Interviewee: Scott "Scorch" Brown, president, NetDevil
What is Auto Assault background? Can you tell us about this game’s birth? What was the idea that stood at the base of this game?
When we started NetDevil we wanted to make either a car combat game or a space simulator. We decided to do the space simulator first, which we released in 2001 called Jumpgate. After the release we met with NCsoft, who shares our vision of creating different and fun games and we started the development of Auto Assault. When we started Auto Assault we wanted to create a game that combined all the fun of action gaming with the long term satisfaction that a MMORPG brings. We decided that a post apocalyptic backdrop was a must for a car combat game and from there began to shape the initial design document.
How many races will be in the game and what are the differences between them? Which race do you think is the best?
There are three different player races in Auto Assault: the Mutants, the Biomeks and the Humans. The Mutants are the descendants of the select few humans that actually survived the apocalypse and have become very powerful as well. The Mutants are able to manipulate the contamination that is all around in a number of ways including their hazard mode - where they enter wraith phase and do incredible amounts of damage to anything unfortunate enough to be nearby.
The Biomeks were created by the humans to combat the Mutants and have been advancing themselves ever since. They are enhanced through bionics and mechanical implants to enhance themselves for combat. Their special hazard mode allows them to actually transform their vehicles into massive fighting meks and they can stomp nearby structures while firing the various weapons their current hazard mode includes. Finally we have the humans, who have been waiting underground for a long time, perfecting their technology to allow them to recapture the surface and try to return the planet to what it once was. Their shielding technology is unique and they can use this shielding as a conduit for an ion strike for their hazard mode; this strike is devastating and does incredible amounts of damage. All three races have distinct advantages and disadvantages, and to figure out which race is "best" will be entirely based on the users' play style.
How big is the game’s world? How did you implemented the world’s ”management”?
The goal for Auto Assault was not to make the biggest world ever, it was to make a world that felt full and was always a fun place to be. That being said our highway maps which are shared with lots of other players can be up to 10 square kilometers each. As a player you will visit a number of different highways throughout the game as well as instanced exit maps and towns. You can always travel instantly to any map you have previously visited as well, to help reduce needless travel time. We want you focused on combat and fun not long distant travel times.
Considering that Auto Assault is a MMOG, will the player have to be part of a team or will be able to play the game solo? Which of the races is the strongest in solo mode and in PvP?
We have designed the game to be soloable from start to finish. To be able to just get into a game and play quickly you need to be able to play alone as often much of your play time in many MMOs can be dedicated to just finding a group. Of course, playing in a grop can be one of the most fun experiences you can have in an MMO world. We have built in voice support for players automatically when they group up. And there is an XP bonus for groups as well – a little added incentive for players.
I’m sure that will be a PvP in Auto Assault as well. How do you intend to implement that? Will we have PvP between the races or only between two players?
There are two very different types of PvP in Auto Assault. First, there is arena based PvP. These are arranged matches between equally matched teams. The matches can be one player versus another or even clan versus clan. The results of the arena battles are all visible online at the Auto Assault web site and you can see how you or your clan ranks versus everyone else. The other form of PvP in Auto Assault is a more open PvP that takes place on the contested maps like Ground Zero. Out on these maps you have random encounters with other players while completing missions and can fight over the outposts to gain special abilities and rewards for your convoy and your faction.
Let’s talk now about the cars. How many cars will be in the final version of the game? Can a player have more cars or he will have to stick to the first one?
There are over 150 basic car chassis in the game now and more will continue to be added after launch. Each vehicle is dynamically generated, just like all other items in the game, so that the statistics will vary each time the same base car type is found in the world. You might have one version of a vehicle with a higher top speed, more storage space or a combat bonus. Players will own a number of different vehicles while playing Auto Assault, likely equipping the different vehicles for different situations in the game. For example, you might have a flame bike setup for enemies weak against flame and a heavily armored vehicle for a situation requiring as much hit points as possible.
You have to destroy the opponents with something. What weapons we will have at our disposal and how many ?
There are over 1800 unique base weapon types in Auto Assault. These are fed into the dynamic loot generator to create virtually limitless numbers of weapon possibilities. Let's say you just killed a level 30 creature, the generator would pick a base weapon graphic, pick the damage, range, refire rate and more. After this then the game decides if any enhancements should be added to the weapon like a combat bonus or explosive rounds. This type of system will mean that players will always be looking for better items throughout the gaming world. There is everything from modern machine guns, shotguns, flame throwers and tank cannons to futuristic missile racks, lasers and particle projectors.
I presume that Auto Assault will have crafting, trading and skilling. Can you give us more details about this?
Crafting in Auto Assault is the repair of broken items into functional items. When you find a broken item it tells you the components you need to repair it. If you follow the required pieces exactly and you have the training discipline required you could repair the item. You can also experiment with the item while repairing it as well by adding additional components and the game will randomly add new abilities to the item, influenced by the components you add. The more complex the components, the better chance you have for failure when experimenting. To improve your crafting skills, you can reverse engineer any functional item to change it to a broken item, getting better and better each time you do this process. The parts you need to repair are typically found throughout the game in the old world structures that have survived the apocalypse, giving players another reason to destroy everything in their path.
Like in all the MMOG, the player will level-up. How is this implemented? What can you tell us about this?
Leveling in Auto Assault is very similar to any other MMORPG. When you get enough experience you go to the next level. While you mostly get experience from completing missions you can also get experience from killing AI or other players as well. In the later PvP maps you can additionally get experience from capturing and holding outposts and obelisks.
How big is the “replay” factor and why a player would want to try something else in Auto Assault?
Each race has a different lead designer who has crafted each race's gameplay into a very unique experience; this approach leads to a very different experience. Additionally each of the classes brings out different play styles as well.
Considering that Auto Assault is in a real competition with a lot of other MMOG, which players do you think will prefer Auto Assault to other games? And what are the things that will make them change their minds?
Auto Assault offers several features over other MMO experiences. We are of course not another fantasy game so we provide a very different setting for players looking to try something new. Our extremely fast gameplay and destructive physical environment is something that players will have never experienced before and should bring many new action gamers to the MMORPG genre. Our crafting system is something that our players are really enjoying and crafters will have a really fun time putting together new items in our world as well.
Since our website has a development section too, what can you tell us about Auto Assault development? What tools did you used for animation, sound, graphics?
While developing Auto Assault, the programming has all been done with Visual Studio from Microsoft. The art team uses 3D Studio Max and Photoshop. The design team use Photoshop and our own internally developed tools to create their worlds.