Mikey Chiu is the Producer of Lucent Heart, and head of the Game Design Department at Playcoo a Gamania Digital Entertainment subsidiary. His former experience as Marketing Manager in game publishing companies added to his passion for online games and helped him to better understand the gaming market and players’ needs. He encourages to develop games from a players’ perspective to create good games and build strong social communities.
Last week MMOGames.com Staff Writer, Daniel Ball picked Mikey’s brain:
Compared to other projects you’ve worked on, how does the gameplay of Lucent Heart differ from other MMOs out today?
First of all, this MMORPG title still needs combat and leveling up. As with other games it still provides the main MMORPG experience with lots of quests, and challengeable instance NPC bosses. But what it makes stand out from the competition is that we brought different types of fun systems into this MMORPG. In the next updates, you will see players to be able to dance in this game. They can design their own choreography and choose the music they want to dance to.
Players can also decorate their personal rooms with pop star posters, and decorative items to show individual personality. Quiz events can be played to get more EXP points and to speed up levelling. We have racing games where players can race their own mounts. In every update we like to surprise players. We believe in consistent update packages that not only deliver extra content to the game but also introduces fresh gameplay features as well.
Secondly, we are very proud with our Zodiac system. which is a main feature of the game. Your character zodiac sign really affects the stats. Players will be able to see their daily fortunes, which influences for instance increased critical hit rate, item drop chances or most importantly the cupid system. The latter allows players to create strong bonds, which have even stronger effect on your character abilities.
Thirdly, our community system is designed with more depth in comparison to other games. Most games will only allow for simple in-game matching, while Lucent Heart takes care of players’ relationships before, during and after the matching has taken place. Players can find their partner in-game, but can also cultivate this relationship to become “close friends” and develop special skills exclusive for ‘Soul Mate’ partners.
There is a strong emphasis on social interaction in Lucent Heart. Why exactly was the decision made to place such an emphasis on this?
I think that the Zodiac-theme and social aspects are both huge differentiators. When the team decided to make a Zodiac themed game, my first thought was that girls in Taiwan like to talk about compatibility with other people by using horoscopes, some even choose their boyfriends based on horoscopes.
We decided on matching and transforming (also inspired by Saint Seiya) gameplay to become the main features in the game. I am very happy to see that the gameplay idea is so well accepted by our Asian audiences, so we hope that we can replicate our success in the West as well. Any multiplayer game is a social experience in my mind, but we have engineered systems that actually impact gameplay, so it will benefit those who like to play together.
In Lucent Heart, your horoscope alters your stats and skills on a daily basis. How hard was it to incoporate this feature into the game?
It is a balancing act really. You want people to enjoy the power the Zodiac system gives them, but at the same time you need to maintain overall balance in both matchmaking and battle systems. We always try to challenge ourselves and being original in terms of game design. Once designed from a technical standpoint at least it is not that hard to implement. But after implementation it is all about tweaking the balance, while listening very carefully to player feedback and adjust systems where necessary.
The art-style for Lucent Heart is quite impressive. Can you talk a little bit about how it was decided to go with the anime style you’ve chosen?
Well we have co-operated with many famous Japanese artists. If you are a anime fan, you will see certain influences of different anime in Lucent Heart. As said the main inspiration came from the popular Saint Seiya franchise, where mainly the zodiac matchmaking and transforming influences came from.
Just how easy is it to find your soul-mate in Lucent Heart?
It is very easy to team-up in Lucent Heart. Players can have many friends and with three of them you can develop a ‘Soul Mate’ status by using the cupid system and perform some compatibility tests together. If completed successfully you will reach Soul Mate status with that person. This status grants players a lot of benefit such as in-game buffs, character development and if you choose you can even married to one of your soul mates. Players can actually buy more Cupid slots in-game, to increase the 3 Soul Mate limit. Soul mates can grow a flower together which garners you petals, which can be exchanged for special accessories. Last but not least you can enter special ‘Soul Mate Dungeons’!
Playing co-operatively with your matched soul-mate in-game earns you double EXP, special emotes and more. How did this idea come about?
Well as said we want to encourage people to play together and form strong bonds. People want to share exciting stories and adventures, but may also want just a place to hang around, socialise, party or even try to find romance. The most important part of Lucent Heart is that it doesn’t enforce you to play the game in a particular way but only encourages you to have fun!
What are some of the benefits to having an in-game pet, and what is required to obtain one?
Pets can be acquired in the item mall or they can be obtained by completing certain quests and if lucky with item drops. You can also visit NPC Fantasy Beast Hunter to buy a Wolf Mount and obtain other pets. There are small pets and battle pets. Small pets provide passive bonuses for you as the pet reaches higher levels, and battle pets can be taught abilities to aid you while hunting. Summoned small pets will follow you and gain experience by being fed.
The food you feed a small pet can change their color. Battle pets will follow you, fight and gain experience by being present when a monster dies, or when you turn in a quest. They accumulate a separate pool of EXP that does not affect your character.
How has the player feedback about the unique horoscope system and the soul-mate levelling system been so far?
In Asia we have enjoyed massive success with Lucent Heart already, where we have a thriving community of 1 million players. The game is especially popular in Japan, where it won numerous awards. Normally in the Eastern world, people are supposed to be modest, but I am quite proud on our achievements. Every territory is different however and we need to keep listening to our community to keep building and improving the game. It would be nice if we can replicate our success in the West and thus far comments from both our European and North American communities were very positive.
What do you think are the benefits of the tree-like class selection system over the standard ‘pick one’ style of most fantasy MMOs?
That is a difficult question to answer. I think if you look at it from a player perspective, both can have benefits over the other. It just depends on how you like to play MMO. In Lucent Heart it is very easy to create another character and or specialise in any way you like. The Zodiac systems only add to the depth of character development. If you want to know more about our character development, classes and Astrolabe missions, you can visit our guide on www.lucentheart.co.uk.