Interview: Talking Spark Limits and Invasions with Skyforge
Today I got the chance to sit down with Drew Hahn, Sr. Community Manager, and Aaron Biedma, Producer, from the Skyforge team and talk about the free to play MMORPG's open beta status, talk about Spark caps, and even get a glimpse at what the future holds for My.com's title.
Magicman (MM): Open beta has been open here in the West for a while and the first Invasion is coming, what's the player feedback been as a whole so far on Skyforge in this market?
Aaron Biedma (AB): We've had a lot of feedback ranging from the "you must change this now" to the more thought out and reasoned responses and we've already implemented many changes based on that feedback. We have a lot coming down the road that's in direct response to feedback, but overall the reception of Skyforge has been pretty positive. A few mechanics have been polarizing with players defending the mechanic and other players flat out against the mechanic, but overall we're very happy with the feedback and are constantly making changes.
MM: Are you still seeing player numbers rise and interaction time metrics rise?
AB: Yes, those numbers are on the rise, even through the few server issues we've had to address we always see the player base growing and the numbers going back up as soon as we get things back online.
MM: You mentioned polarizing items, so let's get this one out of the way. I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't ask about Spark Limits. Initially, the idea behind them seemed to be that they kept players grouped around a similar progression path. Now with prestige scaling and content that ignores the caps, why the hell are the limits there? Will they be changing or even going away at some point?
AB: The spark limits are there for several reasons. Initially, yes, we didn't want players getting so far ahead other players couldn't catch up. We're implementing a future upgrade that allows players to catch up faster. Now, they serve to kind of nudge players into playing the Order, PvP, and other game features that all add into player growth.
MM: How do I word this delicately then...it almost seems to me that you're forcing players into other things even though I feel like pushing the Spark gain is the fastest way to grow as a character. Shouldn't I have incentive to do other things rather than be forced to by a cap on one gameplay system?
AB: Yes, you do have incentive to do other things though. For instance, your Order is the system that helps you gain HP. If all you're doing is your sparks, you gain power and can hit things hard but you're a glass cannon with low HP. Customized stats like crit rate and absorption are other incentives to participate in the other Skyforge content. However, part of the long term plan is working with the developers and designers to maybe change some of these things in the future.
MM: Speaking of the Order, you released a dev blog to call attention to this progression path since players, by and large, weren't doing it. Can you take us through the Order, why it benefits players, and how to even do it?
Drew Hahn (DH): One of the biggest things with the Order is that it really helps progress your character so you'll be able to take part in the harder end game content with higher HP and stats. It also allows you to customize your build a great deal and give you things like shield absorption. It allows you to customize your build without having to respec. You can also do all of your Order things on the portal accessible from any browser. Sitting on the bus you can send your followers out and be gaining advancements on your character while not even playing.
AB: We're also looking at implementing things to call more attention to the Order. When we first released, it wasn't necessarily explained the best way which is why we did the dev blog. We're looking at the in game tutorial maybe being expanded a bit in the future to make it easier to get involved with your Order. We're actually looking at a lot of the early game to improve how we get players started.
DH: We've already taken steps like improving the UI in the Crucible of the Gods update to help players understand all the game has to offer.
MM: Big day Friday. First Invasion is coming to Aelion.
AB: Yeah, the first few invasions are basically testing the God's ability to defend the planet with bigger enemies to follow.
MM: This content sounds pretty dynamic. If you don't do certain things the event goes one way versus the other. How does this play out dynamically?
AB: There's a lot of things we're looking to do with this. The first few invasions, the invaders aren't sending their leaders. But if the planet isn't defended it does impact all players. All players lose faith since the people of Aelion don't believe the gods can defend them.
MM: Is this high Prestige only content? How can players of lower Prestige help?
AB: Get into a Pantheon and get your god form and help your fellow players. You need resistances and certain items to be able to fight in the 5 and 10 person content. If you aren't in a Pantheon, you can still get your resistances from other methods, it just takes longer.
MM: What's the highest Prestige you've seen in the Western release so far?
AB: In the West, upwards of 60,000.
DH: There is one guy up at 60,500 and I've personally seen 50-55K running around.
AB: That is someone really working hard, they've been in the game since early access, they get their caps, they work hard.
MM: In theory, there is a cap to overall power. You can only go so far with the Atlas, gear, and Order. Does Skyforge ever become the type of game where everyone gets the latest update's gear then has nothing to do for a while until the next update?
AB: In theory, yes. But because of the way we spread all the progression around from the Ascension Atlas, Divine Atlas, Invasions, Raids, Pantheon Wars and new atlas types coming soon, our aggressive update schedule really doesn't allow everyone to get through everything before something new is being added. We're very aggressive with the content patches. Crucible of the Gods was actually a combination of some Russian updates all put together into one update to add a ton of content at once.
DH: It theory, yes, but it is not possible for most players to "cap" out before the next update.
AB: The upcoming Grand Prix event, for example, is going to give different follower missions and daily content to add to the player's progression already.
MM: Speaking of new content, what can we expect coming down the pipeline for Skyforge?
AB: A lot of big plans. New raids, Pantheon Wars, new invasions with even stronger enemies, new zones...a lot is coming. We're working on releasing updates quicker, as well. We want to get the releases closer and closer until the content is releasing worldwide at the same time. I worked for this goal with a previous game but we didn't quite get there. With Skyforge, we're working hard enough that I think we'll get there.
MM: Sticking to classes currently in the game, what's your favorite class?
DH: I think of myself as an ADD gamer, I'm disappointed if I'm not killing things every 10 seconds. I love Berserker. The skills and attacks suit my gameplay style but I'm curious about what the monk can do.
AB: I like the Kinetic, but the last few weeks I've been playing Archer and it's going to be hard for me to put my Archer down. I really, really like it and I've built it in such a way that I'm utilizing fire and electricity and loving it.
My thanks to Drew and Aaron for spending some time with us!
About the Author
Mike “Magicman” Byrne has been a part of the MMOBomb family for years and serves as the site’s current Editor-in-Chief. His love for MMOs and gaming in general has led him to covering games for numerous websites including Gamebreaker TV and XIV Nation where he proudly displays his fanboy flag for FFXIV:ARR.
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