With Skyforge in open beta and getting quite a lot of attention, we asked a few questions to Aaron Biedma of My.com about the past, present and future of one of the biggest MMORPGs of the year.
Can you introduce yourself to our readers and describe your role in Skyforge?
Hi. I am Aaron Biedma, the North American Producer for Skyforge at My.com. Producers have our hands in many things, from coordination and scheduling to working directly with the development team and game designers. Ultimately we are working at improving the game for everyone and making the game successful. We do whatever needs to be done.
How did Allods Team and Obsidian Entertainment get together for this game?
We partnered with Obsidian to help with the westernization of Skyforge. They have brought a lot of knowledge and experience to the table. The team at Obsidian are great and we really enjoy working with them. We also have partnered with them on the development of another of our games, Armored Warfare, that is currently in Early Access 5 and steadily moving towards Open Beta.
Has Skyforge changed much from the planning stages to the version we have now?
It has changed a ton from where it began in the planning stages, where it is now, and where it will be in the future. The Allods Team, My.com and Obsidian are always taking in feedback both from players and from internal teams in order to make changes and implement new iterations on mechanics. The long term plan has a lot of awesome ideas. But even from the beginning it has changed quite a bit. I remember visiting the Allods Team a few years ago and seeing some of the original designs for the game on whiteboards. I was excited for it then and what we got through our closed beta and open beta has been even better than those original whiteboard designs.
What major improvement did you feel you had to do – or plan to – after getting player feedback? Was the Prestige Scaling one of your main concerns recently?
The Prestige Scaling system was something that we felt needed to be introduced quickly and we did so. We still have some tweaks we are working on for that. Another thing we are bringing very soon, next week in fact, is our Aelion’s Call update, which features a catch-up system that will allow newer players bonuses to catch up to high prestige players.
What are your thoughts on the weekly cap? It seems that some players are OK with it, while other, more hardcore players are completely against it. Do you plan to change anything about it or do you think it’s fine as it is?
We are continuing to evaluate the system. With the Prestige Scaling changes and the Catch-up System coming into play the weekly caps should become less of an issue for players that have fallen behind. We are gathering feedback from players and team members, as well as looking at the data to see what additional changes might be needed. It is definitely a system we are looking into.
Why did you choose to go with a system where you can change classes anytime? How do you think this improves gameplay comparing to the more usual one class only system?
We wanted players to be able to adapt to different situations. For example, if players form a raid or party and lose to a boss but just need a little more ranged damage then one of the members could change classes on the fly to a ranged class like the Archer and they can then attempt it again rather than having to kick a player just for another class spot. It allows for flexibility. In addition, players are not stuck with just one class. Each of our thirteen classes have a unique way of playing and players can use different classes to vary their gameplay experience. They don’t have to go to some NPC to change their class as they can just open the menu at any time and choose one of the classes they have unlocked. Players don’t have to go through the same initial quest lines to progress again with a different class which is another benefit.
Are you considering having classes for sale in the near future, as some players would like to use them immediately?
That is something we have been asked by many people already. It is something we are looking into, but we do not have set plans for it at this time. Some of the classes are fairly advanced and have more involved mechanics to understand. New players would benefit from playing through the game and progressing through the Ascension Atlas to unlock these more advanced classes. However, it is not something we are completely against and will be looking into it more. The advanced classes do not provide a power boost over the beginning classes, they are just different. So we are not totally against providing a potential way to purchase them.
The Crucible of the Gods patch brings a lot of great content, especially the much desired Divine Form. Will the following updates bring significant content or do you plan on doing smaller, more frequent updates?
We are looking into doing both large updates and smaller ones as well. We want to get closer to having a worldwide version. What is nice about these larger updates is that we not only get the big content updates but at the same time we get all of the smaller updates and hotfixes at the same time. This allows us to have a cleaner, more polished version for the western market.
We recently saw the first invasion by the plant-like Pythonides. Can you give us a small taste of other invaders that are yet to come? And what do you think will be the frequency of invasions?
The initial Phytonide invasion was just recently successfully repelled but it was just a probe of Aelion’s defenses. There are many more invaders that are gearing up to attack Aelion and some are even rumored to potentially work together to attack. Invasions will be coming almost constantly now that other worlds are seeing all that Aelion has to offer. We seem to have an open window with no invasions at the current time but we are seeing some indications that Aelion will be invaded again within the next week.
What happens exactly when players unlock the Divine Form? What are the most relevant changes to gameplay and the Divine Atlas in your opinion?
Beyond 30,500 Prestige, where you can unlock the Divine Form if you have completed the major quest line leading to it, you will be able to begin participating in things like Hostile Territories, Distortions, Raids, Invasions, and the upcoming Pantheon Wars. There are a lot of things to participate in after you’ve unlocked your Divine Form and more additions are coming, including a new raid in the next update.
Choosing when to apply your considerable Divine Form powers adds a complexity to the gameplay as well as earning the faith necessary to do that. Do you use your Divine Form to help take down that raid boss or to help your team comeback or pull ahead in a PvP match? Gods have much to contemplate.
What’s next for Skyforge? Anything you can hint at?
No reason to hint now! We have announced our next major update, Aelion’s Call, will be released on 9/16. This is a huge update filled with things like a new raid, the catch-up system, Operations, class balances, and a lot more. We have 22 pages of patch notes we have been going through and will release soon!
Thank you for your time!
We appreciate it and we love to hear from everyone in the community, from the media all the way down to our individual players.