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.
Player 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.
What 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.
Player 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.