Interviewee: Jeff Lyndon, VP of China Operations, Interzone Entertainment
WarCry: Just to get things started, could you introduce yourself? What’s your name, and what is your role on Interzone Futebol?
My name is Jeff Lyndon and I am the Vice President of Interzone’s China Operations. I have a strong background and a great deal of experience in the gaming industry, so, I get to wear several hats in this position! Currently, my top priorities are ensuring smooth operations in China, establishing business development for the Asia market, and acting as Interzone’s international spokesperson.
WC: What were the factors that led you to make a football (soccer) MMOG (as opposed to, say, a baseball or American football one)?
Simple…no sport has ever drawn global recognition like soccer.
WC: The majority of football games in the world are team-based, placing the player in charge of an entire team as both manager and player. Why did Interzone opt for the current model with the player controlling a single character?
Yes the majority of soccer games currently on the market are team-based through the control of one to four players. While I am playing these soccer games, my family or friends who are not familiar with soccer games will often comment, “That’s not soccer you are playing.” I am often left speechless when given such a comment since I can see from their point of view and it is kind of frustrating.
In Interzone, we believe soccer is not an individual sport; it should be played en masse! There should be interaction among team mates, team captain, team manager, referee, the massive audience in the stadium, and furthermore, the whole world! This is what we are aiming to deliver in multiple stages of releases.
WC: Will players be able to create their own teams (much like other MMOGs have guilds, for example) and compete together? If yes, what sort of customization do you intend to have as far as jersey color, logo, etc? If not, how will teams work in the game-if there will be any?
Yes, players can create their own team and even club. This is something our design team has focused on intently throughout the development of the game. Players can design their own logo and uniform, and gain sponsorship. They can even personalize their custom uniforms and even add their sponsor’s logo. This feature will be turned on shortly after launch. At our initial launch we will include default soccer clubs for player to join in order to populate, educate and keep our players together. We believe that this will create a strong foundation and kick off the community for players to know each other and later on spin off and create their own team/club.
There will be various default clubs for each player to join. After our initial launch, as the game grows in popularity and player interaction explodes, players will be able to create their own clubs through networking and socialization within our virtual world.
WC: Will characters have ‘classes,’ so to speak? For instance, when I create my character, do I have the option to make a “defender,” “goalkeeper,” “forward,” etc? Or will my character be able to fill any role on the field?
Your character will be able to fill any role on the field, just like in the real world. We feel that we should not limit our players and we want them to connect to multiple characters instead of just one character.
Limitations are not part of Interzone’s vision: Anything is possible.
WC: How do characters increase their skills and learn new abilities? Will there be any sort of ‘grind’ involved?
Just like the in real world, practice makes perfect! The more you play in a certain position the better your skills in that position will become. Additional abilities can be gained as you play, making your character unique and tailored to the position of your choice. As far as any sort of “grind” – we plan to avoid that!
WC: Can you expand on the “social space for players to explore and socialize in” mentioned in the press release? Will it be an actual world where players control their characters and can move around, or will it be more of a chat room-styled interface?
Yes there will be a 3D world for everyone to explore, shop, get to know each other and unlck secrets.. Our initial release in Brazil will feature the Ipanema neighborhood of Rio De Janeiro. We will keep building up the world as we grow into different markets.
WC: Will the items from the online store only serve to customize a player’s appearance, or will they affect play as well-for example, would a new pair of cleats enable one’s character to run faster?
Items will not only affect the player’s appearance but the actual performance of the player. We are trying very hard not to offset the balance of the game by selling over powerful items that will destroy another’s experience. The bottom line is we are not creating a world where rich snobs can kill poor hardcore gamers.
WC: Are you planning on going with a subscription model, or do you hope to run the game through (for example) micropayments made in the online store?
The game design can use either subscription, free to play or hybrid model. For our Brazilian launch, the game will be on full free to play model.
WC: How faithful are you trying to be to the rules of the game? Will players ever receive yellow/red cards during the course of a match?
Our vision is to create a game that is as fun and realistic as possible – I say Fun first since we believe fun is more important then realism. We are trying our best to make the game as real as possible. The design team has spent endless hours of time, implementing as much of FIFA rules to the game as we can while balancing it and making sure that the game is FUN!
To answer your question: Yes, players will receive yellow and red cards during the course of a match if they are being nasty! If they have a continued record of being crude or vulgar they may possibly find themselves banned from the league for a season!
WC: Can you expand on the general style of gameplay for us-how the characters will be controlled, for instance? If more than 22 players (11 per side) attempt to enter a match, will some be sidelined-or will a player be able to become a spectator and watch without actually playing?
A player will be given the option to control the game by traditional mouse/keyboard as well as an analog gamepad. If more than 11 players join a particular match, the player will become a substitute for either team. And yes, players can become a spectator of the match if he just wants to watch a match!
WC: What platforms is Interzone Futebol being developed for, and what is the release date you are shooting for?
To ensure our attention and resources are focused mainly on creating a fun game, Interzone Futebol is using the Big World Engine which supports multiple platforms: PC, Xbox, and PS. Our initial Q4 release in Brazil will be for the PC. An international version will be launched slightly after it.
Our thanks to WarCry for letting us share the Interzone Futebol story. Players can visit www.interzonefutebol.com for more information.