Just yesterday, the Korean server for Webzen’s S.U.N Online got its latest major content update, Limited Edition. One of Korea’s top gaming websites, GameMeca, sat down and have a chat with the developers regarding this new expansion and touch a tiny bit about the global English server which Webzen is hosting themselves. The 2 developers present can be considered as veterans, with both having been in Webzen for 5 years. Please note that not all parts were translated, and some were summarized.
Q: S.U.N Online has just been updated with the new major expansion, Limited Edition, which supposedly changes many features of the game. What was the overall idea when planning these changes?
Limited Edition can be seen as a total overhaul of the game itself. In the beginning, we sought to improvise and polish much of the features, but ended up totally revamping them. Even though it looks like a new game now, players may still recognize it as a major update.
When we started on this expansion around a year ago, internal staff felt that there were too many changes made, and the time needed will never be enough. However, as the game is already 5 years old, we felt that it is the right time to give it a total face-lift. In the end, the team endured some rough times together, using all our expertise and made it happen. We also recognize that just by adding content will not bring the game to its next level, hence some social features were added and improved.
Q: S.U.N Online did not immediately take off after launch. Did the team ever analyze what went wrong?
The game’s concept has always been based on Battle Zone. However, other than that, we did not go further into details on the game’s exact direction. Although we wanted to keep improving on the battlefield concept, we did not have the technical abilities to do so and players were unable to get use to the features. We were suppose to make the game easily adaptable for players, but we really lacked the abilities to do so.
When the game first launched, 90% of the players were posting many questions in the forums, including the most common “Where should I go train now?”. The team felt that the forums shouldn’t be just filled with such questions, and something had to be done. We added new improved maps a few months later, but that exposed the lack of PvP features we originally had in mind for the game. S.U.N Online stayed as a MMO with no clear direction for awhile.
Q: How were the players’ response like when the Limited Edition expansion was first revealed?
There was some confusion. There were some who question us on the motivations behind the expansion. We were disheartened by some of the negative comments, but we hanged on to our vision and continued with the development. During the early testing days for the expansion, we released a patch everyday! Overall, the expansion will decrease the entry barrier for new players, but currently only the first part of Limited Edition is released. We are confident that the 2nd part will make a much bigger impact.
Q: There are 2 parts for the Limited Edition update?
Yes. There will be 2 major updates for S.U.N Online this year, with the first just updated into the live servers. The first parts focused on balancing issues and improvising current features while adding some new ones. The 2nd part will see the Battle Zone getting polished and a revamp in some areas. And of course, new elements will be added as well. The game’s graphics will also be further optimized, and features like the Wing System first found in MU Online will make its appearance in S.U.N as well.
Q: S.U.N Online currently has various different servers around the world. What are the plans for them?
The first part of the Limited Edition is actually focused on the Korean market. For the other overseas servers, we are preparing more “globalized” updates for them.
Q: How are the overseas servers doing overall?
We were pleasantly surprised when the game was widely accepted. We were actually prepared to get many negative responses! For example, the latest update in the China server changed the game’s name to S.U.N Online 2, and the reception was tremendous and we never expected it.
Q: S.U.N Online is doing much better overseas compared to Korea. What are some of the reasons of the game being so successful in other markets?
We gather feedback from overseas publishers and players seriously. We try our best to understand their culture and in the process, develop new content satisfying their needs. Moreover, we have a team which solely focus on the overseas market. This greatly improves our negotiation process and communication with our overseas partners.
Q: Which was the more surprising request the team has gotten from its overseas partners?
Our Chinese partner requested us to develop a bot system for the game! Well, we were surprised at first, but after a market check, we found out that it is actually quite a norm for game over in the Mainland to have in-built bots. Since it is a feature widely accepted in China, we eventually made one exclusively for them.
Q: What is the current main selling point of S.U.N Online?
Battle Zone and PvP. Now, Battle Zone is fully integrated into the storyline of the game and the Territorial Control feature has been widely accepted since its introduction 2 years ago. We are always improving the features behind the scenes in order to deliver a better product.
Q: Any final words for the readers?
We tend to see some reports in the media from time to time about S.U.N Online’s landmark of 5 years in operation. Like MU Online which has been in the market for 10 years, we hope S.U.N Online will be the same as well. We recently opened up the game’s Facebook page (Korean), and encourage Korean players to give us their suggestions.