Zodiac Online is set to enter closed beta on December 12th. To give our readers a chance to learn more about ZO, WarCry recently had the chance for a 'first look' interview with EnjoyMMO media relations manager, 'Sam'. Keep reading and enjoy our exclusive screens!
1. Please introduce yourself and give us your development background, position at EnjoyMMO.
Hi there. My name is Sam and I'm the Media Relations Manager for EnjoyMMO. As much as I work within this field and answer these sorts of interviews, I also work to better the game dealing with suggestions and troubleshooting problems.
2. For those unfamiliar with Zodiac Online, what can you tell us about the game overall?
Well firstly, we are running a turn-based game, something that is quite rarely found in the world of MMORPGs. We feel that this makes our entire game model extremely intriguing. There are many unique aspects that we will explore in further detail through the course of the interview, but they are definitely worth sticking around to see!
3. Has Zodiac Online been marketed anywhere else? How has it been received?
ZO has been marketed in China for almost 2 years. There are at most over 100 thousand players online at the same time. We'll be keeping our fingers crossed to get a similar number in our worldwide release!
4. What are the unique challenges to marketing Zodiac Online in the 'western' market?
Obviously the fact that this is a game based on the Chinese Zodiac signs makes it a little tricky to access, however it's far from the be all and end all. People are able to just jump into the game head first and learn whatever little bits and pieces they need through the course of the gameplay.
5. What is the background and setting of the name "Zodiac Online"?
As mentioned above, the game circles around the signs of the Chinese Zodiac. We really like the way we've managed to fully implement the zodiac signs into the game on many levels, to make it really feel as if they make a difference to the gameplay! So many bonuses and match-ups can be made just based on those signs that it really blows the game wide open!
6. How important is the overarching story to Zodiac Online?
We like to think that the story will draw people in, however it's not a case of you MUST follow the story word for word. We like to be able to provide a world where people can immerse themselves as much as they feel they'd like to!
7. What is aptitude? What does it play a part in Zodiac Online?
The hugely unique part of Zodiac is that there ARE no classes! You are free to create a character fully tweaked to your style and needs! You will have a choice of various pre-set styles (with strength and defence, fully strength etc.) which will determine your general strengths and weaknesses. But really, the choice is entirely yours! You can choose to major in whatever areas you wish!
8. Which of the above is your personal favorite and why?
I personally find myself going for the Attack & Defence style of combat as you get a good balance of power and defence. So you can hack and slash your way through without worrying about falling over after 1 hit!
9. Are there any mounts in ZO? If so, what are they?
We have just introduced the mounts into the closed Beta area, so we're waiting for the verdict on those yet, but feel free to check the current information on them here: http://zodiac.enjoymmo.com/news/event-news/lucky-new-stars-decided.html
10. Explain the pet evolution system please.
It's all pretty straight-forward! You can evolve your pets to create stronger and much more useful variants of the original pet. This way, you can really enjoy the power and help that your companion can give you to the maximum!
11. How popular has the addition of the pet evolution been with players?
It seems to be very well received, but obviously not everyone has had a chance to try it yet, so we're still holding out breath as far as the 'success' of this function goes, however we're pretty optimistic about it!
12. Does ZO feature a cash mall? What types of items are included in it?
Yes there is a cash mall in ZO, selling a lot of items including: combined HP and MP recovery medecines, skill books and pet skill books, skill and stat point resetting scrolls, gems usable in the upgrade weapons and armors, teleporting stones, additional sacks, VIP certificates (which offer an additional EXP, renown points and rage point refill) and much, much more. Mall items are designed to enable ease and comfort to our paying players without throwing the in-game balance completely out of whack!
13. What Many MMO players complain about the "grind" in games. How much "grind" is involved in ZO?
There is always a level of grind in any game, however we like to think that we have keep this to a reasonable level. We don't just give levels away, but we're not asking people to spend their life clicking here and there instead of enjoying themselves!
14. What is the level cap in ZO? How long would you estimate it would take a player to reach the cap?
Well everyone is different! I'm personally quite lazy, so I take quite a while leveling up. I don't feel the urge and the rush to level, and instead just enjoy the game slowly. But we've had players reaching our current low test cap in 20 odd days. Pretty impressive work!
15. Are there adequate challenges for high-level players?
There is plenty for our players to get their teeth into now. Obviously our players will be looking to get their actual main accounts set up as there will be no further wipes from here on in. But we are also introducing Guild Fights and The War of Divine Animal as new features. I won't give too much away for now, you'll just have to have a go and see how it is!
16. What would you estimate the learning curve is for new players to ZO?
I don't think we're asking for a nuclear physicist to play this game! But it's not your simple point and click either. There is as much to learn as you're willing to take on. However the more you take on, the more successful and easy you'll find the journey later on in the game!
17. Is there a PvP component in ZO? If so, how will it work?
Yes there is a PvP component. There are 2 types of common pvp: voluntary duels and enforced chases. Voluntary duels can only be held in cities without any punishment to losers whereas enforced chases can only be held outside cities. Chasers should have a "chase order" as a must to start an enforced battle. Winners may take a random item from losers who don't have a sub card. Also, with the newest release, there are guild fights (a fight between 2 guilds), guild wars (a tournament between several guilds) and the ability to take part in a wagon escort hijacking.
18. What age group does ZO target?
EVERYONE! We don't like to impose limits on our players from a gameplay point of view. We really think there's something for everyone here!
19. Is ZO geared more to the hardcore player or the casual player? What are the best features for each type?
I think we manage quite a nice balance really. There's the option there to grind your heart out and just mob mob mob your way through the game. However, there are a multitude of side-quests that give great exp boots available for those that want a more full and laid back approach to the game.
20. What is your favorite in-game area? Describe it to us and include a screenshot please.
The Pig Fighting event held every Friday night. Players are required to fight with piggies in the world at large and get their drops to exchange for rewards. Players may encounter the Flap-eared pig, who is very hard to defeat but drops mall items at a low rate. This event can supply a huge amount of EXP and the number of entries is limited. With all these elements, we're sure this will make the game very exciting.
21. What have been your most rewarding moments in ZO's development?
The reaction of our Beta testers! We had a great level of response from our guys and nothing is quite as satisfying as knowing you've done something right! And really, I don't think any better measure of achievement exists!
22. What have been the most challenging moments in ZO's development?
To be honest, the bug solving has been hellish! There were tons of spelling errors that have needed correcting at every single stage of testing so far. It's a seriously hard grind to change each and everyone of them! But we're definitely getting there now, so hopefully that will be a thing of the past before long!
23. Does ZO have an active player base? How much player input is solicited?
We like to think that considering we are taking part in beta testing still, that our player base is pretty reasonable. Obviously we don't want to overrun ourselves just yet! And well, we like our players to give us input and ideas, and welcome that at every stage of development. But luckily for us, our players are happy enough to offer up suggestions without us having to hound them for them!
24. Does EnjoyMMO have any other games in development? If so, what can you tell us about them?
Well we may have a few different projects hidden up our sleeves, but nothing is concrete yet! But rest assured, as soon as we have anything for certain, you guys will be the first to know!
25. Please include any other information you feel pertinent.
Just give it a try! We understand that the fact that our game is slightly different from the usual MMORPG, but that's also what makes it worth the try! This is truly a unique mix of styles and ideas that we really think our players will come to love!