Aerrevan developer, CubeForce, has just announced that the game is ready for the first phase of closed beta testing. WarCry took the opportunity to speak to Project Manager Sean Oosterveen about Aerrevan and what sets it apart from the pack. Read on!

1. Please introduce yourself and describe your position at CubeForce.

My name is Sean Oosterveen and I am the Project Manager of Aerrevan. I am also a major contributor to the core design of Aerrevan and the worldbuilding / level design.

2. Please tell us about Aerrevan.

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Aerrevan is an MMORPG project we have been working on for the past three years. The concept of Aerrevan is to create a game with a strong roleplaying emphasis; an area we believe is commonly overlooked in the MMORPG genre. MMO worlds in general feel dead and static and don’t really give players the ability to make any sort of true impact on the game itself. We aim to make an MMO that gives true power to the players as well as game dynamics that allow players to truly make an impact in the game world.

3. Has Aerrevan been released elsewhere or is it a ‘new to the market’ game?

Aerrevan has not been released anywhere else, it is new to the market. The technology behind Aerrevan is also proprietary and designed from the ground up for this game.

4. Would you consider Aerrevan an MMORPG or more of an MMO action RPG?

It is hard to classify where Aerrevan is in terms of “action-orientation”, especially since it is somewhat subjective. Aerrevan features a free-form battle system, meaning players can move while in combat, so there is an element of action and strategy to battle. I feel that Aerrevan sits somewhere in the middle looking purely at the battle system. Our PvP, GvG and RvR systems do encourage action to a large extent, though taking part in that side of the game is completely optional. It depends entirely on each players personal preferences.

5. Where did the idea for the game come from and what is the back story for Aerrevan?

Aerrevan’s core design was really many years in the making. Our core team has spent years dreaming up concepts and exploring the MMO genre, finding strengths and weaknesses in how persistent worlds have been created to date. The story and lore is all original IP and mostly the brainchild of Graeme Borland, our lead designer. Its hard to sum up the story without sounding generic, so I urge anyone interested in learning the deep lore of Lurris to visit the Aerrevan website and explore the library section for further reading. Aerrevan takes place on the continent of Lurris in a world shattered by the imbalance of a magical force known as Aer. Aer has strong magical qualities, but is also highly toxic to the body. It has been four years since the Baehoman meteor struck Lurris, unbalancing the distribution of Aer. Everything from wildlife to the dead have felt the effects of Aer. In the years before the meteor strike, Lurris was hardly in a state of peace, the three races of the world, Humans, Orcs, and Elves were held together with weak political arrangements made by their leaders. Today, a new level of alliance has formed. Two men have come forth with solutions to long term survival in an Aer-inflicted world. Great Mage Vastellyn, one of the oldest and wisest mages in the world, has devised a method to neutralize excess Aer and purge it from the world, ultimately ridding Lurris of Aer altogether. On the other hand, Great Mage Kalam, a mysterious and very powerful mage, aims to harness the power of Aer and use it. Followers of these mages fight endlessly for their beliefs with no control from the racial leaders. These skirmishes are centered around the Baehoman meteor itself, resting now in a valley carved by its impact. The gameplay experience in Aerrevan is centralized around Aer and its effects on the world.

6. There are lots of new MMOs on the market today. What sets Aerrevan apart from the rest?

We feel that Aerrevan brings an element of roleplaying and immersion that you don’t see in an average MMO. We feel that most MMORPGs on the market today do not deserve the RPG part of that title, and we aren’t alone. We have taken a number of steps to try and bring our world to life and move away from the static worlds most MMOs give. There are three features that play a big part in setting Aerrevan apart from the rest. First is Dynamic NPC Interaction. In Aerrevan, NPCs are more than just questgivers and trainers, each NPC has a full knowledgebase about the world around them, opinions about conflicts in the world, as well as unique dialog about themselves and their own lives. You can communicate with NPCs in plaintext by typing to them and they will respond accordingly. We have used this system extensively and intertwined it with our quest system, meaning some quests are hidden in dialog and aren’t immediately available. It’s worth mentioning that we do not have quest indicators in Aerrevan. Personally I’m tired of following exclamation marks and an arrow on my radar to complete every quest. Instead, players will actually have to read quests and use their knowledge of the world to find their destination. Or ask an NPC if you don’t know where something is ;)! Secondly we have the classless character system. In Aerrevan there are no classes. At character creation, players decide their characters “background” rather than a class. Backgrounds are simply stating what life your character has lived up until now. Choices include Noble, Farmer, Commoner, Nomad, and much more. Each background makes minor changes to your starting stats and inventory. Backgrounds do not limit what you can do or what skills you can use, players are welcome to use any skill or combination of skills they desire. Want to make an elven warrior that wears plate armor, uses a bow and is skilled with fire based AOE spells? Go ahead! There is really no limit to what you can do. All this is powered by our hybrid skill-based leveling system. Thirdly we have guild control points. Any guild can capture and control a guild control point in the game world. This location becomes their territory. Control points range from small camps and ruined forts to massive capital cities. Once a control point is captured, the leader of the guild is able to change a number of variables in the area such as taxes, trade tariffs, spending, and so on. Guilds that control large cities and important locations will become notorious in the game world and guild leaders have the potential to become very powerful people. If a guild controls a location long enough, NPCs will learn the names of the guild and its guild leader and have the ability to talk about them. These systems all work together to help make Aerrevan a truly unique experience.

7. Walk us through character creation. How customized can players make their ‘toons?

When creating a character, players first select their gender and race. From there, they can customize their characters facial features using a sort of layered system. We opted to not have a facial morphing system due to the complexity and bandwidth requirements to send that data to each client dynamically. Instead, players have a wide range of options for each part of the face as well as overall detail layers such as scars, tattoos, etc. 10 attribute points are assignable at character creation and players can also choose their background. Since Aerrevan does not have classes, each character can have a background. Some examples of backgrounds are noble, commoner, farmer, nomad, etc. Each background makes minor changes to players starting attributes and inventory. For example, a farmer may have more strength than a noble, but less money and poorer equipment. Your background does not limit your ingame potential; it only starts your character off in a certain direction.

8. What classes and races are included in Aerrevan?

As I mentioned briefly, Aerrevan is a completely classless game. By using a sort of hybrid leveling system, more like a single player game than a traditional MMO, a characters strengths and abilities are dictated by their actions. This system allows players to create their ultimate build tailored to their exact play style. As far as races go, Aerrevan will feature fairly traditional array of Humans, Elves and Orcs.

Pop through to the next page to read about leveling up, the guild system and whether or not Aerrevan is a “free to play” MMO.

9. How does the level up system work?

Level up is handled by three separate systems that work together to give both a skill based leveling experience as well as some traditional leveling elements. Firstly we have the traditional level up that occurs when a player amasses enough experience points. We call this the base level. When a player gains a base level, they are given points to invest in their core attributes. We have not decided on a base level cap yet since this is something we ultimately want the help of our dedicated testers to decide, but there will be some sort of cap. Secondly we have the skill chain system. Each skill category, ex. 1 Handed Blade, Fire Magic, Water Magic, Archery, etc, has 25 skills/spells associated with it. Of these 25 skills/spells, 5 are taught by trainer NPC’s. These main 5 spells each lead to a chain of skill/spells called branches. As you use spells in a particular branch, they will unlock the next spell in the branch. Each branch consists of 5 spells. Lastly, each spell has its own level that advances as you use the spell. Each skill/spell can be leveled indefinitely, however the time/uses it takes to level a spell increases exponentially.

10. Will Aerrevan be free to play?

No, Aerrevan is a subscription based game. We decided to go with a subscription method early on based both on our design and on the recommendation of our community. A subscription method also gives us more financial security and stability which is important for a smaller developer.

11. Will there be an item mall? If so, what types of items will be included?

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We will not have an item mall. We decided against doing microtransactions to keep the game fair for everyone. I’d rather keep the gameplay experience fair than give players unfair leverage.

12. What is your favorite area of the game and why? May we have a screenshot?

As one of the people heavily involved in the design of ingame locations, I like them all! My favourite places aesthetically(for now!) are Rovara Yor, the valley of the gods, the city of Derlon, and just about anywhere in the elven forests. The Valley of the Gods is probably my favorite overall since it is where the central conflict comes to a point. I also like how we designed the foliage in the area.

13. Will Aerrevan feature competitions and tournaments?

Since Aerrevan is a completely un-instanced game, it is hard to have tournaments / arena type organizations. What I will say is that we will have a web-based ladder system and periodic competition events. We are a very community-oriented team and one of our main goals after launch is to have as many ingame events as possible!

14. What about mounts?

Aerrevan will feature a mount system. We don’t have plans for flying mounts (at least not right away!) but we will definitely have horses, etc to allow players to navigate Lurris more quickly. We will also have a fast-travel system that will allow players to travel on pre-determined paths for a fee.

15. Is there a guild system in place?

Guilds are a central part of the Aerrevan gameplay experience.

16. Where can players go to get signed up?

Beta applications are being taken now on our main website. We have a web-based portal for applicants to submit their applications. In an attempt to put as much load on the servers as possible, we will not be as stringent in our selection of beta testers as we were with alpha, so even if you aren’t 100% sure if Aerrevan is for you, feel free to give beta a try!

17. When will beta testing begin?

I won’t announce any solid date yet in case we run in to some unforeseeable issues, but we are working hard to have the beta test commence as quickly as possible.

18. What are the system specifications to play the game?

Beta will help us determine the final specs, but one of our goals was to keep Aerrevan as accessible as possible. We did not design the game in such a way that you need the latest and greatest hardware to play comfortably. I would recommend a Geforce 6600+ / Radeon 9800+, 1.5gb ram and a Pentium 4 Prescott / Athlon 64 or better. If you have slightly lesser hardware than this and still want to give it a try, feel free to do so. We may discover that the game client can scale better than we anticipated!

WarCry thanks Sean for this informative interview!

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