Interview with 'Ragnarok Online 2' Developer Jin-soo Jun
Gravity's CTO talks about the details of redevelopment and game design of RO2!
Original Interview: here
(Notes: The translation is quick and rough, so mistakes are inevitable. I apologize in advance!
) July Interview
Location: Gravity HQ
On July 1st, Gravity Korea announced a complete renewal of 'Ragnarok Online 2'. Returning to a clean slate and rebuilding from the ground up, the renewal version titled 'Ragnarok Online 2: Legend of the Second' (hereafter RO2:LotS) is slated for closed beta testing August 31st. The following service schedule is unclear at this point.
In the 'RO2:LotS', the details of the game weren't very well understood. We asked for an interview with the project lead, Gravity CTO Jin-soo Jun about details of the game renewal. 1. The logo of Ragnarok Online II: Legend of the Second.
2. Gravity CTO Jin-soo Jun. Helped design 'Scions of Fate', a title by MGame that was popular in Korea and China. The failure of RO2 lead to a complete rebuild. 'RO2:LotS' is a completely new game -- First, could you please introduce yourself?
Jin-soo: My career in the game industry started with Mgame's 'Droiyan Online' in 2000. I was a server programmer. After that, I worked in development on the MMORPG 'Scions of Fate'. 'Scions of Fate' was a joint effort with KRG Soft, many members of Mgame and KRG soft came from Goorm Interactive. I became the director of KRG soft, and then after became Gravity CTO in October 2009. At Gravity I'm involved in various projects, but currently focusing my efforts on RO2. -- Can you explain a little bit about the RO2 renewal?
Jin-soo: When RO2 launched its open beta test in 2007, it was rather unremarkable. Because RO is a very important IP to Gravity, development couldn't continue like that. After 2007 there were plans for a renewal, but it was already going a series of remakes. For example, RO2 was originally on the 'Unreal Engine 2.0' game engine, but in 2008 it switched to the RO Online's Zerodin Engine. For various reasons, in March 2009 development switched to the Gambryo engine. -- So the current concept used the version started in March 2009 as it's base?
Jin-soo: That's right. In March 2009 we started the current renewal concept. It wasn't until October when I joined the company did we decide we wanted to bring RO's flavor to the game. So in actuality, the full blown renewal did not begin until October 2009. -- What is the main reason for developing RO2:LotS?
Jin-soo: I think at the time the main reason RO2 did poorly was because of the poor server setup. Our number 1 point was to improve that. But in 2007 we had users that liked RO2 itself, but we had meny more users that would complain that it was not like RO at all. So we decided to make it more like RO. RO is a rather old game and felt that the game system and concepts would be inconvenient to todays gamers, so we investigated the latest game trends , and looked to infuse RO's atmosphere in a new game. Ignore the old RO2, this is a completely new game. The world in RO2 is inspired by RO -- Can you tell us about RO2:LotS's world design?
Jin-soo: Before RO2 and RO were different worlds and scenario, but the new game will be a continuation of RO's scenario. While RO2's story takes place well after the scenario of RO, there are points where the scenario will cross paths. While there's no indication of how many years have passed, the assumption is that its in the distant future of the RO world. -- What about the scenario?
Jin-soo: In the original work it depicted Chaos as fighting the goddess Freya. In RO, Chaos won and sealed Freya away, but Chaos took a lot of damage and disappeared, so you were left with a world without either Chaos or Freya. The awakening of Freya is the basis for the scenario of RO2. Players can get involved in scenario quests at about level 30. -- What about the graphic changes of RO2:LotS?
Jin-soo: First, think about other 3d MMORPGs. Originally RO2 characters were 3~4 heads tall, but with the renewal they will be 7 ~ 8. -- Wasn't the decision to go with 3~4 head height characters part of the influence of RO?
Jin-soo: When you express a 2D character in 3D, it becomes tricky. Players that like RO's characters, and like the 2D design, found that when you change it into 3D, those characters give off a completely different atmosphere. It looks cute in 2D, but when you set it in 3D with detailed graphics, you lose the part of RO that was left to your imagination. We found that to best preserve the RO flavor would be to go with 7~8 heads. Incidentally, RO2:LotS's illustrations and story will be supervised by Myung-Jin Lee. -- What about the background and maps?
Jin-soo: It's completely different form the old RO2. For maps, we have Izlude and Payon from RO, and many different dungeons. RO2:LotS NPC Illustrations. The maid outfit girl is Kafra Selphy, the only NPC to carry forward from the old RO2. The removal of Novices, and original characters using the Chara System and Dual Life System -- Can you tell us about the jobs in RO2:LotS?
Jin-soo: Initially you start off as one of 5 jobs, Swordsman, Rogue, Acolyte, Mage, or Archer. Around level 15 or 20 you do your first job change, with two branching jobs to chose from. We were going to do a 2nd job change job change too but that would require creating 20 different jobs, so instead we created the Chara system. -- With 5 starting jobs, RO2:LotS will no longer have the novice job?
Jin-soo: There will be no novices. When you start you will pick your job from the very start. We had a lot of discussion about whether to include novice as a job. The reason we chose to go without is that in modern online games, players pick their race and job from the very start, and can enjoy different play styles right from the start, where as with the novice route everyone who starts playing the closed beta test will all be the same. While the Novice job was popular in RO, to the point where Super Novice was introduced, we didn't feel it would fit the current trend. Instead, the novice will be introduced through a scenario quest. Also, in the old RO2 there were different player races, in the renewal it will be the same as RO where all players will be a single race. -- Can you explain the Chara System?
Jin-soo: Chara, or Charisma comes from a Greek word and describes a character's personality. Through quests and battles, players will be rewarded with 'Order' or 'Chaos' charisma points. Depending on the amount of Chaos or Order points you have amassed, individual skills may perform completely differently. The first occupation for swordsman is Warrior, and with Chaos points you can become a Dark Warror, and with Order points you become a Light Warrior. You couldn't change to your second job, but through the Chara system you'd be able to play a completely different style of character. Anyways, because there's a lot of different points to manage like Skill Point and Chara Points, your individual stats in RO2:LotS, unlike RO are gained automatically. -- Once you've changed a character to Order or Chaos, is it possible to change?
Jin-soo: It's possible. First, through various quests, it's possible to play both Order and Chaos. Then, when you reach level 50 you would have enough points in both to make a change. If you changed to either order or chaos, you will need to gather points to change back. It wouldn't be fast to get enough points though. -- What is the new system referred to as the 'Dual Life System'?
Jin-soo: In RO, you can play as merchant and blacksmith jobs, but most players make merchants as sub characters just to sell items. Additionally, Merchants and blacksmiths don't present an image of being a job capable of combat. With that in mind, we created the 'Dual Life System'.
In RO2:LotS, you have a main Battle Job, and also a second 'Life Job' which can create equipment or potions. So like Swordsman + Blacksmith, Swordsman + Alchemist, or Swordsman + Chef. A character's skill tree is divided into the Battle and Life Jobs you chose. -- How would these jobs affect play?
Jin-soo: Depending on the situation the characters appearance would change. So when a character is in battle they would appear in their Battle Job form, and then when crafting items they would appear as their Life Job. When collecting herbs, or minerals, you could be either form. Also, the life skills also can have some skills that can be used specifically in combat. For example, as a Swordsman+Blacksmith, you could use the blacksmith skill 'Loud Voice' to power up your swordsman attack power. Some final skills would involve changing into your life job temporarily. When doing that, you could use exclusive skills, or certain abilities could be stronger. The merchant job for example can use the RO skill 'Mammonite'. [Battle Jobs] Battle Job Illustrations. From left to right, Swordsman, Rogue, Acolyte, Mage, Archer. [Life Jobs] Life Job Illustrations. From left to right, Blacksmith (Male), Blacksmith (Female), Tailor (Male), Tailor (Female), Doctor (Male), Doctor (Female), Chef (Male), Chef (Female) Plans for the 'Card System' and other new systems -- We've heard that RO's Card System will be added, will it be the same?
Jin-soo: In RO, equipment has a certain number of sockets, and cards are embedded in those sockets. But with such a system it makes it difficult to change equipment, and when you get high level you may still be best to use low level gears with many sockets. This can also make a gear's own abilities less relevant, and it becomes a limiting factor to creating content. So in RO2:LotS they aren't embedded into equipment, but your character. Cards are equipped directly to your character. Then, you maintain the same abilities from your cards as you change weapons and equipment. -- Can you explain the 'Weaving' System?
Jin-soo: The system allows players to freely customize their equipments appearance. You can't directly modify the texture, but create combination using certain presets. Too much freedom could be a problem for some of our players. However if there's enough demand we could allow players to submit their own presets. It would be hard though because you have to try to ensure that metal equipment still looks right. -- Will the Cute Pet system be back?
Jin-soo: Yes. Like in RO, you'll be able to tame monsters. Pets you have can improve your characters abilities and with intimacy have cute performances. However at this time we don't have plans to have them assist in combat. -- Are there any other new systems?
Jin-soo: When a player logs out, they can become an NPC. For example, if you had the ability to repair gear as a blacksmith, a player could log out and other players could come to you (as an NPC) and use your services. An alchemist could provide potion creation with the necessary items. Of course you'd get money for this, so you can earn money while logged out. It's an evolution of RO's vending system. Also, RO's Kafra system makes a return. [Monsters] RO2:LotS has many RO monsters make a reappearance. Yoko Kanno's BGM, and the service schedule -- What will happen to Yoko Kanno's BGM?
Jin-soo: Kanno made a lot of music for us before. Lots of her BGM was created on the old RO2 development process. RO2:LotS's game concept is completely changed, so there's quite a few BGMs that won't be used. There are lots of Kanno fans out there though, so if we can we will use her music when we can, but otherwise we will compose new music. As a bit of a teaser, when summoning certain cute pets we will play some of Kanno's BGM. -- Can you tell us the contents of the Korean Closed Beta Test on August 31st?
Jin-soo: Players will start in the town of Almin, and from there, Prontera, 3 fields, and two Dungeons. Almin is a village north of prontera in the Mjolnir Mountains. -- What is the service schedule following the first closed beta test, and are there any plans yet for Japanese service?
Jin-soo: We don't have any plans yet for an official launch, and no plans at all for foreign services. We are performing the Korean beta test in order to complete the game. RO2's first attempt was a failure, so it's important that we thoroughly test it and pay attention to feedback. That's what the test is all about. -- Is there closing words for the Japanese users?
Jin-soo: With RO2, we set out to create a game that exceeds Ragnarok Online. We've heard a lot of users wondering when it would be done, that the open beta was too long, but creating a fun game takes time. We hope to deliver a game that will meet your expectations. Thank you very much.
RO2 features a sci-fi medieval village,a sci-fi oriental village, a forest inhabited by elves, a scorching desert, and so on. With the integration of supplementary biographies, players can fully indulge themselves in the gaming world which is more fantastic and immersive than the world where the original is set.
RO2 introduces a very simple control system, in order for low-level players to familiarize themselves with different controls quickly. Meanwhile, such elements as the card system and character customization system have also been upgraded. In RO2, the characters and monsters are adorable and designed in 3D.
In RO2, there are a total of 5 basic job characters and 10 second job characters. Each character is endowed with diversified skills, and is capable of using special skills to release different combos.
Combos will remain effective for a certain time, and will help activate and cast extreme skills after a required amount of energy is accumulated. Different characters will perform extreme skills to give birth to different attack effects, and each class will begranted with the combos and extreme skills that suit them.
After entering the game, players will select a specialized profession togather resources and craft various items.
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