Class Matters: Our Interview With Forge Designer Tim Alvis

GF: Before we go I want to talk a bit about the lore of Forge. It’s obviously still coming together but it’s interesting, the idea of this planet where mortals battle to help free elder gods, and I’ve noticed you’re borrowing in particular from Norse mythology.

The lore is being developed for the game that isn’t out yet. What we’ve produced for our beta is just scratching the surface of where we want to go. From a business standpoint, we’re trying to fight off having a gigantic MMO from the start and having to raise too much in order to get there. We focused instead on building a fun game at its core. We have a lot of friends who’ve gone the other route, they’ve built a massive infrastructure, and somewhere along the way someone’s job becomes how to make it fun and playable. It doesn’t always work out that well and then you have this monolithic infrastructure that nobody sticks around for. We decided to go the complete opposite route. We have a large MMO infrastructure planned, but we want to build a great core gameplay experience, and if people enjoy it we build off from there.

The lore is sort of in tandem with that. We’re creating an amorphous planet and people are fighting over the ability to create landmasses. The Norse influence is certainly there in the first faction we’ve introduced. We’re sort of looking at how in the Star Wars universe, you have nothing but planets with single environments, the whole planet is desert, the whole planet’s a forest, we’re going to go ahead and ignore traditional planet science (laughs), and each faction will have a similarly themed vibe.

So the first faction, their planet is very Norse influenced, the next is going to be sort of ‘Mayan Clockwork’, so their take on what the deities are is going to be very different from that of the first faction.

“The point where you have to break off is if what they’re requesting goes against the overall vision of what the gameplay should be… That kind of feedback you have to be very careful with because there’s a specific experience we’re trying to build that goes after a market that just isn’t being served at all… it’s always a matter of taking that feedback and finding nuggets of what is valid criticism, what are valid pointers, and running with that.”

GF: So the idea is that the same deities define the game world, but they’re interpreted differently by different factions?

That’s it.

GF: So you’re going to launch with just the one faction and introduce more later?

Exactly, more factions will follow. We have five planned right now.

GF: The emphasis is on PvP combat, but are you planning an overarching, goal-oriented narrative to bind the game together?

Yes, individuals, guilds, and alliances will be fighting to create territory rather than fighting to control a fixed landmass. The planet is faceless, so if you win a battle, you get new land but you don’t take land from your opponent. At the same time, the way that the lore will be exposed to players is with our first major gameplay update, called ‘Labyrinth’, in which some of the demigods we’ve discussed actually enter the game. If you’ve played Left 4 Dead, you have one side being the players and one side being the zombies? For Forge, one side becomes a demigod and his minions, the other side becomes Forge classes. We’ll start to introduce some of the lower demigods that way.

GF: What about social features?

One of the items we’ve mentioned in our progression updates is equipment and items. So you’ll unlock these items, which are aesthetic, customization items only, and we’ve put our toes in the water, figuring out how best to build cities that feel authentic but fun to do other things in. Our first showcase of this is Capital Market, the map we just released last week. But certainly, as players join the game, the world as they imagine it will become theirs, there will be social hubs that are somewhat player controlled and player owned.

The Forge beta is available now, free for 14 days and unlimited with a $20 pre-order. The first retail version is scheduled for release on December 1, 2012. See more on the official site. PS: Anyone wants to play, I’m Rosstradamus

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