On January 9th (KST), Nexon Korea (Nexon) held a launch preview event at the Four Seasons Hotel in Gwanghwamun, Seoul, with its new mobile MMORPG, Durango.
The event was hosted by Sang Won Jung, the vice president of Nexon, and Eun Seok Lee, the director of What! Studio, introducing the detailed content and service schedule of the game.
Durango is the new IP from Nexon and was envisioned as a survival adventure MMORPG. Players are warped into a primitive world known as Durango due to an unknown accident and must adapt to the harsh environment and create a virtual society with other players.
Name: Durango Launch Preview
Date: 11:00 AM, January 9th, 2018 (Tue)
Topic: Introduction of the game and release date
“I hope that the game will be one that is loved by players in the long run, regardless of the profits we make.”
“Time flew very fast and it’s already the 4th year since the beginning of Durango. It started as just a mere idea, then the development team did research here and there. The trend in the industry changed, and we also wondered if we had to call it and join the bandwagon, but we decided to prioritize our goal of having fun from creation, and that’s how we have Durango now.
As the game possesses a unique system that is like no other in today’s Korean mobile games, we put much effort with patience. That’s why the beta was that long. However, after years of development and beta processing, we were able to study players’ behavior patterns, and eventually complete the game.
Although the success of Durango is surely important from my perspective, we’re dedicated to this title because we think that it may change the direction of mobile game development. Therefore, though I feel sorry for the business team, I hope that the game will be one that is loved by players in the long run, regardless of the profits we make.”
No more delay - Durango is expected to be released on January 25
Durango will be officially released in South Korea on January 25. It will be a simultaneous launch both on the Google Play Store and the App Store, and a global launch is planned for the near future.
Explore, hunt, and survive
Pioneer the Jurassic period
Durango is based on an expedition into the Jurassic period. Whereas most games are based on a fantasy world with swords and magic, players in Durango start the game in a Jurassic landscape after an unknown accident. The game takes place in a vast world where players start with nothing and must shape the wildland using their knowledge of civilization.
Durango aims to become not an amusement park, but a playground-like MMORPG. With most games, content is already placed in the ‘amusement park’ by a developer, and visitors only need to enjoy them as they walk along a set path. However, Durango provides a variety of biomes, limitless
expanses of land, animals from the Jurassic period, and as well as tools for players to use. All of this allows players to explore and find their own adventure in a playground of unlimited possibilities.
The epitome of content variety
Free and in-depth creation, building, cooking, and farming limitlessly are some of the biggest features of Durango. Combat in the game is not essential; rather than fighting, you can simply settle in a village enjoy the various crafting content. Moreover, building can be done at any location, which allows players to build their own world.
Building my village in a true MMO world
Durango is a vast space where many players can gather. There is no channel or instance dungeons where a few players can group up to play. The world consists of endless islands scattered across the sea, and players can go out to claim uninhabited islands and explore them. You can claim one island as your own, build a house, cultivate, meet passersby, have a neighbor, and get a friend to move to your island. In addition, you can even form a tribe and stand with or against the other tribes after your village becomes larger.
A new mobile MMORPG like no other, how was it made?
“I’ve thought extensively while planning for the next title after Vindictus. Even if we make the game from an existing genre, it will have to compete against other games developed by other companies in other countries, and I was certain that they can surely make it better than us. So, we tried to make a completely new genre from the bottom up - not by adding this and that to an existing one, but a completely new one, literally. That was the moment when Durango, the sandbox MMORPG based on the new genre where modern people are warped into the Jurassic period, was born.
The foundation of Durango is based on some of the driving forces of humanity. They are dreams, instinct, and building a society. The dream here is to pioneer a wild land. There is no land that cannot be found on a map in today’s time. So in Durango, you can chase a dream that cannot be accomplished in the current world.
Also, we usually suppress our instinct due to the confinement and protection provided by civilization. We made it possible for players to express this suppressed instinct in the virtual society.
Building a society is the core of Durango. It’s like playing house - you become a part of this virtual society and get to partake in a very primitive setting.
Although the video only shows an architect, it is one of the numerous occupations you can do in Durango. As the selection of occupations or class is not fixed like in other MMORPGs, you can choose any job and enjoy at your own leisure. We are talking about the unlimited possibility with absolute freedom.”
Objective - a game loved by players worldwide
“The first objective is to be globally successful. Although there are many games that were successful in Korea and went overseas, there aren’t many that succeeded in the west as much as in Asia yet. We’d like the game to go beyond this wall of Asia and become a global success.
The second goal is to have the game last for a long time. We’ve aimed to service the game for a minimum of 10 years.
The third is that we would like to see this somewhat unfamiliar IP called Durango become a beloved IP. We want the game to be someone’s masterpiece.
Lastly, I’d like to tell you a few things about the current status of the beta test overseas. Durango has been undergoing beta testing in a number of countries since last July. It’s already been half a year, and there are players from 152 different countries even though we are officially servicing the game in 12 countries.
Meanwhile, we made a web viewer called Durango Maps which allows players to look over the vast world they created, and we will provide this feature when we launch the game.”
Talk with Mr. Lee - behind-story of Durango
Q. There seems to be a lot of professions and crafting in the game.
Mr. Lee: There were many games with crafting and professions in the past, but I believe that you can enjoy them more in-depth with Durango.
Q. Players have been waiting for the game for quite a long time; the development process was surely long.
Mr. Lee: It took 5 and a half years. We needed a lot of time in order to make a game that has never been seen before. As this was the case, we constantly did tests and fixes. People in the development team even made a joke saying that nobody expected to see two presidents while making it.
Q. Please share any behind-the-scenes stories you have.
Mr. Lee: We’ve been constantly sharing interim findings during our creative research and development process. We used NDC many times. One instance I remember the most is when we shared the findings of an ecosystem AI presented by NDC in the year of 2015.
One more thing to add is our dedication to unique sound design. In order to make a creative sound that suits the environment, we recorded actual animal sounds and attempted a creative foley.
Q. You mentioned that your objective is to make a game that is loved globally. Please tell us how you will manage the server.
Mr. Lee: We aim to have a single global server. However, we’ll segregate regions first for the purpose of fairness when we launch the game. In Korea, we’ll minimize the barrier by having 1 to 3 Bronto servers. We plan to merge servers gradually after the global launch. One Bronto server can occupy 10 times more than other mobile games’ ordinary servers.
Q. There is an archive as part of the community. Can you explain what it is?
Mr. Lee: It helps players to adapt to an unfamiliar game. We thought that delivering stories that actually happened and/or were funny in the world of Durango is more effective than just a mere guide. It’s like a curation of sorts.
Q. What’s the business model of Durango?
Mr. Lee: The top priority is to make the game last long rather than rake in a lot of revenue. The model is focused on providing convenience, reducing wait time, and costumes. We want players to purchase emotional satisfaction instead of character performance in the game.
Q. We are told that you have many games to launch in the global market starting from Durango.
Mr. Roh: We are doing our best for our launch in the global market. It’s not just a single title for the global market; we plan to launch all our games internationally. However, there are a variety of regions including NA, EU, SEA, and Japan, so we need to target the designated regions with suitable games. Although we’ve gone through trial and error by releasing many titles last year, we were able to use this as a foundation and gain some profits in the second half. We are planning to work hard and get some pleasant results from each region this year.
Q. Tell us about the schedule in NA.
Mr. Roh: Many staff members from Nexon M are preparing for it. As the NA market is quite significant for Durango, we are actively discussing how to carry out the business model, policies, and other elements as well. Though we might need to check the launch date, we are doing our best to produce good results through cooperation.
Q. The genre doesn’t seem to be easily understood by the public, which might be an obstacle for the game itself. Are there any features for a beginner aside from the Archive?
Mr. Lee: There is a play guide separate from the Durango Archive. It’s an in-game guide that leads a player to “adapt to the world and the dream”.
Q. How was the global players’ response including the NA?
Mr. Lee: All regions are crucial, including the NA. The reception was favorable in NA, and there were big responses from SA, EU, and SEA as well. The playstyle of NA players is somewhat different to ours. They tend to play the game in an easygoing way. They showed a welcoming reaction to Durango.
Q. What was the reason for postponing the release date?
Mr. Lee: To enhance the game quality one last time. We do feel sorry for Korean players who have been waiting longer than others, but we had to postpone the date because of the last enhancement process. We thought carefully about it internally until the last minute, and that’s why the announcement came out late. We sincerely apologize for this delay.
Q. Are you preparing any offline content?
Mr. Lee: Nothing yet. I believe that there’ll be interesting reactions as players create their own world, and we’ll probably help further those endeavors.
Q. A game generally needs a huge player base to operate, and we’d like to know if you are considering any feature that would improve player retention.
Mr. Lee: We’re preparing many features to maintain players in the game. For example, a high-level player obtains items with various attributes, and we are going to enhance the processing and gathering of them to be more fun. In fact, the number of islands can be adjusted depending on the number of players, thus the number of players met in the game can be equal every time. I don’t worry too much about it.
Q. There was a server instability issue during the test. What countermeasure did you come up with this?
Mr. Lee: We are improving it after analyzing a lot of gathered data. We plan to have more servers than we had in the overseas beta when we launch in Korea. I believe that we’ll be able to provide more stable service with a 6-month experience.
Q. What does Durango mean to Nexon?
Mr. Roh: It is certainly different from other games. Rather than competing for a high rank in the market, we’d prefer it if the game and company brand become well-known in the global market. We want it to be seen with a very positive connotation. We want the company called Nexon to be known for providing good games with Durango.
Q. Is there any chance that the game will also be on PC?
Mr. Lee: We are contemplating, but it’s not certain right now.
Q. What’s your take on the complaints from non-paying users?
Mr. Roh: You can still enjoy the game without making an in-game purchase. The business model that Durango pursues is built generally with emotional satisfaction and decoration, instead of items needed for competing with others.
Q. What measures did you implement in the game to make it last?
Mr. Lee: The length of games has gotten quite short in the mobile game industry. We’ve set the frame so that it can last as long as online PC games. Also, we designed the in-game world to last. It has a mechanism that allows a player to keep enjoying it without consuming content unilaterally. It’ll be much easier to understand once the game is released.
Q. Are there wars between tribes?
Mr. Lee: There’s a tribe that works as a guild. These tribes can bring wage war on each other for resources in the high-level areas. We implemented it as a test version in the overseas beta. It’ll be an improved version in the Korean server.
Q. Can you not play the game well if you go solo?
Mr. Lee: You can. We’ve prepared a system that provides aid to players so that he/she doesn’t need to get help from another player.
Q. Is a 10-year lifespan really possible on mobile? There must be a change in the type of devices, are you preparing for those sorts of things as well?
Mr. Roh: We haven’t thought about changing the game as the device changes. However, the reason why the game can last is that many players will continue enjoying it. It is because the community keeps going and because more content is added.
It is true that mobile games can’t have the lifespan of existing PC games, as they tend to be popular but short-lived. However, the community of mobile games is starting to grow as well. I believe that Durango will be loved for a long time as players themselves create the community. They may play the game constantly even as they become older. The issues of devices and content will surely be addressed, adjusted, and resolved accordingly. We can’t predict what will happen after 10 years, but I’m sure that the game Durango will keep venturing onward to new possibilities.
Q. Were there any memorable responses during the long testing period?
Mr. Lee: We’ve dedicated a lot of effort to the ‘emergence’ feature in the game. Emergence allows materials in the game to be mixed with others and can lead to a wide variety of products.
Let’s take food as an example. You need meat, bread, and vegetables in order to make a hamburger. There are a variety of recipes and you can add them up to make a completely new one. You can make a pattie, bread, and a hamburger, and boil it to make hamburger stew. There will be many interesting experiments like this, and this is one of the core things you can explore in Durango.
There are many things you can create in the game. You can even draw on a signpost, and there was a player who drew faces of leaders from each country in the world on the signpost. Then, the Indonesian tribe conquered the Korean tribe and took this signpost as their loot. The Korean tribe was angered by this and waged war against them for the signpost. They were enjoying the content in a way that none of us could’ve imagined, just by making the signpost as their trophy.
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