NCSOFT's “Throne & Liberty” (TL) is set to officially launch on December 7th, marking the commencement of its service. “TL” is a large-scale MMORPG developed with the aim of catering to both PCs and consoles.
Before the official launch of “TL”, NCSOFT conducted two rounds of testing targeting users in both Korea and Western regions. This strategic decision was aimed at enhancing the game's overall completeness by incorporating valuable user feedback, particularly focusing on improving the combat system. The removal of the auto-combat function and the addition of the ability to attack while on the move were implemented, to elevate the game's action elements.
|<photo> The improved features were unveiled during a demonstration held at G-STAR 2023 in Busan's BEXCO on November 18th.
During a recent interview held at the NCSOFT headquarters on the 23rd, Ahn Jong-ok, the Development PD, explained that, "'TL' is a game crafted with the goal of being an MMORPG for everyone. We wanted to present a game that delivers a high-quality experience, manually controlled in front of a PC."
■The following is a summary of the on-site interview:
|<photo> From left, Jongok Ahn, Development PD of NCSoft's "Throne & Liberty," and Moonseob Lee, Director of Game Design
Q: What does the "TL” development team view as as the key elements that make an MMORPG enjoyable?
Moonseob Lee: There needs to be naturally evolving community. We believe that game players desire interaction with others. MMORPGs thrive on the enjoyment of communicating with well-crafted, high-quality characters. If “TL” can become a mechanism that connects people more strongly with others, it would be ideal. While it may deviate from the market trends, we believe it can be a successful game.
Jongok Ahn: The ability for more users to enjoy the game is our focus. With the removal of auto-combat personnel, users engaging in manual gameplay will likely encounter each other. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that character pre-generation took less than an hour, which is faster than expected.
Q: The combat tempo seems faster, compared to the last test version.
Jongok Ahn: In the early stages of its development, our build leaned more towards an action RPG. To enhance the group combat experiences, we made adjustments to the combat system.
Q: How is the balance between hunting (PvE) and fighting (PvP)?
Moonseob Lee: It may vary depending on the user’s preferences. PvP is optional for users. Those who dislike PvP can progress through the game using only PvE. The focus on PvP is geared towards providing content for more efficient users.
Q: The combat in the released footage seemed somewhat static.
Moonseob Lee: Flashy videos do not always effectively convey the enjoyment of combat. In this case, static portrayals were necessary for users to properly see the game's features.
Jongok Ahn: A high level of difficulty doesn't guarantee fun. We aimed to highlight a simple pattern that anyone can enjoy. Furthermore, the controls should not be a barrier. We are also contemplating various ways to make boss raids enjoyable through cooperation and communication.
Q: Testing was conducted both domestically and internationally. Was there different feedbacks from each region?
Moonseob Lee: While the intensity of the feedback varied, the content and improvement directions the participants requested were similar. There have been misconceptions that changes to the combat system or progression were made based on Western feedback, but that is not true.
Jongok Ahn: The static combat system did not receive positive feedback overseas. The Western test featured a version that emphasized action. Comparing the two groups of feedback gives me confidence that we are on the right track.
Q: The launch showcase introduced a tax transportation content. Since it involves open-field battles, may there be unintended casualties?
Jongok Ahn: We carefully considered which regions to use for each piece of content. Therefore, the areas or routes for tax transportation have a minimal impact on hunting. The frequency is about once a week, so we believe the impact will be minimal.
Moonseob Lee: This content stemmed from a question that arose about whether battles in confined spaces would be fun. We implemented a process to safely transport taxes collected in the village to the castle. So far, it has received praise for its unique features.
Q: Players can freely combine different weapons. Are there concerns that stats reflected on the equipment items might limit the weapon selection?
Moonseob Lee: Penalties based on the equipment stats will be minimal. We created options, by considering how different weapons and gear would synergize. For example, holding a two-handed sword doesn't necessarily mean you have to use plate metal equipment. We wanted to provide the freedom to mix and match farmed gear with the existing items.
Q: Did the changes to the combat system affect the difficulty or balance of the Tower of Tidal in the solo challenge mode?
Moonseob Lee: We wanted the Tower of Tidal to be a way for users to enjoy challenges on their own, without requiring assistance. As the combat system changed, we naturally adjusted the balance to ensure that users would feel a sense of accomplishment.
Jongok Ahn: In the launch version, you can challenge up to 20 floors. We plan to add more content in future updates.
Q: Does the transformation have any effect on the combat balance?
Jongok Ahn: The system was prepared to make the combat more enjoyable. It is used to break through specific sections or to avoid monster attacks.
Q: Can a specific user or group dominate a field (commonly known as “control”)?
Moonseob Lee: It's almost impossible. PvP is only available at night for about 20% of the total time. Players just need to avoid it and hunt during those times.
Q: The global service preparation is underway. Do you have a strategy or prepared content for this?
Moonseob Lee: It's challenging to summarize our approach in one go. Starting with the art concept, we aimed to make sure that much of it would appeal to a global audience. We studied the tastes, behavioral metrics, and the curiosities of our target users, then we implemented them and received feedback. This seems to have been positively received by the international community, and it's one of the reasons for our collaboration with Amazon Games, which has global service expertise.
Q: Recently, optimization has become a crucial topic in the global gaming market. Also, how much time is needed to reach the highest level?
Moonseob Lee: We are working on optimizations aimed at games that can be played on a laptop. We want more users to enjoy the game without worrying about the specs.
Jongok Ahn: A fast user should be able to reach the top level in about 3 days. An office worker who plays two hours a day might take about three weeks. We are also planning to release larger updates periodically, operating as if it's the start of a new season.
Q: When will “Capture the Flag” and “Siege” be available?
Jongok Ahn: These are content types that require more preparation time. “Capture the Flag” will be available a few days after the launch, while “Siege” is likely to take about a month and a half. This doesn't mean that there will be a shortage of content.
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