TOKYO--Namco producer Yoshinori Sato has revealed additional details on Tales of Eternia Online, Namco's first massively multiplayer online role-playing game, in an interview with Impress Game Watch. Namco has been developing Tales of Eternia Online in collaboration with game developer Dwango for the past two years.
As the game's title suggests, Tales of Eternia Online takes place in the world of Tales of Eternia, a console RPG that was released by Namco for the original PlayStation in 2000. In America, Tales of Eternia was released under the title Tales of Destiny II.
According to Sato, Namco is developing Tales of Eternia Online with the greater Asian market in mind. The company picked a game from the Tales series as its first MMORPG title since the series' graphics are drawn in the style of Japanese anime, which is currently popular throughout Asia. The game will be developed for the PC, the most popular platform in the region. And since Internet cafés are widespread in Asia, the game is being designed to run on the average PC that can be found in an Asian Internet café. There are currently no plans for Tales of Eternia Online to be released on other platforms.
Sato explained that the developers at Namco picked Tales of Eternia since it features two distinct worlds, called Inferia and Celestia, that would be interesting to expand on in an MMORPG. It seems that only the world of Inferia will be available when services launch for Tales of Eternia Online, and Celestia will be featured later on. Details on Celestia, such as whether it will feature its own distinct language, as in the original PlayStation game, are not yet known.
Tales of Eternia Online's timeline is set around the middle of the original PlayStation game, when the main character, Reid, and his friends are about to move from Inferia to Celestia. Sato didn't disclose whether players will be able to meet with the characters from the original PlayStation game, although they'll probably hear rumors about them from NPCs.
The game will adopt many of the systems from the Tales series, but with certain changes to make them suitable for the MMORPG format. For example, Tales of Eternia Online's "skit" system will make a small window with the player character's face pop up whenever the player is having a conversation with another player. Players will be able to create a profile face for their characters when they're first starting off the game, choosing facial shape, eyes, hairstyle, and so on.
Currently, five different character classes have been revealed: warriors, who excel at defending against enemy attacks; swordsmen, who excel at attacking; martial artists, who are fast and can use both healing and attack skills; white sorcerers, who heal and support party members; and magic sorcerers, who can use powerful attack spells.
While the battles in Tales of Eternia Online will adopt the series' signature action-packed "linear motion battle system," it seems that the combat engine for the game isn't completely developed yet. Players will be able to use a mouse and keyboard to fight in the game, but it's unclear whether they'll be able to use a gamepad.
Players can form parties of up to four members, although they can also fight solo if they're tough enough. Additional players will be able to join battles after they start. The party leader will be able to choose how the experience points and items that are gained after the battles will be distributed among the members.
Tales of Eternia Online will feature a variety of minigames, including one in which players cook various dishes using ingredients found or purchased during the game. Finally, it is known that Tales of Eternia Online will feature a guild system similar to those of other MMORPGs.
No hardware requirements have been announced yet, but the game will at least require a PC running Windows 98 SE or higher. Tales of Eternia Online is scheduled to begin beta testing in early 2005 in Japan, with an official release in the spring. The game will also be launching in other Asian territories within the year.