Devilian Online is just about here, officially, in the West. I had the chance to catch up with Andrew Sipotz, Producer, to chat about the game’s beta, the lessons learned from “other” launches, free-to-play restrictions, and Devilian’s future. Take a peek at what he had to say!
Magicman (MM): First off, how has the reception for Devilian Online been throughout the Closed Beta tests?
Andrew Sipotz (AS): We’re thrilled with how well received Devilian has been by our beta players. We’re seeing smart feedback and open conversations and we are determined to be a transparent and communicative team to our beta community, in the end we’re all working together to get Devilian in the best shape for launch. Working with our beta players to figure out the work that needs to get done is crucial to building a strong launch game.
Some new features from community feedback have rolled out during the beta including the removal of stamina, the addition of non-Devilian PVP and more. Devilian has been very stable in terms of technical issues so it’s given the team more time to work on really great features.
MM: Devilian Online has made numerous changes since kicking off Closed Beta. The most anticipated change was probably the Stamina System change. For those readers that may not be familiar with the Stamina System, can you tell us what it originally was intended to do and why it was removed last week?
AS: Listening to players and talking with Ginno, it quickly became a top priority to make this a better experience. In general, I think limiting factors like stamina or “energy” mechanics used to be really popular but now are dying out in games. It’s an artificial way to slow you down and really, why should you ever tell players “Okay you’ve had enough Devilian fun today, go do something else”. Players disliked this system so much we started sending out potions to restore your stamina every week. You decide how many dungeons you want to do per day, not us. That’s important and we’re just happy players enjoy the dungeons enough to want to do a lot of them.
MM: That last patch also saw drops in experience gains almost across the board. Were players leveling faster than expected?
AS: There are multiple reasons why experience points needed to be reduced in some game systems. The first was that dungeon runs had become the most efficient way to level and with the removal of the stamina system, it was foolish to do anything other than chain dungeon runs all day for maximum gains. That’s a fast way to burn out and at the same time, means you’re not exploring the other areas in the game, like PVP or Abyssal Tower.
There is always room for more adjustments and our Alpha players quickly told us we had swung too far in the reductions, and because of that response from our Alpha players adjustments we’re made ahead of beta players seeing it.
MM: Touchy topic for some. The free-to-play restrictions in the Western release of Devilian Online have been a subject of debate both in the game’s forums and within the community. Can you take us through the idea behind some of these restrictions and what they mean for players that really just want to play for free?
AS: The restrictions are in place to combat spam, reduce the efficiency of gold sellers, and severely limit their ability to bring economic harm to the game. Account limitations, specifically an account’s ability to message and interact with auctions, has proven effective in other titles. It’s much harder to create the number of accounts needed to effectively engage in gold selling when you have to validate each of them with a purchase. Not saying it’s 100% effective, but we’re always going to be trying to improve both our ability to combat these game breaking issues, but also find ways to be less intrusive to our legitimate free players.
MM: How have some of the issues with ArcheAge helped prepared the Devilian team for another Trion Worlds publishing endeavor?
AS: I wasn’t with Trion when Archeage released, but I did get the benefit of learning from their experience and how we can improve with Devilian. We know how critical it is to be transparent. How critical it is that our Alpha and Beta players see development live as it happens, and that they have a chance to get their feedback in. In addition, we know it’s critical to have a publicly accessible test server where players can see upcoming changes before they hit live.
We also understand that transparency is a must is in regards to all of our game systems, including the marketplace. I feel the most important thing is just making ourselves available and listening. Players know they can reach me, Firecait, or Kiwibird very easily. I chat with players in-game every day, chat with livestreamers and their viewers, do monthly producer’s letters, and in general over-communicate rather than under.
MM: Speaking to a person that has never played Devilian Online, how would you describe the game and get them to play this game versus other APRGs/MMOs on the market now?
AS: There are plenty of great ARPG’s out there, but none bring the MMO elements to the forefront. If the best Action RPG’s and MMO’s had a video game baby, it would be Devilian. Devilian is the ARPG for PVP, hands down. With multiple match types, an entire PVP leveling and gear system, leaderboards and massive open world conflicts with hundreds of players all at once, this is finally an ARPG that gets PVP right.
It’s other people that make Devilian special, it’s that you’re not just grouping with a few of your buddies, it’s that you have an entire world to explore with people from all over the world. It’s when you finally kill the boss of a dungeon, that you and your guild members have been trying to clear for weeks, it’s when you’re shouting in region chat, and you see other players giving you congrats. It’s when you realize damn, why hasn’t this type of game been done before?
MM: In game, what’s been your favorite class to play and why?
AS: Can’t really play favorites… but Cannoneer. Specifically the Gunslinger tree. I compare it to a twin stick shooter, you get access to lots of AoE’s and skills to keep you moving. I use WASD primarily with Right-click as my primary AoE attack, and of all the builds I’ve played this one feels like I have the most control.
MM: What can beta players look forward to as the game marches on towards open beta and launch?
AS: We’ve just announced two new features that will be going up for Closed Beta 4. First are multiple new PVP match types where you’re in your standard (non-devilian) form and have access to all the base skills and gear you’ve gained from PVE. This is a pretty big game changer and I’m excited to see what new strategies players come up with. The other big feature coming is Devilian Wars, an open world PVP system where you and your guild battle against other guilds to take over parts of the world. It’s a blast to play and your guild name on the world map for all to see is a rush.
My thanks to Andrew for taking time out of what must be a crazy launch schedule to chat with us!