Sponsored Post: Allods Online executive producer interview

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Allods online launched last month, at the time we spoke to catch up with Vincent Douvier, executive producer at gPotato.PCG: How's the launch going? So far so good – it's the usual last minute stress where we're all asking “what did we forget?” Everything's sorted so we're focussed on making some last minute presents for the players. We're thinking of doing rewards depending on the level players reached in the Open Beta, sending out free Respec potions and other items normally from the boutique. We've got a few surprises too. PCG: So what's happened at the end of beta? Was there a server reset? Nothing actually changed for the current players - the only thing that changed was the word beta at launch. Basically the game has been totally revamped / polished since the start of open beta so we're treating it as a players saying it a renaissance for new and returning players; players will receive presents every three levels, we're giving away a 24-slot boutique bag free for new players. PCG: What's different about the European version. We've customised the game a lot, to make it fit in with the European ethos; we've made it so you can play through the whole game without ever spending money, which is not the case in other countries, such as the Philippines or Brazil. We've introduced same-gender wedding in Europe as well; we're attached and proud of our freedom here. To make it possible to play without paying, we've kept the free daily quests that provide a variety of boutique items, so that the player has choice. We've had to introduce a few new mechanics for this, especially in the Astral and its new layers. At this stage, players need incense to survive there; in Europe you can get the necssary buff, for free, from an NPC – but outside Europe you need to buy it. The new Astral elements introduced Draconic Relics, amazing items that are only obtained in the raiding instances and that can be triggered to make you super-tough for 30 seconds, if you have incense to activate them, which again can be got from daily quests. We provide the choice for players, so that the boutique sells convenience and only convenience. If you only have five minutes, you might go to the boutique, or you can do quests to get the same effect. PCG: The key selling point for high-level players is Astral sailing; is there any way lower level characters can get access? You have to be Level 35 to start building your own ship, and the captain picks his own crew. However, there's a monthly event called xxx armada, where players have to fight a giant AI ship. If you register early for this, you can go on a GM's ship – we've had players level 6 on a GM's ship during these battles. Alternatively, you can watch footage on our Youtube channel; youtube.com/allods PCG: Post Minecraft, gamers seem more willing to pay for unfinished products, as long as they're getting enjoyment out of them. What does it mean for you to be coming out of Beta after 15 long months? Everything's changing, online in general. GMail has been in beta forever and still is; beta now doesn't mean buggy and feature-short; it means the team behind it are still working on it and that there's more content coming. For us, the milestone is 5/11; we've reached a point where we know the core mechanics won't change much any more, so we're happy to end the beta. During Beta, Player would complain about something specific and want it changed in 48 hours; when it just was not possible. Sorry guys, it takes a month to do a whole loop and change the game, get the designers to go through it and check the time. Was more happy to be able to show the players that what they're saying really has an impact. It was joyful to give the players a chance to really change the game. Opening the game portal; in November 2010, as a community site we could really get feedback from. Even before we had to go through all this, we put this in place. PCG: How is working with Astrum Nival? They love changing genre, don't they? They have the knowedlge and know-how. I mean, they made their own in-house 3d engine for this game. In 2007, their designers said here's what we need to do; then their kick-ass engineers just developed it on their own. All the know-how they have being no1 developer and publisher. I mean, I've worked in this field for so long and there are no issues with server-client synchronisation – I'm astonished. They've made an engine so that, if your computer runs windows XP and has a grahpics card that supports shadow vertex shader 2.0, it'll work, even for office clerks. I've run it on my dell office laptop at max capacity for over 2 years. PCG: Are you planning new content for post-release? There will be a new kind of quests called the World Threat, with some dynamic and some not; the dynamic quests will happen every day in the new zones and astral; if players don't come together to remove it, it blocks access to the area. Also, Layer 3 of Astral is coming quite soon - more and more content will happen in the astral; high-level players instances, like the Junes Catacomb which can only be done in the evening - it’s a PvE labyrinth that changes shape while you’re playing and involves players from both factions. Or the Melting Eye instance, which takes place each day from 2pm - 12pm, with chests popping into existence all over the area; the more players, the more chests pop. We’re already talking about the next expansion and patch; we’re focused on going faster, to reduce the content time-lapse with Russia to less than 2 months; it’s harder past that because of the language localisation and need for testing. We’re going to produce medium-sized updates every two months rather than the biannual big updates. PCG: How does Allods sit amongst the rest of the gPotato games? gPotato is a family portal; we only do f2p MMOs. Allods is the biggest game we have, even before release, marking a new step for us. More and more people are entering the F2P market and some enter with low-quality games. Even though we're the leader in Europe, we want to be recognised as quality games, not cheap stuff. Let us show you how good we are. PCG: Do you think there's a negative perception of Free-to-play amongst the press, if not the public? Definitely, especially the UK press; you guys hate f2p, I've no idea why. Freemium is seen as cheap in the UK. but this is a blockbuster; people go "what's the catch?" Don't ask us; ask your kids. F2P is the future? I'm getting old. It's the past. Kids know this; they can play games without their parents knowing and without a credit card. About F2P, think of the Metro free newspaper; when it came out in France, the french press were yelling “it's cheap journalism, it's crap.” Now they're considered as good as the rest; if a movie comes out, you'll see metro quotes on the movie posters. Maybe it's the journalists from paid content blocking it. I mean, even the consoles are recognising f2p; it’s coming to Xbox Live next year, and Sony is trying too. I was talking to a journalist the other week who couldn't believe that microtransactions was the future; but paypal has allowed it already. It’s just like Interview With A Vampire, where Tom Cruise is looking for a younger vampire so he can keep up with the world; gaming is moving so fast, it’s hard to stay in touch. You can download Allods Online here.