: F1R3W0LF: Does MKA have appeal to both casual gamers and serious gamers?
Answer: I like the question, but I need more definition. What do you mean by "appeal"?
I think both kinds will like it. The storyline and vision of the game should attract casual players, and the learning curve was designed to keep them moving through the game, but there's a LOT of depth in the customization features and I think "serious gamers" (equivalent to "hardcore"?) will like the game a lot too.
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: Tactician93612: With respect to the Vampyre.. will that character be able to sustain the ability of fighting in the "light" ?
Answer: Okay...I don't need clarification. :)
Yes...the vampire is a daywalker. No worries about the sun. :)
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: CymTyr: Is loot as important as skill in MKA or will a more skilled player be able to outkill a better equipped player?
Answer: They're both important. The "skill" elements are mostly aiming and tactics, whereas your loot (armor and items) will help keep you alive and make you more powerful.
Plus, you get to make decisions about what your skills are along the way too.
It's not an FPS, if that's the kind of skill-gaming you were discussing, but yeah...if you're smart about your playstyle, you will do much better than if you try to brute force your way through the game.
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: joeas25: How was the creation of spells and effects, did it take a lot of thought, if so was it fun creating all the different spells
Answer: Yeesh...you have no idea. If someone offers you the opportunity to design one of these, make sure you get a nice long rest first and have PLENTY of ideas. Man...making that many unique skills and items is a real brain strainer. ;)
Fun, of course. No debate there. But loads o'work.
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: =HT=Gamma [xfireplus.com]: If your character dies, how is the resurrection system set up?
Answer: There are portal stones throughout the world. At the stones, you can autosave or you can click the stone to go to town.
When you die, you reappear at the last portal stone you visited.
Or one of the other players (in multiplayer) can rez you.
If there's an Elf, that is. :)
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: [JOT$] Vampire Pixie: Where do you plan to go on vacation to recharge once the project is wrapped up?
Answer: Bahamas. Christmas. :)
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: <A2K> [PVT] Yragorn: Will there be any missions that will require logic and strategies?
Answer: Yes. I can't get into detail there, because it would all be spoilers...but yes...definitely.
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: death3045: What type of music did you put into the game?
Answer: dSonic is the group that did our sound and music.
They put layered tracks in that trigger according to various scripts.
Like when you're in combat, or approaching a big nasty...that sort of thing.
We don't play music continuously, on purpose. We think that continuous music detracts from the experience. We use it situationally. But each major chapter has its own themes.
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: joeas25: Do you think as the first companies RPG that this will be your last or do you think this is only the start
Answer: I think that definitely depends on how well it does for the company. ;)
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Question: kendermage: how many variety of weapons and skills are there and are they class/race oriented?
Answer: Roughly...there are around 200 weapons or so...and yes, there are class limitations. However, the class limitations might not be exactly what you'd expect. (For example, the Elf cleric-type can, and does, use bow and arrows, as well as long polearm weapons.)
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Okay...that's about it. Plus a few minutes.
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): Thanks everyone for coming by!
Dave Georgeson (NBGA): I hope you enjoy the game!
[Xfire] Chatteox: Ok, that concludes the chat. Thanks again to Dave from Namco Bandai!
[Xfire] Chatteox: And now onto the prizes!
[Xfire] Chatteox: The first prize, 10 copies of the Mage Knight: Apocalypse game and Hero Clicks Miniatures:
[Xfire] Chatteox: 10. DarkTetsuya
[Xfire] Chatteox: 9. <A2K> [Lord] Zagar
[Xfire] Chatteox: 8. Teh Jamie
[Xfire] Chatteox: 7. Soma90
[Xfire] Chatteox: 6. [SSU]emusan
[Xfire] Chatteox: 5. [AoHx]Fr0z3n-316-[CSR]DN
[Xfire] Chatteox: 4. Tactician93612
[Xfire] Chatteox: 3. Talathorn
[Xfire] Chatteox: 2. [mEo!]
[Xfire] Chatteox: 1. Mental
[Xfire] Chatteox: And, 5 Mage Knight Hero Clicks Miniatures go to:
[Xfire] Chatteox: 5. joeas25
[Xfire] Chatteox: 4. SexyJames
[Xfire] Chatteox: 3. Djchooch
[Xfire] Chatteox: 2. Thrash
[Xfire] Chatteox: 1. clippie
[Xfire] Chatteox: Congratulations to the winners! I will be PMing the winners shortly so do not sign off just yet and thank you everyone for coming out for the chat. Congratulations to the winners! I will be PMing the winners shortly so do not sign off just yet and thank you everyone for coming out for the chat.