During the recent Tencent annual press conference which was held on 16th April, Moonlight Blade 3rd close beta test (CBT) has been announced to commence on 1st July, 2014. An exclusive interview with the developer has been conducted on the new features highlighted in the latest video and upcoming updates to the game.
1. The latest video demonstrates a lot of new environmental effects. Do these environmental effects only apply to certain maps?
Certain new weather effects are applied throughout the maps but there are certain characteristic effects which are only applied in certain area, for example Sea of Cloud in Xiangzhou, Zhenwu faction (真武门派) map. Although the effect is very cool, it is not suitable to be applied in every map. There is also the dandelion effect in Yundian area (new map), which is only triggered by a special quest. Overall, we believe that weather effect must match the environment setting, and not just purely to make things look cooler.
2. In the previous test, we notice the weather effects such as rain and thunder are added to the game. The latest video has shown that new weather effects such as typhoon and miasma have been added. Does the effect introduce any new element in the gameplay?
In the 3rd beta test, we have developed the unique “Rain Chronicles” system. This system can predict the weather effect in all Moonlight Blade world maps. These weather effects would influence the gameplay in certain manners. For more details, please refer to the “Developer’s Diary” episode 1 which will be released soon. The effect is fantastic; when i saw the “big dipper” clearly in the night sky (in game), i was very touched.
3. Previously, invisible barrier was implemented in game. However, it is noted in the video that, the invisible barrier has been removed. Why is that so? All the invisible barriers are removed or only certain ones?
In the second CBT of Moonlight Blade Online, we did implement the invisible barrier as a form of edge blockage. Taking into account the high mobility of characters during battle, we think that barriers should be put in place; similar concept has been applied in offline games such as Onimusha. However, after last CBT, many players think that the existence of invisible barriers heavily restricted the freedom of the gameplay. Therefore, we quickly made modifications after the 2nd CBT to suit players’ requirement.
4. From the latest video, the movement of the horse which was heavily criticized by players previously, has been improved significantly. The movement is very natural and smooth, can you share with us the story behind the development?
To put it simply, there are 2 aspects which we have improved: “Shape” and “Motion”. For the shape aspect, we adopted the Akhal Teke horse (from Turkmenistan) which is widely known as one of the best horses, to highlight the aesthetic and beauty of the horse. For the motion aspect, initially, we tried to use motion capture based on real running horse. However, this alone cannot reach our expectation. After repeated trial and error, we realize that we must focus on the magnification and modelling of horse running animation, to reach the standard we are aiming for. Apparently, our work has been recognized by players based on the video.
5. The coming 3rd beta of Moonlight Blade Online is almost 9 months from the previous CBT and the duration is as long as 3 months. This version of the game seems to be pretty complete. However, so far, there hasn’t been any official introduction of the core gameplay of the game. Can you tell us more on this?
MMORPG is supposed to accommodate a huge variety of players, including pro’s who enjoy group PK or PvP, working adults who can only play for less than 1 hour a day, casual players, and those who like to challenge PvE dungeons. If one allows a certain type of gameplay to become the core gameply, it would cause only certain group of players to continue staying in the game while others who don’t enjoy the gameplay are forced to leave the game. This type of gaming eco-system cannot be described as a “rich and colorful virtual world”.
At the same, although MMORPG’s in the market has increased over the year with improved graphics and quality, the gameplay restriction and singularity are actually worse than earlier games. MMORPG’s which is supposed to focus on player-to-player interaction has become a mechanical human-to-machine interaction, for example, repeated running a certain dungeon to obtain gears.
Genuine MMORPG should provide a platform, which has a certain sets of rules. Players can choose the direction of the gameplay freely within the set of rules.
For example, in this coming CBT of Moohlight Blade, the highest grade equipments are crafted by players and the materials required are scattered among different types of gameplays. They can be traded and distributed through a variety of social means. Furthermore, the growth of equipment does not require players to run a dungeon repeatedly to obtain the necessary items. The equipments are enhanced through new and innovative ways.
The growth of character ability is an important part in any RPG (including offline and online games). Gear upgrade is a key aspect of character growth. We have introduced some bold ideas to increase the freedom in the gameplay design for this aspect and encourage players to craft and trade their gears.
At the same time, we hope to reduce the strain on players due to the stress of leveling their characters. As compared to the second beta, we have introduced level-matching mechanics and enriched the gameplay revolving social identity to enhance the joy of gaming.
Last but not least, in the current market where MMORPG is trending towards gameplay singularity, we hope that Moonlight Blade Online CBT would bring forth a new gaming experience. It is time for the present boring kungfu world to welcome a new wave of change!