Amazon Games and NCSOFT interview about Throne and Liberty features - Project TL
The portal mmorpg.com published an interview with representatives of Amazon Games and NCSOFT dedicated to Throne and Liberty. The author discussed the differences between the global version and the Korean one, player feedback from the Korean CBT, and the combat system.
We have prepared a translation of this interview.
During Summer Game Fest 2023, we had the opportunity to chat with Merv Lee Kwai of Amazon Games and Design Director Moonseop Lee, and Lead Producer Jongok Ahn of NCSOFT about the upcoming MMORPG Throne and Liberty. Although our conversation did not cover everything I wanted to ask them about, we touched on some aspects of how the company approaches the creation of different versions of MMORPGs, namely the differences between the Korean and global versions of Throne and Liberty.
Throne and Liberty have been in development for six years, going through various stages, from a direct continuation of the Lineage series to what it is now. While NCSOFT has experience publishing games in the West, having worked with ArenaNet on Guild Wars in particular, it turned to Amazon Games to publish Throne and Liberty in the Western regions.
“There were many reasons why it took us so long to prepare,” Jongok Ahn, lead producer on Throne and Liberty, said in an interview. “And one of the main reasons is that we wanted to make enough content before going to market.”
Ahn describes a situation that often occurs in service games, especially MMOs, where players consume content and then leave the game, sometimes not returning. There are also situations where there isn’t enough content to keep players happy. In the end, the Throne and Liberty team decided to take the time to ensure there was enough content to keep players interested right after launch.
“So we prepared the content, quite a lot of content, a variety of content, and then we decided to release the game. And the developers feel like it’s almost done.”
Recently, the Korean closed beta test took place, which gave a glimpse of the state of the game. Since there was no NDA, Korean streamers and streamers from all over the world plunged into the world of Solysium to give their opinion and try this highly anticipated game. The results were mixed, with many frustrated by the inclusion of auto-play mechanics such as auto-combat and the ability to level up a character when you’re not even online.
Others seem to disagree with the combat system, an essential part of any game, as “armless” auto-combat feels different than standard MMORPGs with a targeted combat system, some argue that progress doesn’t work.
In many games, when they are localized, we see regional features either removed or downplayed, we also often see completely different versions of the same game. Games such as Black Desert, for example, do not have content parity with its Western version, while the Korean version of the content appears a few months earlier. This is partly due to localization – it takes a lot of time to localize a game into many languages u200bu200bother than the developer’s native language.
However, when talking to Amazon and NCSOFT about Throne and Liberty, it seems that their vision is slightly different, they approach Throne and Liberty as a single global version.
“One of the things that were very important in our collaboration was the approach to the global version of TL,” said Merv Lee Kwai, Throne and Liberty franchise manager at Amazon Games, when asked about the differences between the Korean and global versions. He continued, “You know that Korean games often release in the home region first, and then we publish them in the West within one or two years. And in the West, perhaps the game is undergoing changes related to “Westernization”. We try to keep this to a minimum as much as possible. Therefore, we worked with NCSOFT to create a global game version rather than separate versions for different regions. This means that since the end of the Korean Closed Beta, players have provided feedback, and we are iterating based on that feedback. The NCSOFT team is addressing player feedback in a targeted manner.”
This means, Kwai says, that when Amazon Games releases technical testing to its consumers, it will consider the feedback received by developers during the last testing – from all sources.
Ahn agreed with Kwai, stating that NCSOFT is not considering the global and Korean versions as separate but is aiming for a single version of Throne and Liberty. He also highlighted the two main pieces of feedback that the team is working on following the results of the first CBT that will affect game changes for all regions: combat and progression.
While these answers don’t do a good enough job of explaining whether Amazon Games’ Western release will include autoplay features that turn many Western consumers off, hopefully, the unified vision of the game doesn’t mean that Western players will be saddled with features that don’t match the desires and needs of players.
The combat system is one of the key areas that players have left a lot of feedback on, and although we only got the tutorial area for the game in our test, it leaves a lot to be desired. However, the idea of combining different weapons – one in each hand – and thus creating your own class – is intriguing.
Basically, each weapon has its own style and skills, from sword and shield to high-damage daggers. You can equip a weapon in each hand, and it will affect the skills available to you. Later, you will be able to equip two different weapon types, one in each hand, to really customize your fighting style.
This means we can see melee mages wielding a dagger and staff or warriors wielding a magic book and a crossbow. These combos provide interesting play opportunities and, according to Moonsop Lee, add depth to combat that goes beyond the traditional class model.
“Weapons are considered a class,” Lee says through an interpreter. “So you can change weapons in real-time, and you can change weapons all the time.
TL also has a feature where a weapon set has your skills for that weapon.”
Lee goes on to describe a feature where you can switch between equipped weapons using their skills in a single panel – something Lee Kwai talked about, as well as a way to create a panel with a global duration for your skills regardless of the weapon. You can have skills from each weapon on the same skill bar and use them normally, seamlessly switching between weapons as you use them.
“Let’s say you use daggers and crossbows as your two weapons,” Merv Lee Kwai further illustrates. “A bard can apply crossbow skills to the hotkey of a dagger. And when we activate these crossbow skills, we switch to crossbows using one global cooldown, and you can do it the other way around. So the skills from the two weapons you have equipped are interchangeable.”
My fears of meta stagnation after players find the best weapon combos for various archetypes may not be all that bad if Moonsop Lee’s vision of improving and adding new weapons to the game to shake things up comes true.
“We are constantly encouraging users to have fun with weapon skill combinations, which will be one of the main sources of fun in our game,” Lee says in our interview.
“I really think NCSOFT hit the spot”, said Merv Lee Kwai, speaking about long-term sustainability and balancing weapon skill combinations. “Every time a new weapon appears in Throne and Liberty, there are all the combinations and synergies that it has with all existing weapons so that users can further tailor and fill the required role for their guild based on which weapon appears. And what they are going to use.