Exclusive Interview with David Perry

David Perry is the Lead Designer of 2Moons, the North American adaptation of Dekaron. 2Moons promises to be the most violent MMO experience available online and is going to use advertising, rather than subscriptions to support itself. Perry, a former developer on titles like Earthworm Jim, answered our questions.

WarCry Q&A: 2Moons
Answers by David Perry
Questions by Dana Massey

WarCry: When 2Moons was first announced, the fact that it is in reality an adaptation of an existing Asian MMORPG, Dekaron, was glossed over. How much will they two games have in common?

David Perry:Yeah, we clarified that point, and as you know our writer Henry Jones re-wrote the entire 4,000+ page story. We now have incredible feedback from our closed beta testing and I’m flying to Korea in two days to sit down with the team to discuss the changes that our audience wants. Our big technical decision has been how to make two entirely different versions and still find a way to share, so their gamers get to enjoy the changes the USA audience gets. It’s been a complicated discussion as they keep adding very cool things on their end, that we want. So as we continue testing, we will be deciding how to manage this problem. (A game being designed from two ends.)

WarCry: You’re promoting this as one of the most violent MMOs around. Why did you choose to go down this route in time when violence and gaming is such a cultural hot button issue?

David Perry:Violence is not really the issue, it’s ratings. The whole Grand Theft Issue rose when they had content that was not revealed to the ratings board, hidden in the game. When asked they denied. Big mistake, and they paid for it. I think we have almost been the opposite, we have ridiculously clear that this will be a violent game, with excessive profanity. It’s for an adult audience only. As we’ve not split versions yet, we’ve not added in the really violent content yet that I propose. What I propose is a LOT of work, and as you can imagine, this conversation gets easier with the developers, the more people that are playing the game here in the States.

WarCry: Looking beyond the blood and gore tagline, where else are you trying to innovate in this release?

David Perry:I just want to make my version of an MMORPG. That would include more of a focus on the here and now, the action, the fighting, the responses, the feedback, the reward. I must admit it’s getting easier as the fans of the game know EXACTLY what they want. It’s been great to read their thoughts. I know some developers think fans are crazy, and they could only make average games, I’ve found the opposite, some of the ideas are truly innovative. I’ve already hired one of the people from the forums into my personal team and expect to hire more as we go along.

WarCry: To date, how has Acclaim treated you in this latest partnership?

David Perry:Acclaim is awesome, I love the vision and I love the fact they are willing to take risks, trusting instinct etc. They are a new company, so we are all learning as we go. The games are all still in test right now, so it’s providing time to set up all the infrastructure, getting all the staff in place, and to prepare for the day we start releasing games. (Soon!)

When I say they take risks however, I don’t just say that lightly. I’m working on some stuff now that no publisher in the world would be willing to do. (At least they never have.) Will it work? We will find out. The gamers will thank Acclaim for trying.

WarCry: How does someone go from Earthworm Jim fame to the most violent MMO ever? And what do you feel your extremely varied background adds to the project?

David Perry:I’ve made all kinds of games over the last 20+ years. But now I’m not just making one game, I’m making several (you just don’t know about them yet), in response Acclaim has given me their CCO (Chief Creative Officer) title. It’s not because I just want to make violent games, it’s because we are putting together a really strong array of titles for all tastes. They are all free, so there’s zero risk to consumers, if they find something they like, then great! Will they find something they like? Well that’s what we’re really working on. There are many un-announced things in the pipe. Some will amaze you, some will not be your “cup of tea” as they say in England. I just know, when we roll out all the games, there will be something that appeals to you. There will also be games that appeal to millions of other players.

I’ve been surprised by 2Moons, we announced it, did no marketing, no advertising, and had over 100,000 people sign up to test it. That to me seems like Acclaim is on the right track. I can’t tell you how many emails I get from people frantic to get keys to test the game. This to me is a good sign. We also, won’t forget that MMORPG was there from the VERY beginning, supporting us.

WarCry: As a game developer on your first MMO, what do you feel MMOs (and specifically 2Moons) need to take from their single-player siblings?

David Perry: Well there’s a big difference between MMO’s an MMORPGS. The role playing games, really need to be pretty epic to deliver, so everything is a giant undertaking. “We need monsters” doesn’t mean ten or twenty, it means “don’t stop drawing”.

MMOs’ are more straightforward, there’s a key design hook and you build around it. You try to support that hook the best you can. If it’s a fishing game, you do everything possible to make it a really fun fishing experience. Many people will think it’s a dumb idea “catching virtual fish”, but then again, a certain group of people will absolutely love it. There’s a book on this subject called “The Long Tail”, it covers the concept that when the gamer has lots of choices, they will make use of the choices, and pick what they personally really like. It’s like shopping at Amazon.com, do you buy the stuff that everyone else is buying, or now (as you have the choice) do you delve really deep into their catalog to find the exact things you want? Ebay is the same way. We believe games will be the same way in the future. You will make use of your myriad of choices and find games that touch on the subjects you personally love. If our plan works out, every now and again, one of those titles will have an Acclaim logo on it.

Our DANCE game is an example, if you’re a DANCE game fan, or if you have a dance mat, you are going to gravitate to it, if you hate those kinds of games, no problem. I guess the difference with FREE games is you might give more things a decent try.

WarCry: At AGC, your business model for 2Moons was attacked as unappealing. Can you explain the system and explain why do you feel players will flock to a game that exists off advertising?

David Perry:You’ve gotta love people that attack things they’ve not seen. I’m the ONLY person that has seen our advertising system. So take any comments from ANYBODY with a pinch of salt. Secondly, I’m trying to pioneer the concept of TURNING OFF advertising at will. If you don’t like advertising, then you gotta hope I succeed, as ALL other game companies will turn it on whether you like it or not. I’m also pioneering the idea of rewarding you if you do choose to have advertising on. Again, kill my idea and game companies will still turn it on (and already do) and what do you get for that? Nada! I would hope people think about the future and support me, when they see what we are doing. Finally, you can be sure we won’t just launch any system at Acclaim without thousands of people testing and giving feedback.

WarCry: Many stereotype Korean games as “grindfests”. Talk about the advancement curve in 2Moons. How friendly is it to the average MMO gamer?

David Perry:You grind in games when there’s nothing else to do. I’ve played plenty of “grinders” over the years that didn’t even come from Korea! They are in every genre, on every platform. True MMORPG grinding is really driven by the relentless thirst to be levelled up as fast as possible. Some gamers declare in advance they won’t stop until they reach a certain point, like 10 levels a night. You can’t do that unless you grind. But if grinding is boring (meaning they get nothing from it), why do it? There’s tons of other games out there. Choice (having other things to do) is the solution in our games and we will strive to keep adding more things to do, but ultimately there’s going to be a large group, that still just grinds, it’s what they do. I’m pretty guilty of doing it to in other USA MMORPGS.

WarCry: As you get closer to launch, you must have some idea what you’re planning beyond it. Can you talk about some of the things you want to do once the game is live?

David Perry:I would like to offer new ways to experience it, with modes that allow different perspectives on the battles etc. (Becoming leaders, controlling armies, having full scale wars and also being able to go first person when hunting.) I also have some AI ideas I’m not willing to share publicly, but am simply waiting to find an AI programmer capable of doing what I imagine, including comprehending moving environments. I’ve asked several over the years, but not found the right guy yet. Then things would really move forward for us.

WarCry: Your beta has been running for some time. What has the feedback been and has it altered any of your assumptions going in?

David Perry:We have several hundred detailed comments. We are going through every one by hand tracking how many times things are mentioned. We are then sorting based on the repetition to see which things the gamers want changed most. I will then present this data to the developers. We also have called American gamers (closed beta testers) on the phone, recorded them (with permission) and put together a video for the developers with the American gamers actually talking to them.

The consumers are going to have a lot of say and relevance, you can expect that with all Acclaim games.

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