If you're remotely familiar with the Dynasty Warriors series you know the games are known for their large, fast combat. These are two attributes that are not normally associated with an online MMO. When we heard about Dynasty Warriors Online we were intrigued to see how the game was going to work and the folks at Aeria were more than obliged to answer our questions.
Could you introduce yourself and talk about your role on the project? How did you get into the industry and what was the first game you produced?
My name is Brian DeSanti and I am the Associate Producer for Dynasty Warriors Online. Upon finishing graduate school I got a job at Aeria Games. Previously I worked on Twelve Sky 2 and Grand Fantasia here at Aeria.
So why take the Dynasty Warriors franchise online? Could you talk about the key hook to get people to play the game? Will this be a browser based game or a thick client install?
Really, when you think about the classic hack and slash game mechanics, which is the root of any great Dynasty Warriors game, going online is the next logical step. Players can now prove how good they are at mauling their ways through the Three Kingdoms of China – with their friends. Dynasty Warriors Online allows gamers to join their friends as teammates or as foes. Plus, it’s free to play, so downloading Dynasty Warriors Online won’t cost you a thing.
What’s the back story of the game? Can you talk about the backdrop of the game and what players will be doing in the game? How does the plot of the game integrate with the existing Dynasty Warriors canon?
Since it’s set in the historical Three Kingdoms era of Ancient China, players can choose to fight for the glory of the Wu Dynasty, Shu Dynasty or Wei Dynasty. Like most Dynasty Warriors games, DWO follows the narrative of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms novel. Currently the game is in the “Unrest in Jing” scenario just after the Wu and Shu Dynasties teamed up to overthrow the powerful Wei. But before that could happen, a dispute over the Jing province created a rift between the Shu General, Liu Bei and Wu General, Sun Quan, thus sundering their alliance. With each scenario update, the game will progress through the narrative just as the predecessors have done.
What are the different factions that gamers will have to choose from? Can you provide some details on the pros and cons of each one?
Players choose which from the three dynasties, Wu, Wei and Shu, that they will fight for in the game. In the “Unrest in Jing”, the Wei faction holds the most power – more territories and conflict points. Due to this massive size, both Wu and Shu will be out to take down some of Wei’s power for themselves. However, this is merely how this particular scenario starts; new scenarios will reset conflict points and may put other factions with more influence at the beginning. Aside from the starting territories and conflict points, the Generals that the players can serve under will depend on which faction they have picked. Aside from these two points, there are no differences between the factions. If players tire of their faction and would like to try out a new one, they will have the opportunity to trade allegiances.
The game is listed as a free to play game, since you have to make money somewhere, what kinds of things will be free in the game and what will people have to pay for? How will Dynasty Warriors Online differentiate itself from all the other free to play games that are out there?
Dynasty Warriors Online offers the great action-based gameplay which made the series a classic for console gamers. Its fast-paced action core makes game play much more exciting for players to learn combos, juggle foes in the air and put together massive kill counts. Players can hook in their USB-supported gamepads to duplicate the feel of a console, which is also a great option. We will offer an Item Mall at a later time but we haven’t finalized what we’ll be selling in it. Expect players to have some awesome customization options to stand out among the many Dynasty Warriors in the game. We plan to sell some convenience items as well. Obviously, the key to any great free-to-play game is to sell items players want, but don’t need to be successful in the game. We’re going to do our best to find that sweet spot and make Dynasty Warriors Online a great experience for any level of gamer.
It seems like one of the major problems taking a hack and slash game online would be lag, how are you handling lag to prevent the giant battles the series is known for turning into a giant lag-fest?
That’s the trick isn’t it? The developers at Tecmo Koei made a great game and we’re using our know-how in terms of the North American market to maximize server stability. By working closely with Tecmo Koei we are able to react quickly should any issues arise so that they are remedied quickly to keep the game environment as enjoyable as possible.
Can you talk about the character creation system in the game? What kind of things will you be able to customize and what attributes will players be able to tinker with at the start of the game?
Players will be able to customize their characters in many ways to ensure they have a unique look in game. They can choose the character’s stature, hair style, hair color, eye color, personality type, skin color, facial hair and or facial accessories such as battle scars, make up and tattoos. Once in game, there will be many choices for armor, weapons and accessories to tailor your look even further.
Will there be guild/grouping support in the game or is this strictly a solo experience?
This is definitely a social experience. Beyond the dynasties, there will be guilds which allow for greater socialization between Dynasty Warriors. The great thing about this game is players can really choose to play how they see fit. If they’re all about questing with friends – it’s got a lot of options. If players want to PvP as a loner, that option is available too. But players had better be ready to compete because there’s going to be some serious head-stomping competition. And if players want a complete MMORPG experience, they can join a guild, use the in-game chat function and really dig into the political intrigue of the Three Kingdoms!
How will PvP be implemented in the game? Are there any controls in place to prevent upper tier players from terrorizing newer players?
There are many PvP modes available in DWO: Melee, Showdown, Mock Battle and Arena. With the exception of Showdown, PvP matches are two teams of 4 going head to head. Showdown will allow two teams of 12 to fight. Typically PvP battles are against the opposing factions, but Mock Battle will allow players to practice PvP against members of their own faction, Regardless of which faction you’re fighting, players will only be able to do battle with players who are similarly ranked to prevent high level characters griefing new players.
When players aren’t killing each other, what kinds of NPC creatures will they be fighting? Can you talk about what went into the selection and design of the NPC’s?
Enemy NPCs will be identical to enemies found in the console games. Players will primarily fight against a neutral faction’s army, as well as possibly fighting the current opposing faction’s army as well. The majority of the enemy armies are comprised of foot soldiers, but there are also the strong martial artists, tacticians, and players will even have to fight enemy Generals who function as the game’s bosses.
Any details around when we’ll see the beta for the game? What kinds of things are you expecting to get out of the beta?
We’ve launched Open Beta! Head over to our website (http://dynastywarriors.aeriagames.com) to sign-up and download the game, as well as read the forums for all things DWO related!
We'd like to thank Brian for taking the time to answer our questions as well as Tiffany for coordinating the interview