The WarCry Network
WC: Please introduce yourself and explain your role in the development of Interzone Futebol.
My name is Jeff Lyndon, Vice President, China. My role in Interzone includes running our China development studio, business development for Asia Pacific realm, and spokesperson for the company worldwide.
I am like you all, a hardcore gamer who loves MMOs and getting my MMO fix from WarCry on daily basis. I played my first MMO (UO) at grade 7 and fell in love with MMOs and PC gaming ever since then. I have been in the industry for 7 years already and involved in different levels on over 12+ titles, some that you might know are Shadowbane, American Mcgee's presents Scrapland, Bad Day L.A., Marine Park Empire, and TrackMania Sunrise.
WC: A sports-themed MMO is definitely unusual. What precipitated the decision to make such a thing?
I love to answer this question, as everyone wonders "Why?" The initial idea came from our CEO Marty Brickey. Yet when we heard about it, we did ask ourselves why no one had done it yet? Soccer is a game that requires 22 players. To create a real soccer game, the game should really be played by 22 players instead of 2-4 players. In order to have 22 players to play in a game at any time, we need a lot of players in the game at the same time. An MMO is going to be the only viable solution as it naturally attracts massive amounts of players.
WC: What are Interzone Futebol's most unique features?
IZF creates a whole new game genre, which I will like to call Massively Multiplayer Online Sport Simulation (MMOSS). Well I don't think I need to explain the "MMO" part, but the "SS" part is new.
Currently there are two genres of sport games: Sport Action and Sport Management. Sport Action (FIFA or Winning 11) delivers the "Action" of the sport but not really the same sport mechanic. Sport Management (Football Manager) delivers the management part of sport.
In IZF we have the action, management, but more importantly the cooperation, on field strategy and social elements. We are more simulating a football player, the sport, the atmosphere, and the world where football is everything. Hence I call it simulation. When you play IZF you get the exact same stress and rush just like you are playing soccer in real life. It is less about did you press the right button, spec yourself right, etc., but really planning ahead, figuring out your opponents' strategies and making a move beforehand and forming soccer play with your friends and making that golden goal.
WC: What have been the highlights in development?
One of the many highlights is definitely our brilliant staff pool we gathered in all four corners around the globe. Our Executive VP Greg Chadwell was one of the youngest city administrators in United States history, VP in Brazil Jairo Rozenblit was ex-director for Gillette and Kodak South America regions, Programmer Lead Jason Hutchens the AI Developer of Black & White, Lead Designer Joseph Hewitt who has shipped over a hundred titles such as the Command & Conquer Series, our world builder who is the creator of the famous 'green scrolling numbers' from The Matrix. There are many more people I could mention from our global team, but I better stop here and get back to IZF!
WC: What have been the greatest challenges and how have those been overcome?
The greatest challenges we have overcome are the cultural, language, and time zone differences. On top of these well known killers we use Agile management progress in our Perth studio, and traditional management progress in China studio. And before I forget, no one before us has created a true 11-on-a-side MMO, so there is no one we can really reference and no technology that is tailored for this game mechanic.
We managed to overcome all these and break down technical, cultural, time zone, and language barriers one by one all because we all are passionate developers that believe in each other and we have a common goal-- to make a great game.
WC: Your initial launch will be in Brazil. Where do you anticipate going after that?
Everywhere else, at Austin GDC and ever since, we released news about our game and we have been approached by publishers across the globe. In fact probably when this interview is out I will be on my way to Korea or Shanghai. So where we go after Brazil really depends on which market shows us high interest and passion in our game!
WC: In how many languages will IF be localized?
Whenever we launch a region we will assure the game is localized for that geographical location. Our localization manager is an MMO localization guru who used to work at Square Enix on multiple Final Fantasy titles which also includes FFXI which I believe did pretty well in localization for MMOs.
WC: How do you expect to get attract players in the United States given that it's not exactly the 'soccer' capital of the world?
Well this is a very interesting and intelligent question. It is true that the United States and China, while not as fanatical about soccer as Europe and South America, are the two biggest online gaming markets, so we are looking forward to success in these markets.
I think people are getting bored with the traditional MMORPGs, and the RPG audience base growth is hitting a bottle neck (although I still love playing them, I am playing Warhammer AoR and reading WarCry on info :P). Multiple governments and associations in different countries are looking to regulate these violent games. The market needs a more healthy game, a game where everyone from your 6-year-old son to your 60-year-old grand dad can all play and enjoy at the same time. Advertisers also need a game where they can place their advertisement in it, too (having a purple hair Dwarf that wields a hammer and axe and wears a pair of new Air Jordans that give him a new power called "Airwalk" so he can hit that ugly butt giant in this face. Personally I think this is really wrong and it will totally destroy the lore of RPG :P). IZF and future MMOSS titles open up a whole new market and the possibility of reaching a large user base and a more in-game-advertisement-friendly and advanced game.
WC: Will IF run a beta test?
Of course, Beta test is crucial for every MMO. In fact Beta test is one of the best things about MMOs. Our Beta test will ensure us to create a better and more user-friendly game.
WC: If so, when do you anticipate that sign ups will begin?
People can sign up for our Beta now, if you speak Portuguese. We have been accepting Beta registrations for a while now at www.interzonefutebol.com; expect us to allow registrations in multiple languages later in the year.
WC: How long would you like the beta to run?
We didn't really put a time frame on this and we are not really rushing it. We believe most MMOs fail because of rushing development phases. Yet I can also understand if people are doing it because of financial pressure, especially with the current economic crisis. We are assured by our understanding boss and funders that IZF will get out of Beta only when we and most important of all the market think the game is ready.
WC: Do you have further plans for sports-themed MMOs in the future?
All I can say is we have a lot of ideas in mind but none so far is confirmed as we want to know what the market really wants. There have been too many cases where developers will spend endless hours making, planning, or announcing all these great plans and features but none are what the market wants, even worse they didn't manage to deliver it or did a quick and dirty job. Making features without knowing what the market wants is a very risky move.
In fact if you look at most of the successful MMO games, the parts that they are being praised on are mostly because they made something the market has been crying out for. Sometimes I really wonder why developers don't open up their ears and just listen.
We are here to develop a game for the audience not a game for our own satisfaction or ego.
For more information, visit www.interzoneentertainment.com and www.interzonefutebol.com .
I would like to thank WarCry for interviewing us. On top on all the hard work WarCry has put in to the industry, equipping players (including myself on FFXI, Warhammer, WoW, and so forth...) with better knowledge on what to play, how to play, and how to communicate. So gamers should stay tuned to WarCry!