If you've been following Free-to-Play titles in development, chances are you've heard of Runes of Magic, a new F2P MMO that's being published by Frogster America, Inc. The game is currently in it's final stages of beta so we decided to load it up to see what it was all about. Turns out, it's a rather enjoyable game. So much so, we sat down with the President and CEO of Frogster, Sean Kauppinen, to talk about the games features and similarities to other popular mainstream MMO's.
If you'd like to give the game a try, head on over to the official Runes of Magic website and take advantage of the open beta!
Tamat : Thank you for agreeing to talk to us about Runes of Magic. How are things going in beta?
Sean Kauppinen : The beta has been excellent, with great feedback from the community. We're really pushing for our March 19th launch.
Tamat : What sets Runes of Magic apart from other MMOs on the market?
Sean : We've gotten a lot of feedback that the game feels like the next generation of free-to-play MMO games. I think the quality and the content are both on par with some of the subscription-based titles and the fact that it is free to get into and play makes a lot of difference. Ultimately, the game is fun and that's what matters when you're trying to differentiate your title.
Tamat : During my time playing Runes of Magic, I noticed that the game plays a lot like World of Warcraft. Can you tell us about the features or specific game play aspects that separate the two games?
Sean : There are a lot of differentiators, including updates (we intend to update the game more often than WoW; our Rune System, which lets you make an item better suited to your needs; Dual Class character advancement so you can pick two ways to play the game with the same character. There's also housing, where you can have a house at level 1. Lots of things are different. I think if you look at Runes of Magic you can see that it, like all great titles before it, builds on the ideas that really worked in predecessors. WoW did it, and so has every other title since.
The community starts to expect certain features in a game genre and if you don't have systems in place that deliver game interface and game mechanic familiarity, you can disconnect from the player.
Our goal is to have Runes of Magic be a game that is easy to pick up and play whether you're an experienced MMO gamer, or someone new to games.
Tamat : Let's change pace a little bit and talk about classes. Can you give us a description of the classes that will be available at launch?
Sean : There are six main classes - Warrior (what I'm playing right now), Knight, Ranger, Cleric, Mage and Rogue. The classes are straightforward if you've ever played D&D or other fantasy RPGs. What's different is the dual class system, so there are ultimately 30 different combinations. You'll definitely see some Rogue Warriors and Knight Rangers running around.
Tamat : What's the proposed max level that players can reach? Also, what does the end game look like?
Sean : Right now, the max level is 50, but there is plenty of content for people once they reach the level cap. Raids, guild vs. guild fights and many other high-level and challenging encounters await level 50 players. I will say it does pay to make some friends, because the game is challenging but challenge is usually what end game players are looking for - That satisfying experience of beating massive enemies and major encounters.
Tamat : What's your favorite Runes of Magic feature? Why?
Sean : I'm a big fan of the dual class system. I find that in most games I tend to spend time building up a character, usually in a tank role and then run up a magic user. In this game I can do both with the same character, so the investment and attachment to the virtual "me" I have isn't a choice each time.
The ability to use the Runes to add stats to my items is also a really cool feature. It becomes its own management game on some level, balancing multiple items that add different benefits while trying to find what best suits your play style. You might even call it a mini-game.
Tamat : Now the game is free-to-play but players will have the option to purchase Diamonds with real life currency. What do said Diamonds provide in game?
Sean : Diamonds give access to mounts, extra bag slots, and give you the ability to buy items that can enhance your play experience or the appearance of your character. We didn't want to add anything that you absolutely had to buy to play the game.
Tamat : While we're on the topic of Diamonds, I noticed that they can significantly help you with some quests. How deep does that run in terms of character advancement?
Sean : Diamonds are helpful, no doubt. You can actually play to level 50 without diamonds, but I guarantee the experience is going to be more fun, more rewarding and ultimately more exciting if you have diamonds.
Tamat : In the same vein, will players ever be inadvertently forced to purchase Diamonds to keep up with their friends? For example, if I were to play the game, would there ever be a time where I couldn't participate in an event with other players because I didn't have enough Diamonds?
Sean : There could potentially be a time where we add specific events that you need diamonds to access, but I would see them as being outside of the core game play. As far as keeping up with your friends, that all depends on how you level your character, the choices you make, and your method of playing. If you're always getting killed because you keep attacking Mobs that are 5 levels above you and keep building your experience debt, you're not going to keep up.
Tamat : Alright, well thank you again for talking with us about Runes of Magic. We're looking forward to seeing the game at launch.
Sean : Thanks Tamat. We're really excited to be this close to the starting line and we hope to see the ZAM community in the game.
Andrew "Tamat" Beegle