Probably final post before ChinaJoy 2011 officially begins in a few hours’ time! If you didn’t know, Jake Song is the creator of Lineage and ArcheAge is the maiden title of his own development company, XL Games. Licensed to Tencent Games in China, the man himself is at ChinaJoy 2011 and a reporter from gaming website 17173,com managed to have an interview with him. Read on! Please note that not all parts are translated.
Q: You are still playing World of Warcraft regularly after setting up XL Games. What kind of inspiration did the game has on ArcheAge?
A: I was once a loyal World of Warcraft player too. I remembered when I first started playing, the game fulfilled everything I had in mind for a perfect game. But as time passed by, I realized that although World of Warcraft is a masterpiece, it couldn’t exceed the its generation, hence players can only play whatever content which is already set for them.
No matter how we respect World of Warcraft, there is bound to be a new product which will be totally different and break the ceiling set, giving players a whole new gaming experience.
Q: You coined ArcheAge as a 3rd generation MMO, so what differences does ArchAge have compared to the previous generation games? Which content found will give players a refreshing touch?
A: A third generation MMO consists of all positive points from present titles, exceeding all in terms of quality and adding in brand new concepts. As development engines improve, we have the chance to showcase a stunning game world to the players. Hence, most features which were limited by technology in the previous generations will be made possible in ArcheAge, giving players a never-before experience in terms of graphics, sound effects and more.
The important thing is the change in concepts and values, players can now convert from playing fixed content to becoming part of the game’s creator, customizing a game world in his vision.
Q: Other than World of Warcraft, the Korean media frequently compared ArcheAge and NCsoft’s Blade & Soul. Which do you think are the games’ main selling points?
A: Both games have their own unique points, but different from previous online games, ArcheAge allows players to create their own content and world, making the gameplay more fun. Blade & Soul is a very excellent title, its graphics and combat left me deep memories.
Q: You previously told the Korean media (link) that you wish Blade & Soul to “let you off”, why is that so? Both games are now under Tencent Games in China, do you foresee an internal “war”?
A: When a better product is available, players will have more options, which is a good thing for the China players. A really excellent title, especially with new concepts and styles of playing, is never afraid of competition. I believe Tencent Games will operate both games very well. Blade & Soul and ArcheAge are going in different directions in terms of aim, hence there will be 2 different groups of players the games are catering to.
Q: You are known in the industry as a talented developer, Father of Lineage and once an influential figure in both Nexon and NCsoft. Will XL Games be the bext Nexon or NCsoft?
A: NCsoft and Nexon are both excellent companies while XL Games still has a long way to go. Success depends on what kind of products we have and if players accept them. Hence, my biggest wish now is to make a good MMORPG. No matter what, I will do my best in developing ArcheAge, continue to explore and discover new concepts and ways of playing, and through ArcheAge present them to players. The acknowledgement of players is the biggest success in my life.
Q: ArcheAge is an online game focusing strongly on personal growth, hence players will have to invest more time into the game. Will this lead to the business model leaning more towards having a regular fee?
A: The final business model is not confirmed as of now., but we will keep players’ suggestions in mind. Our core objective is to let more players enjoy what ArcheAge has to offer, so this will be the main point when settling on a business model eventually.
Q: The time players spend consuming game content is always much faster than the time developers can add in new content. For developing content from level 60 to 70, a few hundred developers may take up to several months to develop the required game content only to be consumed by players within a few nights. How do you view this problem? How will ArcheAge minimize this problem?
A: If the core content of a game is focused on questing, storyline, characters and lore, this game will find it hard to sustain in the long run. As mentioned, the speed of developing new content will never catch up with the time players use to consume them. In order to let the game operate in the long run, development of the game’s final content should be started at the beginning phase.
For example, ArcheAge in its early development phase already has housing, naval wars, castle siege etc. The aim is to let players change the world after reaching a certain point, coming up with new playing styles, from communicating with the system to communicating with fellow players. The concept must be changed from “playing what is being provided” to “changing the original concept, content and play style”. This will allow a game to run for the long term. Overall, a game’s content is still the key to its longevity.
Q: You once that to you, being a gaming industry veteran is better a hundred time than being a doctor or lawyer. What is the biggest joy in being a gaming person? Is there any dream you will like to fulfill in the gaming world?
A: Games, especially MMORPG, is being played by many people and can is said to be one’s second life. In a game’s world, it is as if I am in a different world, allowing me to live differently in another way. Developing a game is like creating anew world to me, this kind of joy is not something which can be achieved in real life. Coming up with new concepts and play styles and thus creating happiness for the players is my ultimate aim.
Q: What kind of requirements should one have to be recognize as a talented developer? In the global gaming industry, is there anyone you look up to?
A: My idea of a talented developer is that he should be extremely passionate, a creative mind coming up with new concepts and takes care of a game’s main focus point. The 2 person I look up to most will be Shigeru Miyamoto (creator of the Mario franchise) and Sid Meier (both of them are developing Civilization Online).
Q: In the actual world, what are the events which will give you inspirations? Will you choose to play more of other online games or get outside of gaming to search for them?
A: Discussions with my team, experiencing all kinds of games will all provide me with inspirations. Since MMORPG is like a second life, I will use some of the real world’s understandings and implement it into the game. At the same time, I like to read comics, novels, dramas, movies etc.
Q: A trouble with online games in China is the serious case of many products getting too similar with each other. Which is the right way to go, a “small” revolution or a “big” one?
A: Either option is a step forward for the industry, hence it is hard to determine which is “right”. A creative game similar to Lineage (Jake smiled) will bring a “big” revolution to the industry, following that with both “big” and “small” changes in creativity to reach the stage we are at now.
Q: In your opinion, are online games a form or entertainment or a product?
A: Games consist of both. It is a form of entertainment and a product at the same time. Online gaming is an affordable choice of entertainment, with almost no boundaries to prevent people from playing. The philosophy is the same, if a dish is very good but the place’s service is not up to par, not many people will go try the dish.