Us: Hello Jessica. Would you please introduce yourself to our readers and what is your job at Nevrax?
Jessica: My name is Jessica Mulligan and I’m an Executive Producer and consultant for the company.
Who is Nevrax and what kind of people are working there developing ‘Ryzom’?
Nevrax is both a developer and a publisher of MMOs, specifically The Saga of ‘Ryzom’. The kind of people who work here? Well, they are both developers and operations people: programmers, artists, network operations folk, quality assurance testers, customer relations representatives etc. The whole range of skills and talents that you need to develop and publish an online game.
More than anything else, though, the people here have a passion for games. That is a key ingredient for developing a good online game.
Was ‘Ryzom’ your very first project?
‘Ryzom’ is the company’s first game, yes, although we hope to do other games in the future.
… and for you?
… for me, personally, this is far from my first project (laughs). I’ve been in the industry 20 years and worked on over a dozen MMOs, including Ultima Online and the Asheron’s Call series.
Is there actually a message behind ‘Ryzom’?
There is more than one message in ‘Ryzom’, as a matter of fact. David Cohen-Corval, the founder and creative visionary behind ‘Ryzom’, created a history and backstory that spans thousands of years and which contains cautions about rampant pollution, consolidating power in too few hands and the dangers – and possibilities – of tampering with our own DNA.
All in all, in my 20 years in the industry, I’ve never seen such a complete backstory and message on which to build a game.
Could ‘Ryzom’ have been also an offline RPG?
The intention was always for it to be an MMORPG …
… so it didn’t fit into this genre?
I see no reason why it couldn’t be converted to a pencil-and-paper RPG. All the elements needed to do that are there.
What is behind the magic formula NeL? And what can you imagine could emerge out of it?
As an open source tool, NeL’s magic formula is that it gives back to the community some of what we’ve learned in coding the tools to run the game, at the same time that it allows the community to give back and contribute to those tools.
We’ve had quite a lot of interest in NeL since we launched; at some point, we may try to turn it into a middleware solution for other companies – in conjunction with ‘Ryzom Ring’, our content-tools expansion pack.
To which kind of player-type is ‘Ryzom’ particularly addressed?
I think we particularly appeal the role-player and explorer. Our continuing story arc is directly affected by the actions of the players; what they do drives how the arc progresses. And by that, I mean that we don’t have a linear, et end point; we see what the players do and design our events and the story progression to fit those actions.
This is powerful; the players literally determine the outcome of story arcs. It does keep us hopping designing to match their actions, though (laughs).
‘Ryzom’ is also a huge world with many environments and creatures. Those who like to explore virtual worlds have a huge task here, as the world is massive … and dangerous.
Let’s talk about something maybe unpleasant. Since the release are you comfortable with the development in terms of subscriber numbers?
Is any company ever truly satisfied with any level of success? (grins) We’d certainly like to be bigger in terms of subscriber numbers; the more subscribers, the more we can put back into ‘Ryzom’, our expansion packs and new games.
The upcoming first expansion ‘The Ryzom Ring’ seems to be a huge enlargement for the game. What intention is behind this new system?
The intention here is simple: To give the players access to some of our world-building and mission tools. Using these tools, they can construct new lands and new adventures for themselves, their friends or everybody in the game, or create a private living space for themselves or their Guild … you can see the possibilities. These will be private instances; you can invite in no one, some people or everyone, it is your choice as a player.
Will players actually be able to influence the game world?
More, we wanted to give those who wanted to contribute to the story and the world to have a chance to do that. For those missions or new maps that we feel are truly in the spirit of the ‘Ryzom’ story and history, we’ll attach them permanently to the game map.
This is the first time in the 20+ year history of MMORPGs that players will have this opportunity to permanently affect the game world in this way. We feel this is a true watershed in the development of online games.
May we conclude with a question about if there are any other projects from Nevrax besides ‘Ryzom’?
Oh, we have some plans, indeed (laughs) Right now, though, we’re just concentrating on getting ‘Ryzom’ Ring launched in the first quarter of 2006.
Jessica, I’d like to thank you for the talk.