Strife Interview with Producer Tim Shannon

Strife jumped into the online gaming scene just a couple of months ago, and it has since made waves for its “community friendly” features, which developer S2 Games claimed to solve the problem of a “toxic community”.

Touted as a “the second generation premier MOBA”, it is important to note that the game is currently in its Alpha phase now, with changes bound to happen before official launch.

Recently in Singapore in an event hosted by Asiasoft, I sat down with producer Tim Shannon to talk about the current game. Read on!

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Q: When did development started for Strife and why the decision to start on a second MOBA in a market dominated by League of Legends and Dota 2? Why not another genre to branch out?

A: Development for Strife started 2 years ago, although the idea had been floating around for longer than that.

MOBA is an interesting genre, and currently the most popular genre in the world. As the genre expands, changes will be needed as well. We learn from other MOBA titles, for example the MOBA community may have many fans, but the community is generally toxic/

Strife aims to change that, starting from the structural flaws in game design, eliminate the need to fight for resources within the same team, remove certain unseen “fixed” rules and improve communication between team members.

Q: I am curious about the server structure for Strife. Will there be individual regional servers like League of Legends, or will all servers be connected like Dota 2 (via Steam)?

A: We will have a global client, although players may select the different regions, for example North America, Europe, and Southeast Asia. Our aim is for players from all over the world to play the game together.

That said, if a player from Southeast Asia played more games in the North America server, the match make system will lean towards adding the player into North America-based games.

We are still working on the interface, linking between different regions and how it will work, so stay tuned.

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Q: Are there plans for localized versions for Europe? In French, Portuguese etc.

A: Yes definitely, there are plans for more localization being made, but for now there will be English, Chinese (China server), Thai and possibly Vietnamese.

Q: How about plans to allow players from China to be part of the global client as well?

A: If the relevant authorities and government offices in China allows, of course we would love to add the China server into the global list.

Q: Let us talk about the heroes in Strife. I read that no unlocking is needed to gain access to new heroes. Why this decision, since purchasing heroes is 1 of the few options which can be monetized for the genre?

A: We are looking only at monetizing items which will not affect gameplay, such as cosmetics items, more costumes, more dyes (even for skin colour).

We are not looking at hero skin, but at costumes. Basically, it is still the same hero model, just with different costumes rather than having a total change in aesthetics.

Currently, there will not be a cash shop list where players scroll and find items, but rather the options to purchase add-ons will be tied beside each feature.

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Q: Touching on community toxicity, I see that the main mechanics to ensure this works is to promote team cooperation, redefined roles and resource sharing. Can you care to explain a little more about “redefined roles”?

A: As observed from other MOBA titles, there might be over 100 heroes but only a handful of them is really being used. We want to prevent that in Strife by narrowing down the hero pool, encouraging players try all of them out.

About the roles of characters, such as AD carry, AP carry, jungler etc, we are redefining them by making it possible for heroes to take on multiple roles.

This is done via crafting gears out of the game using materials found by completing games and opening the chests. These items can then be bought during matches.

Some crafted items may have more magic attack, some more health points. It is really up to players to see how they want to craft their items, and they can choose which items to accessible during matches for purchase.

Q: Any concerns that players will find it hard not to have the traditional defined roles?

A: Players can define the roles themselves, but heroes can be versatile, if you get what I mean, thus not necessarily having the standard role titles.

Q: Does it mean a player who played longer, have more crafted items for purchase during matches will dominate the game?

A: During match making, the system will consider all details, including the items players have.

If a veteran player wants to try out a new hero, the system will not pick on his past achievements or account details, but rather focus more on the hero. Hence, a veteran player with a new hero will most likely be match made with other new heroes.

Strife Interview - MMOGames.com - Your Source for MMOs & MMORPGs

Q: Resource sharing, otherwise team gold sharing. How does this system or calculation works? Does the gold get split equally among team members?

A: Yes, there is a fixed formula for every situation, but we will not be making the formulas public. We are not stopping players from trying to calculate, though.

And about gold, an enemy hero with a higher kill streak (continuous kills without death) will be worth much more gold. This is to encourage team members to work together and slay him, with the gold split amongst everyone.

Q: How did the idea about pets replacing the standard talent trees come about?

A: We were looking for a new way to present this system, something easier to understand. Pets were chosen, each providing heroes with a unique skill which can be used during matches, such as purging, leaping.

Q: I understand that each pet offers different bonuses and they can actually evolve like Pokemon or Digimon. Will there be more pets in future, more evolutions and customizations? Sort of a meta game for Strife if you will.

A: Yes, there will be evolution. There are currently 9 levels for pets, with 3 evolution stages. Pet levels and evolution stage will be considered during match making as well.

Players are able to obtain pet food from chests after each match, or purchase a boost for faster levelling up. To sum up, the pet system is the account progression feature.

Strife Interview - MMOGames.com - Your Source for MMOs & MMORPGs

Q: Another staple feature found in the genre are wards, which have won teams many games when strategically placed. How has Strife changed this system and what is the main concept behind this?

A: We have seen teams where players were not buying wards, matches where someone is singled out because he is not buying wards as a specific role instead of playing the core game.

By having these static observation towers where teams can take control for a short time, we are looking to minimize these team arguments.

Q: Is it a concern that players who have played longer would have obtained more materials to craft better items, hence being stronger in game due to the bonuses of crafted equipment?

A: As mentioned, Strife’s match making system will take crafted items into consideration. Even if a player has more crafted items, it is still down to skills and teamwork to gain victories.

Q: The karma system is pretty intriguing, since it directly affects the rewards gained after players appraise each other as good, bad or neutral after each match. I read about Strife having a “complex algorithm” to deter abusers. How is the development of this system going, and how will it exactly stop the abusers?

A: So, if a player keeps voting down players in many games, his or her vote will be worth much lesser when it comes to calculating rewards and other stuff. This works for positive votes as well.

If someone’s karma falls below a certain level, chat system will be turned off automatically. We are always ready to fine-tune the karma system if something breaking occurs.

Strife Interview - MMOGames.com - Your Source for MMOs & MMORPGs

Q: I heard that there is no game lobby for Strife. Is it true?

A: Yes, there is no game lobby where players chat. The chat window will appear after each match ends, where players from both teams will be able to communicate with each other.

There will be a chance that players from both sides or even internally start abusing each other, so the setting might change.

Strife also has an integrated VOIP chat system, where players can selectively invite his team members to join to allow vocal conversation during matches.

Q: Is S2 Games looking at the possibility of adding more game modes/ maps into Strife?

A: The door is definitely open for more maps and modes, but for now we are looking to polish the current build first.

Q: Other titles are looking at regular content on a bi-weekly or monthly basis. How will the cycle be like for Strife?

A: We are actually still debating on this issue. We are going to control the amount of heroes to encourage players to try all the available ones out, but nothing is confirmed now.

We actually prefer to launch bigger, consolidated updates as opposed to the regular short-term content. We are looking at more purchasable match items, more cosmetic items, more pets and stuff.

Since all heroes in Strife are 100% free and no monetization included, there is no point to keep releasing more heroes.

Strife Interview - MMOGames.com - Your Source for MMOs & MMORPGs

Q: Dota 2 is doing pretty well with its community-created content feature. Any thoughts of having such a system for Strife?

A: The door is definitely open for such features, we talked about it, but there are no plans for now.

Q: I have read the brief lore posted on the official website and the comics. Will S2 Games continue to expand this lore over time and reflect the changes in the game itself?

A: The storyline will continue to evolve, and we have new cinematic trailers being made to introduce each hero’s story, we have the weekly web comics, and more.

We will look to the community’s feedback on whether to reflect the storyline’s progression onto the game itself.

Q: If I remember correctly, it was mentioned that Strife is not looking to join the eSports and competitive scene any time soon. Is this the official stance of S2 Games, and why?

A: We will like to do eSports for Strife, but we do not want to force it out. We will observe and see if there is enough interest down the road.

Strife Interview - MMOGames.com - Your Source for MMOs & MMORPGs

Q: How about a spectator mode?

A: We have talked about it, and we feel a spectator mode will be a great learning tool for all players.

Q: How does Strife deal with players who drop out of games?

A: If a player disconnects, he can return to the game if his connection is up again, with no option of joining other games unless the first one has already ended.

If there is a serial game leaver, the system will actually accumulate the downtime and use it as a form of punishment.

Strife Interview - MMOGames.com - Your Source for MMOs & MMORPGs

Q: Please let us in on something which has yet to be announced for Strife. Or a teaser perhaps.

*After a couple minutes of struggling*

A: We are currently discussing having a competitive mode for Strife, but it will not be there at launch.

Also, we have some pretty fun AI modes not currently in the Alpha client. There is a mode where the AI bots will be intelligent enough to avoid skill shots once (or even before) players fire them.

That is all for the interview! Closed Beta for Strife is currently scheduled later this year, and players can sign up now at http://www.strife.com/

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