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GameGeex - [GDC2014] Chat with the producer of Obsidian's Skyforge and hands-on impression Down at GDC, I had the opportunity to pay Obsidian's upcoming new MMORPG, Skyforge. I was also treated to a session with Eric DeMilt,the game's producer.

This year's Game Developer's Conference came packaged with Obsidian Entertainment and their upcoming action-based RPG, Skyforge. The game is currently being developed by Allods Team, a Russian-based gaming studio. Players will be able to take on the role of a demi-god and destroy their adversaries with visually-intense abilities.

Skyforge is primarily an amusement park MMO where you can jump in, slay some bad guys with wicked cool abilities, and only worry about what you're capable of doing as well as what outfit you are wearing. When you're done, just hop out. Sounds like everything I have ever wanted and more.

During my gaming session for Skyforge, I had the privilege of having Eric DeMilt, the game's producer, by my side.

Free Roam and Choice

The game takes place in a sci-fi based world with a lot of fantasy aspects to it. I was told it was a culmination of whatever the game artists wanted to bring to life. If the artists felt like throwing in flying space structures with dragon beasts soraing through the air around them, then it's likely somewhere in the game. I think that's cool since I enjoy art styles that mix fantasy and sci-fi elements together.

Going into the demo, I was given access to two types of gameplay modes: Free world and instanced. Eric described this game as an "amusement park MMO" where you're allowed to just join in and play the game however you want. I was treated to a session in the free world area where I was allowed to practice my abilities. It was there I met the character I would play as for the rest of day; a mage that could cast a wide array of devastating ice spells. Not only did I have to properly aim them, meaning the action combat was true, but their effects and over-the-topness changed depending on whether or not I had them charged up or not. The feel is similar to that of Phantasy Star except a tad bit more dynamic as well as faster-paced in-terms of combat speed.

Having gone through the free-world mode, which quite literally was what it entailed -- a big open-world where I could just kill and farm monsters; I asked about the available classes since I wanted to see more.

"I cannot describe to you all the classes but hopefully we'll have a lot, like 10 to choose from later." Demilt explained, "we want to have it so every player can play any class on one character. So right now, we have two classes to show you and you can switch from the Mage to a Paladin right now just by going to the menu. The Paladin is very different from (the) mage so now your character can be melee and tanky."

Quite honestly, I'm very fond of systems where your character can do everything. I understand that it might take away from the lore aspect/role-play part of your experience but this game is described as more "amusement park" so it definitely gives players the choice on what they want to do at any given time.

The Instanced experience

Having transitioned to the paladin, I've decide to switch over from free-roam to one of the available instances. Unfortunately, I had to go at it alone as a tank role as the party play wasn't part of the demo. Still, my character was able to do a ton of damage depending on whether or not I could properly execute the combos. While the Mage had charge up bars and cast times, the Paladin, being a melee had combos like an action game and when they were executed correctly allowed me to do more damage or turn my abilities into Area-of-Effects.

The instance itself was fairly linear and staright foward but since it was a press session, I'll give the game the benefit of the doubt. The brightside was, the session did tell me everything about the direction they want to go with the game in-terms of mechanics. During my run, there were a lot of things in the area to utilize like traps and laser switches to make the run smoother. After a handful of monster, there was a boss you could expect to fight against. The first boss I encountered was a machine that shoots lasers and did a close-ranged, radial AoE; The things you expect from machine bosses actually. While he wasn't hard, he was definitely not easy and he had a ton of HP. I guess I was running the mission and was told by Demilt "the instance won't scale" with number of players anyways so if I had a partner it would've been downed twice as fast.

One interesting thing about this game is the deliberate lack of telegraphs since they only get in the way and took away from the experience.

"We didn't want to go with telegraphs because players will just pay attention to the red colors on the ground when they game. We want to avoid that so you can actually see the game for what it is," Explained Demilt, "But if we have to add them, it's something we can do down the road. Right now, definitely not planned."

Honestly, I think that's a fine idea. Now that the telegraphs were not present to tell me what to do, I was actually able to monitor and assess the situation better and dodge as if they were there. Because of it, I was able to pay more attention to my character's as well as the boss' animations.

In-terms of the future and how instances will work, Demilt says dungeons will have a set number of players in that they will "either be done with solo or 4 or 5 players excluding endgame raid content." This means you are sort of locked to a certain number of party members before being able to do certain dungeons. However, since there will be a lot of missions, this shouldn't be an issue if you are looking to play with friends.

Your character is infinitely powerful

Since this is an amusement park MMO, you're free to jump-in and game when you want. One of the aspects I was told of is that your character is apparently infinitely powerful and will be as strong as you put time into it. I never asked about PvP or on what scale this actually meant, but since the game doesn't actually have any levels, perhaps you can earn some sort of stat point depending on how much experience you pump into your character or something. I couldn;t acquire any more info than: no levels, and supposedly infinite scaling.

Exterior is all vanity.

When I asked Demilt if whether or not your gear had an impact on your character, I was delighted to know your armor was all vanity and the customization would be done another way. "I cannot talk to you about the customization. I'm sorry. But I can say that all the exterior of your character is just visual. You can make your character look completely how you want without worrying about certain items having good stats but not matching your set."

This was somewhat expected from a free-to-play title with what I expect will also have a cash shop. But one of the motto's of Obsidian, as evident by all the game's I've questioned them on is to abolish pay-to-win. Generally, you do that by making most cash shop items lean more towards vanity and the appearance of your character. Of course, I wasn't able to get more info on the cash shop, but I assume that's what they'll have it in there for with this type of customization system.

So far, what I saw on Skyforge looks promising. I did not get to see all that much during my play session but thanks to Eric DeMilt, I was able to understand more of where they are headed. Unfortunately, the game is far from beta it would seem and a release date has not been planned. However, keep an eye out for this one because based off the hands-on alone, it was quite fun.

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