I haven’t played a MMO since the early days of City of Heroes.
I was unemployed, having been recently laid off after a year’s stint at the now-defunct Sync magazine, and looking for a way to relax between mad rushes to find freelance work. In retrospect, spending $15 a month on a video game wasn’t the brightest idea I’ve ever had, but the grinding, leveling, and character creation helped stave away the jobless blues.
I quickly got hooked. Mornings and evening meant nothing to me as I need “just one more quest” to wrap things up before unplugging. Like an alcoholic, that one extra session was never enough, so after several sleepless nights/days I gave it up cold turkey to maintain my sanity. I vowed never to play a MMO again.
Later this year Dungeon Fighter Online will be available to American gamers, and I’m feeling that cold thing in my stomach again. I spoke to Herb Yang, Managing Producer for Dungeon Fighter Online about the MMO beat ‘em up that has me twitching in anticipation.
Dungeon Fighter Online has just entered a closed beta in the US. How long has it existed overseas, and how popular has it proven?
Dungeon Fighter Online has been fun for millions of players throughout the world and we are really excited to bring it to North America. Dungeon Fighter Online launched in Korea in 2005 as “Dungeon & Fighter” and is also available in China, Japan and Taiwan. It’s done incredibly well: currently, there are over 10 million registered users in Korea. In terms of peak usage numbers, Dungeon Fighter Online has hit two million concurrent users when combining the services for China, Japan and Korea.
Most MMOS that are popular in the US are of the 3D, polygonal variety. Why has DFO taken the 2D route?
One of the most popular MMO games in the US is 2D. It’s called MapleStory, which we brought to the US in 2005 and has been extremely successful here since launch. We’re definitely looking to duplicate MapleStory’s success in North America with Dungeon Fighter Online.
But in addition to having a unique, retro look that comes from the 2D art style, we think the 2D nature of Dungeon Fighter Online actually makes it more accessible than 3D MMOs. There’s a certain degree of navigation and targeting skills required for 3D worlds taken for granted by hardcore gamers and it can be a bit overwhelming for more casual players to the genre. With Dungeon Fighter Online, anyone who’s ever played an arcade fighter from the 90’s will immediately feel right at home as soon as they get their hands on the controls, and can jump straight into the action without facing a huge learning curve. From there on, they can gradually become immersed in all the other RPG and online elements available in Dungeon Fighter Online that any 3D MMO has – at their own pace.
Who is your target audience? Traditional MMO players or those looking for a different experience?
Our target audience is pretty much everyone who enjoys action-fighting games, and beyond that, everyone who loved classic beat ‘em ups but were perhaps hoping for an updated, evolved experience with a deeper level of customization, RPG elements, exploration, and online play. Core MMO players will also appreciate a different style of skill-based gameplay than what you have with traditional 3D MMOs, especially with Dungeon Fighter Online‘s arcade style skill combos and PvP elements.
When I was neck-deep into City of Heroes one of the main complains that gamers had was over class balance. How do you intend to keep the slayer, fighter, gunner, mage, and priest on somewhat even grounds?
Neople, the developer for Dungeon Fighter Online, has gained a lot of user game experience over the course of running this game in three service areas, so I can tell you class balance has been fine-tuned over the course of several years of game operation. The designers have a very clear concept for every class, each class and subclass has a specific expertise and role to play. But within the bounds of each character concept, they’ve solicited a lot of player feedback to tweak each individual skill’s power. In the Korean service, whenever there is a major update to the game, the content first goes out on a public test server. Feedback is then gathered from players to help adjust for game balance before the content is made public to everyone else. Player polls on the official game website were also used to further fine-tune the classes. Rest assured that we’ll be soliciting a similar level of feedback from our North American players.
Tell us a bit about the payment system. Is there a monthly subscription or free?
There’s no monthly subscription fee; if you never want to spend a dime on DFO, you’ll be able to continue playing it… forever. Of course, we’re hoping you’ll take advantage of all the cool game enhancements we’ll be offering for real money, through Nexon Cash, as with all Nexon games.
DFO really hypes the ability to outfit your character with new weapons and abilities. Are these acquired in-game by leveling up, or are they only available as purchases?
Weapons and gear are gained through quests and monster drops. Skills likewise are gained through spending skill points acquired by leveling up. Neither is purchasable with cash, only gained through good old-fashioned dungeon crawling.
When do you plan on the official US launch?
We just opened started our first closed beta and expect to officially launch before the end of the year.
Besides the language change, will there be other tweaks/additions to the game when it is launched in the US?
We are still in the process of evaluating what content we’ll be launching with, and the release schedule for all other ensuing content. I can’t announce any details yet but I can say that for those who have played Dungeon Fighter Online in other service areas, you can look forward to new content and features developed exclusively for North America post-launch.
[Minimum specs to play Dungeon Fighter Online: Windows 2000 operating system, Intel Pentium 3800 MHz CPU, 128 MB of RAM, over 5GB of storage, Nvidia GeForce 2 MX 440 GPU, and High-Speed Internet.]