Monday, September 21, 2009

Dawntide Q&A with Christian Hummeluhr

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Christian Hummeluhr, Producer of the upcoming MMO Dawntide. You may recall I have posted about Dawntide before as it looks quite promising. Thanks to Christian for taking the time to answer my questions.


Werit: One of the things that really stood out to me about Dawntide was that you do not use a NDA. That kind of open development is almost unheard of in MMO's. What lead to that decision?

Christian: Because we have limited resources, every time we make a decision about the game, no matter how basic, we intensely question our first response. The NDA decision is a great example of it – we were talking about needing to draw up an NDA, and we asked “What does this do for us, exactly?” and came to the conclusion that it does not do anything.

NDAs fundamentally attempt to keep information from getting out. This is an exercise in futility in this day and age – even assuming that no one breaks the NDA on the down-low (We’re all law abiding citizens here), people can still easily communicate to one another that the game sucks by saying “This game sucks.”

Werit: Openness does not only apply to the development. One of Dawntide's listed features is "Open ended character development." Can you tell us a bit about what that means?

Christian: Open character development means you make no decision that ties you down to any specific path of progression. It’s always possible to just pick up a new item and start doing something else, so your character’s skills will be defined by what you like to do in the game rather than in which direction the next carrot is.

Werit: Crafting in Dawntide looks like it is a core gameplay mechanic, rather than just a diversion. My favorite crafting system had to be Star Wars Galaxies. From what I've read, Dawntide seems to be going down a similar path. Can you tell us a little bit about how it works?

Christian: We have a big article on Crafting up in our Feature Discussion forum. It is very similar to SWG in that raw materials vary in quality and sources are dynamic, so a given piece of territory won’t always have the same resources or quality of resources.

Werit: Will there be decay on crafted items?

Christian: We haven’t made a final decision on how items will exit the game to combat mudflation yet, but an item durability solution is definitely on the table.

Werit: Decay can be an important part of a crafting system, but it can also lead towards a lot of frustration. How do you balance it so expensive items are worthwhile?

Christian: Very carefully.

Werit: One interesting tidbit's I picked up in my readings was about the supply and demand based economy. While reading about it, it reminded me of Elite and the player-based economy of EvE. Are they influences behind Dawntide's system?

Christian: I’m a big fan of EVE’s economy and they have definitely been a major source of inspiration for us. Players need to be responsible for the vast, vast majority of all market transactions if you want to have realistic effects like wars affecting the economy, and we definitely do.

Werit: Trading is a fun career for some, including me. How will players move goods around? Will they have a lot of backpack space or will the mount do the carrying? Is there an opportunity for pirating?

Christian: As a rule of thumb, nothing will move unless someone moves it. However, it will be possible to load ships with large amounts of cargo, and we will also have carts and wagons to help individual crafters improve their carrying capacity at the cost of speed and defensibility.

Werit: Will there be a central Auction House? How about player owned vendors?

Christian: We will be using localized markets. The current plan is to have local warehouses where you can rent space, which both markets and vendors will link to. Using the market will incur some sort of fee for the convenience, while vendors will have to be paid a set amount for their services.

Werit: Will a character be able to do it all (crafting/combat) or do you see players having crafting alts?

Christian: I think we’ll see people having alts. As convenient as it sounds, I can’t see it working out well if a significant amount of characters can simply do everything. I wouldn’t be surprised if most people played at least two characters to fully enjoy the game.

Werit: Dawntide is currently in it's first Beta phase. Any hints as to when phase 2 starts?

Christian: Expect an announcement this week.