In today’s world of resource-sucking 3D graphics, it’s a wonder “old school” 2D games can grab a market share. Phoenix Dynasty Online,a 2D isometric MMO, is out to prove that it is the best game out there. Check out WarCry’s interview with product manager Danny Qin to see why.

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Phoenix Dynasty Online: The Wonder of 2D Part I

Please introduce yourself and give us your game development history.

Hello! My name is Danny Qin, Product Manager for Phoenix Dynasty Online. I have been working on the game since it started Alpha test 2 years ago.

For those unfamiliar with Phoenix Dynasty, what can you tell us about the game overall?

Phoenix Dynasty Online simulates the historical events in the ‘Warring States’ period of ancient China. However, we don’t expect you to be nose deep in history books to play! It incorporates seemingly endless nicely interlocking quests and offers entirely flexible character builds. The true pivot of the game, the five element system, gives a powerful and deep twist to PvP, crafting, PvE, character building and.. well pretty much every choice you make! All the four classes available are well balanced and you need to choose a good element combo that reflects your playing style. Metal gives more attack power; Wood and Water offer HP or MP regeneration. Fire quickens the attack speed; and earth increases the defense. It is a game that asks you to think, not just glaze over and click, type, repeat. Those that just follow quests and guides and wear out their mouse buttons can never own the stage!

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PDO is a 2D ‘isometric’ view MMO. Why was this form chosen for the game’s development?

A long list of role playing games takes the ‘isometric’ view. It has a finely invented graphics style, with the advantage over the basic top-down view which adds more depth, yet at the same time is often more dynamic and clear to the layout of the playing field. Also the tactical elements can be perceived much more easily. I think it is a good fit for not only our game, but our genre within the 2D range.

Has PDO been released elsewhere? If so, how has it been received?

It was first launched in China in 2006, less than a year before the North America launch. We are the publishers for both North America and Europe (essentially the primarily English speaking areas). However, it is well received internationally, in places such as East Asia and Latin America. Until now, we are still bringing up new content into game, committing to provide the best free games and services to international gamers. We continually strive to put gamer satisfaction and enjoyment above all. After all, we do operate under the guide of ENJOYmmo after all!

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What is the background of the name “Phoenix Dynasty Online”?

It is an easily accessible name. The game is set in Zhou Dynasty, where the historic period may be entirely unheard of for foreign people to get any idea of what’s going on! And well, it’s not exactly a snappy name either! Soon we came to see that the figurative “Phoenix” is a good fit. It represents a mystic creature that arises in the militaristic and chaotic times and undergoes harsh nirvana, and then manages to build up a new dynasty of its own. Players could also have a feel of both the toughness and the glory that the game is loaded with.

What is PDO’s setting? Why was this setting chosen?

In PDO, you will travel back to the ‘Warring States’ period of ancient China, when the Zhou Dynasty exercises dominion over the four affiliate states of Qin Chi, Chu and Zhao. However, the four states governors are conspiring against the Zhou Dynasty that is ruled by an incompetent and cruel king. They are recruiting warriors to complete a long list of seemingly impossible tasks. Then it comes to you to decide the destiny of the four states and the whole land.

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The warfare would be one of the ageless themes of MMPRPG, and the ‘Warring States’ period opens up a whole world of opportunities for conflict, battle and valour.

Where did the idea for the PDO setting come from?

Many games take the Chinese old time as background, especially the three kingdom period. One of the many reasons is that the turbulent time produced rich and insightful stories. And the ‘Warring States’ period provides a setting with a sense of both history and fantasy, as not many records remain from those times at all. Even those that do are interspersed with mystery, magic and intrigue. This really laid open the possibilities to introduce whichever mystic and magical aspects we found most exciting into the game.

Do you plan any cross-platform development?

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Our main concern at the point is to ensure successful commercial launch of PDO. So we haven’t yet come to discuss about the cross-platform plan. However it’s a definite consideration of ours, but as I say, we’ll cross that hurdle when we come to it!

What classes and races are included in PDO?

The only playable race is human. And four classes are available: Paladin, Assassin, Wizard and Priests. This may sound quite stunted as far as MMORPGs go, but it’s how the classes can be tweaked that really makes them stand out from the crowd.

There is no class better off than the other, with each class well balanced. So just stick with your gaming style/preference. If you like to bludgeon people to death with melee weapons (my personal, bloodthirsty favourite!), pick paladin. Those that like casting offensive magic would favor the Wizard. Assassins shoot down their opponents from a distance with bows and arrows, whereas Priest cast defensive . healing & summoning spells.

What makes each class so unique is that they are customizable with different elements. Players get the choice to major in one element at Lv.10 and minor in another at Lv.50, choosing from Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth. With the five-element feature, PDO offers up to 80 character builds and a great variety of inclusive skills to each class and element. They can thereafter work on their class weakness. For example, concerning a wizard that have high attack and low defense, you can pick metal that allows you gain more attack power as you level, or pick earth to have more defense. As far as element combos are concerned, If you like fast attacking and stronger hits, Fire/Metal or Metal/Fire are popular. If you want to stay alive longer, Earth and Wood are good combos, or mixing Metal/Earth or Wood/Fire that gives you some more surviving power with an increase in attack or speed.

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Which of the above is your personal favorite and why?

In PDO the most popular element is fire. If you just go with the mainstream, you will find scrolls are hard and expensive to come by. And according to the five element theory, fire is restrained by water. Going against the grain of a popular element can be an advantage in PvP of this game. So my pick would be water paladin which gains my self advantage against Fire players and monsters (Well, you will be disadvantaged against some other element like earth).

Part II of our Phoenix Dynasty Online interview with Product Manager Danny Qin will be published tomorrow so stay tuned!

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