Interview with TGE MMO Developer
by Deborah M. Fike · 09/22/2008 (1:13 pm) · 4 comments
There aren't many that can lay claim to having made an MMO, but indie developer Peter Simard is one such person with his newly released Torque built game Crowns of Power, a fantasy-themed MMORPG. It was developed over 3 years using the Torque Game Engine and makes wide use of the Arcane FX special effects engine. Crowns of Power features a unique free to play, no purchase, no monthly fee payment system. How will developer Rampid Interactive make money? Read on in this interview with creator Peter Simard to learn more.
What makes your game unique?While other MMO's focus on PvE content, with PvP as a side activity, Crowns of Power uses PVP as an integral part of gameplay. We firmly believe in the concept of allowing the community to police itself to establish a strong community feel. Even though PvP is a central aspect of the game, we have not neglected PvE content. You will find many dungeons throughout the world, as well as high level raid encounters requiring excellent teamplay to complete. Another thing we felt most modern games lack these days is a powerful sense of belonging in community. In some of the bigger games, you'll often have a feeling of anonymity. We prefer the feeling that you know everyone and recognize people. In Crowns of Power, you're held accountable and establish a reputation amongst the entire community.
Where did your inspiration come from?Our biggest inspirations came from Everquest, Meridian 59, and World of Warcraft.
What was your development process like?Development has been over 3 years. We did not adhere to any specific paradigm. The goal was to produce a fun MMO in whatever time it took. Because the entire development team were life long MMO gamers, we did not use a design document. Weekly meetings were held to keep everyone on the same page. While some features had to be scrapped, and many changes had to be made, we feel the free flowing non-rigid development process was one of the keys to our success.
What appealed to you about Torque?The project was originally started using the TV3D engine. After encountering many glaring bugs we decided to switch engines. Torque was the perfect fit. The community is unbeatable. During early development I had many questions, and found the forums to be an invaluable resource. The abundance of resources greatly aided development. I also cannot say enough about the excellent Arcane FX product. Torque plus Arcane FX really is the killer combo for indie developers.
How many people worked on the game team?The team consisted of a programmer, two content developers, a 3D Modeler, and a sound effect artist. The team communicated using a modified Overlord Project Management System. This was vital to keeping everyone organized. Files were stored on a central server using SVN.
What were a few major development challenges you encountered? How did you overcome them?I would say the biggest challenge is keeping yourself motivated. When facing such a daunting task, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. You just need to take it one task at a time. The technical issues have also been challenging. We experienced many server stability bugs as well as performance issues. The profiling and memory debug tools built in to Torque have proved to be invaluable.
How long did it take to create the game?Over three years by 4 full time developers, as well as many contract employees. The use of content packs also greatly sped up development.
How did you accomplish QA and beta testing?While we ran in-house testing, the real testing came from the players. We ran an open beta for about 3 months before we felt the major issues were dealt with. The largest hurdle was ensuring a proper balance. There are many factors involved in balancing and at this point it is like a finely tuned piano. Sometimes the best feedback is just watching the players play the game and observing their play.
How does your game generate revenue?Crowns of Power is free to play with the option to purchase items from the in-game shop via microtransactions.
What did you learn in creating the game?From low level rendering techniques, to creating fun and compelling quests, itemization, and general game balance, we've learned about every aspect of developing a fully functioning MMORPG. I think everyone on the team has a much greater appreciation for the work that is involved in completing a game.
What can we expect to see next, either in development of your game or from your studio?In an MMO environment you must constantly evolve the game to keep it interesting, so there is still much to do! There will be new quests, dungeons, raids, spells, etc. In time, we would like to produce another game.
Thanks again to Peter for the great interview. Be sure to check out the game at crownsofpower.com, and check out what TGE and Arcane FX can do for you!
For more stories like this, check out GarageGames' Developer Interview series.