End of Nations' MOBA switch because MMO aspects 'underdeveloped'
End of Nations has been tightly under wraps since publisher Trion Worlds took development of the MMO back in house from Petroglyph last December.
End of Nations executive producer Scot Lane told us that the MMO aspects of the original game were "underdeveloped and didn't resonate well" with fans. But "the combat felt like it was on a trajectory to be compelling and fun" which is why Trion decided to transform the game into a MOBA RTS.
"We just nudged--well maybe shoved--it more in that direction and focused in on the core aspects of the game that were proving the most fun for people playing it," he told Shacknews. "We let the gameplay drive us naturally rather than making decisions and changing what felt 'right' in order to fit it in the MMO pigeon hole."
Lane said that End of Nations originally had a somewhat intimidating learning curve, but that fans liked the game once they were able to get over that hurdle. "We knew at its core it had an extra 'something' that was worth building on, he said. "We broke the game down, discarded the things that really weren't resonating with people or working well in practice--like the original meta game--and focused in on the bits of the game that had potential gameplay wise. On top of those changes, we also spent a lot of time and energy on the user experience and making the learning curve a lot easier for new players."
As the team reworked the game, Lane said it became clear that the game should have been a MOBA all along. "End of Nations always lived near the MOBA space. As we went through the user feedback from alpha and the past betas, as well as our own internal feedback, it seemed clear to us that this was the right move and the right direction to take with revamping the core game. While these changes sound enormous, those who played previous iterations of End of Nations will still find the game familiar, but hopefully they will also notice and appreciate the improvements we have made."
The new game leaves behind the two factions originally created--the Liberation Front and the Shadow Revolution--and moves the story forward to after the two sides have been dissolved. Players can choose from one of the four original classes (Spartan, Patriot, Wraith or Phantom) without being confined by faction. But Lane said the classes are more specialized now, offering different play styles. "We have some of the same heroes, which we've improved upon," he said. "and in another update, heroes are now the focus of the game while the units are really treated more like minions that you control."
Although pitched as the first MOBA RTS, Lane said the game doesn't really fit into either category. Game sessions are up to 4v4 now, and there is no traditional base-building found in RTS games. In the end, it comes down to the maps. "We are shooting for a wide variety of different gameplay with our maps, where as your traditional MOBA thrives off of the standard three-lane map," he said. "That said, we are actually considering the inclusion of a three-lane map to bolster our different gameplay modes, if it makes it past our focus test phase. The biggest difference between us and other MOBAs is we offer a bit more micromanagement. You pick your supporting company before the battle (you can bring several companies to a fight) and you control your units. We also allow you to change heroes and company's mid-battle and we have both land and air units to field in battle."
Lane acknowledges that there are a lot of MOBAs out right now, but he feels that End of nations will fill a niche that others won't be able to match. "First, we are offering more battlefield choices by allowing you to not only control your minions (units), but also letting you pre-select them so you can really choose your play style," he said. "Second, our setting is not fantasy, which will give a completely different experience. Our battle sessions are shorter than our competitor's--we are targeting 15-20 minute battles, so you'll be able to fit in at least 2 or 3 sessions in your lunch hour.
"Third, players can control their destiny and actually have the choice to swap out their heroes and units mid-battle, so they have the ability to actually change the tide of the battle in their favor if they start off being overwhelmed by an opponent's company. We also get into combat a lot faster, which has really tested well."
The game is free-to-play, but Lane said it is not the dreaded pay-to-win scenario. "It's just pay to save time or pay for cosmetics," he said. "Since we are all gamers this is extremely important for us."
No time frame was given for the game's official launch, but beta signups have already begun.
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