After seeing some questions raised in the "Planet Cyrene launch date competition" thread, we got curious, and contacted friend of EntropiaPlanets, and Creative Director of Planet Cyrene, Ed Robles 3. He agreed to do an interview with EntropiaPlanets about the reasoning why Planet Cyrene chose to use the Soft Launch approach. EP: The obvious opening question is why you chose to go for a soft-launch first? Ed Robles 3: We decided to soft launch for many reasons. The main one however is because we wanted to release the game on March thirteenth and take advantage of some big press opportunities at GDC. It takes time to put together special press events and get everything right for a big splashy release. Since GDC has come and gone we are now focusing our efforts on Comic Con as our big coming out party. The soft launch is to allow current players who want a chance to preview much of Cyrene before the big press announcements and full release. EP: Could you elaborate why the initial plan for the GDC launch went by? Ed Robles 3: Not everything was ready at the time of the release window for the builds. We did not want to release without everything that makes Cyrene unique being ready to go with the initial release. EP: You mentioned that the soft launch will not be as extensive as the full release. Would you be able to share some of the things that would be missed during the soft launch period? I.e. will we miss out on a continent? Less mobs/cities/items? Or whole systems that might be missing? Ed Robles 3: Although we are launching with quite a bit of content, you are correct that some of the content will not be showing up until the full release goes live. This is because we need to keep some things fresh for everyone and keep things fair for the people who have not heard about the game until its intended release. Some of those include: Certain mobs and missions which lead to obtaining items that unlock quests that will lead to further content, items and story. We are also thinking about just how many vehicles we will launch with. We currently have seven vehicles that are good to go but we might limit the soft launch to just two. Perhaps a land and air set. EP: When Cyrene fully launches, newcomers to the Entropia Universe will obviously be at a disadvantage compared to established players, especially when it comes to the larger events, where factions will battle for control of Cyrene with the help of the players. During the soft launch period, existing participants will obviously also be able to discover things that newcomers will have to figure out for themselves. Will there be any methods in place to ensure that when the game really launches, everyone will start with the same knowledge? Ed Robles 3: That’s a good question. One we have been wrestling with for a while now. Our only solution at this point is to limit the mission chains we have dubbed "The Epic Chain Mission". These are the missions that lead to exclusive content or items that may trigger world changing events on Cyrene. The other side to that, though, is that we will release enough to get things going on Cyrene. Such as missions that introduce the players with initial Cyrene history or lead them to certain areas of interest. I personally see nothing wrong with some players knowing a little more about Cyrene when the new players begin to arrive. One of the best parts of the Entropia Community is that they are so helpful and willing to help new players out. They are the true pioneers who will set the table for the future generations of players on the EU platform. EP: With the soft launch, will you also launch a newcomer area for Cyrene? The players who will arrive at Cyrene during the soft launch are of course not the intended target audience, but it might be a good way to test your beginner area and/or quest chain. Ed Robles 3: We will have a starter experience for players who have been following Cyrene for a while now and will truly be new to the Entropia Universe. There may not be many of them, but it's important we make sure we take care of them. These of course, will be able to be done by other Planet travellers as well. EP: Does that mean there are two different beginner systems? Ed Robles 3: The beginner missions will all be the same, only the Epic Chain Missions will be missing and those come into play in the more established A.R.C (Acacia Rebirth Corps) camps that are set up for the players. EP: You mentioned before that the new hard launch will be at Comic Con, which takes place between July 12th and July 15th in San Diego, California. Would you be able to reveal a few of the plans you have for Comic Con? Will there be live broadcasting, special in-game events, etc.? And will there be other simultaneous events elsewhere in the world to announce the Planet Cyrene release, or will the focus be on Comic Con and the rest of the world will be picking it up from there? Ed Robles 3: Unfortunately I am not allowed to talk about our marketing at this point in time. I can however tell you that we have a great team and strategy set for a multinational marketing campaign. EP: When Cyrene launches, will all the desired systems be in place? Ed Robles 3: All I can say about that right now is that there are some systems we wish we could have had before launch. We are told those systems will be in later for all Planet partners to begin implementing. As you may know, MindArk is currently working on a new Avatar rework and much has been put forward on that front. We also agree that this system is very important for everyone. I will say though that we have received many systems that we wanted and that Mindark has provided a lot for us to work with. It just takes time to learn these systems and test them out to their fullest. EP: Some suggested that the soft launch might be a sub-optimal method of launching. How do you feel about that? Ed Robles 3: I do not actually share that sentiment though I do understand where it is coming from. Something that I have said before and I will share again is that Cyrene is committed to bringing in a completely new player base. Although I cannot release every detail about this right now, we have always assumed we are launching Cyrene with a zero existing player base model. I do understand that perhaps things might not seem as great for the existing players the way we will release, but in the end it is what is best for everyone. I do think some players will come, enjoy Cyrene for a while and then leave, but I also think we will have players who decide to make Cyrene their main home. These players will assist the new players, who will in turn also go out and explore the other planets and make those choices themselves. So in order for all of us to succeed in the EU, we must continue to grow the player base and that player base will go to where they feel they enjoy their experience the most. We need to keep this in mind with our release, so if this means to someone that the soft launch is a suboptimal release, then it very well might be. For others, they may see it as a pioneering adventure that will lead to them being mentors for the new generations of players who will come to know EU as their MMO of choice. It is up to the player to decide for themselves. EP: You mention that Cyrene assumed a zero existing player base model. Could you elaborate a bit more as to what the reasoning for this assumption is? Ed Robles 3: We assumed this because every Planet Partner is supposed to bring in their own new player base. Although we do know that the players will travel from Planet to Planet, we also know that without growing this player base we would just be hurting the existing system. So we need to assume that Cyrene will need its own player base that will grow, thrive and travel around the Entropia Universe. If that were not to be the case, then we would just be diluting the current player base and just causing more harm than good. So we have focused on a way in which we will be unique and offer a truly new experience that will bring in players who might not have already been attracted to the EU model. EP: In the recent MMORPG article about Cyrene, it was mentioned that "people who register as Cyrene specific characters will be awarded with Cyrene only gifts during promotional events", thereby implying that existing EU participants are ineligible for these gifts due to the "one avatar only" clause. Does this mean that existing participants will miss out on these goodies? Ed Robles 3: Currently all the Planets give out special event gifts. Players from those planets receive that gift when they are from that original Planet.This is something that’s been done for a long time now. When we make mention of that, we are just simply saying to our New Players, that it's important for them to sign up as a Cyrene native in order to take part in those events. EntropiaPlanets would like to thanks Ed Robles for granting us this interview. We hope this answers some of the questions you might have regarding the soft launch.