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Neocron 2 Interview
(hx) 11:02 AM CEST - Apr,12 2005

GGMania got a chance to talk with Holger Nathrath and Nick "Nidhogg" Milner of Reakktor as they answered a few questions about Neocron 2, the only game that combines a sci-fi themed MMORPG with real FPS-style combat. Neocron 2 will be distributed globally by Atari (although there is no date yet for the US launch).

GGMania: Can you give us an overview of Neocron 2, telling us what the game is all about?

Holger Nathrath & Nick "Nidhogg" Milner: Neocron is an action-packed, cyberpunk online world where you can fight, trade, work, love or just live your digital life together with thousands of other players around the globe. You can build up your personal fortune in the form of money, shares, items and all kinds of different vehicles and apartments. During the game you can build up special skills and improve your character and his/her equipment.

Neocron is the only MMORPG in the world with a dark-future, Blade Runner style cyberpunk setting combined with a first person real-time FPS-style fighting system. The market has become saturated with new and more interesting ways of killing elves and watching fishermen dance – that's all well and good but sometimes you just want to build a kick-ass shoulder-mounted plasma cannon, have it modified to fire X-Ray ammo (and perhaps even bolt on a snazzy-looing laser sight) and go shoot someone in the back!

GGMania: Were you pleased with the reactions that the original Neocron game received? And are you pleased with the reactions on Neocron 2 in Germany?

Holger Nathrath & Nick "Nidhogg" Milner: Because of Neocron's special features and dense atmosphere, lots of players are astonished by Neocron and its dark world. Of course this is about players who love dark future scenarios and a lot of action. They usually stick to Neocron for a long time - they love this game, and not only because there is no alternative out there.

Neocron 2 is a worthy successor to Neocron 1. It expands the game and overhauls it in all important aspects without changing the overall feeling. As a player of Neocron 1, you will immediately be able to find your way around in Neocron 2 but if you're new to the game you will also be able to take advantage of our improved and expanded new player experience. We even allowed our existing players to transfer their characters from NC1 to NC2 so there are plenty of people on hand to help out if you have any questions.

Because of the close connection between NC1 and NC2, most players switched over to NC2 immediately and enjoy the new game and its improved qualities. New players were also attracted, but the game has only just been released in Germany so far. So we hope that the international players will also love the game for its special features and its extraordinary look and feel.

GGMania: What are the key new features and points of interest?

Holger Nathrath & Nick "Nidhogg" Milner:

- new DX9 graphics engine with brand new character models, reflective water, new higher res textures etc. The original DX7 engine is still supported and allows virtually anyone with a PC to be able to play.

- New city, the Dome of York. A dark, industrial, blasted metropolis of claustrophobic winding corridors and dirty open spaces overlooked by towering refinery towers and belching flame. Some factions and their runners have also relocated to the Dome to continue their plans to bring down the government of Neocron. The player population is now roughly split between Neocron and the Dome with only the neutral City Mercs lying between them.

- Flying vehicles: DoY Carriers, Bombers and Gliders. Everything from one man scout gliders up to large, armed hoverjet-powered troop carriers and bombers. Keeping a bomber stationed over an outpost while your clan mops up the defending troops is a great rush! You can only relax when the outpost's security system has been breached by your troops in HackNet and the previous owners have been routed.

- HackNet. A virtual reality system that can be entered by hacking any GenRep terminal. Once inside the HackNet you can travel to many places on the map, breach faction mainframes in order to steal valueable blueprints, and work with your clan to steal outposts from your enemies.

- Wisdom of Ceres skills allow high-level characters to continue to improve their characters and gain unique items.

- New shops selling all kinds of furniture and items for the home. You can now make your apartments look just how you want them!

- Introduction of the Ceres Project which aims to improve the role playing experience within the game. We now have alliance leaders, reporters and job dealers controlled by event GMs who's aims are to interact directly with the runners on a day to day basis. This helps to provide a more dynamic experience that no amount of pre-scripted quests can compare with. Of course we've also provided more pre-scripted quests too!

- Many other small changes, new weapons, zones, apartments (including a huge apartment with a bar and your very own cage dancers!) hovercabs etc.

GGMania: HackNet seems like a very different type of area. What's it like, how large is it, how is it connected to the rest of the gameworld

Holger Nathrath & Nick "Nidhogg" Milner: HackNet is huge. It effectively mirrors the key zones in a cyberspace environment and runs to some 150+ zones. Skilled hackers can use HackNet to travel to any GenRep on the map, even those who's owners have locked access down to keep you out. All the faction HQs are represented in cyberspace too, each with a firewall, DNS, storage areas and high-security databases. Then there are travel zones, zones infected with viruses, and all of them populated by "virtual" mobs as well as other runners of course. A character that may be considered weak in the real world can be king in HackNet!

GGMania: How are you altering the newbie experience?

Holger Nathrath & Nick "Nidhogg" Milner: When Neocron 1 went retail a new player would expect to start the game in his own apartment with no idea of where to go, what to do or how to do it. Brand new characters had little choice but to find their way to the inevitable sewers and that's something we wanted to change. Last year we introduced the MC5 processing facility that provided a safe area for new players to find out more about the game and gain some skills before progressing to the game proper but we still felt that something was missing. With Neocron 2 new players can still find their feet in the MC5 facility but now when they arrive at their apartment they will meet an enigmatic character named Mr. Jones who will send them on a number of quests that are tailored to the profession that they chose at creation time. These new quests will allow them to collect some incredible new starter items such as a fantastically detailed samurai sword or a nifty quad bike! By the time you've finished the quests you'll be set for your new life.

GGMania: Can gamers expect a huge improvement in graphics?

Holger Nathrath & Nick "Nidhogg" Milner: NC's unbeatable atmosphere is greatly enhanced in the sequel. New, more detailed textures in conjunction with improved character models (characters now show equipped weapons on their backs or their belts for example), reflective water and vivid skies all contribute to making the experience better than ever. The game is richer, darker, dirtier and more addictive than ever!

GGMania: What, in your view, is the most exciting aspect of Neocron 2?

Holger Nathrath & Nick "Nidhogg" Milner: The most exciting aspect of Neocron is its unique and dense Cyberpunk atmosphere. It's a combination of MMORPG technology, a first-person real-time combat system and the thrilling story. Just visit the Plaza downtown or the Pepper Park red-light district. Take a drink in a bar, chat with the girls or your friends and you'll know what I’m talking about.

GGMania: Why should we rush out and buy Neocron 2?

Holger Nathrath & Nick "Nidhogg" Milner: For people who love films like "Blade Runner", for people who enjoy scenarios like "Shadowrun" or "Snowcrash", for people tired of dwarfs and elves, for people who finally want to play their MMORPG like they play their first-person shooter, Neocron 2 is the only real option on the worldwide MMORPG market.

GGMania: Will it be released in North America?

Holger Nathrath & Nick "Nidhogg" Milner: Neocron 2 will definitely be released in North America as the US are potentially our most important market. Besides its size, the North American people have a great feeling for this kind of spicy game and have traditionally been the biggest group of inhabitants of the city of Neocron. Now they will soon also be able to populate Neocron city's biggest enemy, the "Dome of York".

Eartlier this month, Reakktor also sent us a pre-arranged interview with their content development guru, Christian "SnowCrash" Schuett as he talks about various Neocron 2 aspects:

First of all we'd like to thank everyone in the Neocron Community who has been with us through good times and bad over the past three years. You, the players, are the ones who inspire and generate the life of Neocron and we hope you will keep with us as we continue our journey.

Christian "SnowCrash" Schütt: I have read through all of your questions in the forum threads and would like to address some of them as well as provide you with some exciting information on the upcoming international release. Of course I cannot answer all your questions but I will try to cover the most important issues. All of the features mentioned below are currently being fine-tuned on our internal QA-Server to make sure that everything works as expected.

Q: Can you tell us more about the improved newbie experience?

Christian "SnowCrash" Schütt: To improve the new player experience we have developed a series of Starter Missions for each profession. Your personal contact ‘Mr. Jones' will appear in your apartment when you enter it the first time after you have left the ‘MC5 New Player Area' and will offer you three exciting missions to allow you to acclimatise to your respective profession. These missions include new NPCs, game zones and profession-specific item rewards. Mr. Jones will stay in your apartment while you are on your missions and will also provide you with useful information about your skill development. Of course you have the option to skip the starter missions but be warned, Mr. Jones does not like to be messed about and won't offer you a second chance at these valuable missions.

Some of the profession-specific mission rewards are, for example, the new Quad for the Driver, a decent Katana for the Berserker and much more. These items should improve the feeling for your profession and give you a useful item for the first levels in your character's life.

Q: What's happening with the storyline? Who's responsible for it and when will we see it progress?

Christian "SnowCrash" Schütt: Callash is working hard with the event team to move the storyline forward through the medium of events and publications such as the Neocronicle and the Voice of The Resistance. Perhaps we can set up an interview with Callash to discuss this further in the next few weeks.

Q: How will the conflict between NC and DoY develop? People are concerned that the Red vs Blue aspect has destroyed some of the game's depth - what will be done to maintain the individuality of the factions?

Christian "SnowCrash" Schütt We are aware of the difficulties with the faction system and already have thought about several useful modifications. Unfortunately the faction system is connected to more parts of the game than any other feature and so work on this system could create unseen consequences to the whole game. We have to tread very carefully in this area.

What's happening with the Ceres project?

Christian "SnowCrash" Schütt: As it was announced in the Neocron Gamemaster Team information document the Faction Counsellor project has been reworked and has been running for several months under the new name Ceres-Project. The Ceres team has just been reinforced with new reporters to improve the live coverage of the in-game events and player action. For further information please contact a member of the event GM team.

Q: Will the remaining closed locations be opened soon? (E.g. Zoo, Pepper Pub, DM OZ7 etc.)

Christian "SnowCrash" Schütt: In the past some areas of the game had to be closed down due to game-play issues or technical problems. Though not all areas marked with the ‘Closed Area' sign have been really closed as some of you might have thought. The former Black Dragon, Crahn and Tsunami HQs in Pepper Park have this sign on their doors but are not closed. These three areas are meant to be high level dungeons with some real tough enemies to engage.

Areas which had game-play or game technical issues that are now re-opened are:

Canyon Facility
The old Canyon has been completely re-arranged. The DoY Alliance Leader Ronald Rodriguez will be pleased to discuss this further with DOY-loyal Runners.

Neocron Police Department
The Neocron Police Department has experienced some minor interior changes and content additions. Please note that the building's new security system has been activated so weapons can no longer be drawn inside.

Neocron ConCenter
The Neocron ConCenter has also been re-opened to all Neocron factions and may be used as a meeting place. The acoustic problems in the faction rooms have now been identified and resolved.

Q: Are there any new mini-epics planned, such as the Zargerus/Einstein ones that never made it? What about level specific content?

Christian "SnowCrash" Schütt: At the moment we have our focus on developing more high level content. So several new exciting high level quests will be introduced with the next content patch.

High level Quests should only be attempted by Runners of base level 55 onwards, however it is recommended that they be executed with the support of well equipped groups as we consciously tried to give you some tough nuts to crack. Note that these quests can only be completed once by each Runner. Of course they offer, in addition to the fun of following the quests themselves, numerous rewards in the form of rare items which may only be attained by completing these high level Quests.

Some examples are:

'The Canyon Challenge' DoY Alliance Quest
'The Canyon Challenge' DoY Alliance Quest is only available to the DoY Alliance. The contact person for this quest will be Commander Hopkins.

'Reporting for Duty' City Mercs Quest
The 'Reporting for Duty' City Mercs Quest is only available to members of the City Mercs and the contact person for this quest will be Master Sergeant Harrison.

'Reza's Calling' Neocron Alliance Quest
The 'Reza's Calling' Neocron Alliance Quest is only available to the Neocron Alliance. The contact person for this quest will be Commissioner Lightfield.

There is also another new type of spawn quest, but I don't want to give you too much information on this right now. However, you can look forward to some decent action in the Wastelands. ;)

We will continue the development of these quests in the future with further content patches so you can expect more exciting quest action to come. After we have filled up the quest gap in the high level area we will focus on low to mid-level quests again.

Q: The community has asked for competitions to make suggestions on how to improve in-game items. What is KK thinking about such competitions? Can we expect such competitions to improve the connection between KK and the Community?

Christian "SnowCrash" Schütt: We have already had several community competitions and contests in the past and want to continue this in due course. The focus right now for improving the in-game experience is mainly based on communication between the players and the role-play characters from the Ceres Team. In this way we hope to improve the role-playing context instead of making competitions or contests outside the game. Feel free to contact your local City Govenor, Alliance Leader, Job Dealer or Reporter to offer your suggestions for improving in-game content.

Q: What's happening with Hacknet?

Christian "SnowCrash" Schütt: Besides the work on the Endboss ‘Phoenix NC CPU' our team is working on the balancing issues regarding the Hacknet mobs and player Hacknet Software. More details to follow.

Q: Why did the Tech Angels leave Tech haven which was all nice and blue and spangly and move to that Dump of a city, DoY?

Christian "SnowCrash" Schütt: The Fallen Angels are a part of the DoY alliance and have moved their headquarters to the Dome for tactical and security reasons. If you talk to some of the inhabitants of Tech Haven you will notice that the Fallen Angels still seem to have a presence there. It's not as public as before but you can still feel the spirit of the Fallen Angels inside Tech Haven.. This is of course confidential information and should therefore be restricted to DoY loyal Tech Haven inhabitants. ;)

Q: Will there be a patch before the international release that gives the new content earlier to us then the new players?

Christian "SnowCrash" Schütt: The Starter Missions are the main part of the content patch and will go live with the international release. We are currently heavily testing this new content and want to use every minute right up to the international release to tweak everything so there will be no patch before then.

I hope I was able to give you a good picture of what to expect content-wise within the coming weeks. We are working hard to improve the game for you all the time, even if you don't notice that consciously.

Our Community Liaison Team, Nidhogg and Hermes will of course keep you fully up to date of all further developments.

related links: Neocron 1 review, Neocron 2 homepage, download Neocron 2 (1.6GB) ~ FREE 10-Day-Trial-Account, movie trailer (DivX)

genre: post-apocalyptic sci-fi/cyberpunk MMORPG
release: 2005/Q2 (already out in Germany)
developer: Reakktor
publisher: Atari

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