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We talk with Netmarble USA about Lineage 2: Revolution, Batman coming to game in limited-time event

Last week, we were invited to a special event that was held at Netmarble’s Los Angeles office, as the company revealed some of the new content coming to Lineage 2: Revolution later this month to a room filled with players, a few special guests, and some members of the media. Things kicked off with words from some of the developers as well as President of Netmarble US Simon Sim before answering a few questions that were submitted prior to the event and ended with a 3V3 PVP game between developers and players.

Soon after, we had a chance to sit down with Product Manager Travis Marshall, and President of Netmarble US Simon Sim and talk about the game.

NTF: What do you feel makes Lineage 2: Revolution so interesting and compelling? Do you feel this still holds true after this first year and what can we look forward to from the game?

Travis: What’s interesting about Lineage 2: Revolution is that it’s a full feature MMO RPG for your phone and it’s on a massive scale. There are thousands of people on a server that can form guilds of up to 50 people through the clan feature. It’s very community-driven, so our players can form these guilds, and these guilds can have alliances with one another. And once you’re in a guild, typically the guild leader will schedule daily and weekly events. For example, they can work all day to earn currency, and/or they can go on clan raids against dungeon monsters. Then on Fridays and Saturdays, there’s the Fortress Siege, which is a 50 vs 50 player fight in real time pitting one clan against another. The winner of Fortress Seige gets to hold the fortress for the week. There is also the Castle Siege, which is a 200 player fight between 4 clans to hold a castle for the week. So most of these clans will talk on discord or talk amongst each other in real life, and they organize a play pattern that really engrosses you in the game, unlike any mobile game that we’ve seen on the market.

Lineage 2 Revolution has very high fidelity in its graphics–it’s on Unreal Engine 4–and it performs well on almost every device. It can generate 200 player fights without a huge amount of lag. It works really well, which sets it apart. We’re constantly competing by providing new content almost every two weeks, with major updates almost every month. So that makes the game fresh. We’re constantly monitoring our players to see if they’re reaching the level cap, so we’ll know if we need to increase the level cap. We also look at ways for new players go through boosting events to catch up to more seasoned players, so that they can catch up in the game and join a clan. Recently, we introduced the Academy Clan so that new users can get familiarized with clans. Since most clans now are very high level, by the time these new users achieve a high level, they are able to graduate from the Academy and go join one of the top clans. So tonight as you saw, we had all these clans come together, and you can sense that there is this sense of comradery between them. Some people have pride in their clan.

NTF: Yeah, we got to see the fans really show their pride during the presentation earlier.

Travis: That’s something that we really don’t see on any other mobile game; it really stands out with this one.

Simon: If I can add more, we are aiming at two big groups. One group is [the people] already playing MMORPGs on PC, and then there are casual players–those who have never seen a mobile with a true MMORPG experience. That’s the reason why we try to be an authentic MMORPG. We have high fidelity vision; as you can see, even though the TV screen it looks like a PC game, right?

At the same time, there are also massive scale battles with 200 player characters. The real-time massive scale battle content is there, so it’s aiming at the hardcore or very in-depth MMORPG users. At the same time, we are also aiming at casual RPG users. We have a lot of features to help someone who is not familiar with this type of massive scale MMORPG to easily adapt, like auto-fighting and auto-casting. So, you just follow the tutorial, follow the content, and you can easily adapt to that. Because of that, Lineage 2: Revolution is a huge success worldwide. When this game launched in Korea, just one month after launch, it brought in $173m USD and 10% of the entire population playing Lineage 2: Revolution. So because of this, we try to meet both high-level users and middle-level users. Overall globally, 32 million players currently play this game. Massive scale users, we can get it.

NTF: One of the important things is, that you were talking about worldwide. Obviously not every game works in a certain region. So, you would have people that make games in Korea. How challenging is it to find the right market, to try that market, and challenge it? How difficult is that for you as a company when you look at a game and go, “Does this work here?”

Simon: As you can see, Lineage 2: Revolution is a very, very in-depth RPG, MMORPG game, right? You need to put in a lot of time to grow the content. Worldwide, the usual behavior and preferences of each country are very different. The biggest challenges for us is not only the differences in visual preference but also the lifestyle. So when we brought Lineage Revolution from Korea to here [USA], from Asia to here, we changed the visual. We changed the characters. For example, the Human character in Asia is cute, like a boy band, idol boy band looks. For western gamers, that look is awkward, right? So, we changed the character design to be more warrior-like, to be more brutal and ‘ARRGH’-Warrior type. So, we changed the visual, we changed the menu, and it looks simpler because, from our experience, western gamers don’t like complicated menu structures. Those visual UI/UX changes were challenging but we tried that. Number two, the difficulty level. So, Asian people can easily accept like the, a lot of grinding times and they can grind. But western gamers put less time in than Asian people, so the play time should be different but the grossing speed should be similar. So we try to adjust the difficulty balance so western version much easier than Asian version.

NTF: I’m wondering because the difference in how we commute in the West compared to let’s say other parts of Asia.

Simon: Yes, for example in Asia, even when you commute, or at work, you can turn it on as auto play. But in western culture or Japan, it is not appropriate to play games in the office, right? So, actual play time could be shorter than Asian users, and we meet that demand, that behavior, so we changed the difficulty balance. Number three, in Asia, there’s a lot of big MMORPG, PC or console games that are popular, but it’s less popular in the western market. So, we need to introduce this massive scale battle step by step. We put the small-scale real-time battle on all stages of content so that even the beginners can easily adapt to massive scale battles step by step. So, content is a little bit different. It was very challenging, but really that’s the only way we can meet the demand of eastern users and western users. So, we make a separate build for Lineage 2: Revolution.

Travis: As a producer, we spend a lot of time studying play patterns and behavior of users from different places in the world, so we try to adapt the game depending on different play patterns.

Simon: But the interesting is, Lineage 2: Revolution‘s western build has an average play-time per day that is more than 4 hours. We believe the western gamer getting used to this kind of mechanics. They play Lineage 2: Revolution at home like a PC or emulator or turning on auto-fighting when they commute, or when they are in office and have some idle time to play on their smartphone. So, average play time for every user is more than 4 hours. It was very surprising for us.

NTF:  You were talking changing visuals obviously for the market. What about let’s say western fans who like cutesy or anime styles? Have you thought about incorporating that for those who wanted that? Or is that just too much extra work and not something feasible?

Simon: Lineage 2: Revolution is an RPG game, right? The original RPG is a PC game, right? We tried to be authentic, that’s number one for us. But at the same time, we tried to meet those kinds of different taste, so that was challenging, but in Lineage 2: Revolution you can see some cute character like dwarves and elves that look beautiful. It was originally in the IP but we tried to meet the different taste of users. We tried to customize more, and we keep working on that.

Travis: For instance, a few months ago, we introduced Magnadin, which is a beauty shop, where you can actually customize your character in the style that you prefer; hairstyle, facial styles, costumes.

NTF: Let’s talk about what you will have incoming for after Year 1. What can people who are familiar with the game look forward to?

Travis: So, to wrap up year one, we mentioned earlier tonight that we are introducing our 5th race, which is the orc into Lineage 2: Revolution. To allow new users to catch up when you create an orc, you start at level 180 instead of level 1, and you are instantly put at 500,000 combat power. Right now, many users are around level 260, so we’ve added a boosting event to let you get from 180 to 260 quicker so you can catch up. We also increased the level cap to 320, so the existing players who are at 260 have a new goal to go towards. With that new level cap, there is a new region, and then there’s more content for elder players such as: When you start, you have a class, and that class goes through a first-class transfer, which evolves it. Right now, we’re letting you finish what’s called the 2nd class transfer, which evolves into the final form of the character. For now.

And also, DC is coming.

NTF: Yeah, that one surprised me, that’s actually really cool.

Travis: It’s the first time we announced that.

NTF: What can fans look forward to when it comes the collaboration with Warner Bros./DC coming to Lineage?

Travis: We are working on a collaboration event with Warner Bros./DC which involves Batman. That’s all we are able to say at this time.

Once we have more details, I will show you. You will be getting a lot of details before it’s announced.

NTF: I look forward to seeing Batman, everyone loves Batman.

Travis: And I’m sure you saw the pet system, that comes sometime next year, but we don’t have a set date.

Simon: So, a little bit more about our company: Netmarble was founded in 2000 in Korea, so we started from free-to-play PC. Currently, we have several games that have been successful for more than 2 or 3 years. Netmarble is very strong about a live operation, content upgrade, event running, and things like that. With this kind of support, we believe Lineage 2: Revolution will also be successful. So, players will enjoy more than 2 or 3 years, more than that. So, we try to do our best.

NTF: My last question to you is about the community. Obviously, that is a big thing for you, so what have you seen from your community since the game’s release? How has it grown? And, let’s say for someone like me, who just started the game, what can I look forward to in working with a community?

Travis: Our community is very vocal; they’re willing to speak up and they have a passion for what they care about. Because of that sense of community in the game–in that they spend together, they share stories, they form a daily play pattern, weekly play pattern with each other–it’s a community, unlike most games. That’s what brings out the passion, so they tell us what they like or what they want to see improved, and part of what we do is to constantly monitor that and communicate with them to try to find out what we can do to make the game the best version of itself.

Simon: As a beginner, we have Academy Clan, right? So, you can easily join the Academy Clan and learn from other clan members. The system will be easier than a regular clan. So, as a beginner, you can easily follow the community.

Travis: But we do monitor Reddit, and Facebook, Twitter, our forums. We’re always posting on our forums, Twitter, and Facebook about what updates we have, teasers, and then we get comments and we read through them. We make sure they are heard, and we’re developing the lifetime based on their preferences.

All in all, It was a fun little event and we thank Netmarble for the invite. While I’ve only recently started playing the game I’ve found myself spending more time playing it and being able to chat with various players was a nice feeling as they gave me a few pointers along the way.