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Ben Simpson, creative director for Nicely Crafted
Could you please introduce yourselves to our readers?
My name is Ben Simpson, I am the creative director for Nicely Crafted Entertainment (NiCE).
A brief synopsis of Nicely Crafted.
NiCE was born to create worlds that are conducive to entertainment experiences; a place to go that has real geography and suspension of disbelief. We have a 10 year plan to achieve our goal, summed up it could be put as 'The Matrix' on your desktop. Time of Defiance is step two in this process and starts to grow the world we intend to set our future experiences in.
Could you explain for our readers what you believe Time of Defiance to be, what the game is and how it works.
Time of Defiance (ToD) is a massively multi player real-time strategy game (MMPRTS). It is in full 3D and all players are human, making for a very interesting and unpredictable experience, deals can never be taken at face value..:-) Games of ToD run from one week up to four weeks with each instance of a game supporting hundreds of players. The idea of the game is simply to expand your empire by whatever means you feel is necessary, extract resources from the thousands of islands to expand your war machine and try to place in the first 10 players at the end of game to get league points. This game is about the art of war; politics, propaganda, diplomacy, leadership and more are all valuable skills that are needed to succeed.
What were the initial ideas for Time of Defiance? Were you inspired by other RTS games and the lack of a persistent and pure multiplayer element? Or did you just decide that it was something to do?
Both Toby and I have always felt that we could design and build a good RTS game so when we thought the time was right and there was a gap in the market we realised it was now or never. We wanted to bring the social aspects of playing a game such as Risk with the thinking strategy of a game such as Chess where all the actual moves are simple, the complexity and interest comes from the combinations and how you manipulate the pieces. We looked again at old classics such as Elite, C&C and so on as these games obviously captured something and did a lot of things right. Then it was off to the blender to put all our ideas together.
The unit AI in Time of Defiance is fairly advanced and intelligent, allowing you to leave units knowing that they'll respond to any threats in an appropriate manner. How long did it take to develop this system? Was it total in-house development or was third party code used?
We have developed everything for Time of Defiance in house. The emergent behavior that you see is a natural result of our development philosophy and the way that we have implemented it.
Massively Multiplayer games are often a lot more complex to develop requiring much more work behind the scenes. What do you believe was the hardest part of devolving Time of Defiance?
We have actually faired quite well so far, because our thorough bottom-up development philosophy allows the detail of our product to emerge rather than be specifically coded for - leading to smaller, more reliable code-base that adapts itself to meet the changing needs of our players. Technology is vital and also the hardest part to get right. Furthermore good design at the outset allows you to repair potholes in the road months before you are due to drive over them.
Time of Defiance already has a fledgling community. What do you do (if anything) to help and influence in game events and story lines?
We do very little to influence our community. We try to provide the basic tools to allow a community to grow and let the players to do the rest. We want our community to become self policing as we feel this kind of dynamic is needed for our future plans so every now and then we step in so we can suitably guide this process but that's all we do.
How do you see Time of Defiance's community changing with the final release of ToD this august?
I am really looking forward to see the new influences on the community; it's nice to shake things up a touch. I feel that our current player group has developed a strong community spirit that will remain and guide the new players. What ever happens, it's going to be a very exciting time.
Will you be implementing a long running story line into Time of Defiance, or will you leave it totally up to the players to develop their own fantasies?
We have actually designed one million years of history to support our world with Time of Defiance taking place in a sixty year part of that history. The players now are writing the finer points of these 60 years. We have written down player events that occur with the intention of writing some historical journals for our world. Many empires already have been mentioned.
Lastly - Online games are constantly evolving. What do you feeling the future holds for ToD? Will we be seeing a ToD 2? Or is Nicely Crafted going to be moving onto other projects?
Games like ToD never really master, they evolve along with their players. We want to continue to grow ToD into the ultimate strategy game and to do this we need and use constant feedback from our players. As far as a ToD 2, well, we have big plans, you will just have to watch this space!
Our thanks go out to Ben for spending his valuable time to answer these questions. Our preview of Time of Defiance can be read here, and more information can be found on Nicely Crafted's website.