Gamepedia Developer Interview
Alright, so just to do some formal introductions here, from our end, I'm Ben (de la Durantaye), I do the PR Management for Visionary Realms. We've got Salim Grant, who you've been talking to, he is our Director of Development, and of course Brad McQuaid, who's our current Chief Creative Officer.
And just on our side, I'm Benjamin Tarsa, I'm the Community Manager for Gamepedia.com. We've been working on getting the official wiki running. I've got Michael Comperda here, he's our CTO, and as well as Zak Steltz, who's our Product Manager, and the two of them are big fans, so we invited them to join us. They've got a lot of questions for you guys. I also just wanted to say that I am recording everything – we're either going to do a video and or an article out of this, so if we can just try to not talk over each other too much, everyone's on the same audio channel
Zak Steltz: Michael, did you want to give a short history of us?
Michael Comperda: Yeah, sure. I normally don't participate in the content parts of the company – I'm the CTO - but huge fan of EverQuest and Vanguard. Zak and I actually played Vanguard in the beta phase for about a year. I was guild leader in that game and we're just very, very excited about what you guys are cooking up, so we wanted to have an opportunity to create some of the questions, so then Ben said, “Hey, why don't you guys actually ask some of the questions?” And that's what we're doing.
MC: Cool, I guess I can get started, if that's OK. So, we've sort of divided our questions up into different sort of categories. We have general questions, questions related to questing and game engine, and that sort of thing. Here's sort of a general question: Recent MMOs have really put a lot more emphasis on accessibility and really on-the-rails gameplay. And to a large extent, I think this has had a really negative impact on player freedom and social engagement, you know, with the community. What are you guys doing with Pantheon that might break away from that trend?
Salim Grant: Alright, Brad, I don't know want to...I'm not sure if there's a particular person you want answering these questions, but it might be a good idea to just say, “hey, this one, Brad could you take it?” or whatever. Brad, maybe you should probably answer this one.
Brad McQuaid: OK sorry. I had an audio issue here. Could you ask the question again?
MC: Absolutely. So, recent MMOs have really put a lot more emphasis on accessibility and on the rails kind of gameplay and to a large extent, I think this has had a negative impact on player freedom and social engagement that you experience in game. What are you guys doing with Pantheon that might break away from that trend?
BM: Well, first of all, the majority of the game is open world, so you definitely should not feel that you are on a rail. The only exception to that will be that we will have some instanced dungeons, where we really want to focus on storytelling and kind of a linear story, but that's definitely the exception and not the rule. People should feel that they're part of a virtual world, that they can explore where they want. That doesn't mean they might not – they may wander into an area that's a little too dangerous for them, but that's all possible.
MC: Great. It's the wandering into an area that's too dangerous is actually a good thing and it's something I miss.
MC: Cool. I have a question now regarding quests: So, in EverQuest, quests are fairly rare and are not really a major focus of gameplay. This has really lead to far more player freedom, where grouping happens more organically around personal goals, not questing goals entirely. To a large extent, Vanguard sort of abandoned that design from EverQuest, in favor of offering players thousands of quests, more like World of Warcraft. I was curious, what is your current take on the role of questing in an MMO?
SG: We...our current outlook on questing is more like EverQuest or Final Fantasy 11, we don't want you to have a quest journal that's filled with quests that's “just go here, here, here and here” – you're not really experiencing the game. We want you to, like you said, more organically group and just kind of go somewhere and discover things together and, if you go to this spot and you know there's a particular NPC that drops something cool, you want to get friends together and try to get that item. We're definitely going for a feel like that. We feel that EverQuest definitely did well on the social front, because people had – it was kind of a slower pace, and they didn't have...they weren't looking at a UI element that was their quest journal telling them to go from A to B to C to D. Here's XP and here's some sort of a reward. We want people to interact with each other. We want people to talk to each other. We want them to get to know each other a lot better, whether via in game voice or chat. So yeah, as far as the number of quests, this is one of the first things brought to me when we first started having design meetings. We're very focused on fewer quests, but when you do get those quests, they are significant. Things like Epic Quests will definitely exist. I don't think I can talk to any designer on the team and ask them if they want to do Epic Quests and have them say no. That is an exciting thing to put into game, because we understand the player point of view that the accomplishment is so significant, that it creates memories for multiple people, obviously. It's not just a solo thing that you'd be doing.
MC: That's fantastic. Lately, for me, MMOs have felt like a job where I log in, look at the errands I have to run for various NPCs, and try to find other people on the same step as me. I really miss the days of just logging in, getting on Vent and asking some of my friends to go kill something. So that's really cool.
BT: Michael, if you don't mind, I want to jump in on your questions really quick to ask one of mine that kind of works off that. From reading, it seems that Pantheon will have a lot of focus on groups and grouping with other players. I was just wondering if you guys were planning on doing any kind of innovation within the guild system, if there are tools and systems to facilitate those community interactions that are so essential to the game.
SG: Right now, I couldn't speak to any level of the guild design, but, we're designing a game around grouping, so everything that links onto that would obviously...we need to design to enhance that particular focus, mostly to that point, if there is any room for innovation there, hopefully we can discover it, but if not, you can expect that all of that stuff will work seamlessly together that every aspect, like guilds or grouping will work very well within the gamespace, focused on that particular thing. We want people to group, we want the social interaction to be key, and we don't want to put anything in that doesn't contribute to that and make it a fun experience.
BM: And also there will be, we can't go into details yet, but game mechanics and functionality to help people to find groups and guilds and get to where they need to be in order to have fun with their friends. I've got to leave it at that because that's our desire. Traveling and exploring the world is really important, but being able to do that with your friends is even more important, and so that's kind of our priority.
ZS: So building off of sort of travel there, you mentioned that, it seems like game worlds in a lot of modern MMOs feel kind of theme parky, they're very benign. There's not any danger. You can only enter areas that you're level appropriate for. There's no real danger to them. Can we expect that to change in Pantheon?
Mixture of yes and no, with laughter.
BM: One of the things that we like to say is that in Pantheon, you will have a respect for the environment, and that respect comes from having an open world where you can explore where you want to explore, so we won't have an area that's made so that it won't let someone in who shouldn't be there. If they shouldn't be there, they'll find out on their own.
MC: Cool. Well, the questions related to geography and starting areas. Both Vanguard and EverQuest offer players a large variety of places to start. I know Vanguard kind of backtracked on that recently. But, you know, they were designed around the idea of having many races, different cultures and they really having a completely different experience of where you started. Many current MMOs that are popular right now have abandoned this design in favor of having just a couple of starting areas. What are your thoughts on starting areas for Pantheon?
SG: Our current lore...the way our current lore works, we won't have a bunch of starting areas, but it's just really derived from the way our planet works. Just the fact that there's a lot of these planar collusions, mixed together with what your current character represents. It works within our lore pretty well. But the makeup of where you do start, we want to get across the ocean of different cultures, but our game is really focused on the varying pantheons and how they really mesh together and what comes out of that, whether it be, you know, rivalries, war, whatever. With the way our lore works, it really didn't contribute to having a bunch of cities all over the place. So...I think that answers the question?
BM: Here's something that's important to us, and that is, you will probably hear Salim saying “fewer cities” but, those cities could have areas where you start depending on your race, kind of like how San Francisco has a Chinatown or what have you. We really wanted to get away from spending all of this time creating these places that people just start out in and might use for a merchant or something. That's a lot of work and we'd rather build more dungeons.
MC: Gotcha. That's a good way to put it.
ZS: So, speaking of races and stuff like that, this is a question that, I think, whenever it's brought up in kind of the early parts of MMO design, it's very, um, people are very opinionated about it, I guess, and I don't know how much you guys can talk to it now, but what's your stance on an all-race, all-class system?
SG: We do not plan on doing that right now. Well, I have been a fan of it in the past, just because I like the idea...when you talk about a roleplaying game and the notion of you being able to play your character the way you want, it doesn't make sense that there is a limitation on what you could be. You could be Drizzt Do'Urden, he's the dark elf ranger. That doesn't make any sense. He shouldn't be able to do that based on some rule set up by fantasy. So, as far as all-race, all-class, I've always been a fan of it and just being that guy who plays something different. When we started this, we wanted to go for a more traditional fantasy. Like I said, EverQuest has been a big inspiration for it, and so, lore-wise, it feels cool being able to say, “OK these classes can be these races for these reasons” and you know, the player can play that out. It just doesn't feel right to do all-races, all-class for us. We definitely want to get that EverQuest feel.
BM: An important part of the game for us, too, is you'll be out there exploring the world, you know, learning the depths of the dungeon, and you'll find these essences that'll allow you to have abilities and spells that may not be typical for the class that you've chosen. So, you're probably 90% the class that you've chosen, but you're able to do some things to customize your class and do things that the class might not normally be able to do. So there's a little bit of multi-classing in there, even though we wanted to keep that rigidity. I think that's an important part of the city. You might have chosen a race and a class, but, if it's your desire, you can go out there and customize your class to a limited degree.
MC: Cool. And will there be alternate modes of advancement besides the traditional, you know, just your main class experience, like in the original EverQuest, they had alternate advancement.
SG: Absolutely. As a matter of fact, right now we're looking at doing a system similar to EverQuest's AA system. But, on top of that, like Brad mentioned, our system has a thing called Hero Essences and you will...the goal is for you to basically slot in, basically equip these essences and basically take on aspects or gain the abilities of these heroes and if you collect everything about them, you could actually start to look like the hero and take on certain aspects and certain abilities on top of everything else and kind of mix and match stuff. That's another type of advancement.
BM: There's also...there's also, and we haven't talked a lot about this yet, but there's also our achievement system and it's not just gonna be your typical achievement system where you, you know, “you're the first to do this!” but it has no impact on the game. Our achievement system will have impact on the game.
MC: Speaking of combat, in EverQuest, obviously the class you chose meant a great deal. It not only impacted the flavor and the lore or how your hotbar looked, but it really...you had a completely different role in the group, obviously and a different way to experience the world. Some people, like me, like to play a warrior. I like to tank. I didn't want to have a lot of buttons to press. I wanted to stare at the screen and be more strategic about where my character was and sort of be the leader. Since EverQuest, MMOs, I think, have really homogenized class design so that every class, no matter what your playstyle might be, you're just really spamming your hotbar. How do you see combat class design playing out in Pantheon?
SG: You said one of the keywords for our design: that's strategic – not having a lot of buttons to press, looking at screen. Those are very, very key points when it comes to EverQuest and FF11. The combat was slower, you were able to react to things, you know, a Froglok's about to cast Ice Comet and I can use my stun to stop him or an Enchanter has the ability to do an AE mez and then single target mez or lull. We want to bring that back. The notion of pulling a mob – you know, Feign Death – pulling things like that. Those things are some of the coolest things about EverQuest and those things are gone. It's like, they just haven't been reproduced and the reasons why? I don't know, but we want to bring that back. That's all strategy. That's all preparation. That's another word we've been focusing on when it comes to our combat. We want you to stop, and prepare, and think, “Oh, there's three mobs. This one casts and is probably going to stay back. This is a rogue and he might pop behind us and we have to be prepared for these things, so let's lay a trap or let's get our monk to do a feign.” Those things, when you think about our combat, those are the things that we want people to kind of resonate with it and expect from our combat. It's a little slower pace, being able to stop and be strategic, and when you have an ability on your bar that's meant to be strategic, instead of stun being a part of your rotation, stun is an exception ability. It's something you use only when it needs to be used. This guy is about to cast something. I can either try to hit him again or I can stun him and see if the stun will land. That's the way we're focusing with our combat.
MC: OK. That addresses one of my questions, which was, you know, sort of the strategic nature of it. But what about even like the differences among classes? For example, I gave that I'm a warrior. I have a certain way that I experience the game, but what if I'm a monk. I'm doing a lot different things. And I think that creates not only a cooler experience for me as the warrior, but in seeing how other people play the game differently, it makes it more interesting and more, you know, deep.
SG: Yeah. We also, I mean, to go to games like Vanguard. One of the great things about Vanguard was that a lot of classes played differently. They were very thematic and we did our best to try to play on those themes. To produce cool gameplay out of it and we want to do the same thing here. You know, like, example, the cleric. We were talking about...we were talking about how we could do different things with the cleric. We've got the battle cleric kind of a standard deal, and we talk about, “Hey, what if you could be a rogue cleric?” Maybe you can summon some sort of faith-based beings to help you out and kind of stand back and be that type of healer. And we talk about the book being involved, the prayer book or faith book – I forget which we ended up calling it. Being involved with that. Then we talk about, “Hey maybe there's this other system for them?” Kind of this belief system that kind of works with Pantheon. So, we're definitely trying to invest in, this is the class. We understand the class's role. We understand how all of these other thing are going to manipulate them, like heroes and stuff like that. But at it's core, how does that...how can we make that role play differently? This is their box. How can you interact with this box differently than you interact with the Dark Knight box, and all those other things, and make sure they all fit into this high level, you know, view of combat.
MC: Great. That's exciting. I loved the Vanguard class design. I played a warrior and a paladin and just...I loved it. So.
SG: Yeah. The inherent quests were fantastic.
ZS: So it sounds like you guys are going to be using a more traditional, like, experience based system? Would I be correct in that or were you guys...is there a possibility for something like, skill based, like Asheron's call or Final Fantasy?
SG: Oh, you're asking if we're going to have levels versus skills?
SG: Um (laughs). It's almost a neither. We are...we're gonna have...so I can't say that our progression is set in stone. We are floating some ideas around. Brad has mentioned, what was it, horizontal advancement.
BM: Yeah, I've really always said at this point, is we're seriously considering fewer levels with more content per level. And we probably want to leave it at that at this point. That is something we're going to be experimenting with. We want to be very careful with what we're doing. We're doing a Kickstarter campaign, so a lot of information is coming out earlier than normally we would with the game development, which is fine, but the caveat there is that we're not two to three years out in development. We want to be careful that, we might have some cool ideas, but until we get them really functional, we don't want them to be set in stone.
SG: And as far as specifically as skills and levels, we will have skills for sure, but it'll probably be more like an EverQuest type system where your class has a number of skills instead of you just having a bunch of skills and just kind of making up your own class as you go along.
BM: Yeah. You're still...you're still going out to level. We'll leave it at that. I mean, you've got skills like Salim said, but we want you to be able to look at your character and say, “Oh, hey, I've accomplished this or I've done this.” And there will be an indication, whether called a level or a tier, or whatever, there'll be an indication that will tell you, you know, so you can keep track of how your character is becoming more and more powerful and more versatile.
ZS: OK. And in a lot of modern MMOs, they seem to deemphasis leveling. They really want to make it as quick as possible, to get to whatever the level cap is. Do you guys agree with that style, or do you want to make leveling a more of a long-term experience, like in EverQuest or Vanguard?
BM: More of a long-term, like in EverQuest or Vanguard, and we're thinking fewer levels with more content per level. We're creating a system where the player can't really just sit there and power level through everything. You have to go places and accomplish things and because there's more content per level, it's very important that the player experiences a lot of that content as well. So, hopefully, if we do our jobs, there won't be a scenario where, oh, everyone just wants to play the endgame and skip the lower and middle area of the game. We'd like them to experience and hopefully enjoy the entire game.
MC: Yeah, so, one of the reasons why we play these games is for some of the cool stuff we get, and specifically, items. So, in EverQuest, the world offered the ability to not only explore the georgraphy, but the items that you would find in these new areas, which were unique. Items were obviously dropped less frequently, and, made getting a drop more meaningful. A more impactful thing. So, I guess, what my question is: what approach are you taking towards itemization at a high level, with Pantheon?
SG: Once again, very much more old school. The number of upgrades, you know, between this level and, you know, level one to level 30, or whatever, you're not going to have a whole bunch of upgrades in there. We want you to, to be able to, at the end of the day, be excited. I got an SMR. And you love the SMR. If someone asks you what items you have equipped, you can name them all by name because you spent time getting them and those items are with you for a long time. You don't get a robe and then the next day, get another robe and (sighs) oh darn. And that kind of goes back to having a bunch of quests and things like that and having to reward people with those. We very much want to, as you described, it's much more like EQ or other games back then of that type where you go find a spot, you see a new mob, and it drops something super cool. Awesome. It's very unique and you made a server first. You got the first person for a little bit and that item is going to stay with you and that item is special. It's unique. It doesn't look like it was generated with something and it was one of four or five items throughout the world that have plus one or plus minus a stat. You earned the item and it feels like a part of your character. A part of you.
MC: So would you say that the loot tables are more deliberately set versus just sort of a random distribution?
SG: Yes. Of course.
ZS: So, speaking of some of the mobs that drop that awesome loot that we all want, the original EverQuest had a really sort of static AI system. You know, you go into town and there'd always be the same NPCs. And then we have EverQuestNext, which is really touting a living, breathing dynamic world where you might not want find the same mob camp where it was last time you saw it. That's kind of a continuum there. Where were do you guys see Pantheon falling on that?
SG: Population wise, there's not really much I can speak to you right now. We're still in the early developments of where we want to go, exploring what all we can do with our engine.
BM: I can address it kind of philosophically.
MC: Yeah, that's fine.
BM: Philosophically, we'll have stuff that changes around and we'll have stuff that doesn't. Here's why. People have claimed for many years that they want a fully dynamic world. The problem with the fully dynamic world is that you can't learn it. And you can't go in there and say, you know what? I really know how to get through this area because, man, I died a few times and my guild finally got through it. And so, I feel good that I know what areas to avoid or what tactics to take. And if it's changing every time – I really don't think people would want that when they say they want dynamic. They just don't want complete Groundhog Day where it's like everything's always the same, so we'll mix things around, but, we really think that players want to feel that sense of accomplishment when they've beaten an area and they know how to tactically maneuver that area. Does that make sense?
MC: Yeah, for sure.
SG: And to his point, you can definitely see stuff like Kithicore by day is one thing, but by night it's something else. We definitely want to do stuff like that. Depending on time of day, this may be here or not. Mobs obviously are going to roam around. I think Brad put it pretty well.
MC: Cool. So, I've got a question about dungeons. Zak can attest to my interest in exploring every dungeon in a game, and try to crawl through it and see every part of it. The dungeons in EverQuest and Vanguard both were incredible. Sebilis, Unrest, Kael [Drakkal], I mean, the list goes on. In Vanguard: Trengal [Ruins of Trengal Keep], Dargun's Tomb...I mean, I've experienced them all. I love them, but a lot of games don't get dungeons right. They're very formulaic or they have a hallway here and there and you're done. What are your thoughts on dungeon design going forward?
SG: Once again, you kind of hit the nail on the head, right? Anyone whose been playing since EverQuest, you ask them what are some of their favorite dungeons, Sebilis would probably be on that list. North ToV. And we want to bring that back. I don't want to say that there's, that MMOs today don't have great dungeons, because I don't know if that's a good general statement to make. There's a lot of well designed, cool dungeons in all MMOs today, but we definitely want...you know the fact that we're keeping things open means that we're going to have these huge, hopefully huge, epic dungeons, that you're going to experience and bring back those experiences like Sebilis, like when you were in Kaesora, things like that. We want to bring back that sort of of kookiness back, you know, traps in the ground, and things like that. To have to be careful and slink through the dungeon and knowing that there's other people there. Shouting, you know, “Oh hey, I'm coming to the zone and there's a mob with me.” Things like that. Not that we want to bring a bunch of trains back, but just as an example of the nostalgia. We're definitely looking at it that way. We want dungeons to be awesome, obviously. We want to get some great dungeons out of it. I'm actually really excited about getting in there and seeing what we can do dungeon wise.
BM: Me, too. I'm the same way. I want the huge dungeon, there's multiple routes, different locations, there may be multiple entrances, multiple exits...we want to bring that back.
SG: Personality's a big part of it, too, right? When you went to the bottom of Kaesora and, where Xalgoz stood, that area's just kind of...when you think of it now, yeah, that's Xalgoz's spot, that's where he spawns. You know, Howling Stones, just like Venril Sathir's image is on the wall and knowing that Drusilla is back there and she just glimpses at you. The nice thing about EverQuest, like I said, is that there's few quests, but the game itself told its story, right? I mean, Howling Stones is just great, when you just think about going through it and once you find out about the background of Venril Sathir and Drusilla and all that stuff, and you go back to the dungeon, and you're like, “Man, this story's kind of being told here. This really cool.” And you can probably say that about a lot of dungeons in Kunark and Sebilis. When you find out about all these things. When you find out about Trakanon. What went on with him and it's organic and all these things. You just kind of learn that organically. You just kind of went through the game and...I'm sorry, I'm just getting really...
MC: Sounds like you guys pretty much have dungeons well under control. That's good.
BdlD: Sorry, just gonna add real quick that as a reminder, too, that the guy who actually made those dungeons, like the Sebilis and stuff, he's actually doing our dungeons as well.
SG: Yes. Yeah. Awesome guy.
BM: He's making 'em right now!
ZS: I saw that you guys had kind of an early 3D render of it, or, of a dungeon.
MC: Very cool. So, my next question, and then I'm going to turn over to Zak is with regards to geography. I actually bought all the maps for EverQuest. I loved just sort of looking at all of the continents, how they looked together and so on. Actually, both Vanguard and EverQuest had really inspiring geography to sort of explore. Multiple continents, huge variety of landscapes, all sort of fitting within the game lore. Offering such a wide variety as either of those games takes a lot of time and resources, obviously to develop. I was curious, sort of, as what the scope is for Pantheon and what sort of diversity and scope will exist in the geography.
BM: That's sort of our goal, too. In fact, with our storyline, where these different shards are intersecting with the world Terminus, we can be even more creative. So, we not only want to head in that direction, but we want to even make some more fantastic areas to discover and explore, so that's for sure. That's for sure what we're looking for.
ZS: So, kind of building on the geography question, it seems to me that EverQuest was one of the last MMOs that really felt mysterious. That thing that you didn't know what to expect when you went into a zone. I think part of that is, and maybe a lot of that is due to, you know, the role of fansites and stuff like that, it didn't really exist at the time in its infancy. Is there...do you think it's still possible to have mystery anymore in MMOs? Or are there things you guys are going to do to try and protect that mystery?
SG: So you're asking if...how we're going to deal with how fansites have taken over information and where it goes?
SG: That's something we're still discussing and something we can do is reach out to fansites and become friends with them and sort of work out some sort of agreement, but, I mean, really, if...we're not going to try and stop people from having information, right? We're not going to stop people. Ultimately, if you, Zak, if you want to play Pantheon and keep that mystery about it as much as you can, then you don't have to go to those sites. Or, maybe you're the guy you want to experience it for the first time and give information to other people. I mean, that's all part of the social aspect of things, right? There's nothing that I think we could even do to stop that from happening and I don't think we really have that much of an issue with it. If people come to us, if fans come to us, and they want information, then there will probably be rules on how they expose that information. We don't want to give people our drop percentages and stuff like that for certain items. We would prefer people to discover those things. And once people discover those things, they're free to talk about where they got them from and that's fine. I mean, that's more people talking to each other, preferably via in-game. I think our outlook on it is, if people want information, they're going to get it anyway. There's no reason for us to even explore to try to stop it from happening. We just embrace it, right? There's nothing wrong with people talking to each other and giving each other information, as long as there's experience when they're doing it, it's fine. That's really what we should be focused on.
ZS: Sure, yeah. That sounds like a totally reasonable answer given today's climate with information sites.
SG: Yeah. Well, you have to be contemporary in our thinking when it comes to stuff like that. We can't, you know...we like being old school and we want to bring some of those things forward, but we have to understand that there are some things where we have to be modern about. I don't think anyone on the team is opposed to that.
ZS: OK. So, kinda slightly different topic here, but, it somewhat relates to the size of the world and the scope and stuff like that. Games tend to differ in how many concurrent players they want per server. You know, you got something like EVE, which is kind of an outlier in that everyone's on the same server and then you have other games that maybe there's only a thousand people that they allow concurrently. Do you guys have a rough estimate of where you would like to go with that?
BM: Well, we're gonna definitely have multiple servers. How many people fit on a server should be dictated by how much content there is in the game at launch and you can adjust from there. So, that's our philosophy. It's certainly far too early to come up with a number like that because the content isn't done.
ZS: Sure. Do you guys have plans on cross-server play? WoW has really, essentially WoW has lots of servers, but it doesn't make a whole lot of difference. Everyone can kind of play with everyone in most cases. How do you guys feel about that?
SG: I am a huge fan of cross-server play. When you talk about things like transportation making a world feel small, I think that not being able to...when you're on a server that maybe people just aren't there for a certain amount of time, but you've been on it for awhile. Being able to somehow interact with people on other servers, at least to have them come and help you, or just to build relationships is cool. I mean, even back in EQ days when they put cross-server chat in, it was significant, so I mean, I would like to explore that avenue and I know our main programmer is definitely on that same page. He would like to have cross-server stuff, if possible. If it works. I mean, we don't want to start messing with performance or anything like that and have huge issues. But, I'm a huge fan of cross-server play.
BM: I think the only acception is, that we hope to have, is some special servers and alternate ruleset servers. You know, like maybe a roleplaying server, or PvP, or what have you. In those cases, it may make sense to restrain some of that. But in general, what Salim said is definitely were we wanna go.
ZS: OK. And now for some more kind of...higher level questions about Pantheon as a project. You guys have mentioned...several times throughout the Kickstarter, it's been mentioned, like, subscriptions. Is that the plan? A traditional subscription model, rather than a microtransaction model?
BM: Yeah. The general plan is you can play the first few levels for free, no restrictions, no handicaps. After that, it's a subscription based model. I wouldn't completely rule out microtrans. We're trying to look into different ways to do that, but I'll say that we don't want...we're not going to be in there selling a bunch of stuff – selling power, selling experience boosts. There may be some special lore-related stuff that we do there. So I don't want to completely rule it out, but it's, in the most part, it's a traditional subscription based model.
ZS: OK. And what do you guys...what would be a successful number of subscribers for you guys? It seems that you guys have a much more niche audience, a much more focused kind of design directive. Do you guys have a number in mind that would be like, “I really want to hit that number.” Or is it that you're just open to whatever kind of happens.
BM: Well, we're kind of open to whatever happens, because whatever happens is going to happen. But, you know, 20-50,000 players would be fantastic.
SG: Yeah. I mean, that number, success is obviously based on team size, and what we can do. If we can get 20,000 players and that fits with who we have on team and we're able to pump out the content or whatever that of course makes the people happy, then that's cool. If we get more people, then we can grow a little bit more and grow the game a little bit more. So, I mean, really, for us success is whatever number allows us to obviously profit a little bit and continue to provide for whoever's paying us.
BM: [some details are lost with multiple people talking] ...we have a smaller team and so, you know, we're not a large publisher who's spent a lot of money, so we don't have to have the huge numbers. We can do very well like Salim's saying – keep building on top of the game and releasing content and features with a number that's much smaller than some of the bigger, huge games.
ZS: OK. So, looking into the future a little bit, the game industry is kind of rapidly changing right now. There's new technologies, like Occulus Rift and mobile devices are just becoming bigger and bigger every year. Do you guys have any plans, or even rough ideas of how you guys might handle those types of platforms in the future?
SG: Occulus Rift support is something that we want to look into, but its priority in reference to other things, I couldn't say where it is right now. We obviously need to see. I am hugely interested in Occulus Rift. I think it's one of the biggest advancements for our industry in recent times, as far as the consumer experience. So, if our game could function on that, especially with the companion device – I forget what it's called – that lets your body do more stuff, if we can get our game playing with that and we can actually add to the experience, then I'm all for it and our lead programmer is all over that, too. He's been talking about it like crazy. But, obviously we've got to prioritize actually getting the game done, but the fact that it's possible, when we actually go about designing stuff, and we've already had these discussions, when we go about designing stuff, we have had that in the back of our head. “Hey, if we're designing combat, how would it work with Occulus Rift?” If we're able to get that technology. So, when sitting down and talking about those things, we try to keep those things in the back of our head, so that if we can get the support in, that it's as seamless as humanly possible.
ZS: OK. And then I have one final question and it's probably not one that you guys want to think about too much, but what are your plans if Pantheon doesn't reach its funding goal on Kickstarter?
BM: Then we'll reach out, like, I guess most people do. We'll reach out to investers and publishers. We're serious about this game. We are confident that there is enough fans out there and Kickstarter is something new, relatively new, espeically for larger projects...even when we do make the goal, we'll still probably need to talk to some publishers or developers, so that's just all kind of the process of going around and gathering up the money you need to make your dream game become a reality.
ZS: Sure. And are you guys kind of thinking of something like, I believe it's Star Citizen, that, you know, they did the Kickstarter, but they've continued throughout development having kind of a Kickstarter model and have been very successful on that.
SG: Yes. Absolutely. We from the get-go knew that we wanted to do that.
ZS: OK, cool. Did you have any other questions, Benjamin Tarsa?
BT: Sorry, I was muted. Nope. Not particularly. Jumping back, I guess a little bit to talking about the community sites, you know, we're getting ready to sort of start up this official wiki, you know which, so I may be interested and curious to see what you think sites like that are going to play in the sort of liminal time between funding and when this game is going to be sort of further along in development and playable.
SG: Man, that's...that is a good question. That's just...I mean, you probably tell us what involvement that you'd like to have, because the game's in development. Whatever you feel would benefit the both of us in regards to you helping us get the word out and also us helping you getting people to focus on your site, when it comes to information. I mean, I think it's really just a discussion that we need to have and make it the best for both worlds.
BT: Cool. Well, that's all I wanted. Just the requisit Gamepedia related question.
ZS: Do you have any questions?
MC: I just wanted to thank everyone for taking the time to talk to us. I'm really excited about this game. You know, a huge fan of you guys' prior work, so, really looking forward to it.
BM: Thank you very much. We really appreciate your time and that was great.
ZS: On all counts there.
SG: Like I said, I am very, very excited about getting in and designing stuff for this game. I've got a systems background and I'm really stoked about some of the stuff that we're talking about systems-wise. But, really, going back to those things. As you can see, I got just about one dungeon. I want to be able to evoke that same emotion when it comes to Pantheon and talk about dungeons and talk about landscapes and just talk about experience. Those types of things are hugely important. My kids – I'm raising them in an environment where I let them kind of play these old school games and they do like them. I mean, obviously, they're ten and nine, so they don't know. Their opinions will change, I'm sure. But, yeah. I am really, really excited and really, really stoked about working on this game, and the team is very, very excited about it as well. We can't stop talking about it. So, hopefully this thing kicks off and we can give you guys something great.
BM: Yeah, it feels great. It's so much fun to be in this...this part of the development process. There's so many great ideas that are coming from each other, coming from the community...it's just a lot of fun. I'm having a great time.
MC: Very cool.
ZS: Awesome. Well, thanks a lot guys, and I'll be in touch with Benjamin with whatever we come up with – articles and we might do a little video or something like that.
BdlD: Great. Anything you need, I'm at your disposal. I believe I've sent you the FTP information for stuff you can use in the interim. Anything you need. Any follow up questions, just let me know.
MC: Excellent, thanks so much guys.
Listen to this interview here.
Read the official wiki announcement here.