Interviews

Interviews
Phoenix Dynasty Online: The Wonder of 2D Pt. II

Suzie Ford | 17 Sep 2009 11:58
Interviews - RSS 2.0

Yesterday, WarCry featured The Wonder of 2D, a first look at Phoenix Dynasty Online. Today we continue our interview with Product Manager Danny Qin. Check it out!

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Phoenix Dynasty Online: The Wonder of 2D Part II

Are there any 'rideable' mounts in PDO? If so, what are they?

We offer a wide variety of 'rideable' mounts in PDO. They basically come in three categories: Normal Mounts, Beast Mounts and Guild War Mounts. The mounts provide not only a fast transportation means but also some instant buffs and special skills. Their appearances vary a great deal, from horse-looking Normal mounts to giant battle elephants obtained from Guild War. And the fierce Beast Mounts resemble those in game mobs, such as bulls, tigers, tortoises, bears, quad-horns, reindeer and many more. Colored "mount skins" are sold in item mall that allows players to customize the mount looks. The most popular mounts are elephants, kylin and the ever-present phoenix.

Your FAQ indicates that PDO is 'free to play'. Will it have a 'cash shop'. What types of items will be available in the cash shop and what is the price range?

The 'cash items' provide an option for personalization and fast gameplay. There are various potions that will help avoid intense grinding as much, precious gems to enchant all types of gears, colored "skins" to allow customization of the looks of gears and mounts, and useful tools that can provide a more convenient and time-saving gaming experience. Most "cash items" are there to give characters that extra bit of flair, that extra lick of individuality; they are not really affecting any gameplay. And for the fact that you can grab a wide variety of them by pure grinding, the game is totally enjoyable even if you don't put any money towards it.

In PDO, the items are fairly priced. From cheap potions and skins to luxury mounts, the price for a single item starts at just 20¢US. The item variation and affordable prices can totally meet players' needs on different levels.

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What is your favorite premium item?

Absolutely wantong book! It should be the best worthy item in PDO. It allows you to record 9 spots and to be teleported to the specific coordinates in a second. Since PDO is set in an immersive world with more than 50 maps and the transportation is quite time consuming. The wantong book just saves you tons of time by promising swift and unlimited transferring between scenes. There are some other good items too. Peace Emblem should be the most sold one, for players need it to keep their gears from disappearing during the gear refining process.

Many MMO players complain about the "grind" in games. How much "grind" is involved in PDO?

Asian MMOs are just notorious for being awful "grind fests." I won't argue that PDO involves some "grind" in it, especially for players of Lv.70 and upwards. But there is still something that can be done about it.

As I mentioned, characters, gears and mobs are featured with different elements, you not only need to choose the correct mobs that will drop the right skill books and other elemental items for you, but also need to wear the right gears to fend off particular mobs to gain yourself a better standing. And there are maps with unique landscapes that certain class and skills can take advantage of. Players need to explore the vast lands to find some "glitched" spots and to exploit them as much as possible. And our players are having fun in finding them all the time. When you always give thoughts to your own choices and play innovatively, you can experience some sort of fun and pleasant surprises in all the repetitiveness of fighting.

In addition, we have increased the exp reward for quests under Lv.50 by 8 times to 10 times, which greatly decrease the importance of grinding for lower levels. Also all the game servers have put on permanent 3x experience since a couple of weeks ago, bringing 200% more exp from killing mobs. We are and will continue to seek every means to prevent any intense feeling of grinding.

Are there adequate challenges for high-level players?

There are epic quests, world boss and PvE instances that particularly set for high level players. The epic quests are a series of quests that can only be done once. It usually takes long time to complete while it offers insane gears and experience. World bosses are set to respawn at certain intervals, like once in a day, and players have to get in a large team to defeat the seemingly impossible boss. PvE instances is a separate area players can face the villainous and cunning thugs in ancient Chinese legends. They are accessible only once per day, however, a special passport can be bought from the item shop to allow players to enter the instances. It is also a good place for you to get high experience, gems and holy materials. Apart from the challenges above, players can also engage themselves in team quests, a daily quest that players can earn reputation points from.

What would you estimate the learning curve is for new players to PDO?

The learning curve is a bit steep to begin, but if you follow the newbie quest instructions carefully, it just takes a while to get into and wrap your head around. But to rock in game, you still need some time, not just to understand the powerful five element theory, but really you need to be thinking constantly and put your thoughts and ideas into practice. You would lag behind if you just follow tips from official guide or other players.

Is PDO geared more to the hardcore player or the casual player? What are the best features for each type?

It is geared for both types but it seems more appealing to the hardcore group. They can engage in crafting, reputation earning, skill upgrading, PvP, guild war and instances. Casual players may opt for the limited rewarding daily quests, participate in the live content GMs conduct and do varied quests, as PDO is very story driven and offers hundreds of quests, players can always get their hands full with quests.

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Is there a PvP component in PDO? How would you compare it to other games and PvP systems?

PvP in PDO is the most addicting feature according to our hearty players. As compared to PvP in other MMOs, PDO has a more dynamic one.

In most of the MMOs, players who own better gears and have higher skills are significantly advantaged, whereas in PDO, many factors come into play. It involves a good collection of gears, your strategic choices of gears when against a particular player, your timing attacks and the right skill to counter attack other spells.

Since the best gears in PDO are crafted by players, not from quests or loots, the equipment quality crafted by each individual may differ a lot. SO you need a lot of practices until you get the hang of it. Normally good PvPers also have a collection of gear sets and they can exploit each piece to their best advantage. Coming down to skill in PvP, this game isn't a good button smash game. If you're lousy at timing attacks and picking spells to counter attack other spells, then you're going to do poorly at PvP.

What is your favorite in-game area? Do you have a screenshot?

Visually, there are just so many maps with stunning views, and the dynamic weather effects make them look even better. I like the winter settings with dancing snowflakes, the brief sunset views on high mountains, the lightning and thundering haunted battlefield. However, my favorite area goes to a spring loaded city with neat gardens, flowing streams, exquisite pavilions and lotus pond etc. The delicate and pristine landscape and delightful greenish color shade combine to give a feel of peace and home in the chaotic times.

But to be practical, I would favor Tower of No-regret, where you can just get the most desired items here by farming, from gems and skill books to mounts. And it offers high EXP rate. Don't forget to enroll some friends to go with you, the mobs there are fierce.

How challenging is it to market a 2D game in today's world of intense 3D graphics?

Many gamers just give up trying it out as soon as they find out it is a 2D game. And some of the gamers complain that 2D graphics can't be as good and authentic as 3D. With the hardware advancement, the 2D player base is becoming smaller and smaller, but they do exist. Game graphics are a compelling reason to convince gamers into playing, but I think the deep and rich game content have equal or even greater power. There shouldn't be any reason to give up 2D games for the 3D games domination over the game market.

How have you met those challenges?

Well, in the first place, we run the game on the free-to-play and micro-transaction business model, which is gaining increasing popularity nowadays among the North America and EU players. And we have managed to add updates and launch expansions constantly, ensuring that players can enjoy new features before they get bored. We aim to fascinate players on the level of rich game content. But actually, the graphics are very good if you are not a 3d-a-holic.

Please add any other information that you'd like.

PDO is well localized by native English speakers. Although it may appear a bit hardcore at first, for its less clue-friendly implementation and in-depth gameplay, the community is ready to help you out and there are loads of good tutorials, both in game and in forum. And we are still working on updates and expansions, adding new content and enhancing the old systems to make it more appealing to all types of players.

Our thanks to EnjoyMMO and Danny Qin for a terrific interview!

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