GZ Interview: The power behind the Aden throne reveals the world of Lineage

GZ Interview
10/24/02

The power behind the Aden
throne reveals the world of Lineage



By Michael Lafferty


The world of Aden is in chaos from lack
of a legitimate leader on the throne. Monsters rove the lands, and warriors
are called upon to sally forth in the name of honor.

Of course, if you are capable enough, and
can draw legions to your side, you may be able to lay siege to a castle
and one day claim the throne.

Lineage is a massively multiplayer role-playing
game from NC Soft that allows players the opportunity to enter an amazing
realm in search of glory and riches. (For a review of the game, please
see https://www.gamezone.com/gzreviews/r17183.htm
)

While the game may bear some resemblance
to Ultima Online, community-based economies, blood pledges (akin to guilds)
and the political environment help separate the game from others in the
genre.

Lance Stites, producer for Lineage North
America, talked with GameZone about this online gaming experience.

Question: Explain the concept behind
Lineage. Is this an RPG, an RTS, a vehicle that relies more on cooperative
gameplay, or does it fall into the realm of games like Ultima, Dark Age
of Camelot and Asheron’s Call? How does this game differ from titles like
that?

Lance: “Lineage is an online RPG.
It is designed to introduce players into a virtual world with a dynamic
political and economic system that is driven by the players’ actions. The
game allows players to either play in groups or solo, with advantages and
disadvantages for either choice.

“The game world and realm of Aden is in
political turmoil ? the true King has died a mysterious death and the King’s
child has been hidden away from enemies. An evil Pretender King has assumed
the throne. Warriors, elves, mages, and princes all fight to control the
Kingdom by seizing one of several castles in the game. For players that
have no desire to participate in the political system, the land offers
various animals and monsters to fight, including dangerous dragons.

“Players can bet their ingame money on
sporting events like slime races or participate in gladiatorial combat
in the capitol city’s arena. Players may also work towards gaining better
armor and weapons to meet their personal goals.

“The spell system is simple for the beginner,
but as a player gains experience, the system’s complexities are revealed
and players may choose a path specializing in one of the four primary elements.
Some elements may have a better offensive capability, while others may
be better for protection.

“Lineage excels in the elder game because
players actually impact the political and economic landscape. For example,
if a group (called a Blood Pledge in Lineage) takes over a castle, the
group’s leader can set the tax rate for the local town and make a considerable
profit from the merchant’s transactions. If the tax rate is set too high,
players that normally wouldn’t get involved in siege combat may offer their
services to a rival group and evict the current castle owners. If the group’s
leader chooses not to share the taxes with his warriors and wizards, he
will soon find himself alone trying to defend his castle.”

Q: The game introduces episodes to update
the gameplay. Explain the concept of the episodes, how do they update the
game? What role do they play in the overall concept of the game?

Lance: “Periodically, we release
new episodes ? usually three-to-six months apart. These

are comparable to other expansion packs
and include such features as new land masses, new monsters, new towns,
new castles, or gameplay improvements. The Lineage design team had the
foresight to realize that an online game is an opportunity to grow the
game far beyond the original release.

“Recent episodes include:

• Giran, Episode 8 (Aug 01)–new castle,
land mass/hunting areas, new dragon

• Heine, Episode 9 (Oct 01)–new castle,
underwater hunting areas, new dragon, new monsters, new items (armor, amulets)

• Valakas, Episode 10 (Feb 02)–new dwarven
castle, volcanic hunting areas, new monsters, new dragon, new crafting
items

• Oren, Episode 11 (Jul 02)–magic system
update, arctic hunting areas,

new monsters, new items

“Additionally, various improvements have
been implemented at various times outside of episode publishes, such as
introducing the Macintosh version of Lineage, releasing newly-scored digital
music, and new artwork for the new player areas.”

Q: Explain about the avatars players
can choose. If a player selects the role of prince or princess, is there
a kingdom to which they are aligned? What is the pledge or guild system
of the game like? Are certain characters based in certain areas of the
world? What are the vocations like within this world?

Lance: “There are four classes to
choose from, with six shared attributes for each class. Male and female
genders are available for each.

“These are the Princess/Prince, Knights,
Mages, and Elves. The attributes are strength, wisdom, intelligence, dexterity,
constitution and charisma. There is a pool of points to be adjusted to
create a unique character.

“Only Prince/Princesses can form “Blood
Pledges”. These are similar to guilds or factions. Each Prince could be
the “rightful” heir to the throne of Aden and may recruit members to join
him in his quest for the throne. The Blood Pledge can declare war on one
of six current castles.

“The Prince and Mage class begin on the
Singing Island new player area and are allowed to stay here until Level
10. They can learn and fight in relative safety. The Knight class begins
in the Hidden Valley new player area and may also stay until Level 10.
Elves begin in the Elven Forest. The elves are unique in that they have
the ability to ‘craft’ various items, such as bows or arrows, along with
various elven armor items.

Q: Can you tell us a little about the
world of Lineage? The release about the game features mentions forests,
caves and underwater areas to explore. How do players survive underwater?

Lance: “The various regions of the
game are very distinct visually. The types of monsters or NPCs are unique
to each area. The regions include: the Elven forest, the estates of Gludio
(forests and vineyards); the wastelands (a zombie-infested piece of scorched
earth); Fire Valley (steaming lava and archers firing flaming arrows);
Oren snow fields (with undead wizards and soldiers from a long-completed
battle); the undersea regions of Eva (with sharks and hermit crabs ? of
course, these hermit crabs use the skulls of giants as their home!). Players
must purchase special potions to survive underwater. While the duration
is limited, the rewards of hunting underwater can be great.”

Q: Are there PvP zones in the game?
What kind of honor system does it have?

Lance: “There are two server types,
PvP and Non PvP (or Restricted.) All servers have ‘safety zones’ and ‘siege
zones.’ Players are not allowed to attack others in safety zones. Combat
is freely allowed in the siege zones. The other zone is the ‘Normal Zone.’
On the PvP servers, players are allowed to attack in this area, but are
flagged as ‘aggressors’ for a few minutes. Any player can attack an aggressor
without penalty. If a player kills any player who is not an ‘aggressor’
the attacker will receive an alignment penalty. The alignment system determines
such things as monster aggression, vendor prices, and guard dispositions.
The more good you do, the greater your lawful alignment. The more evil
you do — such as player killing — the lower your alignment (also referred
to as chaotic alignment’).

“On the Non PvP servers, the normal zones
are treated as safety zones.”

Q: How many in-game quests are there,
and how do players undertake them? Are the rewards of completing the quests
much higher than being a freelance adventurer?

Lance: “The Elves currently have
the widest range of quests. Other classes have a specific quest at Level
15. The items received from the quests are not available elsewhere and
are usually specifically designed to benefit the quest-taker’s class. Outside
of these quests, the player generally determines their own path of quests,
such as ‘Am I ready to take on the demon Baphomet?’ If they can defeat
this boss-type monster, they will receive a great reward in the form of
dropped loot from the beast.”

Q: What kind of leveling system does
the game have?

Lance: “Lineage uses a traditional
experience-based leveling system where players gain power and endurance
as they attain levels.”

Q: Tell us a little about the server
system in place to handle the number of players you have participating
in the game. How many players log on in primetime playing hours? What kind
of system requirements does this game need? If a player has a slower modem,
as opposed to a cable modem, will that affect game play?

Lance: “Currently, the game servers
have an upper cap of over 5,000 simultaneous users. We generally see a
peak of about 1400 users on the North American servers, so capacity is
not taxed. We have servers in place to handle any rapid or unexpected growth.
The system requirements are quite low:

• Window 95, 98, ME, Windows NT 4.0 SP3
or Windows 2000

• Pentium II 350MHz or higher

• Main memory 128M or higher

• Video card supports 640x480x16bpp

• Internet connection (modem or LAN)

• 1GB Hard Disk space

“It is quite playable with a modem. However,
with our free episode updates a broadband connection would be preferable
for downloads.”

Q: What do you believe are the most
appealing aspects of this game? What will players remember about the experience
after logging off for a session? To whom do you think this game will appeal?

Lance: “I think Lineage does a great
job of combining the elements that players would expect from an online
RPG with some great innovations. All of which leads to a great environment
to enjoy and explore with other folks you might never meet in real life.

“I think the game will appeal to players
that value depth of gameplay, along with great value for the money. Anyone
who has even a passing interest in online persistent gaming should at least
give Lineage a try. It is easy to start and awful hard to put down.”