Astaria is one of the most “interesting” MMOs of 2019. Inspired by the popular anime series, Sword Art Online. Astaria aims to follow a new path in MMOs. PvD (Players vs Developer). I immediately jumped on this game when I heard the concept and have been following it ever since. Today I’m joined with Proverbs, the chief architect for this game.
Squishy: So I’d like to start off this interview with one of the most interesting features of Astaria. Player vs Developer, or what I like to call “SAO Style”. So this is something incredibly unique, not a lot of MMOs if any choose this path. Why did you decide to go this route?
Proverbs: The first and main reason is for the sake of dynamic interaction. Many MMORPG’s talk about some really badass enemy that just sits around inside an instanced raid, this makes it quite a bit of a joke. That’s something I felt really ruins my desire to immerse myself. Instead, I decided, what if I’m that enemy that players decide to unite against?
This has two effects:
- Players will have a common enemy to unite against. People uniting is a common thing among fantasy stories, anime, and movies. But we never have gotten an actual game that let’s us do that.
- An enemy who will react against you creates a more dynamic world. One day you may be questing near the borders, the next day, that area is now overrun by the Darkness and you need to notify the guilds of the change. This is an example of Drama that developers are afraid of and most players would rejoice to have. We want to attempt something that the standard developer is afarid of doing.
There are many reasons that I decided to start Astaria, but aside from the main reason, my own personal reason is that there was no game for my guild to play. Games focus on small amounts of people. Not many MMO’s focus on community or guilds anymore. Without any game to fill the niche, I decided my hand to create Astaria for both myself and other groups who felt the same way.
Squishy: So I was reading on the website for races an interesting statement “Also, other denizens of Astaria may react to you differently based on your selected race.” Is this hinting at NPC reactions towards specific races? Can you please expand on this statement? What are some game-implications for choosing a particular race?
Proverbs: NPC relations to specific races may react differently based on your race. This is a form of drama we wanted to introduce to players. Astaria, while the darkness is an enemy, some enemies may not be something you can defeat with a sword. We wanted players to feel this drama within the world to deliver more emotion. MMORPG’s nowadays lack this emotion. Frustration within a game is sometimes not a bad thing. This can be fuel to make you want to play even more actually.
Squishy: So lets talk about combat, I was reading about a duel-combo point system. Can you further explain on this? The theory sounds interesting for sure, but there is doubt if this can be executed properly. Lets say a player manages to pull off a rotation that triggers a combo for the second player, will there be a time limit on when the second player must active the combo finisher? How will this system work?
Proverbs: So for our combo system, it was actually inspired by Sword Art Online’s “Switch” mechanic in the anime. We wanted a relationship where instead of just focusing on attacking the same target, you wanted to buddy up with someone in your party to activate damage/effects. This puts a much bigger emphasis on group coordination and group cohesion in order to defeat higher level content instead of relying on inflated stat numbers. When you have a standard rotation, players will figure this out very fast and the only way to increase the power of the rotation is basic stats. This starts to remove the skill and drama out of the rotation and you start to care a lot less. Instead, introducing a system where players rely on each other, we make it so you have a degree of skill required to perform optimally.
When 1 player hits an enemy with a power attack, a second player may activate extra effects with another power attack if performed within the time limit. On Average, most effects will be 6 second windows for you to activate. Some more powerful effects require even more timing. All power attacks share the same cooldown forcing players to seek another player to perform one. You will have different power attacks that have different effects. More damage, a longer cc, debuff, buffs are among the many that will get activated.
Squishy: So for crafting in Astaria, I see you have emphasized heavy importance on building relations with players. Even as far to state “Due to the weight of the items, creating a simple item may take 40 minutes.” As a avid crafter in MMOs myself, this is almost unheard of for 1 single item. What will be the difference from a crafted item compared to a item drop off a Demon Lord? Will it be that significant to make crafting worthwhile and the source of end-game gear?
Proverbs: Gear will rarely drop off enemies, instead materials will indefinitely. If gear is dropped off an enemy, it’s likely not going to be very powerful or the drop rate is so low, that gear is not a reliable way to garner gear. In order to progress through gear, you will need to seek a crafter with the materials you’ve garnered, or craft it yourself. Beware, that gear can break and gear can be loss on death. This makes it so the demand for items is high and players will need an average, 4 sets of equipment. With the lack of gear dropping from monsters or quest, Crafters will be in heaven creating gear.
Squishy: The liberation system, obviously this in the works as you mentioned. But I had a question regarding territory capture. Is this done so by individual players or guilds?
Proverbs: This is doable by unguilded players but the problem is the organization and logistics required will likely be Guilds at the forefront capturing territory for everyone. When a guild captures a territory, they won’t necessarily own the territory.
Squishy: In most territory-siege based MMOs. One guild usually consolidates all the major land.
Proverbs: Guilds in Astaria will come in 3 sizes, small, medium and large. Each size has specific properties unique to that size. Guilds will not necessarily own that territory and all players will receive benefits for that territory unlocking via daily quest or resource availability. Each size corresponds with the ability to build a guild headquarters. Small and medium guilds will use instanced guild halls in cities. Large guilds will be allowed to place their own with an upkeep. Each size guild will depend on each other as each size guild has different abilities unique to that guild size.
Small guilds can teleport the map daily but do not have logistical bonuses and cannot deploy a Field CP. This gives them the ability to be mobile forces. Among other small bonuses, small guilds can be considered a fast special forces style guild. Small guilds are less than 24 players.
Medium guilds can teleport once a week, do not have any logistical bonuses and can deploy a Field CP. Medium guilds are the middle man between small and large guilds giving the best of both worlds. Among other bonuses, medium guilds can be considered a Company Size Guild and may attack and defend small territory on their own. They have access to bigger instanced guild halls than small guilds. Medium guilds are 25 to 65 players.
Large guilds cannot teleport. They receive logistical bonuses for supplies. They can deploy a Field CP and create permanent Guild HQ’s in the world. Large guilds can considered an army of their own. 66+ Players.
Squishy: How does Astaria plan to combat that issue especially in a title where PvP does not exist. Do developers plan to balance out the landscape in terms of fairly dividing territory equally across all the players/guilds? What’s to stop a guild with enough members from land-grabbing in the beginning?
Proverbs: There are many mechanics in place to stop a single guild from doing such things. First is the mentioned guild sizes. The second is the impact of territory capture. Although you will be able to capture territory in the name of your guild, but the benefits are open to all players. Large guilds with Guild HQ’s are a big benefit but also have an upkeep that if not met, will put the HQ in danger of removal. The inter-guild relationship is important to Astaria’s design. We design a system that allows guilds to not only govern themselves but also seek each other to win in the common scheme of territory.
Thank you so much for participating in this interview, I think we all wish you much success in this project. I know myself personally I’m excited to get my hands on this game.
To find out the release schedule on Astaria, click here.