ZAM talks to Snail Games about its new martial arts MMO
Today marks the North America release of Snail Games' new martial arts MMO, Age of Wushu. Some of you may have been following this game for a while, but for many reading this site you may have some questions about the game. How does combat work? Is there endgame content? What on earth is this Offline content I see mentioned in some of these articles? In an effort to clear up some of these missing details, some of the Age of Wushu development team took the time to answer a few of our questions about their new game.
1. Let’s talk about your combat system. At its core, your site describes it as a “Rock, Paper, Scissors,” system of Overts, Feints and Blocks. I played through the tutorial and learned various skills from the three categories, along with a few Rage skills. How does this system play out as you go past the tutorial and get into multiple-target battles or PvP fights where the participants have access to dozens of skills? In particular, where are you targeting in regard to player responses – is this a system where more casual MMO players will fit in just fine or is the game going to move in more of the “twitch reflexes” direction usually reserved for fighting games?
Regarding the first question: Feint moves beat Block moves, Block moves beat Overt moves, and Overt moves beat Feint moves. Said in a different way, DPS is dependent on Overt moves, Block moves are defensive moves, and Feint moves are used to break opponent’s defenses but with lower damage. This is the so called ‘Rock Paper Scissors’ system. The in-game strategy basically depends on how to use Overt moves properly to deliver damage, or how to make Overt moves effective. Feint and Block moves are strategic.
Second question: in PvP gameplay, the combination of moves from player cooperation is also important. Breaking defenses and dealing damage can be done by different characters to achieve maximum DPS. This system is easy to start with, but becoming a master can take time and practice. That’s why Jianghu witnesses both pros and new players.
What have been the biggest changes you’ve implemented in the extra time you gave the team before launch?
First, we’d like to apologize for the delay in launching the game. We did some adjustments based on player feedback during the Closed Beta. During this period, we polished the localization and improved the game UI to make it better fit the habits of North American players. We hope that our players will have a better gaming experience.
Are there any further implementations you’ve managed to add before today's launch next month?
We have added an interesting Wuxia story for our players in North America, and hope that single player mode will give them a chance to better understand Chinese Wuxia culture. Based on player feedback, we have improved localization and UI interface, so the product fits the needs of North American players.
What do you see players doing as their “endgame” content? Once players have finished learning all of the skills they feel their character needs, what’s available for them to do that continues progressing their character? I see some mention of instances in the Guide on the website, are these traditional MMO instances (e.g. defined loot tables for each boss, same encounters each time, etc.)?
To answer the first question: Age of Wushu provides a highly individualized Jianghu world, with storylines and skill training being only beginner content. If you would like to pursue more content delivered in-game, then Meridians, Flying Skills among other advancements are must-tries, which help players grow a lot. After all that training, real Jianghu life begins.
Second question: Instances in Age of Wushu are dubbed Forbidden Instances. Unlike traditional MMOs, the Forbidden Instances in Age of Wushu involve various possibilities. Players are able to create groups with different sets of people and skills, which demand higher levels of cooperation. Groups may also meet other teams (Assassination Gameplay), so the procedure could be very interesting. Currently, there is no chart for item drop rates from Bosses, as the world in Age of Wushu is random, with no such fixed rates at all.
Another typical MMO endgame type is PvP – given that Age of Wushu is an Open PvP game, I would assume this is the focus, but how does that work with the Slaughter Value Points system? Since players will gain Slaughter Points for killing others they pick fights with, regardless of whether they’re good or evil, is there any benefit to having a high Slaughter Value Point level, or is it an entirely reward-less system to discourage players from killing every player they see? Is there any form of PvP that doesn’t generate these Slaughter Value Points?
In most cases, players benefit from killing other players. For example, killing others who are tagged ‘Crazy’ grants the killer an invitation to Hua Mountain Competition. Players also benefit from saving hostages from kidnappers. The in-game Random Encounter system is also related to Good & Evil ratings, as some Random Encounters will be for those who kill other players a lot and are considered to be on the ‘Evil’ side.
PvP without Slaughter Value includes: School Battle, Sect Battle, Sect Chase, TvT Battlefield, Duels and Competitions.
Recently, you went over your Offline Skills system: when players log out, their characters become NPCs that continues to interact with the world while they’re away. In your post on the subject, you mentioned that it’s contextually based on where players log out, so logging out in a town would have your NPC working at some occupation (e.g. street performer, street sweeper, etc.) and logging out in your school would have your NPC working as a disciple to teach or protect their temple. What determines the role your character will take in each location? Is it strictly what part of town/school they log out in or does the game do some form of tracking to make sure there are not eighty street sweepers and no patrolmen in town?
The offline system is one of the key in-game features of Age of Wushu. Once players log off, regardless of VIP level, their characters will remain online - you may find your friends somewhere, working in a tavern or begging in the streets. Players cannot choose what to do in the offline system, all offline behaviors are decided by the game itself, players might be selling wares, working for stores, patrolling as School Guards, or you may even be kidnapped by other players. These random offline events greatly enrich the game content.
How does offline skill cultivation/training compare to actively playing the game? From what I’ve played of the game so far, I gathered that the experience I earned was converted to cultivation points by some conversion rate. Is offline conversion less efficient than doing so while actively playing? What happens if I tell my character to focus on cultivating, but he runs out of experience to convert?
Offline Skill training terminates when a skill level is complete, but can be continued if the player is online. Non VIP players cannot use offline training functions. Cultivation is based on training, so without training, there will be no increase in cultivation.
When I tried to use one of the Offline options as I logged out for the night, I was told that I needed VIP access to use these features. After looking around on your site, it appears that VIP access requires spending gold purchased outside of the game and that VIP access needed to be refreshed with more gold periodically. Does this mean that the offline options are only available to players who buy gold or is there some form of in-game conversion mechanism like the Gem Market in Guild Wars 2 or the PLEX trade in EVE Online?
As mentioned, the offline system is one of the key in-game features of Age of Wushu. When players log off, whether they are VIP or not, they will still remain online. There is currently no such exchange system in-game, players mainly use offline transactions for such trades. We might consider these functions in later patches.
If I’m not a VIP, what happens to my character as I log out for the night? I cannot choose any of the Offline activities as I log out, does my character still get an NPC to fill in for him while I’m gone?
When players log off, whether they are VIP or not, their characters will still remain online. You may find your friend somewhere working in a tavern or being a beggar in the streets. You cannot choose what to be in the offline system, all offline behaviors are decided by the game itself. These random offline events greatly enrich the game content.
If my non-VIP character gets an offline NPC but there’s no way for him to earn rewards while I’m offline, what does this mean for anyone looking to kidnap him for the free labor? Do they get any sort of warning like “Hey this guy can’t actually make you any money – don’t bother”?
There will be no such warning, but VIP players will receive Official Sliver from offline gameplay, while other players do not. Some players are kidnapped and sold into labor, where the amount of silver the kidnappers receive will not be affected. For those players who receive working labor, there is no difference between VIP labor and non-VIP labor.
While the game is free-to-play, there will be a Special Retail Edition available on April 23 for $19.99 at GameStop and other select retail outlets. This edition will offer over $80 of in-game bonuses, including the single player zone "Twilight Village Adventure" which will allow you to train alongside the legend that is Jet Li. Other features include:
- Two Months VIP Access
- $20 In-Game Currency
- Unique Fashion Set (Available for 30 Days)
- Unique Mount (Available for 30 Days)
If you'd like to know more about Age of Wushu or are interested in trying the game out for yourself, you can head over to their site and read on while you download the client.
UPDATE: To celebrate the launch today, Snail Games has teamed up with ZAM to offer a free Green Dragon Gift Pack. Just head to our giveaway page and remember to confirm your server when you redeem the code. You should receive your pack via in-game mail to your character within 24 hours.
Michael "Ragar" Branham