When you first look at Neverdaunt:8Bit, you’re far from picturing the uniqueness and creativity behind this free retro MMO. Free MMO Station spoke with Calvin Goble, the sole creator of Neverdaunt:8Bit, about the free gameplay structure, the cash shop that doesn’t rip you off, and… sandwiches.
Can you start by introducing yourself to our readers?
Hello, my name is Calvin Goble, and I am the creator of the sandbox MMO, Neverdaunt:8Bit. I have a cat named Hobbes and I like sandwiches.
How did you come up with the idea for an MMO with such an original retro look, and do it all by yourself?
I think it came out of my disappointment with other MMOs. I wanted to experience a living world, and really become someone in it. Where magic was something you had to really learn and study, where you could be better at it then someone else because you were more creative and inventive. I wanted a place where you excelled at combat because you became good at it, not because you spent more time clicking buttons then someone else. I think N8 is close to fulfilling that dream.
The reason I was able to do it on my own is in part due to some insane drive to create this world, and also because the game depends on the players themselves fill the world with content and gameplay. The low-fi, 8bit visual style allows a larger group of players to submit content for the game and have it all still fit in with the game stylistically. Plus, I grew up playing NES games, so…
What was the most difficult obstacle you stumbled upon during development?
There was a point where I realized I wasn’t going to be able to make the game I had originally planned, called Neverdaunt, at least not within any reasonable time period. After a few weeks of wrong turns and slamming my head into the desk, I came up with Neverdaunt:8Bit and fell in love. So it was a tough time, but out of it I got the amazing idea for N8.
Neverdaunt:8bit is not only different from other free MMOs in look, but also in content. Tell us more about the sandbox aspect of the game, and what players can do in the world.
There is the basic gameplay of capturing areas to build and protecting them, fighting monsters, and navigating mazes. Trying to describe what you can do in N8 is fairly difficult, if only because it is so open ended. Today I stumbled upon a group who had built a giant map of all the cells in N8, they were playing some kind of Risk like game on it, complete with working dice. There are APC’s to interact with, this October The Pumpkin King will be showing up more often, an Actor Player Character with an Epic Skull Scythe that drops if he is killed… last year no one was able to defeat him. Other times players just hang out together in a Public area and build together, or play games of their own making. If you’re bored while in N8 its because you aren’t trying to have fun hard enough.
By not restricting the player with character classes, levels and preset quests, weren’t you afraid that a lot of players would feel uncomfortable, without the game telling them what to do, just like in most MMO games?
I think people get their fill of being told what to do at work, in school, and at home, and though its sometimes uncomfortable for people at first, it really does feel great. Its a hard thing for most people to even be aware of, but when you play most MMORPG’s it ends up being just a day job with a painted coat of Elves and Wizards, at the end of the day instead of a paycheck, you get sparkles and words over your head that say you gained some meaningless number. In N8 when you’re done building your masterpiece, and you’ve successfully defended it from those who want that space for their own… you can go to sleep that night knowing you had fun and accomplished something real, even if it was in a virtual world.
A cash shop exclusively with items that won’t break the gameplay balance is like a dream come true to those who like to play fair and square. How are players reacting to this choice, in terms of sales?
Once they understand how it works most people really love the concept. It’s kind of sad that this type of payment is not the norm. Though I don’t have enough numbers to tell you anything statistically significant at this point, I can tell you that the amount of people who have bought items so far is higher than I expected. I think players that pay feel really good about it, they like looking cool, having cool blocks, and supporting the game, everybody wins. They know I’m not ripping them off and that they are not ruining the game for anyone else by paying. Often when a player buys tickets, everyone else around thanks them, which is an amazing thing to see. I would love to see other F2P game developers pick up this system.
With Tronics, players can work on their creations. What can they do and how hard is it?
I don’t know the limits of Tronics, often I find things that I thought couldn’t be done with them. Self scoring 4 player soccer, castles that assemble themselves, massive computers, all kinds of cool games and traps. For lots of people its the first time they have ever ‘programed’ anything, and they really get a sense of fulfillment out of accomplishing things with it. It’s simple to pick up because its so visual, but difficult to master.
How is the Open Beta doing? Are you improving any aspect of the game or just polishing a few bits here and there?
I’m really having fun, and so are the people playing, which to me is success. Of course I have bugs to fix, and a huge list of things to add before beta is over and the game is feature complete.
How do you plan to expand on Neverdaunt:8bit in the next year or so?
Right now I am focused on smoothing out game play and speeding up cell loading. Then I’ll be adding in dual wielding, shields and guns. After that, there is a team system to implement, and player built flying ships!