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Interview with the Man Behind the Madness
by Eloria

Wow, Ten long years of Medievia 4.0 so far, did you ever expect it to make to 5.0?

To be honest we would never have taken on the challenge of designing Medievia IV if we did not think we would get to Medievia V. Medievia IV was supposed to be a short term version where we add the wilderness and core world features that would later be filled with mobfactions and stuff in Medievia V. We opened Medievia IV in 1996 and if someone told me it would not be until 2000 that Medievia V would be done, I may have quit. In the end it took me quitting the company I built so I could work on the hobby full time, or it would never get done. Back to your question of did I ever expect to make it. I truly expect Medievia to be a household name by the year 2010-2015. By 2050 I expect Medievia to be a game for all generations. It will be a game that your grandfather played and it will allow very new shared cool connections between generations that never existed before. Just know now that there is a good chance your grandkids will one day walk up to Scruff and he will say, "Like, WOOF, man!"

What made you want to create and keep working on Medievia?

Before the Internet I ran Programmers Corner which was one of the biggest BBS's of its time. It was fascinating being able to connect to people instantly all over the world. At first BBS's were places to have forums and share files but quickly many of them had features that included playing games. They were called doors back then, some like tradewars still run today. For me, once I started coding doors that was it. Here is code that is true magic! Medievia is the end result of not just 15 years of work, its truly closer to 24 years of work and effort.

With the devolopment of islands, how will this affect game play such as wars and ships?

In 1996 we made the wilderness. In 2006 townland finally comes to actually do something with the wilderness that is truly cool and dynamic. Every town will own X amount of townland and that will be a very large part of clanrank, 25% or so. You hire workers to build farms, mines, and 10 other types of businesses on the land to take control of it. The whole wilderness will be alive like no other game in history. Anyways, most islands are around 2000-4500 rooms and when you control the island the whole thing counts towards townland so that is a big deal. Islands will make sure that in the future even the geography of Medievia itself wil l never be the same two months in a row. All of Medievia V is being designed to be so deep that the whole feeling of playing the game takes on a feeling of time and dimension in ages as the game will constantly change. It will be easier designing, coding, and finishing all of the needed features and have players play them to see what they will be like than it could possibly be to describe the 5.1 version of Medievia that I see clearly.

How will the parties of order and chaos influence the Khrait?

It would be impossible to predict. The only predictable thing is that they will influence them in many ways, predicted and not. It is my job as game designer to make sure the game is very dynamic so that there are many types of player interaction and influence. The Khrait, and the whole concept of war, and chaos and order, are a fairly revolutionary game design concept. I have never even spoken to many people about what it even is. Ozy knows and some current and past elected leaders have heard parts of the plans. The plans for chaos and order in the end is very simple. You will elect which players control CHAOS and ORDER via different DM settings that they get to change on limited ways per term. They will in the end control many things from the wind to the wars. The game can play out very chaotic, or very orderly and that will in itself change over time and you know what? I will not be changing it, the players will decide what is more fun for now. I am designing it to continue to change past the day I am in my coffin buried beneath our Earth. That is the plan. How could a game designed to live forever, and a game designed and run by players, not try such ground breaking things? It will take time. By the time Medievia 5.2 is done all of the weird odd things you have seen us code will all tie together in such a way that all will be very impressed that the plan was so long term and vividly interconneted. I ask all to have faith in the plan.

What are your views of cpk and npk and the playerbase reaction to those areas?

Well, I truly feel that Medievia offers some kickass PK and many varieties as well. There is a lot of work to be done though and PK is never far from my mind when designing the game and making decisions. The justice system coming in 5.1 will be revolutionary PK in some situations for instance. You may be trading down a road in a kingdom where the MF run kingdom armies ask to assist you, workers give you gifts, mobs clap as you walk by, you are a a HERO in this kingdom and someone that even helped save the KING! You may trade two steps to the left and be in Kingdom B. In this kingdom you are a wanted man with a large bounty on your head. You have already been caught and escaped out of jail twice. What is coming is very open gameplay where you affect the game at every turn and it affects you right back and that kind of interaction will go way deep into many PK situations. As far as the reactions to PK? They suck. Pick almost any feature and I will tell you that we hope to design it in such a way that we please 75% of the people. It is impossible to please everyone so we shoot for a high percentage. Often we settle for 51% because this is just one game and there are many types of people. When it comes to PK we shoot for pleasing 33% and probably end up pleasing 20%. This cannot be helped. I dare anyone to find any 5 people to agree on any 5 of the same pk rules at the same time, let alone a game of thousands.

Back when Med 4.0 was implimented, you said that your goal was to have 1000 players online at any given time. Why do you think this has not yet been achieved? And what future plans are you undertaking to achieve that goal?

We could have easily gotten to 1000 if we ever stopped re-making the game and focused on expanding the playerbase. We have gone through three ages when we tried to expand the playerbase and each time it worked fairly easily. Medievia IV started with a goal of hitting 500 online most nights. We were ridiculed. Shalafi himself who was our #2 god bet me we would not do it, and that we would not even hit 250! In the end that was easy and it only took 2 years and around $20,000 in marketing. We got to hitting around 550-585 most nights and we stopped all marketing and worked on Medievia V. Did I know it would take ten years? No! Should I have marketed more to keep 400-500ish? Yes I suppose I should have. I truly do not run Medievia to make money or for any reason other than to reach my goal of making the first truly real virtual world that will last eons. That goal will require many ages and times and business decisions that may not make perfect financial sense.

Getting to 1000 is a bigger goal that will take a few years now that we have finally gotten Medievia 5.0 to a point where we feel comfortable putting the product out there with our big claims. We have one ad that says we are the deepest game ever made, we had to wait until it is fact. We are not done yet. This year we are spending around $2,800 a month on marketing and it is just starting to have its affect. Once 5.1 is done I hope to be able to spend $12,000 a month on marketing so that everyone will know that the deepest game in the world is a text game called Medievia. We have time on our side and cannot fail. Medievia will someday look back and some people will say, remember way back in the day when Med didn't even have 1000 online at prime time?

Do you/would you let your children play Medievia? Why/why not?

Sure but I do not push it on them. I do not discuss this type of stuff as it is not fair to them or the characters that they may be playing. I am trying to build a game that teaches core values like leadership, social lessons, adapation, etc, not to mention a game that is pure brain food when it comes to exercising your brain, better typing skills, etc. The plan for 2010 is to market Medievia as the first game designed from the inside out to be good for your kids. I will have doctors, teachers, and many other professions back me up on that. Yes, I would love for my kids to play Medievia.

Do you feel that the character classes are currently well balanced?

Yes. I dare say they are more balanced than any game I have known. Are they perfect? Hardly.

It has been double experience for many many months now. Why do you not just halve the amount of exp needed to level and drop us down to 1x experience if this is the new baseline?

That is the plan but the plan is still in motion. We have many final Med V MLR changes to make that are waiting for a few more features to be implemented and when they are made the EXP will go from saying 2 to 1.

What are your plans for Bloodlines, heirlooms, and the idea of giving some of the oldest bloodlines castles, as was possibly talked about long ago?

Abodes will be the last feature of Medievia V and much will depend on the playerbase size at the time and how much money we have. I have plans for a game with a decent server and I have plans for a game that could afford a server with OODLES of memory. It is best that I do not speak about features in great detail until such a time comes when I can make key game design decisions.

What is this Master Dragon that you keep refering to and how will it affect what dragons now and in the future?

At any one time one town will control dragons and control the dragon spire. At any one time the same town or a different town will possess the one dragonslayer blade. There will be great wars, battles, and many cool master dragon situations. That is all I am prepared to say at this time.

What is this Superclass that has been talked about?

It is a purely non fleshed out theoretical idea that when you reach level 124 you could decide to STAY this class forever and go super at it. You would have to go through many hardships, challenges, through many loops, and it would be nearly impossible, but some people would try it. All of the perks would be new spells, skills, and other game dynamics. Nothing is decided. My over viewpoint at this time is that I do not see it adding much fun to the game for all of the in-balance that it would cause.

What is your current view of politics in the game?

That it is a learning process. No other game has this stuff or tries to figure out a game design where it works well. My view is that we will keep trying to make it work because the plans for deeper 5.1 and 5.2 versions virtually require towns to be chaos or order.

How do you survive the long days of coding and find time to spend with the family?

Working at home allows it pretty easily really. My normal day consists of getting up around 4-6pm, spending an hour or two with my 2 year old son, eating, spending an hour with Soleil, and then walking down to the Medievia offices in my basement. I sit in my office working everyday from 9-11pm to 10-11am and then I go get my 5-8 hours or sleep and do it again. I work 365 days a year and take no vacations. I had one vacation since I started Medievia in 1992 which was my honeymoon with Soleil in 2000.

Are there any concluding remarks that you would like to make?

Yes. We have TOTALLY redesigned the WHOLE newbie experience. If you told 10 friends about Medievia before we may have landed 1-3 new players. Now I feel it would be 4-6. It is THAT much easier learning how to play all on your own now and it is THAT much more fun to do it. Please tell your friends about Medievia and the adventures you share here. It is the best way to help our odd magical world reach its lofty goals of total world domination!

The MudSlinger would like to thank Vryce for taking the time for this interview. Also thank for those who gave ideas for these questions. This is the MudSlinger, out for now.


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