NetDevil is set to broaden its beta test soon for Auto Assault, the online role-playing game where you get to participate in high-speed vehicular combat in a postapocalyptic world. In Auto Assault, you will create a character based on one of three races, take on missions, upgrade your vehicle and weapons, and blow up everything in the world while you're at it. And as you can probably tell, Auto Assault is certainly a change of pace from conventional online role-playing games, which rely on swords and sorcery. The broadening of a beta test is an important milestone for many online RPGs, as it signifies that most of the content is locked down and now needs to be tested on a larger scale. We caught up with NetDevil president Scott Brown for a progress report, and he gave us some interesting details on the game, thus far.
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GameSpot: We understand that although you'll be opening up the beta to some new testers soon, the game has been in a closed testing state so far. What has been worked on, and what have you noticed testers gravitating toward?
Scott Brown: Virtually every aspect of the game has been worked on since we started our closed beta test. We are both adding features based on user feedback and getting the servers to support a full user load. Some changes based on user feedback so far would be auto-pickup for loot, more customizable controls (including joystick support), and better crafting tutorials.
GS: Have you noticed players focusing on specific races or vehicles, for instance? In your opinion, what kinds of players will gravitate toward human players?
SB: There seems to be a big split between human and biomek right now. I think people tend to gravitate to the human class more than others in most online RPGs. Many players like to play a role more familiar to them. The humans have really cool high-powered vehicles that look similar to street racing cars and are the most similar to cars people drive today of any of the three races. The biomeks have a very well known (and popular) hazard mode where they can transform their vehicles into meks. I think that is attractive to those who play the biomek race. I believe that when more players have learned all the abilities and advantages of the three races that it will balance out even more, and if it does not we will work to try to get it as close as possible.
GS: What kinds of players will gravitate toward the biomeks, and why?
SB: Again, I believe that most people play biomek based on the transform capabilities of the race. They also are flat-out cold-blooded destroyers, and this may appeal to many players as a fun role to play. I know it does to me.
GS: What kinds of players will gravitate toward the mutants, and why?
SB: We have a strong community of mutant players already building on our message boards. I think there are a number of players who are inclined to play the most "different" class of all in any game. It also seems that the mutant race is attracting more role-players than any of the other classes. The mutants are also the artisans of the world, building their towns and vehicles by hand and having some really amazing detail in everything they create.
GS: We understand that Auto Assault will have a comprehensive player-versus-player battle system that involves dueling, tournaments, ladder rankings, and more. How has PVP been received so far in the beta? Are testers doing more or less what you had intended in PVP?
SB: We're actually working hard on PVP as we speak! The PVP system in Auto Assault is unlike any other. We have the standard stuff, like tournaments, solo and group challenges, rankings, and the like, but our serverless PVP system gives the top players bragging rights across the whole game, not just the server they play on.
With the limited play sessions we are running right now players are pretty focused on getting through content and not really looking at the arenas too much. More focus on this part of the game will come soon, though!
GS: Tell us about the beta itself. What's currently in there, and what areas of the game, vehicles, races, and missions can the next wave of testers look forward to testing out?
SB: We're at the "content complete" stage now, so we're focusing on polishing the elements that are there. What players will see are the avatars and all of their customization, tons and tons of missions, towns to socialize and do business in, etc. Though each race and class combination has a starter vehicle they begin with, we have more than 100 vehicles in the game that they could obtain and customize through our tricks and trims vehicle-customization systems. What the next round of beta testers can look forward to is the later content in the game, like the PVP highways, for example. We have also been adding insane amounts of loot to the game so there is a lot for players to look forward to.
GS: Finally, is there anything else you'd like to add about the beta or about Auto Assault in general?
SB: For NetDevil, Auto Assault is a dream opportunity to make something we have always wanted become real. It is so exciting for us to be at this point of the game as the content is rounding out and polish is starting to take shape. Our beta community is providing us with great feedback on what they like and what they would like more of--especially what they would like to see changed. We are reacting really quickly to feedback, and I think it is empowering for our current testers to see the effect they are having on the game.
GS: Thank you, Scott.