We here at Co-Optimus are always on the lookout for great co-op opportunities and, as we've covered previously, there are plenty of opportunities for some quality cooperative gaming in the MMO space, many of which fall into the "free-to-play" model. One of these games is Dungeon Fighter Online, a 2D beat 'em up that plays a lot like Streets of Rage 2 and Golden Axe with action RPG elements tossed into the mix. We recently spoke with the game's associate producer, Luis Reyes, about what inspired them to release a rather retro MMO in a market space filled with World of Warcraft and Everquest clones, what classic 2D beat 'em ups inspired them, and get some exclusive details about an upcoming Guild system that will further the co-op experience.
Co-Optimus: Tell us a little bit about the game and about how the co-op/group mechanics work in Dungeon Fighter Online.
Luis Reyes: Dungeon Fighter Online is a Beat ‘Em Up Action RPG with all the elements that make arcade fighting games fun, plus all the things that make an epic RPG fantasy world fun. DFO takes both of these online so players can enjoy all that fun with their friends. The game takes place in the mystical land of Arad where an evil scourge known as The Devolution terrorizes its citizens. Dungeon Fighters must enter the various dungeons throughout the land—each overrun with all manner of villains and vile beasts—and drive evil from the land.
Dungeon Fighters can do this alone, taking on these dangerous dungeons solo, or they can team up in parties of up to four people and take on these monsters co-op style. And coming up at the end of April, we will be introducing Guilds to Arad, which means that teaming up in parties yields not only extra buffs but also boosts EXP.
Now, to hone those skills for the great eradication of evil, Dungeon Fighters can also jump into the Player-versus-Player Arena to fight each other, either one on one, in teams of up to four, in elimination style, or in an all out brawl where it is every man for himself. So between the party and PvP systems, there is a wide array of co-op gaming options.
Co-Optimus: A new feature you're currently testing out in beta are Guilds. How do you expect Guilds to benefit co-op play in Dungeon Fighter Online?
Luis: There are a ton of benefits to Guild play. As we mentioned above, when you play in a party of your Guild members, you experience several stat boosts (related to the level of your Guild). Then, when you clear a dungeon, you get an EXP bonus (again, related to the level of your Guild). Another secret benefit to playing as part of a Guild is that the Noob-o-meter (our system for keeping lower level players from exploiting the ownage of higher level players to clear dungeons and gain experience) will be inactive! Then there are all the added benefits of just being in a Guild, which include always having friends out there to play with, a solid group helping the other members grow, etc. And the fact that your Guild has a level as well means that members will all work together in raising that level, because not only do you get the prestige of having a high level Guild, but as your Guild level rises, you personally get higher boosts.
Co-Optimus: What inspired the creation of a 2D beat 'em up title in an MMO space when so many other developers seem to be leaning towards the World of Warcraft/Everquest model?
Luis: There is a definite appeal out there for the 2D style, and it really makes Dungeon Fighter Online stand out with a great artistic direction and vision. The real meat, though, of any game is the mechanics beneath the graphics, and that is the true fun of DFO. There are all sorts of weapons, items, armor, accessories, hundreds of skills, 5 different character classes, each of which can further customize into 4 different subclasses, and thousands of avatar items, each with different stat and skill boosts. The game is all about working through an incredibly elaborate fighting system that hinges on how you tailor your character. And the 2D style is a fantastic way to really appreciate all of the technical intricacies the game offers. The style is also an homage to all the fighting action games that have come before it, adding to the exciting games of the past the vastness of experience that only an intense online game offers.
Co-Optimus: Were there any of the old, arcade co-op beat 'em ups, such as Knights of the Round or Streets of Rage, that were a source of inspiration for the development team when they were creating the game?
Luis: Pretty much all of them. DFO is a culmination of video game history. It borrows from the most fun games of the past and present, drawing design tropes from disparate types of games and bringing them together. It is a highly creative merging of all we hold dear about video games. And by selecting the aspects we love from all kinds of games, Dungeon Fighter Online is an experience that transcends the sum of its parts.
Co-Optimus: In an interview with the game's director, Yunjong Kim, the question was asked whether or not consideration had been given to doing some kind of port of the game; with the success of classic co-op beat 'em up titles on XBLA and PSN, would this still be a possibility? What about a Nintendo DS or PSP port?
Luis: The developers at Neople are always open to expanding the audience for Dungeon Fighter Online, which already has 197 million registered users worldwide! So these ideas always receive careful consideration. That being said, the current focus for Neople and Nexon America is to make sure Dungeon Fighter Online has a successful launch this June in North America for the PC market. We really want to make sure North American Dungeon Fighters have a great game to play on the PC.
Co-Optimus: With Dungeon Fighter Online, the fighter/ranged-attacker/magic-user classes seem to take on the more traditional MMO roles of tank/DPS/healer when teaming up with other players. How was the game balanced to ensure that two players of any class would have as equal a chance as a larger party that includes more classes?
Luis: The answer to that question is an incredibly complicated one, because the system of balancing powers in DFO is huge. I think what players will find when diving into DFO is that though there are similarities to traditional MMO roles in terms of party balance, each of the classes in DFO all have the potential to become a hybrid being—a magic-using range attacker; a healing tank, etc. Each of the five sub-classes, at Level 18, can choose a sub-class, in which their skills become even more specialized. So if you like being a fighter, but also really dig tossing out magic, you can become a Nen Master at Level 18. If you are a healing Priest, but don’t want to give up your gargantuan bludgeoning cross, you can become a Monk at Level 18 and boost up your melee skills.
Co-Optimus: What are some of your favorite co-op beat 'em up games?
Luis: DFO, of course!! But I grew up playing beat’em up games at the arcades so any of the classics you remember, I invested so many quarters as a kid I’ve probably directly contributed unwittingly to the development of DFO.
We'd like to thank Luis and the rest of the team from Nexon America for taking the time to answer our questions and share with us the details about the upcoming Guild feature. We're always interested in features that enhance the co-op of a game.