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 releasing the game in multiple territories, the importance of doing so, and how it affects development. Auto Assault is due out in Europe and the USA simultaneously in spring 2006. You can read more about it by glancing at our recent preview.
Eurogamer: How do conditions vary when it comes to addressing different markets? What are the key differences between, for example, the massively multiplayer markets in the US and Europe?
Scott Brown: In terms of game development we are simply trying to make the best game we can make, all of our design decisions are based on 'does this make the game more fun or not?' I think great games sell in any territory so that is our focus. We obviously take localisation very seriously and want to make sure that everything is localised correctly for the particular territory. Certainly marketing is different but that is beyond the scope of what NetDevil does as a developer.
Eurogamer: The Far East - Korea in particular and to some extent China - is also a huge area for massively multiplayer games. Are you planning to target these?
Scott Brown: Absolutely. Part of the appeal for NetDevil in working with NCsoft as our publisher is their worldwide presence. We hope to eventually ship in all of the territories NCsoft currently supports, including throughout Asia.
Eurogamer: Have you had to make any particular sacrifices in order to position the game in more than one territory?
Scott Brown: [Smiles] Not so far. We have had discussions about certain taboo elements in different territories but thankfully nothing in Auto Assault has raised any red flags with the different territories that we are looking to release in. NCsoft has true experts working with us on localisation and they are the ones who will let us know what changes, if any, need to be made to make the game great for their part of the world. But to be perfectly honest, I don't think this is an issue for Auto Assault.
Eurogamer: Conversely, has there been anything you've felt the need to add - translations aside! - in order to cater to more than one?
Scott Brown: Again, nothing comes to mind. We have simply focused on adding content we thought would be fun, nothing more.
Eurogamer: How important is it to launch a massively multiplayer game in the key English-speaking markets simultaneously?
Scott Brown: I think launching simultaneously in all markets that you can is really important, especially when you are working to create a new brand like Auto Assault. I know how much I look forward to new games, and how angry I would be if it released somewhere else first and that's enough motivation to me to help make sure we release simultaneously everywhere possible.
Eurogamer: Do you think there's a case to be made for dividing players by skill levels and making other distinctions, for example having servers dedicated to PvP, PvE or Role Play. Perhaps you could go further, with casual and hardcore, talkative and silent, that kind of thing? Is that something that makes sense to you as the designers of a massively multiplayer game?
Scott Brown: I think that it varies by game. For Auto Assault we are evaluating this now to see what makes sense. Right now, for example, we are thinking about at least one RP server per territory. I know I will be playing on that one, but we don't know how important it is to our player base. This is something we will work to find out with our beta community before the game ships.
Check back in around fortnight for the final part of our extended Q&A. More details on Auto Assault can be found on the game's European website.