Recently we got to sit down with Eric DeMilt the executive producer for Skyforge at Obsidian games. We are quite excited for Skyforge and naturally had plenty of questions to ask. Eric was more than happy to provide plenty of stimulating answers to our wide variety of questions. We hope you enjoy reading this Interview as much as we enjoyed taking part in it.
Thank you so much for taking time out of your day Eric, go ahead and tell us at little bit about yourself.
My name is Eric DeMilt, I am a Development Director at Obsidian Entertainment and working on Skyforge. My team at Obsidian works day-to-day with the Mail.ru Group’s Allods Team – they are the lead developers on the project. We are growing a small team here at Obsidian to collaborate in following areas: developing additional player class content for the game, developing additional instance and level content for the game, and helping bring the game to a western audience.
You have been co-developing the game with Allods team, can you share some insight on how that experience has been?
So far it’s been awesome, I went in to it with a little trepidation, I worked with international development teams in the past and often time’s its not collaborative, a lot of times one team develops and one team localizes, there’s a true level of synchronization to the development that is refreshing. The biggest challenge so far has been the time difference, but the Allods team has really given us the best of both worlds. Even though my business card says “Obsidian” and theirs says “Allods” our day to day is essentially the same. Everyone is invested in making a great game. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns, we disagree sometimes but we work through it and it’s an amazing experience.
Awesome! So Why should we play Skyforge as opposed to the hundreds of other MMOs on the market?
It comes down to the creative team and what they wanted to do. Allods Team is very talented, and after coming off of a successful MMO like Allods Online they wanted to do something different. We are striving to make a great high quality free to play MMO that would have action oriented combat and allow for short rewarding session time. We wanted to make something that could accommodate short session game play as allow for enjoyable longer play sessions. It’s about escapism and being larger than life. We try to capture that. We want players to feel like the gods they can become in the game.
One thing that’s been on my mind, will an effort be made in the long run to limit Stat creep?
Stat creep also known as power creep is always an issue for developers.We want to try, but the danger comes in the naive approach of saying “it wont happen” we didn’t want that. We understand it will happen, the challenge isn’t in saying “there won’t be stat creep” it’s in making game play that focuses on skill rather than stats. Instead of pretending it doesn’t exist we want to match players together with those of similar stats thus rewarding skill based game play
What will you do in effort to keep the game from becoming “pay to win”?
We aren’t talking much about what’s going to be in the cash shop at this moment. We will go in to that in greater detail later. It’s certainly not going to be a flat out “pay to win” game. Our goal is to have very little barrier of entry, we don’t want players to required to pay in order to be competitive. Our ultimate goal is to let the players skill be the factor for success, not the depth of their wallets.
Tell us a bit about the “built in social network” is this just a glorified friends list?
The easiest way to picture it would be to imagine Facebook built in to the game. It will be a full blown social network; it will be a method to keep in touch with all your friends in and out of game. We want players to really create long lasting friendships that they can harbor anywhere in the world. There will also be secondary game play mechanics available outside of the game.
Player retention is a huge problem in the industry. What will you do in effort to keep people playing for a long time to come?
We have a few approaches to this, we aren’t looking for a “silver bullet”. We know that one gimmick isn’t going to solve the problem. The solution is looking for what players want to do any making it easy for them to do it. We don’t want players to have to make critical choices in early game play. we feel our open exploration model and lots of character options to play around with will keep players around for a long time. We will of course be adding additional content after the release.
You mentioned making it “easy for players to do the things they want”. Does that mean there will be a central area for players to meet?
Yes! We call it the Divine Observatory.It serves as a central player hub for all the activities a player can do. You will be able to quickly group and join other players for a variety of activities. We make it easy and quick to spend their time having fun and not waiting and running around. We want to reward the player not punish them, we make it quick and easy to do so.
Skyforge attempts for console experience, can you tell us a bit about the PVE? Will quests be traditional “kill 10s” and “fetch” we’re so used to in MMOs?
There will be kill and collect quests, they are the bread and butter of any MMO. We want Skyforge to be a fun experience. What we really try to do is ask ourselves is “when does it become repetitive”. We try very hard to remove archaic elements. We don’t require players to go turn in quests, rewards are instant allowing you to quickly and easily move on through the awesome action. At the heart these games are about “killing things and taking their stuff” we want to make that as fun as possible. We give players the freedom to earn their progression rewards in a variety of ways, the game is anything but a linear funnel. No gates, no check points.
Skyforge is a level free experience, can you elaborate on the progression system?
In our approach to the progression system we wanted to get away from leveling. What ends up happening is way to many numbers end up being boiled down in to one inaccurate number, it just wouldn’t work for the type of game we wanted to make. “Prestige” allows us to more accurately calculate your characters overall power as opposed to an archaic leveling system.
What can we expect from character customization?
This is a huge thing for players, we will show it off and talk about it more as we get closer to launch. All the normal stuff will be in there, body sliders, hair types and colors. One of the most interesting things at a surface level, we have separated the gear from your character look- your look is not tied in to the gear your wearing, we want to give players as much flexibility with how they look without affecting combat power.
Skyforge has a really interesting Visual aesthetic can you tell us about some of the inspiration?
Skyforge is an action MMO with a sci-fantasy setting. We chose this setting because it gives the art and design teams the freedom to explore almost anything creatively. It gives us the best of both worlds. Strong fantasy touchstones – huge monsters, powerful spell casters and strong sci-fi touchstones – the capital city floating in the clouds, hostile robots, and the Divine Observatory. This mix of sci-fi and fantasy has had a powerful impact on the game’s viusals. The art team works hard to incorporate futuristic design and materials with the old world craftsmanship and attention to detail you typically find in traditional fantasy settings.
Well there’s no doubt Skyforge has a unique art direction, what is the story behind Skyforge?
In the universe of Skyforge, each world is protected (or controlled) by a powerful greater god. These gods derive their powers from the followers on their worlds. The more followers a god has, the more powerful they are. In the case of the player’s world, Aelion, this god has disappeared leaving the world un-protected. Aelion is now under attack by hostile gods and their armies who want to control the world and its followers, to gain more power and to be able to control even more worlds… The players in Skyforge are powerful immortal warriors and heroes (we don’t start you as something mundane or common…), who’s job/goal is to defend their world, protecting Aelion’s mortal inhabitants, build their own power and prestige, and to eventually become gods themselves driving the invaders off once and for all.
Gods you say? Tell me more about God form!
Well we first showed the god form at Gamescom, this is an endgame unlock that you will work for. This where you get the ability to go in to a special visual form that looks really bad ass as well as give an amazing level of power. It’s not going to simply be a visual overlay, god form comes with its own abilities and an entirely separate progression path as well. It’s going to take some effort to get god form and we want you to feel like a deity.
Well now you have me pretty excited for Skyforge, do you have any last words for our readers?
We’re very excited about beta coming up later this year. We can’t wait to get people in there. We are really excited to see what they think of the game, to examine how they play it, and to get feedback on all the things we need to work on to get it ready for launch.Related: Developer, Exclusive, Fantasy, Interview, MMORPG, Sci-Fi, Skyforge