As part of our ongoing series of discussions with NetDevil, creators of massively-multiplayer vehicular-combat game Auto Assault, we talk to president Scott Brown about the game's influences and how they affected its development. Auto Assault is due out in Europe and the USA simultaneously later this year. You can read more about it by glancing at our recent preview.
Eurogamer: Games like Guild Wars and World of Warcraft have shown that it's possible and very desirable to make a game accessible and rewarding for both hardcore gamers and the average Joe Bloggs on the street with a couple of hours a week to spend on his PC. Does Auto Assault have similar aspirations? And what is it that determines your approach in this regard - resources, time, commercial obligations, etc?
Scott Brown: From the start Auto Assault was built to be friendly to players who had never played an MMO before. Arrows to find your next mission objective, simple group finding, no death penalty and so on. We are committed to bringing action gamers to the MMO space.
Eurogamer: Do you think that massively-multiplayer game developers will learn the lessons of games like GW and WOW, or are those two exceptional cases?
Scott Brown: I think those two games specifically have spelled out that if you want big numbers you must be an accessible, fun game. I don't believe that a user that is new to MMOs, thanks to these two games, is going to accept a more hardcore or grinding-style form of game play. Thankfully, this has been our focus right from the start.
Eurogamer: Apart from the obvious, what would you say influenced you in the development of Auto Assault? Not just in a broad sense either - were there any games, movies, or what-have-you that had a direct bearing on some aspect of the game?
Scott Brown: I don't know that there is a direct influence on the game - so many different people's ideas and backgrounds have shaped the game into what it is today. We have wanted to do a car combat MMO for a long time and setting it in a post-apocalyptic universe just makes sense thanks to movies like Mad Max and games like Wasteland and Fallout.
Eurogamer: Furthermore, was there anything that you saw or played during development that had a sudden bearing on Auto Assault's direction?
Scott Brown: Certainly, we all play lots of games here and have been influenced by ideas from those games that we thought would make sense in Auto Assault. We have also seen games do some things we were trying that did not work and allowed us to rethink and remove during development and early testing. An example would be that we had the goal of making Auto Assault very mission-centric – looking at WoW gave us some additional ideas as to how to make this happen. Another example is from City of Heroes where when you do something the text element moves to the place in the UI for you to interact with - such a great idea!
Eurogamer: In terms of technology, games obviously tend toward standing on the shoulders of giants rather than reinventing everything - would you say that your game draws more inspiration from past games technologically or creatively?
Scott Brown: This is a tough question, but I would have to say creatively. Even though our story is very unique, the "feel" of what it means to be a post-apocalyptic game has been defined pretty well and we are certainly influenced somewhat by this. Technologically, since we are the first physics-based MMO there is little of our engine that we could glean from existing technologies.
Check back in around fortnight for the fourth part of our extended Q&A. More details on Auto Assault can be found on the game's European website.