Back in May 2007, Ragnarok II begun its first public beta phase. But being nowhere near a polished product, it caused players to be disillusioned and negative about the game. Gravity Games promised to make sweeping changes, but till the test server closed in August 2010, no significant content updates where implemented at all.
Fast forward to 2012, the game has finally entered Open Beta yesterday. Korean gaming website ThisIsGame.com (link) held an interview with Ragnarok II’s man-in-charge, Mr Kim, to understand what really happened all these years. Please note that the article has been summarized in certain parts.
Mr Kim took over the Ragnarok II project on 2nd October 2009. It was not an easy decision, as the franchise has already established itself with Ragnarok Online and tackling the problems faced by the sequel will require an incredible effort. Eventually, he felt that as one of Gravity Games’ executives, it is his responsibility to make Ragnarok II a success.
When he took over, the vision for Ragnarok II was at best confusing, as there was no single direction the team was working together on. Even if there was an internal schedule for the game’s development, Mr Kim felt that it was not helping at all and decided to re-plan the whole timeline. The whole project became clearer once everything was organized properly.
In order to speed up the re-development process, 3rd party studios from China and Korea itself were hired to fulfill the manpower requirements and to prevent staff from working too much overtime. An overhaul of the development team in Gravity Games was also carried out. Still, many of the development team had to stay past 10pm on a daily basis.
Mr Kim recalled one of his development staff quitting the company after his fiancee threatened to break up with him. He also admitted that he himself seldom leave the office before 10pm, with 12am counted as “early” on lucky days. Mr Kim was admitted to the hospital once due to overwork, while the art department’s head was stressed till he couldn’t move his neck and back properly.
The initial engine for Ragnarok II was Unreal 2.5, bu the development team faced many troubles working with the engine when trying to perfect the game. It was then later changed to the Zero Ding Engine, a Korea-developed engine. However, that did not work as well, which led to the current Gamebryo Engine (which was used for Warhammer Online as well).
In order to understand the essence of Ragnarok’s lore and world, Mr Kim frequently played Ragnarok Online to understand what the fun parts are in the prequel from a player’s point of view. He spoke to the author of the Ragnarok manga as well, from which the games spawned from. In the end, he decided to keep almost all the original map names, skill names and monster names to stay true to the franchise.
One of the more major changed will be the card system. In Ragnarok Online, Mr Kim noted that the number of card slots and card in an equipment will determine how long it is viable before players move on to another, which is usually a short time. To solve this, monster cards will now be used on characters instead.
For the 20-man raid dungeon, the final boss will start spawning hordes of minions to make the fighter much harder on its health points drop to 5% and below. Mr Kim stated that he smart choice will be the out last the waves of minions and concentrate firepower on the boss.
He also mentioned that he hopes the raid dungeons in Ragnarok II will not be as stressful as the ones in World of Warcraft, without having to do a standard set of actions simultaneously to clear the dungeons. The aim of the raid dungeons should be seen as a fun side-activity instead of being engrossed in them.