Summary: Exteel, one of the free online games coming up from NCSoft, caught our attention at E3. Now JCal has an interview with the developers to get more details.
FiringSquad: First, how did the idea for Exteel come about?
Sang-In Lee: When we first started planning for a robot-themed game, the entire team had gone to see Matrix 3. We were very impressed by the APU (Armored Personnel Unit) machines and the intense action sequences, and we started seriously discussing how we wanted our game to look. We wanted to create an action-packed, cool robot game with stylized moves.
At first, we thought of using heavy-looking robot designs but concluded that a “heavy” look would not go too well with the fast-paced action game that we wanted to pursue. We added a jet pack component to all the robots to increase their mobility and speed, and started implementing a fluid and dynamic animation style to get to the current look and feel.
FiringSquad: There have been many "mech" style games released in the past. What will make Exteel different from the norm?
Sang-In Lee: We think that many mech-themed games out in the market make you feel like you’re driving a “heavy vehicle” in a dark and gloomy environment, almost like a battlefield. We’re trying to differentiate Exteel by designing robots that, while impressive in size and scope, can still carry out human-like action. We also added the wildly cool animation. The overall look and feel of our game is bright, sleek, and intense.
FiringSquad: What can you tell us about the kinds of mech vehicles and weapons in the game?
Sang-In Lee: The robot types are separated into three categories: basic, mid-sized and speed oriented. Each robot (or Mechanaught as we are calling them in North America) consists of a head, core (upper torso), arms, legs, and jetpack. By equipping different parts, players are able to create a wide variety of visually distinctive robots with very different combat styles. The right combinations and practice will allow players to employ a winning strategy.
Weapons are largely grouped into melee, ranged, siege (two-handed long range), shields, and repair tools.
Keep an eye on www.exteel.com for more info in the coming months.
FiringSquad: How customizable will the game be?
Sang-In Lee: Except for the game’s combat systems, the rest of the content will be customized to fit the North American and European market. We discuss these kinds of changes with our US office in Austin, and we will take into account the elements that are considered the most essential to the US and other western markets.
Sang-In Lee: The basic gameplay for Exteel blends the immersive thrill of an FPS with the furious intensity of Hong Kong cinema. One of the core elements of this kind of frenetic combat is the jetpack. Using the jetpack smartly gives players the feeling of high-speed chases, like driving a race car or engaging in a dogfight. The combat system uses a “soft-targeting system” (or “Auto Lock”), which makes the game accessible to a broad base of fans, but still gives the advantage to those who take the time to master the various weapon ranges and capabilities.
FiringSquad: Will there be any single player modes in the game and if so what can you tell us about them?
Sang-In Lee: There is no single player mode in the Korean version due to the fact that the game was primarily designed for multi-player mode. As we attract a broader player base we believe new users may desire some time to get familiar with the controls and options before being thrown into player-vs-player matches. For that reason, we are planning to add a way for users to get accustomed to Exteel (a sort of tutorial) by using NPCs. Beyond that, there will not be a single-player mode.
FiringSquad: What multiplayer features will there be in Exteel?
Sang-In Lee: There are currently four game modes: Death Match, Team Death Match, Territory Control, and Hold The Line. Among them, Team Death Match and Territory Control are Exteel's primary play styles. Team Death Match is the mode where two teams battle each other. There are no control points or strategic goals. The teams fight until the time runs out and the team with the highest score wins. In Territory Control mode, two teams battle each other for strategic goals. Each team starts with a base, and there are neutral bases spread over the map. You can capture neutral bases and use them as re-spawn points and health pads. If either team captures the other’s home base, the team wins. Finally, Hold The Line pits your team, in defense of your base, against waves of NPC Mechanaughts. If the bots capture any spawn points before the timer ends, the players lose. This is the mode where beginners can become accustomed to the game and this mode can strengthen teamwork among players.
FiringSquad: What main gameplay features do you consider to be important?
Sang-In Lee: Exteel has an Auto Lock (or soft-targeting) system to help targeting. Each weapon type has different strengths and weaknesses, such as rate of fire, damage, range, and cooling rate. The players who best understand how to use their particular weapons in the field will ultimately dominate the battleground.
Sang-In Lee: Another important feature in Exteel is the jetpack, which allows bursts of speed and vertical lifting (high-jumping or minor flight). Using the jetpack efficiently will allow users to swiftly dart around the landscape, adding a degree of high-speed tactics to each battle.
However, some of the most exciting features are the special maneuvers. Using the right combination of weapons, players can execute wild, deadly combination blows. Maneuvers have to be carefully selected and require skill to pull off in combat, but they can turn the tide of a fight. We’re very excited about this feature and hope that the North American players will feel equally excited about it.
As an online multiplayer game, the outcome of every Exteel skirmish will depend on how well players work together to plan and execute a successful strategy. A motley collection of skilled loners will find themselves hard pressed to overcome potentially weaker players who engage in solid teamwork.
FiringSquad: What are the team's favorite mechs and weapons so far?
Sang-In Lee: The Beam Spitter, the Omega Tristone Launcher, and the Ray Chaser are the team’s favorite weapons. The Beam Spitter is a single-handed, futuristic submachine gun; twin guns can be wielded to convey the crazy gun-play of Hong Kong action flicks. The Omega Tristone Launcher is a two-handed siege weapon that launches a single missile. Because it only fires one missile at a time, it is less likely to overheat. Both of these weapons are also easy to use, so you’ll see many players using them. The Beam Spitter has a shorter range, but a wide targeting arc, so it’s easy to hit an enemy in range. The Omega Tristone Launcher, on the other hand, is normally used from remote distances, like a sniper weapon. The Ray Chaser is a long-range energy rifle that has a high damage rating, but also a long recharge time so it requires careful timing. We also enjoy the Death Hurler and Blitz Rocket Launcher, but you don’t see them as often on the battlefield.
Sang-In Lee: The art design for Exteel incorporates sleek futuristic designs and bright, vivid colors. The robots are humanoid in form, and blend Eastern and Western aesthetics. The action is high-speed and dynamic, and draws heavily from Hong Kong cinema. Finally, the movements are fluid and smooth, and the players feel in direct control of a massive avatar, rather than trying to wrestle with a heavy tank.
The backgrounds and maps were also designed to be exotic, alien, and striking. Settings range from futuristic cities, beautiful deserts, high-tech fortresses, alien spaceships, and so on. The details are scaled to the size of the robots, but are familiar enough to be recognizable. Different players will have different reactions to the graphics, of course, but these are the ideas we wanted to express to the users.
FiringSquad: Since the game will be free to play, how will NCSoft support the game? Will additional mechs and weapons be provided for a fee?
Sang-In Lee: NCsoft is still working out details of how the game will be supported here in North America and Europe. The games will be free to download and to play at the basic levels of gameplay. Other levels of gameplay and some additional content will be available for a fee.
FiringSquad: Are there any plans for a beta test of the game to be held at some point?
Sang-In Lee: Yes. We’ll have details at a later date.
FiringSquad: What is the current status of the game's progress and when will it be released?
Sang-In Lee: Exteel is live in Korea. We also plan to launch Exteel in North America towards the end of the year.
FiringSquad: Finally is there anything else you wish to say about Exteel?
Sang-In Lee: Exteel is essentially an action shooter that combines the strategy of an FPS with the deadly action of a fighting game, and adds a persistent character element. Each player’s pilot will grow in experience and rank through PvP battles.
Exteel combines elements from the FPS and action genre to bring players a unique multiplayer online game experience with high quality content that is free to download and play! We hope the North American and European players enjoy Exteel as much as we did in creating it, and we are really looking forward to the launch in each territory.
We encourage players to stay tuned and periodically check our website (www.exteel.com). We’ll be releasing more information in the near future. Thank you.
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