We recently took the opportunity to interview Kyle Rowley and Chris Dye of the RF Online community team. They addressed a wide range of issues in this interview that brings us right up to date on the progress of the Codemasters sci-fi PvP MMOG.
Answers by Chris ‘Ulric’ Dye (Community Officer) and Kyle ‘Laeth Rowley (Community Manager)
Questions by Matt Lowery
WarCry: You have recently announced that you will be doubling the drop rate for loot. This is the second time in the last year. Can you tell us what made you decide to do this?
Chris ‘Ulric’ Dye: Recently we launched the biggest update ever seen in the RF Online (RFO) world: Episode 2 ‘Pioneers of Novus’. This huge update has brought players a ton of new content and game play changes. In addition to this, it also made some significant changes to the way loot drops were calculated – meaning players get more loot per kill than ever before. Whilst this wasn’t changed for the Korean version, it was clear from our player feedback that this would be an important Westernisation change, enabling players to focus more on exploring the RFO world than raising funds.
WarCry: As you reach out more to Western players for RF Online, what would you say are the biggest differences between Eastern and Western players?
Chris ‘Ulric’ Dye: When it comes to RFO I would say very little, the stereotypical response would have been that the Eastern gamers are more hardcore and prepared to work/grind for their levels and equipment; but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the attitude of our Western players. They are more than ready for the challenge which has meant we have kept traditional “Westernisation” changes to a minimum. In fact, I would be confident in sending the top RFO Western guilds up against their Eastern rivals in any RFO related tournament.
WarCry: Are there any other changes in the works to accommodate Western players’ play style?
Chris ‘Ulric’ Dye: We continuously monitor the feedback from players and have one or two things under investigation; however we are quite happy with the current status of RFO and feel it is probably in the strongest position it has ever been.
WarCry: You have recently opened a new server to play on. Can you tell us why you decided to do that, and how has the reaction been?
Chris ‘Ulric’ Dye: Since moving to free-to-play we have seen a huge return of old players along with a huge influx of new players; because of this we felt it would be a great time to open a new server and give players the choice of joining an already established world, or beginning afresh on a new world. Then of course we needed the additional space to cater for all the new players!
WarCry: RF Online has recently become free-to-play. Can you tell people that might be thinking of trying RF Online out, what they can expect?
Kyle ‘Laeth’ Rowley: RF Online is a PvP orientated game, so obviously new players should be aware of that before they download the game. A lot of focus is put on players working together as a faction, rather than PvP-ing solo, so players should at least be interested in working in a team. The games mechanics are very simple and easy to pick up, but there is a lot of depth there for players who want to dive deeper into other areas of the game.
RF Online isn’t for everyone; we know that – so all I can suggest is you go ahead and download the client, set up an account and see how you get on. What have you got to lose? The game’s completely free!
WarCry: In a PvP centric game, there are usually a lot of issues with griefing and ganking of lower level characters. How does RF Online attempt to prevent this?
Kyle ‘Laeth’ Rowley: We don’t. RF Online is a PvP game; we’re not in the business of trying to sugar-coat the game’s core mechanics and preventing players from doing what the game was designed to do. If a high level player wishes to gank a low level player, they can – but to be honest, it’s not really something we see very often. More often than not, high level players want to fight against other high level players. You don’t gain anything from griefing low levels, so it’s not a common occurrence and there are even some guilds that will purposefully hunt down anyone who even attempts to ruin the experience for new players.
WarCry: What can players look forward to in the future for RF Online? Expansions, updates?
Kyle ‘Laeth’ Rowley: RF Online has a very, very bright future. It’s one of Codemasters Online’s most exciting products and its only now that we’re really seeing the game reach its true potential. So, what do we have in-store for our ever expanding player-base?
First of all we have some rather small changes coming in a new update that should be hitting our internal QA servers at the start of 2008. Further to this, we then have the highly anticipated “Planet Wars” (not final name) update. This update will take RF Online off Novus (the game’s world) and into space! This is something everyone here at Codemasters Online is REALLY excited about.
WarCry: You have just made RF Online free to play, while adding a new expansion to the game for free. Are there any plans for paid expansions in the future?
Kyle ‘Laeth’ Rowley: No, at the moment Codemasters Online have no plans to release paid-for expansions. While paid-for expansions fit very well into some game’s business models, we don’t feel the need to charge for content in RF Online. When we say that the game is free and that anyone can play it without paying a penny, we mean it.
WarCry: Can you tell us about the new expansion, and what players can look forward to seeing in it?
Chris ‘Ulric’ Dye: The upcoming expansions promise some huge changes to RF Online; a whole new graphics engine and user interface, new zones / weapons / armours and classes, a whole new gameplay mechanic in the ‘Planet Wars’ update and much more! Players thought that the Episode 2 update was big, well I’ll tell you now – we’ve got a lot more where that came from.
WarCry: With the game now free-to-play, how do you plan to recoup your cost for running the game?
Kyle ‘Laeth’ Rowley: All the money we make for RF Online is generated by the game’s in-game cash shop. Players have the option of purchasing in-game credits to purchase specific items in the cash shop that can assist them in playing the game.
I’ve highlighted the word “option” above, because this is a very important fact – players don’t need to purchase credits in order to play the game competitively. A very large proportion of the RF Online player base don’t use the in-game cash shop and just play the game as it is. Actually, some of these players are the most influential and powerful players within the game.
To sum up, RF Online is a quality game that absolutely everyone can play for free. The simple mechanics mean that it’s open to absolutely everyone and with a unique Sci-Fantasy take on the MMO genre; it’s a fresh of breath air in market saturated by fantasy games.