Class Matters: Our Interview With Forge Designer Tim Alvis

The world of online multiplayer gaming could never be described as ‘unexploited’. Dozens – no, hundreds upon hundreds of massively multiplayer games for gamers of all inclinations compete for your dollars. Of course, things being what they are a few distinct genres have emerged as most common, like fast placed PvP arena style combat or heavy grinding, or long commitment RPGs. Into this environment comes Forge, a class-based multiplayer shooter that combines grind-heavy RPGs and tournament style play with elements from eastern and western games.

In Forge, players take on the role of warriors collected from across the universe to do battle on behalf of elder gods who have been imprisoned. As the gods’ particular champions succeed, so too do these gods grow closer to being freed from bondage. It’s a concept that immediately brings Marvel’s Secret Wars to mind, though it’s about as far from comic book schlock as you can get. Players choose from 5 different, rigidly designed classes that emphasize specific play styles and force you to eschew every-one-for-themselves fighting in favor of real strategy. And in an interesting twist, players fight for the ability to create territory, rather than stealing it from their opponents.

Still in beta, it manages to be exciting and engrossing despite being very much a work in progress. PLayers can look forward something that isn’t just another arena shooter, but also won’t require WoW-levels of their time. It also might be that rare example of an attempt to split the differences between genres that creates a whole better than the sum of its parts. After a 12 hour crash course in Forge, I had the chance to talk at length with designer Timothy Alvis. We talked about the unique space the Forge team is trying to carve out in the gaming world, about the challenge of balancing classes, about truly distinct classes, and their plans for building the game’s unique lore.

Gamefront: Forge is a blend of several styles of MMO games, and I was particularly reminded of Korean fantasy games. Can you talk about what you’re trying build for the final version? Is it a hybrid game?

Tim Alvis: This comes from two games that we sort of enjoyed, but neither one did everything that we wanted. Around the office we kept trying MMOs, but the downside many western MMOs and certainly most Eastern MMOs, is that they put incredible timespans between you and next levels. If I find a game and played it for 6 weeks, in front of someone else and told them about the game, I either sit on that character for 6 weeks, or we both spend several months getting our characters to the top so that we’re both on equal footing. Either way, it just never seemed to work out very well to get both of us playing at the same time.

On the other hand, when we needed something quick, over lunch perhaps, we played something like Team Fortress 2; that was great but it wasn’t the style of game we wanted to play, we wanted fantasy characters like mages, and as much as that might seem like a contradiction of my first point, it didn’t offer enough to work towards. We wanted to have something to work towards, we wanted to have fantasy characters, but we didn’t want to have a massive timespan to get somewhere with them. So we built something that if somebody plays for six weeks and tells a friend about it, they can immediately play together with no loss of ability on either side.

We did look at certain games like Dragon Ball Z, stuff like that which were more action combat oriented than MMOs usually are, but in the end we sort of went our own way.

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