Long Project Entropia article/interview with Patric Sundström

Discussion in 'Entropia News' started by EntropiaPlanets, May 29, 2000.

  1. A longer and informative article/interview with MindArk's Marketing Manager Patric Sundström, by David Laprad on The Adrenaline Vault:

    Interview: Project Entropia

    It is the far future of mankind on a new planet conquered at the hand of humans after Earth becomes overpopulated. Humans have settled in peaceful colonies on this new world but are still not safe from hostile native creatures and mutated humans. The biggest danger to man is one of his own making--the robots created to terraform the new planet have revolted against their creators in an attempt to take over.

    It is rare that a genre prods and reshapes the concept of computer gaming, but the online persistent world has done just that. Austere but impressive touchstones such as EverQuest and Ultima Online have put a generation of gamers in touch with their longing for human interaction within fanciful settings. The opening paragraph to this interview describes the world of Project Entropia, a new 3D online game being developed at the Swedish start-up, MINDARK. Similar to releases that came before it, Project Entropia will include all the traditional elements, including fast-moving combat and character development. Set 1,000 years in the future, it is a science-fiction game inspired at the hand of Blade Runner and other futuristic stories.

    People will not be forced into combat in Project Entropia. A citizen of this new digital realm will be able to live in a growing community, meet other characters and develop relationships with them. People will also free to explore the different environments, from secured cities to a perilous wilderness. While those venturing into the wilderness areas will need to learn combat abilities, urban dwellers will have to learn how to survive in an advanced hi-tech infrastructure that blends the future, the past and the present in a mix of cafes, shops, sports clubs and bars. Since one of the tenets of good science fiction is it uses the present to postulate the future, users will recognize modern environments and objects. The designers has selected NetImmerse, an independent 3D rendering engine from Numerical Design, to handle Project Entropia's game world.

    The first step for gamers will be to create their character. Character appearance is customizable, enabling people to construct avatars that are beautiful, unappealing or just strange. The character is then "born" in a special area on the planet designated for newcomers. This transitional zone helps people test their characters' abilities, and become familiar with the environment and character controls. Newcomers are protected from more experienced gamers in this area. When a character is comfortable with his or her new life, it's on to the “real world” in Project Entropia.

    People will not always go it alone. Gamers can solicit advice and information from NPCs, who will offer hints, tips and guidance, while learning to use their abilities in the different environments. Compared to fantasy offerings, which depend on magic, the magic in Project Entropia will be contained within each character’s mental prowess. While characters can develop their mental strength, survival on the planet will not depend on it. Instead, survival will depend on other abilities, warring tactics and co-operation if people choose to do combat. The real challenge, however, will be learning whom to trust. Enemies and allies can change, and humans must maintain a constant vigil for the renegade robots that raid the colonies. These robots have superior technology, and it will be necessary for humans to cooperate in combat against them. Good thing alliances can be forged with some of the native creatures.

    The Adrenaline Vault interviewed one of the architects of this confident new world, MINDARK’s Patric Sundstrom, to learn more about what will soar and what will sour the competition. Sundstrom also sent the Adrenaline Vault the first published screenshots of Project Entropia.

    Tell us about Project Entropia’s narrative and how it impacts what happens in the game.

    The plan is to have a complex game plot built on a simple foundation. The main scenario will have parallel main plots that will focus on the development of different aspects of the game. These will continue to change and grow during the course of time as we add new elements to expand the game. An example of this would be human colonization on the planet, with new outposts, settlements and cities. Then we could have an increased technological threat from the robots as the human frontier on the planet expands, not to mention the mutants and original native creatures that inhabit the planet. There will also be a main plot focused on the political relationship between the government on Earth and the Mars colony. Our job will be to create smooth crossings between these main plot threads to allow them to interact with one another.

    The main plots will in turn consist of numerous sub-plots. Each sub-plot will have different elements, clues and problems that people can search for and attempt to solve to gain extra experience or other rewards. Our aim is to allow people to have an active part in the game’s plot. There will be numerous different quests, some of which will have little or no impact on the main plots, while others will contain vital elements that will help to push the main narratives forward. Furthermore, each main plot will have several different milestones. When a milestone has been reached, it will trigger a major event in the history of the planet. When this sort of event occurs, all game participants will hear about it, because we want our members to feel that Project Entropia is moving forward at all times.

    Describe the setting in terms of other movies or games with which people might be familiar.

    It is difficult to pinpoint specific examples that would describe our game in relation to movies or other games. However, in terms of the settings, we will have all sorts of classical elements in Project Entropia. These will be a mixture of bits and pieces that can be found in an endless list of movies and written novels or comics in the sci-fi genre. Examples of this would be classic themes such as robots versus humans, mutants versus humans or aliens versus humans. The idea of exploration and colonization of another planet also has the feeling of a classic scenario from a sci-fi tale, not to mention the constant threat from a good old-fashioned space invasion.

    For the urban areas, we have decided to focus on a bright and peaceful futuristic setting, something of a utopia, which is still another classic scenario. There will also be cheerless, somber settings such as an old worn-down slum, a deep underground complex and a closed down industrial area. These places will have elements that are associated with most futuristic settings in movies and games.

    The notion of humans battling both aliens on an alien world and their own misguided robots sounds interesting. Tell us more about this elaborate matrix of discord and how it will impact the combat.

    Man’s immediate goal will be to survive and exist in harmony with the planet while dealing with the onslaught of the robots that want to extinguish the human population. There will be other, more or less intelligent, creatures on the planet that could be hostile or benevolent toward human life in its quest for survival. All the robots will come from a massive mining installation spread across two large planets. The planets are rich in natural resources, and the robots assaulting the humans will all originate from this system. This is where the robots will continue to grow and change, and is the nest from where their destructive forces will be launched.

    Describe the basic combat scheme and its depth.

    The combat will be action-based, meaning people will steer and shoot in the first-person. A character’s accuracy will be determined according to their abilities, attributes, weapons and so on. One will even be able to use "mindforce" to gain an advantage in a fight. This means an intelligent character could have a chance against a character that is better in combat. Through preparing in advance, less combat-oriented gamers can still gain the upper hand on characters who just run around blasting at everything.

    Tell us more about using mindforce to succeed.

    Our actual mental endowment is incredible, even if we just use about two percent of it. To assist with this in the game, scientists develope different devices to help us use more of our mental abilities. Some of these devices originated on Earth, while others were developed from technologies found on other planets. As a result, man is still unsure how far he can go with these devices. It will be up to the individual to utilize them.

    Tell us about the character creation process and the choices that will be included.

    In Project Entropia, the sole character choice will be human. You will be able to choose appearance, height, weight, hair color, gender and so on.

    How does a person grow their character in Project Entropia?

    Characters will be able to increase their abilities and develop their attributes. In addition, there will be other traits, some of which will be unique to individual characters. It will be up to each person to practice and maintain their abilities and to decide which ones to specialize in. There will be no limits placed on developing one’s abilities.

    How are the characters balanced?

    All people will begin with the same assets and attributes. It will then be up to each person to build their character according his or her own wishes. Certain characters will concentrate on becoming strong warriors while others will build a business. The diversity should create a rich landscape in Project Entropia. Each character will develop his or her own career and live out their personal destiny.

    What will people new to the world of Project Entropia do in the safe areas?

    To enter a new game with little or no experience can be a difficult process. For this reason, we have created safe zones so people can learn how to control and develop their character. In these places, people will be able to meet other newcomers as well as more established characters. Users will be able to visit shops, financial institutions, bars and other attractions, just as one might do in real life. There will even be an arena in New Haven where people can undergo combat training with others. There might even be people who never leave the safe zones, but choose to live in the cities. In the wilderness, it is a constant fight for survival.

    What will people who do not enter combat do and how will they survive?

    In Project Entropia, people will be able to decide for themselves how to live. One might choose to be a hunter-explorer or perhaps a businessman, shop owner or government official. All characters will begin life in New Haven, then decide to join up with a few others, or choose to venture forth alone. If people decide to build a group, one person might deal with the hunting, while others might tend to building a small village or town. If a group decides to build an outpost, it will need an administrator to tend to all the practical details. You could compare this with settlements on Earth. There will be things to do that no one else wants to do.

    Tell us about your choice to use the NetImmerse engine.

    The reason we chose NetImmerse is because we thought it would be the most suitable engine for us to use to handle a world as big and adaptable as Project Entropia is going to be. It is also simple to use. Our graphics people understand its strengths and limitations, and can therefore use its best capabilities from the beginning.

    What sort of world will Project Entropia contain? Is this the sort of world that can grow with new locations and quests?

    In Project Entropia, people will enter a world called CALYPSO. You will begin in the biggest city, called New Haven, where people will find all manner of things, from apartments to bars, shops to factories and red light districts to churches. Outside New Haven, people will be able to experience a varied landscape. There will be deserts and oceans. Forests and mountains. A world where people could meet new creatures and lethal robots. Certain areas will be dangerous even for those who have spent a lot of time in the game. With Project Entropia, we have labored hard to create a world that can change and expand according to the number of participants. People will be even able to purchase property to develop their own interests and societies. Brand new quests will be made available through NPCs or other human participants on an ongoing basis.

    Tell us about the NPCs we will meet in Project Entropia.

    There will be NPCs in the form of robots, mutants, wild animals and regular people. We have invested a lot of time and energy to achieve good AI for all the NPCs.

    Alliances must be formed with locals. But how does one learn whom to trust?

    It will be similar to real life. If a character goes out and meets new people, he or she cannot be sure from the start about trusting them. Some characters will use situations to their own advantage, while others will be friends for life. This is a quality of real life that will deepen and enrich Project Entropia. At this moment, people are organizing themselves into clans to battle together in Project Entropia. This is a positive trend and we will support it as much as possible.

    Is combat or co-operative adventuring the focus in Project Entropia?

    Both, along with the chance to doing numerous other things, such as building independent communities, creating trade centers, and even meeting a partner in life and getting married.

    What sort of quests will be on hand?

    There will be numerous different quests, including individual quests as well as quests that affect the entire world. Certain quests will require good co-operation and will be too much for a single individual.

    Is a public beta test planned?

    Yes, we plan to conduct a series of public beta tests. It is, however, too soon to announce an exact date.

    What are the plans for public release?

    We have not set an exact date. It all depends on how fast we get Project Entropia organized and how well the beta testing goes. We do, however, intend to launch Project Entropia across the world.

    How many people will the game world support?

    Our aim is to build a world where all users can join in at the same time. To start with, we are hoping to be able to have 100,000 people online together in the same world, and then people that have grown from this core in independent communities.

    Where will the servers be located?

    We will have one big server. Where it will be placed has not been decided. To this, we will have a lot of different routes placed around the world to which people can connect. This will help reduce lag no matter where in the world a user is located.

    The Internet is filling with online RPGs. Can Project Entropia establish a unique voice?

    Project Entropia is a unique voice and will help in further spurring online gaming. Several points illustrate this: CALYPSO is going to be a dynamic world. Instead of having numerous worlds, all users will join the same server. The mix between adventure and a social life will be far more developed than what we have seen to date. We also have some fantastic surprises in store, but these will not become apparent before the autumn. It will be these moments that will show how unique Project Entropia is.

    Further info:
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