Over on the Flash Point Podcast, they just posted an interview they had with Funcom’s newly promoted Game Director Joel Bylos.  The two hosts and Joel spend about 45 minutes talking about a wide range of topics including quite a few submitted questions and it really is worth a listen.  One thing that really strikes me about Funcom, and one of the reasons I’m such a fan, is how open and willing they are to talk about these topics.  We’ve heard tons of audio and video interviews with the team and there have been all sorts of written interviews that are not just fluff pieces of marketing speak but actual real information.

One of the first topics they discuss are the various issues Funcom has had to endure and like I talked about earlier, Norwegian laws do dictate a lot of what they have to release.  However, it is also a conscious choice they’ve made as a company to be up front about problems and admit their mistakes.

This led very nicely into the discussion on zone progression and some of the issues people are running into.  Joel admitted that they probably didn’t handle the difficulty curve all that well as Kingsmouth and Savage Coast are a little too easy which then means people get absolutely hammered when they hit the Blue Mountains.  In addition to looking at that, they’re also brining out Starter Decks with Issue 4 to help people find “good” builds that are easier to obtain as they’ll only contain abilities from the inner part of the skill wheel.  This should help people who are struggling with the openness of the skill wheel to more or less guarantee that they’ll have something that works.

They are also working on improving the PvP system, although Joel did admit that open world PvP is pretty much off the table.  But Issue 4 will bring changes to Fusang and they’re also kicking around ideas for PvP events.  I’ve also seen this in a couple of places that they’re really trying to amplify the faction battles and make that more of a part of the game.  Joel pretty much admitted that this was an area that they didn’t quite hit the mark on and are going to focus on bringing more tension between the factions.

As for the new auxiliary weapon coming with Issue 4, I’m pretty sure if I read his hints correctly that we’ll be getting a chainsaw.  I’m not real sure how I feel about, but then again I still don’t have my rocket launcher yet so I’m not entirely sure what all I’m really missing Smile

On the heals of the 3-day trial and the 50% off weekend, they’re about 2 weeks away from another announcement regarding the trial periods.  Joel didn’t go into details, but I would expect them to expand on that system somehow and perhaps roll in some sort of referral program.

A couple of other things they touched on:

  • Looking at creating puzzle raids as another group activity which could be really fun considering how hard and how much work they’ve put into the existing puzzles.  There are a couple of times when Joel really focuses on different ways to play this game and they want it to be viable and fun for those who just want to follow the story and/or solve puzzles.
  • They’re REALLY focusing on horizontal growth and are very opposed to the vertical treadmills so many other games are following.  I really hope they’re not only able to stick to this but create meaningful and fun ways to grow our characters.
  • Some very interesting thoughts on other games including Guild Wars 2, Rift, and of course Pandas.

Like I said earlier, I would highly suggest taking a listen as I didn’t pull out everything in that episode just some of the big items that jumped out for me.  I’m very much a believer in this game and the team and these kinds of interviews only make that belief stronger.

Anything that jumped out for you that I didn’t mention?