Key things we should be aware of with respect

How significant will quests or missions be in Phylon, and what are the key things we should be aware of with respect to this element? Quests are a pathway to gaining levels, acquiring new equipment and exploring the world. They are optional, but to get the full experience of what Phylon has to offer, quests are quite important. One thing that our game has over many other competitors is our questing system. All of our quest bots are dynamic, and can be added, changed, altered or removed from the game at any time, with no patching required. As the game grows, the world will change, and the quests will be in a constant state of change to match it.

phylon ss9Community flourishes best in communal spaces, so we’ve tried to create common areas that encourage players to congregate for trading, shopping, recruiting squad mates, or just hanging out. Given that dying is probably inevitable, at least occasionally, what kinds of penalties are you implementing? Humiliation is its own penalty – that and the possibility of being looted if you are killed on the planet’s surface. You earn your equipment. You gain a feeling of accomplishment for acquiring it. Losing your gear because you die, we feel, would be cruel and discouraging. Now, anything that is not considered equipment is all up for grabs…

How will grouping function? Are there different ways to do so, and if so, what differentiates them from one another? Players can group together in three ways. They can join one of the eight factions. These were devised by the EXG Initiative to further the conflict between the inhabitants. If a member of a faction holds the top position on any one or more of the Phylon leader boards, all its members gain bonuses appropriate to that particular board. For example, if Tomak, a member of the Black Fork faction, becomes the top PvP player, he and all other members gain +10 damage dealt by any weapon for as long as that position is held. Each leader board grants a different bonus, and all bonuses stack. A faction is obtained through questing, and is designated by floating banners on either side of the character.

Players can also join squads. Squads are small, player-created, semi-permanent units consisting of two to six members. The squad name is projected over each character’s name. All members can assist in looting each other’s kills. They can also share health amongst each other, and can teleport to one another within a zone.

phylon ss8Finally, players can join groups, which are temporary hunting parties with no size restriction. Groups, as well as squads, get their own chat channels for communication across multiple zones, and can loot each other’s kills. Members of a group are marked with an indicator that can only they can see. Unlike squads, group membership is lost when the player logs out.

Regarding the broader topic of community, what are your main goals in this area? What forms of support are you providing for the users, both in the game and outside? We started with communication, since that’s the bedrock upon which communities are built. We wanted to make it as easy as possible to find your friends, join groups and communicate. With that goal in mind, we’ve developed a robust chat system with public and private channels. Since communication is both textual and visual, we’ve created a number of emotes that players can use to express themselves.

phylon ss7Next, we designed a grouping system that allows players to band together for hunting in temporary groups, or to join more permanent groups like squads or one of the eight factions. Community flourishes best in communal spaces, so we’ve tried to create common areas that encourage players to congregate for trading, shopping, recruiting squad mates, or just hanging out.

Out of game, players can communicate with each other and the developers through our forums. The website features leader boards, which list top players and factions. It allows us to keep players up to date on the latest changes to the game, as well as solicit feedback on new features. We’re currently integrating a polling system so they can give us more focused feedback on what they’d like to see in the game.

Rapid Reality’s massively multiplayer shooter

Rapid Reality’s massively multiplayer shooter with three species and eight factions vying for power in the remote Antares system, the planet Anura Prime circles the red giant star Beta Ceti. Rich in minerals and food resources, it has attracted the attention of the Bloblicon Colossal Empire, a truly voracious race perpetually in search of edibles. Accordingly, thousands of harvesters have been dispatched. Their mission is simply to devour, reserving only enough to fuel the Allucaneat Dreadnoughts for the voyage to their next destination. Anything that gets in their way is considered a mere annoyance to be destroyed as quickly as possible. This includes the world’s native species, the Amphibians. A tribal society, they see themselves as warrior poets. They value honor and glory above all else; believing that the greatest possible achievement is to be remembered for their gallant deeds and clever words, they defend their sacred lands with swords, guns and tremendous courage.

phylon ss3In Phylon, Rapid Reality’s massively multiplayer shooter currently in late beta, these are two of the three playable options. The other is the Terrans, the only survivors of a now-dead Earth, who departed their home in a cryogenically frozen state. Somewhat ironically, they crashed on Anura’s icy northern continent. With insufficient numbers to capture a more hospitable clime, they were obliged to settle in this region. These nations are now locked in a tripartite struggle, with the fate of the planet hanging in the balance. Having followed the development progress of this intriguing project for some months, we had grown increasingly eager to find out about its various elements in further depth and detail. As a consequence, when we were afforded the chance to query Chief Operating Officer Tracy Spaight and Creative Director DJ Cassel, we grabbed it without hesitation.

Includes seven exclusive screenshots

phylon ss2To begin with the basics, what kind of game will Phylon be, what is it about, and where does the name originate? Tracy Spaight: Phylon is a massively multiplayer online third-person shooter, with a targeting system that allows players to zoom in for a first-person perspective. Players can choose from one of three species and eight competing factions, all of which are locked in struggle for control of the planet Anura.

The game takes place on and above the planet Anura, which was once inhabited by the feared War Toad Army. Many eons ago, they departed to conquer other worlds, but left the Amphibians as caretakers

The name Phylon comes from the Greek word for tribe. Since the concept revolves around warring factions or tribes, the name captures the spirit of the game. At the level of your design goals, what did you set out to create? Were you influenced by Endless Ages, which your company acquired? And what will set this game apart?

The prime directive was to create a fast-paced shooter in an MMO setting, with some innovative twists. We kept many of the features that made Endless Ages fun, like jet packs and cool weaponry, and of course the frogs, while adding new features that we hope players will enjoy.

One of the features that sets our game apart from other massively multiplayer titles is the ability for players to create their own weapons. They can combine different modules, adjust the weapon’s visuals and attributes, purchase their creation, and have it appear in their inventory. We’re also designing a system to allow them to create and place their own quests throughout the game.

We decided to extend the beta test in ordered to incorporate some of the feedback we got from our beta community. Based on their suggestions, we’ve redesigned the user interface and the layout of Nexus. We’re also implementing some of the features we’d planned for our first expansion in order to provide the best gaming experience possible.

phylon ss1The game will be available for purchase at Direct2Drive. The initial price will include a month of free game time, after which we’ll charge a monthly subscription fee. We’ll be phasing in a tiered subscription model with basic and premium levels post-launch.

Players who would like to try out the game can download the client and play for free between now and launch. The game takes place on and above the planet Anura, which was once inhabited by the feared War Toad Army. Many eons ago, they departed to conquer other worlds, but left the Amphibians as caretakers until their return. All was well until the arrival of a corporation called EXG Initiative, which saw in the planet the perfect stage for its top-rated reality show, Phylon Online.

To stir up conflict on the otherwise tranquil planet, the EXG introduced a variety of fearsome creatures. Unfortunately, the tiny Amphibians lacked the means to defend themselves effectively; the creatures ate them by the tens of thousands. Viewers lost interest. EXG thus arranged for its subsidiary, TXB Industries, to supply the inhabitants with the weaponry they needed to fight back. To improve ratings, EXG also arranged for a Terran colonial transport to crash land on the planet, and manipulated the Bloblicon Colossal Imperium to invade, much as Q dumped the Borg in Federation space in Star Trek: The Next Generation. With the EXG Initiative sewing seeds of distrust and TXB Industries supplying all sides with an array of armor and weapons, the hostilities exploded… along with the ratings.

The initial solution proved too successful

The initial solution proved a little too successful, as the three species came close to obliterating one another. To contain the fighting, and to increase production values, giant gladiatorial arenas were constructed on the planet surface. These are accessed through the portals on the space station, Nexus.

phylon ss6Player versus player combat is at the heart of the game. The entire world of Anura is open to PvP combat, with the exceptions of Nexus and the newbie areas. EXG also introduced factions and reward systems. Top gladiators can become celebrities throughout the universe.

Are there other types of areas in addition to the arenas, and how do they differ from one another in terms of size, terrain et al? Phylon features the large-scale combat of Planetside, the smaller player arenas of Quake, and RPG elements like questing and hunting. The instanced arenas are the main focus, much like the gladiator pits of the historically accurate Conan movies. These arenas range in size from small to medium interior zones. They are part of the questing system, the source of personal fame, and skill-based. Fighting in the arenas provides an opportunity to bond with faction members. Players can join and create arenas at any time.

The outdoor environments are large hunting grounds filled with quests, provided by EXG Initiative for gaining wealth, experience and gear. These zones can support hundreds of players. The surface of Anura is not bound or protected by the same rules of the arenas, so gauging and balancing power, health and damage for both you and your target become much more important.

The RPG elements are located on the planet’s surface, while the deathmatch-style arenas are on the station. In both spaces, players can advance their characters. The various environments also give the player a more diverse playing field.

phylon ss5What options are offered for the player characters? To what degree can appearance be customized? How do factions fit in? There are three species, with four selectable character types – the Bloblics, a large destructive species obsessed with the consumption of the universe; the Amphibians, or keepers of Anura, who fear what will happen if they do not repel the two invading forces; and the Terrans, both male and female, who are determined to make Anura their new home. Players can customize the appearance of their character from a library of hundreds of visuals.

The eight factions, created by the EXG Initiative to further divide the groups as well as focus the individuals toward one particular side or another, are designed to motivate players around one flag, shifting three groups into eight through the prospect of additional fame and power. Any of these factions may be joined, or not, after the game has started. The player then gains all the appropriate bonuses provided by the faction.

How do characters advance and improve over time? Is there some form of skill system? Are there levels, and what do they mean? Skill and level are obtained primarily through combat on the surface of Anura. Additional experience is rewarded during quests. Equipment is gained through a combination of the RPG elements and participation in the arenas.

Players advance their characters through combat and the acquisition of badges, which increase your health, improve your defenses, and raise the amount of damage you deal. At present, there are 27 badges to acquire, each of which is obtained through its own badge quest. There are also 50 levels, which players attain through the experience of combat. Each experience level adds to the arsenal of weaponry and equipment a character is able to use, as well as the amount of damage it can deal.

What did you set out to achieve in the game’s combat element? In particular, how does PvP function, and to what degree is it optional? Our design goal was to make combat fast-paced and enjoyable. The challenge was to do this in an MMO. We’ve made our zones as lag-free as possible and prioritized the calculation of hits and locations on the server side.

phylon ss4Player versus player combat is at the heart of the game. The entire world of Anura is open to PvP combat, with the exceptions of Nexus and the newbie areas. Only those who have achieved 10th level are free to do as they please. Anyone lower is protected from PvP during this “training period”, yet is still eligible for the arenas during that time.

Nexus Station, which orbits high above the planet, is a non-PvP zone. Here, gladiators gather, not to fight but to brag, replenish equipment, wager and await the next available arena to start. Combat there is completely regulated by Nexus 1 Securities, a division of EXG Initiative.

Given that PvP is the core of Phylon, does it have much in the way of computer-controlled opponents? And are there non-hostile NPCs? The creatures on the planet’s surface were all introduced by the EXG Initiative with the purpose of challenging the gladiators to hone their skills when not in the arenas. The four hunting zones currently hold 25-plus creature types. Each has a melee as well as a ranged version, ranging in difficulty from 0-12 Challenge Rating. As new zones are added, we will introduce even more challenging creatures.

Any neutral, non-combat NPCs are there to provide information about the backstory, the world, the game itself, or the quests in the world.