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 endgame and beyond, the lessons learned from other MMOs, and what the development team will be doing once they've finished working on the game. 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: Massively-multiplayer game fans often talk about the endgame and what happens there. In the case of Auto Assault, what does happen when players reach the maximum level?
Scott Brown: There are four different activities you can do once you reach the maximum level in Auto Assault. The first is Arena combat. You can continue to compete for ranking and fame in the Arenas long after you reach your level cap. The second activity would be capturing outposts. You can continue to fight with your friends and clan mates over the various outposts. The third activity would be loot farming. Since the loot system in Auto Assault is completely dynamic you will always need to be out hunting for that perfect combination of statistics and abilities of all of the items you can equip. Finally, there is crafting. Because of the crafting system's use of the dynamic loot generation you will want to keep trying to invent items that only you will be create and sell. Of course with new content and level caps coming in expansions there will always be something new on the way as well.
Eurogamer: Perhaps, by opting for a more dextrous angle than the average massively-multiplayer game, you feel that people will still be able to improve their skills over time and that this will help keep the game alive and in their thoughts? Would you say that played a part in your original design?
Scott Brown: Exactly, and with the introduction of new weapons to the game over time players will constantly be forced to learn new tactics in order to succeed in battle. The original design was to combine fast-paced gaming requiring player skill with long term statistical character growth.
Eurogamer: With that in mind, what kinds of lessons have you drawn from other massively-multiplayer endgames?
Scott Brown: Certainly great first person shooters like Tribes, Unreal Tournament and Battle Field 1942 have influenced us as great examples of really fun action games.
Obviously other MMOs have shown that if you have fun and interesting PvP that you can give your players something great to do long after they have reached the maximum level in game.
Eurogamer: How do you expect to keep people interested in Auto Assault above and beyond a certain level?
Scott Brown: We'll have hundreds of hours of content in place from the moment we ship, and we aim to keep the experience as fresh as possible with updated content and the aforementioned features for the hardcore players. Beyond that obvious commitment that anyone making an MMO has to make in the current climate, we also have an online game unlike any other. Hopefully, when people experience our faster paced play they'll realise that pulling one enemy at a time and tip-toeing your way through a world is not the only way it can be.
Eurogamer: Finally, what will the Auto Assault team be doing when they hit their development endgame? Is there ever any rest when it comes to a persistent game like this, or is it just non-stop for those of you working on it?
Scott Brown: Really, for us the work starts when we ship, we will be working on new content and balancing existing content from day one. Our longest days are still ahead but we can't wait to get the game out to everyone and show off what we have been building for so long.
And that wraps up our extended question and answer session with Scott Brown. For more details on Auto Assault check out the game's European website.