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Interview with Scott Herrington: Lead Producer on Asheron's Call

ActiveWin.com:  There seems to be a lot of problems with video cards and Asheron's Call, such as people seeing things in the world which aren't there. Is Turbine continually testing and revising code for better video card compatibility?

Scott Herrington: Erm... I don't know of many current problems with video cards and AC?  However, with that said, we do compatibility testing whenever card manufacturers release new drivers or cards to make sure there aren't any problems.  That's one of the reasons that we didn't officially introduce z-buffering in the April event, too many video card conflicts.  It works great with some cards (and people have found out how to enable it in the registry to see if it works with their card), but because it wasn't bullet proof, we held off on releasing it.

ActiveWin.com:  One of my and many other players favorite features of Asheron's Call are the Portal Spells. Is there a possibility there may be more portal spells in the future?

Scott Herrington: We'll probably introduce something in the near future that will enable players to move more quickly and easily around Dereth.  But there aren't any firm plans for additional portal spells per se.

ActiveWin.com:  Do you expect to see more worlds being added as we have seen with the recent opening of Solclaim?

Scott Herrington: As the population rises across the current worlds and they fill up, yes, we will be adding more servers.  If the need is there, MS will answer it.

ActiveWin.com:  I have noticed that other players believe that certain classes have a distinct advantage over other classes (e.g. Archers being able to perch and shoot from great distances to kill monsters). Are there any plans to try and level out the classes in future versions of Asheron's Call?

Scott Herrington: We won't make everyone equal (which would eliminate true diversity in the world and minimize the differences between character classes).  But, we are taking some steps to correct some of the most egregious offenders to the game's balance.  The more risk a player takes, the more reward they receive. Perching archers and 'wall-licking' life mages will see a reduction in XP gained, if they continue using these un-heroic ways to advance through the game.

ActiveWin.com:  Did you ever think during the making of the game that people would sell items in the game on Internet auction sites for hundreds of dollars?

Scott Herrington: Actually, eBay and the multitude of Internet auction sites didn't exist when we first started working on Asheron's Call! However, it is definitely interesting and surprising to see today.

ActiveWin.com:  Something that seems to be unfair to some Asheron's Call players is the respectable Hoary Mattekar Robe that with Impenetrability is unstoppable. These have been hot items on the Internet and are selling for unreal sums. Is there any plan to decrease the settings of the robe to make it fairer and not worth as much?

Scott Herrington: We hate 'nerfing' items or spells in the game.  So, rather than do that, we could address the problem in a few different ways that would have the same effect.... like an "anti-impenetrability" spell, or a weapon or spell that does a new type of damage that the Matty robes can't protect against. We're well aware of the issue with the robes and will make some corrections to that in the future.

ActiveWin.com:  There has been a lot of discussion over the new spell named the "Eye of the Storm". Could you describe what this spell is exactly and what it can do? Could you give us some clues to the spell's components? There is talk that it is done with the new Diamond Scarab. Can you confirm or deny this?

Scott Herrington: Yes, I could confirm or deny it. :)  Sorry, but I can't tell you much about the undiscovered spells in the game.  All I can say is that they've taken a long time for us to make, get in, and code since they break most of the 'rules' we set up for spells in the past!

ActiveWin.com:  The future of Asheron's Call is unknown and that's why so many users like the world of AC because its so much like real life. Are there any big story planned for the future?

Scott Herrington: Yup, Bael'Zharon is still lurking around as are the shadows.  There are going to be some major, new discoveries in the next 3-4 months that should keep our players very happy with how the world is evolving.

ActiveWin.com:  What do you feel Asheron's Call has over its competitors (such as Everquest or Diablo II)?

Scott Herrington: Right now, I think we've got a better story and better technology.  The ability to add in content every month has got to be a huge plus for us as well.

ActiveWin.com:  We have been hearing rumors of Asheron's Call 2.0 being in the works, are there any details you can give us on what enhancements we can expect to see in the new version next year?

Scott Herrington: Wow... three questions packed into one: If AC2 is in development, what's it going to have, and when will it ship next year?

I'll take 'em in reverse order, if you don't mind.  To make a great MMP -- or even a single-player game -- requires about 2 years.  Assuming we started on any project a month after AC was released (not likely, considering the pre-ship crunch the team went through to finish AC), we wouldn't have anything till January 2002.  So, it wouldn't be out next year if we were making it.

If we make a sequel to AC, it will have to improve across the boards. Better graphics, sound, AI, etc.

Lastly, I've heard the rumors about AC 2.0 being in development since January. Sorry, but all I can say is that they are rumors.  We *have* been busy at work on our next engine, but we haven't announced what project it will first be used for as of yet.

ActiveWin.com:  What aspect of Asheron's Call do you think is most appealing and/or attractive to the most users?

Scott Herrington: To me, I think the big appeal is that you're sharing a virtual space with people who have similar interests.  That's the main draw.  The next is that you get to do all the things you can't do in real life, like hunting monsters.  You get to be the hero, the swashbuckler, the rogue, the monarch.

ActiveWin.com:  What is your favorite part of Asheron's Call and why?

Scott Herrington: I love getting into the thick of battle where my health and stamina are next to nothing, and just coming through barely alive.  There's an instant bond between players when they're in situations like that, and I've made some great friends while playing that have extended to outside the game which is something incredibly cool!

ActiveWin.com:  Do you think there will be a chance of seeing Asheron's Call on the XBox come 2001?

Scott Herrington: You'll have to talk with Bill Gates about that one....

ActiveWin.com:  Do you have anything else to add?

Scott Herrington: Play nice, and never, ever, say "Olthoi-shmolthoi" (those are some of the most commonly uttered last words in Asheron's Call before people enter the big blue tube....)


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