WarCry recently had the opportunity to chat with Destiny Online's Dorothy Chen and Sam Murray. We spent time talking about the [b]Destiny Online and its unique pet farming system. Check it out!
1. Please introduce yourself and give us your development background, position at EnjoyMMO.
Hello, everyone. I am Dorothy Chen, Product Manager of Destiny Online. I've been with the game from the very beginning when it was being localized.
And I'm Sam Murray. One of the remote-based Moderators (all round lackey) for Destiny. I've been with the company for around a year.
2. For those unfamiliar with Destiny Online, what can you tell us about the game overall?
DC: Destiny Online, based on an eastern mythology, is a 2D free-to-play fantasy MMORPG featuring teamwork, pet raising, weapon refinement, a tribe system，a marriage system，master/apprentice system, fun quests and so forth. It is also the first MMO that "Pays U 2 Play", meaning that if you stay in the game continuously for some amount of time, you will earn Gold Points. The Gold Points that you accumulated by being online can be used to purchase valuable items from the Destiny Item Mall (and keeping in mind they usually come at a real-world premium, that can't be bad!).
3. Has Destiny Online been marketed anywhere else? How has it been received?
SM: Yes, Destiny Online was first launched in China in 2007 with almost 100 thousand people online at the same time in their open beta test. Taiwan and Hong Kong joined us in the publishing team early this year. I think the numbers really speak for theirselves on that front! 100,000 can't be wrong, right?
4. What are the unique challenges to marketing Destiny Online in the 'western' market?
DC: About how to tell an eastern myth to our western customers. When the game was still in alpha beta test, we invited a few dedicated testers to help us polish the background stories and the keynote of the game so the western players can better understand what the game is about and what it is trying to convey.
SM: Being a western player myself, I've gotta hand it to the Alpha Testers. They really tweaked the game to be accessible on this side of the globe!
5. What is the background and setting of the name "Destiny Online"?
DC: The legend started in an ancient eastern world where one day, the 10 naughty sons of the Almighty God decided to turn into 10 suns playing over the sky. The humans suffered due to the scorching heat and everything on Earth was dying. A hero appeared carrying a powerful bow and fired 9 arrows into the sky, shooting down 9 of the suns, and thus returned peace and safety to Earth. The 9 fallen suns, turned into nine golden plumes, and scattered over the great mystical land. It is said that whoever finds all 9 plumes will gain the almighty power of God.
SM: The name itself actually came from the players! We held a poll on our forums to decide what the new name would be! We decided that Destiny Online had a really nice ring to it, and otherwise fit in with our X Online branding image that we have been building up!
6. How important is the overarching story to Destiny Online?
DC: Some players might find the story unfamiliar as it's based on an eastern myth, but the absence of the relative knowledge won't affect any of their gameplay. The main storyline of Destiny Online is to retrieve the legendary 9 plumes in the story and there are adequate guides and detailed quest description to help you understand what you are about to do.
SM: As you travel through the game, you get given snippets of the story and they build upon your overall knowledge of the theme, so I've never found the fact that it's an unfamiliar story to be a problem personally. It's fun to be a part of it!
7. What classes and races are included in Destiny Online?
DC: There are five classes in Destiny Online, Warrior, Swordman, Mage, Priest and Taoist, all human races. You can have a rough idea about the first four classes from their names: Warriors are melee physical attackers with amazingly high HP and physical attack power; Swordmen are adept in long-range physical attacks; Masters of Fire and Ice magic, mages can cast spells onto their enemies from a distance and Priests possess unique healing power and a set of unique Thunder Magic. As for the Taoists, a special class in Destiny Online, they are a marriage of pet master and debuffer.
8. Which of the above is your personal favorite and why?
DC: I'd say Priest because I have a soft spot for Priests. =P Plus, unlike most of the MMORPGs, DO's priests specialize not only in healing and reviving skills, but some Thunder magic as well. So there's the ability to solo remaining for me as well!
SM: I personally go for Warriors every time. Nothing easier than getting a muscle bound brute to smash their way through the game! No thought required, just hack and slash! I'm a bit of a lone wolf too, and this class has great scope to solo any aspect of the game (even bosses given time!)
9. Are there any mounts in DO? If so, what are they?
DC: Sure there are. We've got altogether 7 mounts at the moment including a Wooden Donkey, an Armored Bear and the beautiful Snowy Fox. To celebrate Christmas, we are going to give everyone a Christmas Reindeer mount for free!
SM: I'm looking forward to getting mine!
10. Explain the pet farm system please.
DC: Pet Farm is a new feature from our last expansion pack "Your Own Pet Kingdom". You will get a plot of land from Pet Farm Handler, where you can tame the monsters you capture according to the Pet Tome, and finally evolve them into Mutant Pets or cute monster-shaped outfits. This is only the basic Pet Farm. We will expand the product list in future development with Pet Equipment and unique mounts and allow you to "steal" your friends' farm assets.
SM: I was a little dubious when we first released this part of the game, as it seemed a little complicated! However, given a little practice, you can really get into the rhythm of it and earn yourself some really great goodies! I've got a whole stack of equipment from it!
11. How popular has the addition of the pet farm been with players?
DC: I can't say that everybody loves Pet Farm but I know that a lot of girls find it quite addicted and are collecting every Pet Farm product. And with more fun stuffs to come, I believe Pet Farm is bound to prevail.
SM: Personally, I think I spend more time on my Pet Farm than anything else at the moment! It seems there are 2 groups of people with Pet Farm. Those that LOVE it and those that haven't quite gotten their head around it yet. We're working on simplifying everything and really getting the process across for the bottom set!
12. Have you had to make any significant changes in the pet farm system since it launched?
DC: Not really. Since our Chinese and Taiwan counterparts released Pet Farm a few months ahead of us, with their feedback, we had a rough idea what changes were needed before its release and what we could expect. For instance, before the final release of Pet Farm, we greatly decreased the set-up fee of the farm so everyone, even newbies, can have a taste of Pet Farm and we added the "Visit Friends' Pet Farm" to encourage player interaction and to prepare for future "Stealing" feature.
SM: I think no changes are really needed for the moment. Everyone is still learning exactly what's what with the process, so really, any changes would just complicate things. But within the next month or so, I can see our players hungering for more!
13. Does DO feature a cash mall? What types of items are included in it? Which are your favorites?
DC: Yes, Destiny Online is a free-to-play MMO Game with an integrated cash mall, containing mostly avatar items, and gems. My personal favorite would be avatar items. No girls can resist the magic of beautiful dresses and accessories. Shrine Maiden Costume with Nimbus Gourd backpack was my trademark.
SM: I must say, I do like my combination of Aquaphotic Lorica and Cursed Horns! Definitely a bold fashion statement! However my favourite item must be the Dragon Bone. This item has the ability to great enhance the powers of any piece of equipment and adding a lot of stat bonuses on them. Never a bad thing!
14. What Many MMO players complain about the "grind" in games. How much "grind" is involved in DO?
DC: Grind is something you can't avoid in most MMORPGs when you reach a certain level. Unfortunately it is the same with Destiny Online but we are doing our best to postpone its advent. Besides main quest that goes from Level 0 all the way to the current level cap 130, there are plenty of side quests and timing and GM holding events in the game, such as Intelligence Test and Chicken Run. You won't feel much of "grinding" if you follow the quests and take active part in these events. And, we are working on a series of Instances of different levels. The first one, Newcomer Instance, was just released last week. Plus, we have set up 2 servers with Robot enabled for those who are not a fan of training.
SM: I find myself spending endless working on tribe stuff, which really helps you level up! Mining and fighting Tribe Bosses really boost you up a lot! And, of course, they're a lot of fun, because you're working together with your friends to get there!
15. What is the level cap in DO? How long would you estimate it would take a player to reach the cap?
DC: The total design is 150. We are at Level 130 at the moment and are planning it to Level 140 later this month in celebration of Christmas and New Year. The first 60 levels are pretty easy to achieve especially with the release of the new instances but from Level 60 on, you might face a little challenge to go on.
SM: You can coast your way to around Level 30 just by doing the main quests and a little bit of training around the edges. But once you start heading to the higher levels (like 100+) I've known people to spend a helluva long time working towards their next goal!
16. Are there adequate challenges for high-level players?
DC: There are a lot and we are adding more. We have got 17 Map Bosses, 3 Guild Bosses and 6 World Bosses ranging from Level 30 to Level 115 in the game. Three more bosses will be released next January and we are going to make over the current Guild War system to make it more exciting and enjoyable.
SM: The changes to the Guild War system are really getting me excited! Dorothy won't tell me all the details yet (because she's mean!) but from what I've heard, there will really be a lot of high-octane competition against the Tribes currently inhabiting our world!
17. What would you estimate the learning curve is for new players to DO?
DC: We are trying to keep the learning curve at low levels, even for first-time MMO game players. There are adequate newcomer's quests to help new players to get the hang of operation, including how to auto-navigate, to fight and to capture pets. You won't find any trouble leveling till level 20 as long as you follow the main quest of the game. After that you can enjoy the timing event and daily quest and we have prepared newcomer instance for you to help you to get the hang of our well-documented Equipment Growth system.
18. Is there a PvP component in DO? If so, how will it work? If not, are there plans to include one at a later point?
DC: Yes, PvP system has been in the game since closed beta test. Destiny Online supports open PvP with proper newcomer protection and heavy penalty to prevent abusive PK. We understand, however, that not everyone is much fond of PvP combat so we have a non-PK server running for the peace lovers but they can still enjoy the excitement PvP in special occasions like PK Arena and Guild War.
SM: I'm actually quite pleased with how the PK system is. There is enough leniency to allow you to slap about the odd irritating person, without allowing you to make their life a misery! It's a great balance!
19. What age group does DO target?
DC: All in-game content is suitable for all ages, containing no swearing or excessive violence. We don't believe in the necessity of blood and gore, so we leave it out of our games. If we were rated in a movie-style format, our rating would most likely fall into a PG. We are glad to see that there are, among the active players, 60 year old grannies and passionate young parents with their children.
SM: I've come across some really interesting combinations of players! Parents playing with their kids, old couples playing together.... I even know of a university lecturer that has got some of his students playing!
20. Is DO geared more to the hardcore player or the casual player? What are the best features for each type?
DC: I'd say both. Hardcore players can focus on the pet raising system, from selecting a perfect aptitude pet to teaching its super cool skills, and equipment growth system, where you can improve the Grade and level of your equipment with no limits; for the casual player, mini-games like Bunhill and Chicken Run will be great fun.
SM: I'd agree really. I've gone through phases of playing obsessively (can anyone say Destiny all-nighter?) where there was ALWAYS something to do to keep you wanting more. And then times like now, where I am giving a hand to one of our sister games, where I can dip in for my favourite events or just idle and chat. It's a complete spectrum!
21. What is your favorite in-game area? Describe it to us and include a screenshot please.
DC: The wedding place! The wedding ceremony takes place by a heart-shaped lake surrounded by an ample lawn decorated with traditional eastern lanterns and flower arches. You can invite your in-game friends to the wedding ceremony to witness and celebrate the love and marriage of you and your special someone. Once the NPC announces you to be husband and wife, there will be heart-shaped fireworks in the sky.
SM: I must agree! I love this place. I get really excited when my friends invite me to their ceremony! You even get free gifts for attending the ceremony! I haven't been to one in quite some time though... Have you got a Mr. Right yet Dorothy?
DC: No comment haha.
SM: Shot down again!
22. What have been your most rewarding moments in DO's development?
DC: To hear our players got married, not just in the game but in real life! It has been one year and a half since Alpha Beta Test of Destiny Online. I'm thrilled to hear that some players got to know each other in the game and got married in real life. This is what want to provide our customers -- "Enjoy MMO, enjoy life", haha!
SM: I actually have a story of my own to tell on that front! I've got a couple of friends that I have met coming to stay with me over New Years so we can go party in London! They're really great guys that I never would have gotten to know if it wasn't for Destiny!
23. What have been the most challenging moments in DO's development?
DC: To fulfill the needs of both old players and new players. For new players, they want quests and instances that can help them level fast whilst high level players don't want to lose the advantage they have achieved after months of training. We used to release 3 or 4 new things every month averagely and we are slowing down to fully evaluate the addition before its final release.
SM: I would say keeping the balance in the game has been the toughest thing. It seems with every step forward we take in one direction, we are forced to leave someone behind. Then it's everyone to battle stations to counter-act the problem and keep our players happy! It definitely makes for a lively day, but definitely a pain!
24. Does DO have an active player base? How much player input is solicited?
DC: We really value our player input. Actually, quite a few changes have been made since the alpha beta test as the request of our players, like the addition of hairdye, expansion of Warehouse space and changes of Pet Skill learning mechanism. To every inactive player, we will send an email of inquiry to ask them for their opinions and feedback on the game to help us improve Destiny Online.
SM: In fact, before we were going to release our Robot function on all servers, however based solely on player opinion, we decided to make the move to obtain an entire new server to base this system upon. We felt that if the players had such strong misgivings against it, then we would certainly not implement it into their server against their will!
25. Does EnjoyMMO have any other games in development? If so, what can you tell us about them?
DC: Yes, we have Zodiac Online, a new free-to-play MMORPG based on Chinese Zodiac Signs, where players will act as Zodiac Envoys on a mandate from heaven, which creates an unforeseen and mysterious set of circumstances. The final Closed Beta Test just started on December 12 so it is a great time to have a try. And in the year 2010, we are planning to release a couple of new games as well.
SM: See this is another thing Dorothy keeps me in the dark about! I know it's only because she knows I'll go running off to start fiddling with them too and stop helping her with Destiny! haha