By Dustin Malcom
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An independent game studio called CubeForce Media is currently in production of an MMO entitled “Aerrevan”. Like many fantasy-based MMO’s, Aerrevan has all the major elements seen today in the MMO market, and hopes to capture the imaginations of players on the continent of Lurris, which has recently been exposed to a magical element called “Aer”.
Aerrevan features a skill-based system with 14 different skill categories and numerous character backgrounds. Project Manager Sean Oosterveen explained, “In Aerrevan, there are no classes; instead, players choose a background when they create their character. A background allows you to decide what kind of life your character has led up to this point. Choices will include Noble, Farmer, Commoner, and much more. Each background has minor advantages and disadvantages, as well as, different starting inventories. For example, a noble may start with more money and slightly more intellect, but may lack in strength. A background does not limit your character. A noble could become a powerful warrior despite lacking in starting strength.” This open and customizable system permits each player to define how they will play the game. Your choices impact what skills and powers you will acquire over the course of your adventures.
Oosterveen continued, “Our skill system divides skills in to 14 categories. Within each category are five skill chains. Each chain shares a common type, such as single target, area of effect, etc. Every skill has its own level that advances as the player uses that skill, and each chain advances as the player uses it, unlocking new skills in that chain. The first skill in a chain is taught by a trainer NPC; whereas, the others can only be unlocked with use.”
Over time it is possible to attain all the skills available; however, Oosterveen commented that players that choose to do so “will lack focus in a single category and will ultimately not be as effective as a player who increases their skills and attributes tailored to a select few categories, unless they are extremely good at using such a wide range of skills.”
Improving and customizing your character also occurs through acquisition of items and equipment; however, Aerrevan takes a slightly different approach. Oosterveen explained, “Equipment can be crafted, dropped, attained as a quest reward, or purchased from a vendor. While we do not separate loot into categories based on rarity, each drop does have a different drop rate, so rare loot does exist. We have designed Aerrevan to not have any restrictions on items, meaning anyone can wear anything.” He continued that while it would be possible to equip a new character with the best items, your character would not be able to effectively use those items in combat.
In addition to a diverse skill and equipment system, Aerrevan also will attempt to deliver a dynamic NPC conversation system. Oosterveen stated, “NPC’s are much more than just trainers, vendors, and quest givers. Each NPC has a full knowledge of the world around them. Players can interact with NPC’s by typing to them in plain English and the NPC will respond based on keywords in the text. Not only do NPC’s know about the game lore, locations, and monsters, they also have opinions on current topics and events. Many NPC’s even have extensive personal stories. This system is used in conjunction with the in-game quest system to make some questing opportunities only appear if you talk to an NPC to reveal them.”
The quest system being developed for Aerrevan is a break from the typically MMO questing system seen in today’s market. Oosterveen commented, “Aerrevan has no quest indicators, so it may not always be obvious that a particular NPC has a quest for you. Using this approach, we are moving away from the cookie-cutter quests that plague MMO’s where players read a quick quest synopsis and then follow a series of mini-map arrows and exclamation marks to finish a quest.”
Player vs. Player combat is also taking center-stage in Aerrevan utilizing a Guild Control Point system. Oosterveen explained, “Guilds can capture and control points in the game world, allowing them to hold territory. Control points range from small camps to massive capital cities. When a guild holds a point, their guild leader becomes a sort of ruler that can adjust a number of variables such as defense, taxes, trade tariffs, and more. This allows guild leaders to make changes to the world around them and become very powerful players. The Dynamic NPC Interaction system works in conjunction with the control point system, allowing NPC’s to learn the names of their leaders and form opinions based on how well they manage the point.”
While PvP is going to a big part of Aerrevan, players are not required to participate. He stated, “Players can experience all of the developer-made content without entering PvP. PvP enabled players may have difficulty accessing areas within enemy territory; however it is not impossible. A player can experience the entire game whether they choose to engage in PvP or not.”
Player vs. Environment content will also be present and challenging. Oosterveen explained, “The strongest PvE content in the game is designed to be very difficult without a party of players. Our game design is fairly solo friendly, so players who prefer solo play will not be forced to party to complete tasks.”
While development continues, the Aerrevan team is currently in beta testing. Oosterveen continued, “We are a very community oriented development team and we take player suggestions very seriously. I feel that our involvement with the community is another aspect that separates us from most MMO developers.” If you are interested in participating in the test, an application can be found here:
Aerrevan definitely is hoping to make a big splash in the MMO market in the not-so-distant future. Featuring new and potentially ground-breaking ideas, we will be eagerly watching to see if CubeForce Media’s “Aerrevan” will be a great game to explore and experience.
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