Jason Wivart Steven Sharif PAX Interview 2017-09-07

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Steven Sharif PAX West Interview with JASON WIVART - 9/7/2017 [1]

  • [0:01] Jason: What’s up guys. We’re here with Steven Shariff, creator, developer of Aoc. I’m living vicariously through this man here. I’ve thrown more money at this game than any other game ever before. My wife’s probably going to kill me, but she knows I mean. Steven is doing what every other gamer wants to do, is make an MMO, because so many games out there just don’t get it right, it’s so frustrating.
  • [0:30] Steven: I 100% agree with you. Before I even began Intrepid studios and created AoC I was sitting there behind the computer frustrated, thinking why are they doing THIS, why aren’t they doing THIS, and I just finally got so fed up and had the ability to do it myself so I decided to do that.
  • [0:48] Jason: That’s like everybody’s dream. I’m sure if your watching this you’ve probably had that dream to and been like “I can do that better” so we’re going to find out here, and they have done an amazing job. In just three months they’ve built the entire PAX demo, animations, combat, in just three months, that is Insane
  • [1:07] Steven: Our team worked really hard in the past 90 days building this PAX demo both the arena and open world experience. Yes, we’ve technically been in production since Feb. 2016, however, a lot of that was getting the design architecture worked on, but not a lot of the code was in yet. We’ve just started putting that stuff in just after our kickstarter, because we knew we wanted to make a hard push for PAX and the display here. We’re not your average kickstarter game, we’re here actually showing you something that is playable and fun and gives a pretty good taste of what the game will be like.
  • [1:42] Jason: Of course, I’ve demoed the game and it’s fun, I did the PvE experience, I haven't dipped my feet into PvP yet, but I’m sure it’ll be a blast. I’ve heard and seen some reviews online from reddit, discord, etc. it seems like the online feedback is more negative whereas is you talk to people here it’s almost all positive, so I think it’s something you just have to get your hands on and feel.
  • [2:10] Steven: Here’s the big thing about a pre-alpha experience. This is an entirely iterative process, meaning we’re going to go through many different changes as we bring it out to alpha and beta and a big part of making the quicktime event or combat situation more fluidic and comfortable is the UI aspect. I mean we don’t want people looking down on the screen away from the visuals in the game, so we’re going to have a highly customizable way for players to move around each individual element of the UI. They can change it from a bar to a circle. They can basically make it the way they want to so it feels good. Obviously, we’re going to take into account feedback, but here at PAX everyone has been extremely positive with the combat system, world, graphics, characters, skills, animations - it’s been awesome
  • [2:57] Jason: Yeah, I was shocked to see some of the skills and animations that came up. I will admit I was disappointed with how the cleric did the staff thing, I was like dude that’s (terrible). I mean pre-alpha, I can’t complain, it’s just stunning. I’m a huge economy guy, to my knowledge these economies in AoC are all going to be local things, there’s not going to be a global AH or anything.
  • [3:24] Steven: That is correct, there’s no global AH or global warehouse. Markets exist locally. They are regionalized, you have to transit goods from region to region. If you want to craft something in region A it’s going to require resources from region C and you have to transport it through region B and that’s going to be risky. We want the game to have risk vs reward. We want people to actually cherish and have satisfaction with their rewards.
  • [3:52] Jason: Have you thought about mail? If it’s a local economy you can’t really do instant mailing of items.
  • [4:05] Steven: Because we’re regionalized there won’t be any mailing of items.
  • [4:08] Jason: Yeah, because you could sit alts all in different towns, and just kind of get around the system. So, good news guys he’s thought of that - he’s a gamer he knows. We’re going to try to exploit everything. Another concern, for example with nodes, do you roughly know how many nodes the world will have?
  • [4:28] Steven: I can’t tell you yet. Obviously we have a number in our hand, we’ll build A and B with that number in mind, but the scope of the project with regard to the size of the map and the number of nodes that will be present, we want to aim for around an 8000 concurrent users per server, so we’ll have to play around with some numbers.
  • [4:54] Jason: Think of nodes like states, like in the U.S., say you're in California, what need is there for me to go to New York, to interact with the nodes over there, what’s going to make me want to go to someplace super far off.
  • [5:12] Steven: Each node is going to have it’s own type of services. Those services are going to be dependant on a few things 1. The state its advanced to 2. The type of node 3. The decisions that the local player government has made in regards to offered services and 4. the affiliation it has with different nodes. Nodes can have variations. They can be allies, enemies, or neutral - that type of affiliation will unlock certain services that are available to the citizen of the node that has the affiliation with sister/neighbor nodes. It’s going to incentivize you to move through the world to interact with different places, because you're going to have the option of questlines through the citizenship of the node you're part of.
  • [5:53] Jason: So quests will take you across the world?
  • Steven:Yes, and nodes are interconnected in that sense. When one node pops up somewhere, the place where you have your citizenship is going to have quest arcs that lead you to other nodes.
  • [6:09] Jason: Awsome, I was kind of worried, most people will get into a groove, and build up the place where they live. Why leave? That also leads into expansions so when you release new content of course you’ll have new questlines in the old places to lead to the new places that have unlocked.
  • [6:36] Steven: Right, absolutely - There’s going to be questlines that unlock relating to other nodes. That will take people across the world.
  • [6:45] Jason: I saw with the PvE experience here there was a lot of dialogue options is that something you're going to go back to. I know you're huge into DnD.
  • [6:56] Steven: I’m a DnD and Pathfinder player absolutely. I love story and lore and want it to be a very integral part of your experience in AoC it’s a factor of emersion. It plays towards emersion in world. We’ve just announced our composer is Bear McCreary who is an amazing composer. When we include music and visuals and story together you can get lost in the world. That’s what I want; people to get lost in AoC.
  • [7:23] Jason: It’s so gorgeous I don’t want to leave. Will you have anything like - you’ve played for four hours, you have to take a break
  • [7:36] Steven: That might be a legal requirement, I think
  • [7:40] Jason: Any other big news out of the livestream today/yesterday? I’ve been enjoying PAX and haven't heard what’s going on here.
  • [7:51] Steven: We announced our composer, we announced our A0 date Dec. 15th, 2017, so this year we’re able to pull it off, and our third announcement is the name of the world is Verra. We’re going back to the planet Verra which is your homeworld.
  • [8:07] Jason: Make sure you sign up on their website to win free A0 in their raffles. Thank you so much
  • Steven: I appreciate it.
  • [8:20] Jason: I love it, I can’t wait to see more, I’m just shocked and amazed that you're here at PAX already. I’ve told some people that this does not feel like a kickstarter at all. This feels like a AAA studio. Is that what you're going for?
  • [8:37] Steven: Well that’s really who I’ve hired. I’ve hired people who are absolute veterans in the industry who know what they’re doing, who have been through the block on MMORPGS specifically. We don’t have that indie feel because we’re people who have experience.
  • [8:50] Jason: Definitely you have the money to back it up to. You said something on the kickstarter that resonated with a lot of people ‘if this game doesn’t release I’ll refund your money’ and people were like huh? He’s that rich?
  • [9:06] Steven: Well the important thing about the crowdsourcing was that we did it not for funding, but that we wanted community development and marketing. When you're a brand new startup with a brand new IP you need to get the word out there, and kickstarter is one of those platforms. So it was a no-brainer to go that way. The refund thing, kickstarter had a stigma, I wanted people to know this wasn’t your average kickstarter. We are somebody who has actually funded. We’re going to complete this project with the communities help.
  • [9:42] Jason: One last question, combat I know you said it’s about 20% of what it will be, where do you see it going in the future, when do you think we’ll see the fully polished version.
  • [9:55] Steven: I believe we’ll see a very close to complete combat product state of polish near the end of 2018.
  • [10:06] Jason: What’s it look like in your vision?
  • [10:09] Steven: For my vision of combat, I want to see players have a choice in, when they’re building out their skill tree they’ll be able to choose from more tab targeted oriented skills or more action oriented skills. So you can tailor your experience towards one or the other, or you can mix the two together. I want it to be strategic, I want it to require movement and situational awareness. I want it to feel fluid and comfortable.
  • [10:37] Jason: For the time to kill, some people think it might feel sluggish, are you planning on keeping the time to kill high?
  • [10:43] Steven: I don’t think it’s too high right now compared to some past games, but it might get faster. Part of pre-A is developing those skills and trying to balance them very quickly without iteration or playtesting. This is literally before our Friends and Family. We kind of just ran with these numbers. I made these numbers with my experience as a gamer, we just kind of put it in the blueprints. It’s working out okay. I might want it to be a little bit faster when it comes to kill time, but I think it’s pretty close.
  • [11:17] Jason: Keeping it like this allows a lot of strategic gameplay.
  • Steven: Absolutely
  • [11:27] Jason: It allows you to counter / react not just one shot you're dead or get a lucky critical in. It’s more strategic.
  • [11:35] Steven: It’s going to stay around this feeling, when I was putting numbers in, it was meant to be this kind of time. It might get a tiny bit faster, but it’s relatively stable.
  • [12:00] Jason: Thank you for your time, good luck guys! I’ll continue to follow AoC content. I can’t wait to see more.


  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRvKtEICKqQ