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Project Entropia Interview
(hx) 02:54 PM EST - Dec,18 2002

GGMania got a chance to chat with MindArk's Frank Campbell to find out more about Project Entropia, soon to be launched massively multiplayer RPG that will be free to play but uses real money to buy items in the game. He provided us with both pretty interesting information and fifteen very impressive new screenshots. Project Entropia, Sweden's largest software project ever, is going gold on January 30th 2003.


GGMania: Could you introduce yourself to our readers and tell them a little bit about what you do on Project Entropia?

Frank Campbell: Hi, my name is Frank Campbell and I work in the PR department of MindArk. I have been working for MindArk for over two years. Being a native English speaker living in Sweden, my English skills have proven invaluable. I respond to interview questions, write articles for our fan magazine The Gate, and answer general mail regarding Project Entropia. As an international experience, Project Entropia receives correspondence from around the globe and English is by far the easiest medium for communication.




GGMania: What kind of game is Project Entropia? What were the main objectives you wanted to achieve in regards to content and game play?

Frank Campbell: Project Entropia is a virtual universe in a futuristic science fiction setting. The main objective in regards to content would be Project Entropia's continuity. By that I mean that Project Entropia is, and will always be, in a state of development. The development team will be adding new features for years to come. Our participant community will be able to influence this development and see the features they want the most implemented.
Game play will follow similar lines of development, being both continual and participant influenced. You may expect to find a diverse range of entertainment in Project Entropia. Hunting already exists for the more action orientated, while mining suits those more methodical, working participants. Cities and outposts have parks, bars and other meeting points for those who are more into social interaction.



GGMania: What's the backstory behind Project Entropia?

Frank Campbell: The planet Calypso is a fledgling human colony deep in space. When first discovered by robot probes from Earth, these robotic servants originally prepared the planet for human colonization. After the first humans had arrived and begun to establish a life on Calypso, there was a terrible uprising by the robots. The war that ensued left horrible scars on Calypso, many of which are still felt today. Although the robots were defeated on Calypso, they managed to establish a base on a nearby planet, from where they still mount attacks on Calypso, still bent on destroying all human life.
Now it is every colonist's plight to help defend and develop human life on Calypso. Don't expect it to be easy though.



GGMania: Can you describe some of the weapons and settings that the game will feature?

Frank Campbell: A multitude of weapons are available to each colonist. Weapons manufacturers ensure that the Calypso colonists receive all the latest models to ensure their success on the alien surface. Laser swords, pistols and rifles exist with a barrage of accessories like telescopic sights, amplifiers and ammunition packs. Body armor is also available and very handy I might add when faced by a small platoon of robot warriors.
The settings in Project Entropia are quite simply amazing and amongst the absolute best in the gaming industry today. The planet contains breathtaking geographical features like mountains, lakes, forests, deserts, cities and ports.
This has been one of the most highly complimented features of Project Entropia and thanks to the great work done by our development team; you can wander Calypso for days in awe at the spectacular wildlife and landscapes that you just won't find anywhere else. A word of warning though, this is truly a wilderness, so be careful - while searching for your own lunch, you might just end up being lunch for one of the larger predators roaming Calypsos plains.




GGMania: What kinds of options will there be for customizing your character?

Frank Campbell: Again, character creation is in a class of it's own in Project Entropia. When you initially create your character you will be able to produce a completely individual character. Through a multitude of variables including height, weight, skin, eye and hair color, gender, nose, eye and ear position, cheek bones, chin position, you are given full freedom to personalize you appearance. This is further enhanced by the large range of clothing available on Calypso.
This was one of the key requests made of our programmers, to allow participants to define their own appearance to such a detailed degree, that people would be able to physically recognize each other - even in a crowd of thousands. I'm delighted to say that they have done us proud.
A further feature worth mentioning in this area is the emote system available in Project Entropia. Through a readily accessible panel on each participants UI, Calypso colonists can express emotions to each other, they can wave or dance, propose marriage or jump for joy using this system. A full chat function, both private and public, is also included. This has proven a very popular feature since it was included.



GGMania: What can you tell us about the combat system in the game?

Frank Campbell: At this point combat is limited to the invading robot forces and the hunting of wildlife on Calypso. Plans are being discussed for the inclusion of a gladiator arena and some form of PvP system, so there's a lot to look forward to in the future development of Project Entropia. Keep your eye on our official website for news of upcoming features and events.


GGMania: Could you describe the statistics system in the game?

Frank Campbell: The statistics system is quite advanced in Project Entropia. Each participant always begins at the same level, as a human being. From here, there are over 60 skills available today, including construction, geology and one-handed ranged weapons, which you may begin to train and progress with, in any combination. There is no skill cap either which means that you can become as good as you wish in any area you wish. Obviously, the higher the level you achieve the harder it becomes to advance, but the important point here is that there is no actual cap. This feature in combination with the choice freedom allows a very dynamic range of characters to develop.



GGMania: What are the biggest things you think you have learned from other online role-playing games?

Frank Campbell: Certainly one of the main things we have learned, and value, is listening to our participants. During beta test phases this was an invaluable resource for us. Our testing community put our systems through their paces and highlighted areas for us that needed more work, while also illustrating successful features of Project Entropia.
Project Entropia is quite unique in comparison to other on-line games and we strive to provide entertainment and opportunity to a wide range of participants.
The size and content of the wilderness provides action and excitement for thrill seekers. Cities and outposts allow another type of participant to develop, one that enjoys the social benefits of a global online community. We want to include something for everybody.



GGMania: How do you expect to make money without charging players a fixed fee?

Frank Campbell: In Project Entropia, while there is no necessity to spend money, you can buy items to help your character. These items include weapons, ammunition, armor and tools of every kind. These items are available through trade terminals, which are located in cities and outposts throughout Calypso. Money can be deposited from a credit card into your in-world bank account where it is converted to PED (Project Entropia Dollars) and then used to purchase equipment.
I should point out here that we have observed participants during the trial phase, who have begun with nothing, made no deposits of real world cash, and yet through ingenuity managed to make PED, which they then used to develop their character. This is partially possible through a treasure system, which exists in Project Entropia, where items of value are hidden on Calypso, which can be sold at terminals or traded with other players, thus creating an initial start capital. A lot of participants however, find it easier to deposit a little cash in the beginning and begin development in that manner.



GGMania: Does this mean that certain objects and items will only be available by purchase?

Frank Campbell: That's correct. Through purchase or trade with other participants.


GGMania: How will players actually be able to make real money playing Project Entropia?

Frank Campbell: Money can be earned in several ways. Hunting animals gives loot of varying sizes. Mining provides you with valuable ores, some more valuable than others. There already exists a market in Project Entropia and those that mine the most rare and valuable ores are sought all over Calypso. This is because these ores can then be sold to participants who specialize in the manufacture of weapons or armor, which can then be sold on to other participants. Just ask anyone on Calypso or check out the forum boards and you can see requests and offers for ores and special equipment that people seek for their own purposes. You can be quite surprised sometimes by the amounts offered for these items.
Another lucrative area is the services area. This is where participants offer services to others for a price. One classic example I heard of was one enterprising colonist that sold ammunition packs close to a very popular hunting area. The hunters, while reaping their own rewards, decided to pay an extra PED to the ammunition seller, instead of traveling back to the nearest outpost terminal where they could buy their own. This type of service providing is becoming more and more popular and gives the participant a real feeling of being at a brand new frontier.



GGMania: If in-game money can be instantly exchanged for real money, what will the exchange rate be for your in-game currency?

Frank Campbell: The exchange rate will always be 10 PED equals 1 US$.


GGMania: What happens with the money if you are killed? What rules exist around player killing?

Frank Campbell: Your in-world bank account is always completely safe and independent of death and other participants. We have a robust security system employed that ensures the integrity of each participants account. Obviously due to security reasons I can't discuss this any further than to say that we have invested a lot of time and care into the reliability of the system.
Again, player killing is not available at the moment, but keep an eye on the official website and fan magazine for coming features and developments.


GGMania: Needless to say that cheating and cracking killing online games. How have you dealt with this in Project Entropia?

Frank Campbell: Again, due to the unique economic conditions available in Project Entropia, we have developed a security system that we have 100% confidence for. This security system has proven it's worth and we view cheating and cracking very seriously. As real world money is involved, any attempted fraud is immediately reported to real world law enforcement officials.


GGMania: How many servers can we expect at the launch of Project Entropia?

Frank Campbell: I'm afraid this is confidential in-house information.


GGMania: How many users are expected per server?

Frank Campbell: Again, this is confidential in-house information. I can say however that we have made provision for a large number of users - bigger than any other on-line experience available today.


GGMania: Considering the huge amount of players, how were you planning on dealing with the server load?

Frank Campbell: We have full confidence in the professionalism of our development team.


GGMania: What can you tell us about the engine that is being used for the game?

Frank Campbell: We are using the Net Immerse III engine.





GGMania: What the current system requirements are for Project Entropia?

Frank Campbell:

Minimum Required Configuration: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP* , DirectX 8.1 runtime installed, 450 MHz Intel / AMD CPU, 128 Mb RAM, Direct3D compatible video card with 16 Mb RAM**, DirectX compatible sound device, 1 GB free hard drive space, Internet connection using 56K modem*** , Screen resolution 1024x768 true color (16 bit)

* Please note that Project Entropia does not officially run on Windows 95 or Windows NT4.
** Please see list below for a run down on supported video cards.
*** Expect latency, especially at peak times and if you are located far from the country of Sweden.

Recommended Configuration: 1 GHz Intel / AMD CPU, 256 Mb RAM, Direct3D compatible video card with 32 Mb RAM*, Latest video card, drivers installed , 1,5 GB free hard drive space, Fast hard drive, Internet connection using cable modem or better

* Please see list below for a run down on supported video cards.

Performance
Users with 16 Mb graphics memory should run in 16-bit color
Engine is optimized for GeForce3 or similar in 32-bit color and GeForce2 GTS or similar in 16-bit color

Requirements Detailed - Video Cards
Officially Supported Video Cards: NVIDIA GeForce 256, NVIDIA GeForce2, NVIDIA GeForce3, NVIDIA GeForce4, ATI Radeon, ATI Radeon 7500, ATI Radeon 8500, PowerVR Kyro, PowerVR Kyro II, PowerVR Kyro III,


In-Officially Supported Video Cards* : Voodoo 5-series, Matrox G450/G400, NVIDIA Quadro, NVIDIA Quadro 2, ATI Rage 128 Pro, Riva TNT2
* The above mentions video cards may work with Project Entropia. If you experience problem when you have one of the above video cards installed, MindArk will not be able to help you during the Commercial Open Trial Phase.

Non-Supported Video Cards* : Voodoo 3-series, Any non-3d accelerated video card
* If you have one of the above video cards installed, Project Entropia will most certainly not run. MindArk will not be able to help you.


GGMania: What do you think makes your game stand above and beyond the current MMORPGs?

Frank Campbell: There are in fact many features that set us apart from current MMORPGs': our unique economy system, allowing participant interaction hitherto unseen, our commitment to continual development far into the future based on the wishes of our community, the enormous size and detail of Calypso and our attention to entertainment for different types of participants, the thrill seeker and the socialite.




GGMania: Will there be additional weapons, items, areas, etc. added after the game is released?

Frank Campbell: Absolutely. This is a core element of Project Entropia. Continual development. So you can look forward to many new exciting features and items on Calypso.


GGMania: Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview, is there anything else you'd like to tell our readers?

Frank Campbell: Well if there are any readers that have helped us out testing during the Beta and Commercial Trial periods I would just like to say thanks for the invaluable work and information you gave us. For others who've just heard about Project Entropia I'd like to welcome you all in to this very unique virtual universe. It costs absolutely nothing to have a look so get on over to www.project-entropia.com, download our free client and have a look. See you all on Calypso.


genre: MMORPG
release: 2003/01
developer: MindArk
publisher: Project Entropia homepage

last 10 comments:

Hjarryposted - Dec, 19 2002 - 06:22
"Free to play but uses real money to buy items in the game." Intriguing idea, mainly for all the social and psychological problems it's likely to cause. ;-) Personally, like lots of other humble game-loving slobs, I play games to get *away* from real life. I don't want to spend real money buying *powerups* or items - I want to fly/run/jump/drive/whatever onto them and get them for *free* as they make a little sound that goes BLOOP! and get added to my inventory/vehicle/massive physique/whatever. Jesus, am I sick or something for not wanting to pay REAL CASH for them? ;-)

Harry Betatesterposted - Dec, 19 2002 - 11:38
I have tried out the beta for 3-4 hours. The game world is great looking. Lots of interesting landscape. Lag tends to creep in sometimes. Ususally at the worst time... :o The world is sparsely populated at this time, although the players overall seem pretty friendly. However, as the article pointed out, you start with almost nothing. You may get frustrated, as other have, that you start out with no way to make any money to buy things unless you pay in some cash. There are no freebies. That being said, if you go out, get yourself killed, and then just roam around for awhile as a "ghost", just admiring the landscape and creatures, you can still have fun and learn your way around. I think the world will revolve around the players, as designed. For those expecting to "get rich quick" by playing a game, don't get your hopes up.

Doomer1posted - Dec, 19 2002 - 16:00
What I guess I caught in that conversation is that there is a way to play the game without paying money into it , but it will take quite a while to get money that way. The primary reason I do not play other online games is that I am forced to pay monthly just to be able to log in. This service will let me log in for free and wander about but if i want to develop my character quickly I can invest in the player. I'll play this game and just to be a challenge i will try to develop a character without an initial investment.

dangposted - Dec, 19 2002 - 18:47
this game pain in the ass first i waited for damn too long time to insatall after install i tried to aply for aacount they declined information (whic is all information was true ) now i m trying to uninstall that i cant

BI@dEposted - Dec, 20 2002 - 16:38
It is much harder to start without giving any money to it if you give atleast 1$ its much better because you can buy simple pistol and lots of ammo to start with.The only reason ,as in mine case,is when you do not have credit card to deposit from so you have to start with nothing but you have to find someone who will help you.Alone and without moey you are nothing more than a spectator.

NOTHINGposted - Dec, 21 2002 - 00:03
Interesting concept to pay with real money. Either it will take off or fail miserably, thus forcing some sort of freebie(s) which in turn could piss off those who actually paid. Or like one other commentor said, you are nothing more than a spectator. Lonely world it would be then.

Tempposted - May, 27 2003 - 07:23
I have only been playing this game for about 2 - 3 weeks now. It's in-game digital scenery can take your breath away. The main issues about the game lie in several areas. Mostly, they have to do with lag, losing items in your inventory, poor "loot" found after killing a creature and VERY few opportunities for supporting yourself in the game, i.e. making money. The problem for me lies, not necessarily in the lag, which has been improved upon IMMENSELY since the release of Version 5.0, but the rather poor loot you get after killing a creature. In the game, guns require ammo and ammo costs money. If you do not get enough loot in return for your ammo expenditure, then you have gone into the "red", so to speak. If you are a math wiz, this game is for you. If you can figure out the expense cost versus the amount of loot obtained from each creature, you will know what type of creatures to hunt and which ones to quit wasting ammo on. Another thing that gets frustrating at times, is the fact that items in the game decay over time and with use. If you fire your weapon, you not only have to pay to replace the ammo but, in the end you will have to pay to repair your weapon. If you happen to loot what they call an HoF (Hall of Fame loot), then you will get back much more than what you spent in killing the creature. All in all, IMHO, there is still some serious "tweaking" issues due so that players can have an enjoyable time hunting creatures in the game without feeling like they are being "cheated" on their return profits.

Madposted - Feb, 27 2006 - 06:25
About the Comments from Temp. This "tweaking" has still not happened. I'm a math wiz, and payoff has nothing to do with math, srry, it's a plain ripoff. I have been playing PE for months now and have only lost. And not lost just a little, for a "videogame" I lost 700 USD. I'm not complaining about the dollars I lost, I knew I would, but had to run proper tests. I would just strongly advise people NOT to join PE, the "game" is focused solely on making money somehow, through manufacturing items with devices that resemble slotmachines, or hunting creatures that are in your avatars abilities league, much like playing the Final Fantasy series games, where it's pointcount vs. skills that determine the outcome. There is also mining available, but it's also a luck based system. PE is just another gambling experience and should be shut down as soon as possible or changed into an acceptable form which requires actual player skills and not just rewarding players who spend lots of money and time. I am surprised that Frank Campbell puts his name to a crap product like PE. The staff of Project Entropia should be ashamed of the way their creative and innovative product has been abused by MindArk to make a quick buck. Screw you MindArk, on behalf of many unhappy players I have met, and screw you MindArk, from me, personally, but also many thanks, for letting me analyse your economy and the effects of Real Cash Economy on players mentality and behaviour. DON'T PLAY PROJECT ENTROPIA, IT'S A SCAM IN DISGUISE!!

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