We hope you all enjoyed Antman’s adventures within Runes of Magic, dear readers, but we’ve also got something that will delight fans of the game with an interview with Project Manager Phillipp Rosenbeck for the MMORPG at Frogster. He talked to us about how the game was conceived for our market by their team, how the free-to-play model fits in with Runes of Magic and future planned updates for the game. So, without further adieu, here is Midlife Gamer’s interview with Frogster…
To let the Midlife Gamer readership know a bit more about yourself, could you please let us know who you are and what you do?
Hello, my name is Phillipp Rosenbeck and I’m Product Manager for the MMORPG, Runes of Magic at Frogster.
The next question is one everyone we interview answers here at MLG, what is your favourite beverage and what is your favourite biscuit?
Hmmm… I really like ginger ale and chocolate cookies made by my girlfriend.
Runes of Magic has been around for well over a year now, could you tell us a bit more about the title and what it is about RoM that you think makes it stand out from the WoW-clone crowd?
Runes of Magic offers gamers a large and fantastic world full of magic, fantasy and literally thousands of quests. In addition to that, a huge amount of features like the unique dual class system with which players can obtain a secondary class to enhance the capabilities and skills of their digital heroes. RoM also provides instances with different difficulty settings – instead of raising the difficulty, we lowered it to ensure that newer players are able to master the challenges within the instances while still retaining the harder difficulty level for more hardcore gamers.
There are many more features such as two-player mounts, housing for players and guilds, an ambitious PvP-system including guild castle wars, an automated pathfinding-feature that lets you walk to the next town while being afk and much, much more.
How big is the team at Frogster and how many titles have you now worked on?
There are more than 200 people from all over the world working for Frogster and over 100 working for Runewaker on Runes of Magic. Beside Runes of Magic we run Bounty Bay Online and soon we will publish Mythos and TERA too, which are very ambitious projects that we are proud to have licensed.
Runes of Magic was originally developed by Runewaker Entertainment and then adapted for other markets by your team. What does this process involve and how long did it take for all necessary components to come together?
Runewaker started out with a game named Radiant Arcana for the Asian market. After Frogster came on board, our Game Design-Team and Quality Assurance sat down together with the designers from Runewaker and began to adapt the game to the western game play style – changing and adding a number of quests, features, user interface details and much more. This process took several months and at the end, Runes of Magic was born. Since then we have added more and more features which allows the world to grow continuously.
Employing a free-to-play model of subscription is becoming, albeit fairly slowly, the business model of choice for new MMOs. What are the key advantages in this instance in using such a model, from a business and consumer perspective?
First, let me give you some important details about the free-to-play-model of Runes of Magic because there is a common misunderstanding about how our style of free-to-play works.
In Runes of Magic all important items, even high-end armor and weapons, can be found in instances after defeating a boss and some are offered as rewards for completed missions. Of course you are free to buy things like mounts, jewels for boosting your equipment, or housing-related-stuff, for instance. But we reject a “If you want to be better then pay” philosophy, because it brings imbalance to the game and disadvantages gamers who just want to have some fun.
But let’s get back to the topic and the main advantages for players of free-to-play-MMOs. First of all it is all about no monthly fees. Sometimes even a gamer needs vacation or has a lot of work to do so he can’t play his favorite MMO for a few days. And it’s annoying that you can’t say “Ok, if I won’t/can’t play for a week, I don’t want to pay” within a paid month when you are playing a MMO with a monthly fee. Runes of Magic doesn’t have a fee, so you don’t have to pay if you can’t play.
Moreover, most MMOs with a subscription model need to be bought in stores for 20-40 Euros/Dollars. That’s a lot of money for a CD/DVD and a package. You get the first month “for free”, but you pay for it nonetheless. Free-to-play clients are free to download, there is no subscription fee, and you can start playing for free. Furthermore you can spend money but you don’t have to: in Runes of Magic there is no need to buy anything in the in-game shop. You are free to walk through the wonderful world of Taborea, taking part in intensive fights in PvP-battles or against fearsome monsters in instances. Weapons of any quality can be found in the game too. But if you want, let’s say, one of the cool new two-player mounts – you can buy it for a small amount of diamonds – our in-game currency.
Surprisingly, those are the facts that make the free-to-play concept so interesting for publishers. If you have a great game like Runes of Magic with a huge community, there are always some players who are willing to pay a little money for things like mounts, housing or customisation. Since the game is essentially free, players are free to choose to play Runes of Magic in any way they want. This way, it is much easier to spend your time exploring the virtual world with your digital alter ego than if the game were based on a subscription model.
Are there any further big updates planned for the title, and if so, what can players expect in terms of additional features and content?
Of course we have many plans for upcoming features and new content and there are a lot more ideas in the pipeline. For instance, we’re currently working on new content for Chapter 3. I could name approximately 100 things we are developing with Runewaker right now. but developing and testing features, zones and balancing of items, classes and other stuff takes some time.
What’s next from the team at Frogster, what should gamers be getting excited about in the near future?
After the latest content patches there will of course be a Chapter IV for Runes of Magic. We are also very proud to present Mythos, an action oriented online hack-and-slash RPG originally developed by Flagship Studio. You will hunt fearsome monsters in dark dungeons – alone or in a group – finding a lot of loot and developing your adventurer into a mighty hero. As a first step, Frogster will publish Mythos for the European market in five languages including Turkish. For more information about Mythos and its upcoming beta test you can visit the official Mythos website on http://www.mythos-europe.com. And of course we will publish TERA – www.Tera-Europe.com – in the upcoming year, an action oriented MMORPG based on the Unreal Engine 3.