We discuss the upcoming sequel to the world's most popular online RPG with developer NCsoft.
The premise of massively multiplayer online role-playing games makes a lot of sense--these are games that let you create a character who goes off on adventures in a vast and colorful online world with thousands of other like-minded players--but until a few years ago, the technology to make these ambitious games a reality just wasn't available. However, there are plenty of online RPGs available now, including popular and established games like EverQuest, Dark Age of Camelot, and Ultima Online, and there are plenty more in development. But there's one that's apparently more popular and more successful than any other--Lineage: The Blood Pledge, from Korean developer NCsoft, a 2D game that lets you play as fighters, wizards, and elves in search of fame and fortune in a colorful fantasy world. The game reportedly has several million subscribers and is still going strong,
But the developer has decided to create a sequel for its incredibly popular game, and it will attempt to improve on the original game in many ways, such as by adding new features to encourage you to form long-standing player associations and engage in political dealings among these groups and by letting you participate in exciting, large-scale field battles and sieges. The developer has also commissioned Epic's powerful Unreal graphics engine to help make Lineage II as visually impressive as any upcoming online RPG. To get more information about the sequel, we interviewed the game's lead game designer, Raoul Kim.
GameSpot: One of the most significant and obvious differences between Lineage II and the original game is the graphics engine. Could you explain why you chose to use Unreal technology for the sequel, rather than a different graphics engine?
Raoul Kim:When we started our development work, we looked primarily at three engines to use for Lineage II: the Unreal engine, the Quake engine, and the Lithtech engine. Among them, the Unreal engine was the most attractive to us because of its powerful editing features and its outdoor-rendering ability. They were all good products, but in the end we decided to use the Unreal engine because of its overall outstanding performance.
GS: Does the new engine let you expand on the gameplay of Lineage in ways that the old engine couldn't? Could you give some examples of new game features that the engine lets you use?
RK: Before I answer that question, I'd like to say that I don't think 3D graphics are always superior to 2D graphics. Due to their long history, 2D graphics techniques have advanced greatly in quality and format. Compared with 2D, 3D has been used in games for a shorter period of time. However, 3D does allow us to create many things that we could not do by using 2D.
We did not decide to use 3D in Lineage II simply because most games today are [also] using 3D graphics. As other studios have their own reasons for using 3D, we also decided to use 3D because it is more appropriate than 2D for the things that we were going to create.
For example, one of the main features of Lineage II is siege warfare. Using 3D Lineage II allows us to portray siege warfare that requires a higher level of strategy. Since now we have the concept of height, both the attacking team and the defending team can come up with strategies to utilize height. Also, it is now possible to attack the enemy during a siege by using a flying unit such as a dragon.