WC: What is your favorite in game area and why?
Dawntide has a race of giant mushroom men. One of the planned areas is a forest where they live in various clans (divided by the colors of their hats), where each clan is aggressive towards another clan, but are never mutually aggressive. Players can join them and earn small mushroom rewards, and we hope to round off the forest with a quest that allows players to get their own mushroom hat. The forest has good wood resources and lies in a location that will ensure a high level of traffic through it, which should make it a very nice little hotbed of violence.
The mushrooms, or Sporeborn, are just timelessly cute. In-game they're very mindless and violent, but somehow still manage to come off as somewhat cude and cuddly, and have just enough background that you can infer some sort of mushroom culture or society.
WC: Do players level up and get stronger? Are they limited to their race and class when it comes to leveling?
Players increase in power by using their skills and playing the game. Dawntide doesn't have character classes and levels - instead, every character has the same set of skill, and each skill has its own "talent tree."
WC: What would you estimate the learning curve is for new players to Dawntide?
Hopefully we can get it as low as possible. We understand that this is a new way to play MMOGs, and aside from the actual newbies (who we'll try to provide adequate help for), a lot of people will probably try to play this as if it was a familiar MMOG (and not have terribly good results). We're going to try to manage expectations so that people understand we're not trying to fix the model they're used to - we're making a new model.
I think the "statisticians", the people who optimize character builds every patch in order to maximize efficiency - we've all met someone like that, or just read a guide made by them - will have a hard time with the added complexity, human elements and non-linear progression, but I'm sure they welcome a challenge.
WC: Is Dawntide geared more to the hardcore player or the casual player? What are the best features for each type?
This is one of the really big benefits of a free-form MMOG. As EVE showed, when you remove the arbitrary limitations, it becomes not only possible, but beneficial for casual and hardcore gamers to play in the same environment. It doesn't necessarily have to be either casual players or hardcore players if you don't actively try to push the casuals out. Give them a way to meaningfully support the hardcore players in the endgame, and everyone will be happier.
WC: Dawntide is expected to hit closed beta phase 1 on August 1st. What will you be testing during beta 1?
Engine, interface, core features and art direction - Beta 1 will be a rough beta with the eye towards core gameplay and functionality. We want to make sure that the basic features Dawntide revolve around are sound and enjoyable in themselves.
WC: How many beta phases do you expect to go through?
Currently, three: Beta One, Beta Two, and Open Beta.
WC: When do you expect Dawntide to go into retail release?
We don't have an official release date at this time.
WC: Where can players find out more?
Our website is http://dawntide.net/
Thanks to the Dawntide development team for this First Look Q&A opportunity. We'll have more to say about Dawntide in the coming days so stay tuned!