WarCry editor Suzie Ford had the chance to put the thumb screws to FusionFall‘s executive producer Chris Waldron. The interview lands on WarCry just in time for the December 5-7th Preview Weekend.
Please introduce yourself and tell about your position on the FusionFall development team.
Sure. My name is Chris Waldron and I’m the Executive Producer for Cartoon Network Universe: FusionFall.
You recently had a ‘preview weekend’. How successful was it?
We were very happy with how our first Sneak Peek weekend went. We intentionally didn’t do much advance advertising for it, because in some ways it was a test run and an extension of our current beta. The response was very gratifying, the servers stayed up just fine, the players had fun and we got a lot of great feedback on our survey. Overall it was a great success.
What sort of feedback did you receive from players?
We have a simple survey that pops up whenever you close or quit the game. The survey has numerical questions (Example: On a scale of 1-5, how did you like the game?), as well as a feedback field. We got tens of thousands of responses to the survey and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
What were players especially happy about?
The comments we heard the most had to do with how excited players were about seeing Cartoon Network characters all together in a game. We also saw very favorable remarks about the art, the different kinds of items, weapons and clothes in the game and, of course, the Nanos. Another thing that the Sneak Peek players talked about was how much they enjoyed the platforming aspect of FusionFall.
What are some of the best suggestions made by players?
One of the favorite things for players to suggest in the FusionFall beta is what Cartoon Network characters they want to see in the game. Some of the suggestions we received are of ones that are already in the game, but they just haven’t seen them yet. They’re giving us some really good ideas for our expansions.
Was anything overlooked that developers figured players would notice?
When players first come out of the tutorial, they are in a zone called Sector V, where the Kids Next Door tree-house is. We have jump pads that players can use to bounce up real high and get up on the floating platform that the tree-house is on. It’s quite a dramatic introduction to the three-dimensional nature of FusionFall. We noticed that a lot of players didn’t know what the jump pads were for, until they saw someone else using one. It was a relatively easy fix to better direct the players to the jump pads.
Were there any other surprises during the preview?
We’ve been in closed beta for a while now and we’ve gotten lots of great feedback from our beta testers, so I can’t say that we were honestly surprised by anything in the Sneak Peek weekend.
Did anything “wow” players that developers didn’t expect would be considered cool?
I think one thing unexpected is how many of our adult closed beta testers are getting into the story and lore of the game. Also how closely their feedback mirrors feedback from kids during the Sneak Peek weekend. Since so much of the feedback on our beta forums and from our survey is positive, we see that as a very good sign.
The next preview is scheduled for December 5-7th. What will be different between the first weekend and this one?
The main difference is that, with the first one under our belt, we are advertising this second one more heavily. Given the preliminary feedback we’ve seen so far, we expect even more players to be jumping in to try out FusionFall this weekend.
Will players be able to see any new areas or characters?
The whole game is open for the players. While it’s unlikely that players will be able to get to some of the highest level zones in FusionFall in just a weekend, we’re not closing anything off to them. It’s an open house!
What about the open beta?
Our open beta is going to start on December 27th and our commercial launch is January 14th. It will be 24/7, just like the Sneak Peek weekends, but obviously for a longer period of time. Players in the open beta will have lots of time to explore FusionFall.
What have been the most challenging aspects in development?
In general, probably the most challenging part of developing FusionFall was balancing traditional MMO mechanics that can be enjoyed by a younger audience. For FusionFall we have created an expansive and dynamic world with action, challenges, and interactive community, but it’s also a game that families can play together in small increments of time and players still get the satisfaction of advancing.
What have been the most satisfying aspects in development?
Definitely seeing it all coming together as we approach our commercial launch in January is very satisfying. We have been working on FusionFall for a while now and have had some major direction changes along the way to improve the game, such as switching to the Unity engine to make the game browser-based. Seeing everything together as a whole after looking at pieces for so long is an amazing feeling.