Kingdom Under Fire II Interview – It’s finally coming
We have talked a lot about Kingdom Under Fire II recently. Blueside is finally getting to the final development stages of this gargantuan MMORPG/RTS, after six long years of development. We have reached to the development studio to learn more about this game: brace yourselves, for there is a lot to read ahead, thanks to Executive Producer Sang Youn Lee. Enjoy!
Q: First of all, the game has been in development for almost six years. Can you briefly explain the reason for this huge delay? Basically, Kingdom Under Fire missed the entire Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 generation.
A: At the beginning, the goal of Kingdom Under Fire II was to be released as console title (on Xbox 360) but we stopped developing that version because we changed the direction of development to PC online version first. Also, planning for development as MORPG has changed to MMORPG while we were developing even for the PC platform. It’s important to keep community alive in online games but MO have limits about that. I mean that it’s hard to supply long term service. So we needed more time to develop as MMORPG. Our original goal was starting OBT on last December.
Q: Originally, Kingdom Under Fire II had been announced as MMOARTS (Massively Multiplayer Online Action Real Time Strategy). Is this still the correct way to address the game in terms of genre? What changed during the long development in terms of design direction?
A: I can say that Kingdom Under Fire II has become more a genuine MMOARTS game. When we started this project action-gameplay parts had took up relatively high and there was a lack of community system which supports interaction between players. After we have enhanced the game structure as MMO we have been taking care of balancing three points – Action, Level up and Strategy – and also so called End Contents. We added lots of contents to game which was necessary to switch from MO to MMO.
Q: I understand Kingdom Under Fire II will have an open, persistent world. Is there going to be any kind of PvE activity like dynamic events forcing players to band together in order to defeat invading monsters, or is this reserved for instances?
A: I think you can find the answer at the recently uploaded video on YouTube. The video is about invasion mode which 16 players cooperate with each other and defeat great number of incoming enemies’ wave. Our goal is to make 50 players participate in this mode and enjoy the game. Also Kingdom Under Fire II support various PvE mode. In raid mode, you will meet the powerful monster type which is called “Disciple”.
Players should participate in missions with other players except in the early part of the game, where it helps players to get better items and equipment. Basically, in Kingdom Under Fire II, players will be absorbed in contents focused on PvE which is fighting against troops and commanders until mid level. Monsters who appear in this mode will vary from troops to raid rank monsters, called “Disciple”. Player can never beat them alone. More powerful and stronger monsters are waiting players at the latter part of the game. As we have developed the game for a long time, there are numerous monsters ready to fight the players. High level players will enjoy the battle against raid rank monsters with PvP contents.
Q: How big is the persistent open world? Will it be possible for every player to have his/her own castle in an instance, or will they have to fight to gain a limited spot in the open world? Also, are you going to have bigger keeps for groups of players like guilds?
A: Lots of races live together in Bersia continent which is the background of Kingdom Under Fire II. They fight against each other and there are 3 factions. Players with his/her own character and troops can make alliance with other players and have war for territories. If the players win, they can own the territories. If the player own the territories they can gain specialized item or resources more easily and manufacture stronger weapons or gain lots of wealth. There can be a guild who own all the territories and if they defend themselves from other guilds for certain period, they will get the badge which stands for honor. This badge will give more privilege to guild members than other players. There are no territories for individual players.
Q: I know that territory control is going to be an important part of the MMO, but I’m a bit confused over the warring factions. You originally mentioned three factions (Human Alliance, Dark Legion and Encablossa), which meant 3-way fights similar to the RvR from Dark Age of Camelot, Guild Wars 2, Planetside 1/2 etc.; however, you always talked about guilds as well and now I’m also reading about Nations on the official website, with the ultimate goal of “becoming the ultimate ruler of the continent”.
Does this mean that guilds can band together and form a Nation to rival the three NPC factions and fight against them for territories?
A: We can say that the ultimate territorial dispute of Kingdom Under Fire II happens between guilds. Territorial dispute will occur in the vast neutral area, which exists in Bersia continent. Once a guild has fulfilled some basic requirements, that guild will have authority to establish a nation and to create a castle within their nation. A guild can gain benefit by expanding territories. To expand the territory they should attack the territory which is owned by another guild. A guild should invite other strong players or make alliance with other strong guilds to defend their territories. Basically all guilds belong to one of the three Factions, so competition will happen among guilds. And the more a Faction becomes stronger, the more guild which belongs to the Faction will become stronger as well.
Q: Clearly, sieges are going to be an important feature in Kingdom Under Fire II. What kind of rules have you established? Will it be possible to besiege another player/guild/nation at any time, or will there be specific windows of time for sieging in order to avoid losing your hard-earned castle at 4 AM? Also, are you planning anything like the ability to be warned via an iOS/Android app or via the website when the player is disconnected from the actual game?
A: The War will be occur at a certain time which is decided by different rules depending on the battle zone. We haven’t announced yet but players will be able to check the status through web and mobile app.
Q: Housing is becoming quite important recently in the MMO space, and every game is trying to add nice options to it. Will players be able to customize their personal/guild/nation castles or keeps with decorations, trophies etc.?
A: Guild can gain lots of resources which can be earned in the territory they own. However, customizing their own territories is a privilege which will be given only to those guilds who achieved the stage of unification territories. We will give certain benefits to these guilds so that they can mark the area with the name they want or give them certain advantages in the economy which happens in the guild’s area. In this area, players can meet the NPC with guild member’s name or memorial stone or statue which represents the guild. We have discussed about giving eternal benefits in the beginning but we decided not to as it could harm the balance of entire game. When we have a better insight about this, we’ll update the game accordingly.
Q: Speaking of the single player campaign, how much time do you anticipate will be needed to complete it? Also, will players be able to play together the storyline or is coop mode completely separate?
A: Basically Kingdom Under Fire II is not separated by single and multiplayer modes. Let’s assume that single play is defined as the range at which one player can proceed. If a player plays this game 4 hours per day, the player will experience most of the single player campaign in Kingdom Under Fire II in two months. However, it will take more time to know all the detailed stories hidden in the Bersia continent. Secrets can be protected by powerful monsters, or the player may need lots of other players as teammates with certain qualifications to enter a specific area.
The early part of storyline can be all played alone, but the player will need allies for the latter half because of the level of difficulty. But Kingdom Under Fire II is an RTS as well, so when a player trains his troops very efficiently and creates a brilliant strategy at the same time, then he might be able to overcome a difficult mission on his own.
Q: What kind of modifications and enhancements have you brought to the basic action/RTS gameplay that gamers loved in Kingdom Under Fire and its expansion?
A: We have developed Kingdom Under Fire II as a sequel to the storyline and gameplay of Kingdom Under Fire : Crusaders and Kingdom Under Fire : Heroes.
Basic troop strategy and action strategy play with heroes fighting against enemies with their troops are inherited from the former games. Furthermore, we developed the gameplay elements so players can focus more on action strategy. But the scale of game is obviously incomparable with previous titles. Kingdom Under Fire II is very huge in scale.
I can say that previous titles are Troop Tactical Game and Kingdom Under Fire II is a strategy game with grand size of troops. Though the game has developed in this way, if we let players control more troops that would be too much stress to them and then they can’t really enjoy the game. So, we made it possible for one player to control some of troops easily and when they cooperate with other players it will complete the huge size of strategy fights.
Heroes can use more powerful actions with skills and there are many troops that have a specialized strategic function. Eventually, Kingdom Under Fire II is more perfect as massive strategy game compare to former entries in the series.
Q: The game always looked stunning; are you using DX11 specific effects now? Is there a hard-coded limit of how many players can participate in any given fight, especially in PvP? With that graphics, performance is a bit of a worry for some.
A: We didn’t use DX11 on the officially released video so far. We only used DX9. Probably, it would be impossible to create higher quality than our game play video with DX9. I think we can release the video with higher visual quality with DX11 after some more development.
One player can enter the battle field with hundreds of soldiers. As our Blueside engine can express 10,000 units on one screen we don’t have any problem with that.
But there are still some limitations not because of our engine, but rather because of network bandwidth. Also, if there are too many players at the same time there will be chaos which will influence badly on smooth strategy play, so we had to put a limit to the number of players in a single battlefield.
Our goal is to make it possible that 50 players can play together with many armies in invasion mode; currently, 16 players can play this mode in game.
It’s always possible to play at least on GeForce 7600GT and keep more than 30fps. You don’t have to worry about high system requirement or anything else.
Q: You recently announced the PlayStation 4 release. Did you choose this platform because it’s the most powerful console? Is there any chance to see the game on Xbox One eventually?
A: Since PS3 led the market, we have developed Kingdom Under Fire II as PS version for consoles. The official reason for developing on PS4 is that PS4 has the best hardware system in console history and SONY’s marketing policy about online game has many thing fit with our service policy. Also, we thought the machine is well made when we saw PS4 development kits. I like the development environment which is similar to PC and feel that SONY showed lots of careful consideration to developers. About Xbox ONE, we are still considering the chance as well.
Q: Speaking of the PS4 version, are you going to use the touchpad? It seems like it could be very useful for the RTS components of the game. Also, will PC and PS4 users play in the same world together or not?
A: We are still having tests about PS4 version control system. In order to make the Hero’s action and troop strategies work effectively, players should use all buttons of DualShock 4. We are under development, at the moment players can control Hero and troops easily with touchpad of DualShock 4.
Technically cross-platform which makes people to enjoy game on different platforms is not impossible. Actually, we access in game with PS3 and PC at the same time for development in the office. However, we decided not to allow this because of business reasons. First of all, payment option is very different based on platform and user’s support control is also quite different from each other. So if this happens it may cause lots of chaos in game. As we decided not to allow players access from different platforms at the same time, we are under development to make each platform have unique features on contents and technology.
Q: I understand that you’re finally close to release in Korea. How long do you anticipate will be needed to bring the game to the West? Do you already have partners for USA/Europe?
Are you planning beta tests in the Western countries and if so, when?
A: Kingdom Under Fire II will open service gradually in Asia, North America, Europe and other countries in 2014 beginning with SEA service. We already made publishing contracts with most of countries except North America and Europe. Currently we are before the contract accomplishment for North America and Europe, we are having full discussions with many major publishers. We will soon announce the good news to players in North America and Europe.
We hope we can have beta test in Europe and North America in 2014 and this will be decided with local publishers.
Q: By the way, MMOG Asia Facebook page posted these requirements - are they real? Because they seem a bit low.
A: This is true. As I already mentioned, this is possible thanks to our in-house developed Blueside engine. We have developed our in-house engine to express high quality actions of Hereso and at the same time huge scale troop battles in real time. To make it happen, we have used Animation Caching method which can process massive numbers of units in real time efficiently and we have also developed Parametric Blending that can generate various animations of characters in a natural way. Especially Animation Caching is one of the core techniques which enables to process the movement of over 10,000 units, even with low-end hardware.
This is an original feature of Blueside Engine that no other commercial engine has announced yet.
Thanks for your time, and best of luck with the final phases of development!