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Theryon Wars - An interview with its creators, Pyxel Arts

Discussion in 'Entropia News' started by NotAdmin, May 28, 2011.

  1. NotAdmin

    NotAdmin Administrator

    Today we are proud to present an interview with the recently announced Spanish Planet Partner Pyxel Arts. They are currently working on a new concept within the Entropia Universe that is different from the existing "planets" in that it will be more focused on space than an actual planet.

    logo theryon_color.

    Joining us from Pyxel Arts to answer our questions are the CEO, Rafael Espinosa, and its COO, Jorge Ordaz. They take turns, or combine efforts in order to provide our curiosity with some satisfaction, and they even give us a few glimpses into what we can expect to see when Theryon Wars will go live.

    And those of you who were hoping that a Spanish Planet Partner would mean you get to skill up in "Holding Siestas," "Eating Calamaris" or "Drinking Sangria" might be in for a bit of a shock ...

    We would like to thank Mr. Espinosa and Mr. Ordaz for their time to answer our questions, as well as to express our gratitude to the Marketing & PR manager for Pyxel Arts, Miss Gil, for making this interview possible.

    Question: Who is Pyxel Arts?
    Rafael Espinosa, picture from his LinkedIn profile.
    Rafael Espinosa:
    Pyxel Arts Digital Entertainment S.L. was born in December of 2009 as a new generation studio dedicated to developing video games. By 'new generation,' Pyxel Arts understands more than mere technological developments leading to the same old mechanics put in a nicer canvas.

    We can say that Pyxel Arts is of course a company, but it's also a group of professionals and friends of the Spanish video game industry, with tons of experience from other studios, who have finally gathered to do things right by our own standards.

    At Pyxel Arts we are committed not only to develop fantastic games, but also the technology making them possible, so they can continue evolving and surprising players year after year.

    As you can see, our slogan is “The new age of videogames.” We think there are thousands of new experiences yet to be faced on the videogame industry, and we want to collaborate for them to happen.

    Jorge Ordaz:
    First of all, Pyxel Arts is a team; then, we deal with issues and tasks either company-wise or studio-wise. This way we stay in the middle point between indie studios and well-known, established companies. It's all about flexibility and allowing ourselves to put our best efforts and illusion in what we do at a very intimate level. Pyxel Arts is not 'just another job' or a brand-new faceless company: We're hand-crafting the games we want to play.

    Question: How many are on the Entropia Planet team, and could you give us some background information about them? (e.g., the number of developers, writers, graphic artists, and their experience in these fields)

    Rafael Espinosa:
    The number of people working will vary along the project. We are starting now and we will be increasing the staff once we reach the production phase (currently on pre-production). Our estimations are around 18-20 members working permanently on the project, with maybe 10 more persons working alternatively.

    Preparing a game for Entropia Universe requires a big effort in 2 fronts: Design and Art. Of course programming is an essential task, but thanks to the tools provided by MindArk and Entropia Universe, for this project programming will not be a headache.

    As for Design and Art. Our Art team will be around 8 persons (animation, 3D modelers, TD, TA, concept designs, etc). Part of the team has been working in other projects outside the company, and most of them in our first game, Anmynor (www.anmynor.com).

    The Anmynor Trailetr

    We have 4 designers working on this project right now in a very important phase, pre-production, where we are setting up the whole atmosphere, graphic tone, etc., for the rest of the project. We have people coming from big titles, like, for example, Castlevania, Lords of Shadows, released last year for Xbox and PS3.

    Question: Have you or your staff played in Entropia Universe? If so, what about it really appeals to you? (More than one opinion could be given).

    Rafael Espinosa:
    Yes, of course I've played Entropia Universe. I have my account and play regularly, but not as often as I would like. Unfortunately, managing a video game studio doesn’t mean you have time to play (even your own games). But one of the things I can say for sure is that the graphic quality you have in the games you can play along Entropia Universe is far away from the one we can check in other MMOs, and for me in particular, that's one of the best things. I like MMOs, and maybe the graphics are not so important in this type of game, but for me, they are a really important feature and help me get involved with the game.

    But for sure Jorge, our COO and chief of the project, can tell you more about Entropia Universe (he has explored everything in order to make our game different).

    Jorge Ordaz:
    Well, I first played Project Entropia back in 2005 or so, but neither on a regular basis nor 'being social,' as most of my non-EU buddies had no strong feelings about the game at the time. I see things which could be done in EU and what appeals the most to me is the actual chance to try and do them ourselves in our very own planet.

    Question: How did you end up connecting with MindArk?

    Rafael Espinosa:
    That's Jorge's fault. I was just returning from last year's E3 when he came to me with the news.

    Jorge Ordaz:
    My fault, granted, but if I may address the Court... We had been refining a concept paper for a new project for some time and I realized its scope was way too ambitious for the technologies we had previously worked with. While thinking about a twitch in the Rewards System, I found myself staring at my screen, right at the Entropia Universe icon and it was like 'yo, what if...?'

    Afterwards we started slicing the concept in manageable chunks, from which we chose which will be the core of our EU Planet, others that could be developed at later stages with MindArk's support and several others which will better fit non-EU stand-alone games with the same background story and key elements.

    Question: The Pyxel Arts website mentions the name of the game being Project Ninlil. Is that the official name under which the game will be released?

    Rafael Espinosa:
    No, the final name of the project is “Theryon Wars.” “Project NINLIL” was just a working name. We name our projects with this “gods mythology” until we reach the final name. Again, Jorge's fault.

    Jorge Ordaz:
    I plead... guilty. But I'd like to point out that our working names are not picked randomly at all.

    Question: What made Pyxel Arts decide that the Entropia Universe was the right place for developing Project Ninlil?
    The Pyxel Arts logo
    Rafael Espinosa:
    From a company point of view, Entropia Universe is a unique system, and the options, at a company level, that it offers to us, are incredible.

    Jorge Ordaz:
    From a studio perspective there are two main reasons. The first and most important one is that both the platform fits the project and the project fits the platform. This is not always evident and sometimes it doesn't even happen. For instance, we can develop assets that will be on par with the client's graphical capabilities; there are other considerations, but I think you'll see my point. I mentioned earlier something about our second reason: we can do new things in EU and we're willing to. Entropia has been out there for quite a while, so it's been fully tested, it's solid enough yet it's fresh and appealing for our project.

    Question: We Googled on the name Ninlil, and came up with a connection to Sumerian Religion, where Ninlil is described as the “Lady of the Air” (or open field). Is this the origin of the name?

    Rafael Espinosa:
    (Rafael points at Jorge) ...

    Jorge Ordaz:
    Absolutely. It's the first time someone from outside the studio noticed this, as far as I know. This mythology stuff is something I'm bringing with me since... quite a lot of time ago. There are tales, sagas, myth and folklore stories from which anyone can draw inspiration or, as in this case, find common elements with a brand new development.

    In the early stages of the Theryon Wars project I noticed two distinct elements we could relate to 'Queen Air.' Which elements, you'll have to find out yourself on planet Theryon. Anyway, I guess then you won't be surprised to find an Easter egg inside another Easter egg...

    Question: If there is indeed a connection with the Sumerian religion, what significance does it have to Pyxel Arts?

    Rafael Espinosa:

    Jorge Ordaz:
    Oh, it's not a matter of religion or beliefs. Well, you know most people are used to Roman, Greek and Norse mythology, yet very few of them are aware of other myths and traditions. Apart from the Epic of Gilgamesh, Mesopotamian mythology is pretty unknown yet very rich. As for the game, don't expect to find Sumerian temples and sculptures. Also, we don't have any kind of Sumerian decoration in our studio.

    Question: What will the theme of your planet be? (As in what unique selling point will it have?). From the description on the Pyxel Arts website, it seems to hint at being themed around deep space. Could you go a bit further into this for us please, and give us some more insight into what to expect?

    Jorge Ordaz:
    At this point, we can't say aloud many things we're working on, but I can give you some clues...

    Deep space means spaceships and you already know MindArk is working on that; our initial proposal to them already included spaceships crewed or manned by several ranges of players, from small party-sized corvettes to big, so to say, 'clan-sized' warships. Also, take into account there are two main, opposing factions, and as a player, you can sign up for one or the other. This not only impacts PvP but also storylines, sovereignty claims, resources acquisition... About technology and quests, you'll have to find out lots of things by yourselves; if we make things right and you play on a regular basis, every once in a while you'll ask yourselves 'who knows what and how does that knowledge impact Theryon?'

    Question: You also state on the website that Project NinLil will “feature unseen characteristics for an MMO.” Being gamers, we’re very keen to see if we could get you to lift a tip of the veil about that statement.
    Jorge Ordaz, picture from his LinkedIn profile.
    Jorge Ordaz:
    The previous question kind of lifts it a little bit... But, ok, another different little bit of a tip won't hurt anyone. At launch time there has been a war and you'll enter the game under a truce between the main two factions.

    There will be low-intensity conflicts and skirmishes in the form of PvP, PvE and some blends of both (for instance, NPC-assisted PvP). Once you sign up for one side you can progress through the ranks of your faction, which implies the other faction will probably put a price on your head, and that doesn't necessarily mean money.

    In the long run we want to count on highest-ranking players and player-chosen representatives to define the strategies and objectives of each faction, which will then define the operations and missions available each week and month. Players' participation in these events will then change the political map of Theryon, shifting the balance of power and resources, NPC support availability, communications, transportation... Even leading to a new open war. Please, be aware this demands a lot of work on our side, but we think current Entropians will appreciate it and it can also attract new players.

    Question: Will these particular features be what sets your game apart from the other Entropia Universe planet partners, or do you have other unique selling points as well?

    Jorge Ordaz:
    Even more tips to lift? Oh, well... Let's see... Just kidding.

    In some other games you play a hero and you're offered quests, clearly split into 'main' and 'secondary' categories. When it's an MMO, you'll play the same quests that I played before and whoever joins the game after you will find the same quests... Theryon's different. Apart from basic and tutorial quests, and some others with faction, rank and other prerequisites, there are three special quest categories I'd like to mention: Hidden, Dynamic and Hierarchical, which are all non-exclusive: there can be Hidden Dynamic quests, for example.

    Hierarchical quests will be available to Societies and will have prerequisites related to their members, such as member count or average rank, both in the form of 'quest available if prerequisite is equal or bigger than X' and 'if prerequisite is smaller than.' Most of these quests are team-oriented.

    Dynamic quests influence and are influenced by the, so to say, geopolitical situation of both planet Theryon and its surrounding region of space. Once we reach a sizeable player base, we'll include 'Call to Arms' quests in this branch, which we could call massive, multi-front raids for both factions; this not only depends on the amount of players in our world, but also of their efforts to set aside the truce and return to an open war situation... which is impacted by Dynamic quests.

    Hidden quests are... pretty secret at this point. I'll just mention three points: You'll have to find their sources by yourself, their rewards can lead to very exclusive and rare technology, and you could run into a Hidden quest without realizing it is Hidden at first.

    Question: Are you going to cater to a specific type of customer, and if so, what type of gamers will your game be built for?
    The team at Spaniard Blend who will be producing the game.
    Jorge Ordaz:
    It's not so easy creating a game both for Entropians and non-Entropians. On the other hand, and this is a personal preference, we aim at players, not customers: we make games, not spreadsheets.

    Now, for a start, no sweating on Theryon. Let there be quests, let there be exploration... If you like and qualify for it, let there be undercover, infiltration and sabotage missions behind the enemy lines, to name a few. Unwilling to join the fight? Then search for the strange ruins and weird artifacts rumored to lie deep in the wilderness. Or you could also join private expeditions or secret military research programs aimed at untapping the power of devices of unknown origin.

    Else, resource gathering was the sparkle that started the First Theryon War: go and earn your bit off raw or refined materials, crafting or trading. We want this kind of variety, not just because of very style-focused players but also for those who want a change. Myself, I like mining once in a while, then trading, then PvE, then if friends join up, some PvP... It's not only playing something you, as a player, are good at, but also being able to take a break while playing something different on the same planet, same setting, same rules, same friends and foes...

    Question: The company’s vision on the main part of the website states: “Knowing the players and what they demand … are key factors to success.” How will this work in the Entropia Universe model? The way the universe has been set up is that MindArk will always have the final call on new features, and seeing they have to carefully consider whether a specific feature might influence the other planets, or perhaps investments made by players, could you let us know how you plan on dealing with such issues?

    Jorge Ordaz:
    Pretty tricky question. First of all, MindArk and us are partners. Ideally, what's good for them is good for us and vice versa, and this also applies to other partnerships -both MindArk's and ours. So, in good faith, it's absolutely fair for MindArk to decide how, when or if certain features will be included in their platform.

    On the other hand, Theryon is more than a planet. I previously mentioned that we intend to create different standalone games with the same setting and key elements. Seriously, let's be honest here: It's much less painful for us as developers to use one single technology than using three or four different engines or platforms. Also, there's no need to cripple a standalone game to turn it into a 'feature.'

    Last but not least, we as a studio have to listen to the players: if you keep asking for something, we'll search for the way to give to you, be it inside EU or not. That's mostly our position about this. On the other hand, we're currently developing quite a different game, Anmynor. Although the same philosophy applies to both games as for player-studio interaction, please note and let others know that the games, their scopes, their communities and the 'caretakers' are and will be different.

    Question: Have you picked a launch date for the game yet, or is it far too early? In the case of the latter, is there a particular period you are aiming for? (i.e., late 2011, Q1 2012, etc.)

    Rafael Espinosa:
    Late Q4 2012

    Question: Where do you see Project Ninlil in 3-5 years?

    Jorge Ordaz:
    That greatly depends on the players and I'm not used to sharing my wildest dreams...

    Question: Do you think we missed anything, or would you have anything to add that we did not bring up ourselves?
    No bull!
    Jorge Ordaz:
    Sure, you didn't ask about virtual bullfighting... We are professional, experienced game developers and Theryon is a brand-new IP for modern sci-fi games. Just in case, we're not including dance towers, virtual bullfights or other bovine byproducts, for those who might mind about this stuff. In the end, nobody expects...

    uh oh...

    Attached Files:

    • Like Like x 3
  2. MindStar9

    MindStar9 Floating in Space

    Great interview Peter ... lots of information, and rather revealing. It was nice of them to share so much. Going to be interesting to see how this planet progresses.
  3. Very nice read, i like the concept of hierarchical/hidden and dynamic missions as well as having to join a faction. I think it'll increase the sense of immersion which i find somewhat lacking now across most planets.
  4. Lykke TheNun

    Lykke TheNun Lootius bless you all!

    Very very interesting! All these new planets!! Wow the Universe is sure expanding! :roflmao:
  5. Sounds fantastic, EU is sure to become an exciting place in the years to come :)
  6. Spanish? I am spanish, this is so cool !
  7. Calin

    Calin Due for an Ultra-Uber Loot.

    It's very interesting to see where the different planets are going. I'm not much for pvp, but they certainly have some interesting sounding plans.
  8. Nor Alien

    Nor Alien Wisker Fish

    This could be very interesting!! Will have to keep an eye on this one!! :alien:
  9. Lykke TheNun

    Lykke TheNun Lootius bless you all!

    ... or three eyes? :P
  10. Nor Alien

    Nor Alien Wisker Fish

    Muuhhahahaha cough cough weaze gasp!! I think i'll stick to the ;) :happy:
  11. Hello Mr Ordaz,

    If you are to be developing deep space I would recommend looking into the X-Superbox series of space simulations to add to the think-tank of ideas you may come up with.

    This is the most professional and extensive development of space simulations I have seen to date.

    Here is the set from Steam - $ 40 USD - http://store.steampowered.com/sub/6330

    Here are some examples from Youtube:

    X3 Missions System

    X3 Trading System

    Patch 2.6 newly introduced systems

  12. Nor Alien

    Nor Alien Wisker Fish

    Cool concepts!! Would add a new dimension to the game play!! :)
  13. I agree Nor Alien, if their development is anything like the X series or better, just WOW ! would be my response :)
  14. Kind of funny...

    I found X: Beyond the Frontier searching for a successor to Frontier: First Encounters, which was the last Elite game back then. For those of you unaware of this: http://elite.frontier.co.uk/media/
    Anyway, if you haven't heard of the Elite saga your only excuse would be you're too young AND too busy...

    The X saga has always had pretty high hardware requirements. Granted, they look awesome if your rig meets the recommended configuration. As a piece of software, from another game developer, I salute their creators. Apart from that, the alien accents often hurt without the help of subtitles, not to mention non-native English speakers on the gamers' side. Good games, all of them; one friend of mine dares to call them "GTAs in space".

    We could also talk about I-WAR, Freelancer and others.
    Unless we create fugly ships (feature not planned!), our ships will look gorgeous in Cry2 and you'll be able to enjoy them with the unique Entropia Universe flavour. This also applies to environments, mobs and all, you know.
    There's a trading system already in EU, as well as missions and such. We shall start using them as they currently are, in new ways whenever we can, building Theryon upon these systems and, well, let's not forget new features are MindArk's domains. One step at a time...

    I do welcome the ideas and the references. Thanks, Viperstrike! I hope those of you who like these games we mentioned feel better now, knowing we'd already taken them into account when designing Theryon Wars (^_^)

    On the other hand, we could elaborate in the Theryon Wars forum if you like... Thanks again, Peter!
    • Like Like x 2
  15. Sounds awesome, I am really looking forward to what you come up with in TW :)
    A planet to look forward to !

    And about the reference, your most welcome and good to know you have already come across the X-Series and others ;)
  16. Hi Ordaz

    When making the 3D models of the ships could you go into great detail?
    Meaning: Most space games will build the 3D model and when ever there
    are small details to be made they make those details with cheap textures instead of
    carving it into the 3D model.

    I know doing this takes money and time but ships are something that are
    there to stay so its worth it I think.

    Thank You,
  17. great interview, welcome to the entropia universe.
  18. Please tell me you have played and loved Freespace 2.
  19. For 'carving' I understand 'sculpting'; if I'm wrong, please let me know.
    As a studio, we really don't mind if a given 3D model is a character, a vehicle, a golem or a starship: we aim for an homogeneous detail quality. We have hi-poly 3D models with way more detail than current engines can render in real time; we sculpt and paint over these models and then 'replicate' (so to say) the models in lower polygon density versions of themselves and apply the displacement information (sculpt), shine information (specularity), glow areas and other details to them... And this absolutely includes ships.
    There have been series and games where ships became characters by themselves: the Enterprise in Star Trek, the Serenity in Firefly, the Galactica in BSG... I could go on. You get to think of some ships as someone instead of something.

    A quote:
    No cheap textures for our ships, promised.

    Not only the original Freespace 2, also several of its mods.
    Specially BSG (Beyond the Red Line) and Babylon 5.
    Just in case, have a look here ;)
  20. Thank you for the response Ordaz its the answering I was looking for ^_^

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