To celebrate the launch of Alganon, the ZAM staff sat down with Jim Younkin and discussed some of their pre-launch promotions and what kind of features made it into the release.
Every year, MMO gamers have one month that seems to be dedicated to the launch of stand-alone games and follow-up expansions. December seems to be that magical month this year, and we’re seeing a batch of expansions from games like EverQuest and Lord of the Rings Online, but we also are heralding the release of the independently developed MMO, Alganon.
To celebrate the launch of Alganon, the ZAM staff sat down with Jim “Tork” Younkin, Community Manager and Evangelist for the title, and we discussed some of their pre-launch promotions and what kind of features made it into the release of their MMO.
ZAM: Your Alganon Immortal Contest recently concluded – did you see an influx of new pre-orders thanks to that promotion?
Jim Younkin: We're proud to announce the winners of our recent Alganon Immortal Contest. These winning MyAlganon users showed they had what it takes to become Immortal. Hakiem, "Legendary" Winner, Silverback, "Epic" Winner, Vannor, "Worthy" Winner and Fizen, "Pre-order" Winner.
The winners are currently working with our designers to create their own permanent Alganon NPCs. These NPCs will be part of Alganon forever. We want to thank all those who participated in the Alganon Immortal Contest. Look for more special promotions and contests as we continue to spread Alganon to the world.
ZAM: The Studies system is an interesting take on the sort of offline character advancement a person might see in a game like EVE Online, and you’ve mixed that with the leveling mechanic found in World of Warcraft. How do these two systems mesh? Does a lower level player with more “study” time outmatch an high level character?
Younkin: Studies are actually a "support" system for the character, allowing the player to define their core support over a period of years. Combat, Tradeskills, Pets, Base Statistics, Class Support, you name it. It also allows a casual gamer to compete with hardcore gamers because a casual gamer who manages their studies over a period of months will have support systems in place the most hardcore gamer won't have without the same amount of time and focus.
ZAM: Do you feel like you’re alienating those players that focus on achieving everything in the game, especially if they find the title later in its life span?
Younkin: I don't think any player can achieve everything in a MMOG; the worlds are far too big. Granted a new player can't possibly gain the studies somebody who has been playing for two years can without the same amount of time, the studies themselves allow players to gain the focused support in a pretty short period of time - what takes the longest is refining the support studies.
ZAM: How are you tying so many different systems – MyAlganon, Families, Studies, Leveling, and eventually PvP – together and balancing it all? It seems like an epic amount of work.
Younkin: Actually it's all in and working great except for PvP, which we have some neat plans for. Our PvP will be different from other MMOGs through our core action system which will support two versions of each action script, one for PvE and one for PvP. So when you engage in a special class attack in PvP mode, it can behave differently (and most importantly be balanced separately) from PvE.
ZAM: You’ve stated in past interviews that “The Dawning” will be the first expansion for Alganon, and that will be released on December 1st? But isn’t that the date the game goes live? Are you technically releasing an expansion and the game at the same time, or has “The Dawning” been pushed back?
Younkin: The Dawning is what we call a "World Evolution" rather than an "Expansion" — the best way to think of it is an event that "kicks off" an expansion.
The Dawning starts, players participate in it, when they complete the content, then the expansion content comes into play. This "kick off" will start with our headstart on Dec. 1st - and when players complete it, the first set of new, expansion content, will enter the game.
ZAM: Deities seem to play a large role in the world of Alganon, more than what we’ve come to expect from recent MMOs. Is this true? Are we going to see these deities physically alter the world that we’re playing in?
Younkin: Yes, and next year, players will actually see the Deities in the world (embodied by lead CSGMs). Players will also be able to follow deities as well, which will adjust how a player is treated in other deity controlled areas.
ZAM: Are you going to have alternate advancement paths – like crafting, factions, etc – for players to participate in?
Younkin: Yes, both Crafting and Factions are already integrated, so are item purchases (special items with tokens and other faction-based "currency" a player can earn).
ZAM: I’ve scoured the website for any word on in-game housing and I can’t seem to find anything mentioning it. So – will we ever have in-game housing for our characters? If so, will it be an instanced space ala EverQuest II?
Younkin: Alganon has no plans of having in-game housing. We would rather our players are out adventuring and having fun.
ZAM: Alganon will be the first game in quite a while to release without PvP. Do you think this puts the release of the game at a disadvantage?
Younkin: Not in North America/Europe (initially). When PvP is integrated next year, it should be a powerful addition to the growing world.
ZAM: For you, what’s the most exciting gameplay element in Alganon? What should players really be excited about?
Younkin: I think the core. A colorful, vibrant, exciting and immersive world people just want to be a part of. The "feel" of Alganon is wonderful, and the game itself a great experience. Granted the Library, Studies, Families and other features enhance it greatly, what will keep players is the overall "feel and experience" of the game.