Creative director of new Brighton-based MMO studio says following the WoW template doesn't add value for consumers

NCsoft Europe is not interested in making ‘copycat’ MMOs

In an exclusive Q&A with Develop, available to read here, NCsoft Europe’s creative director Marc D’Souza has described the firm’s new UK studio’s upcoming tiles as ‘novel game experiences’, saying the team doesn’t want to ‘make copycat games in anyway’.

NCsoft’s European studio was officially founded a year ago to spearhead development of new MMOs as the company signed a deal with Sony to exclusively develop online games for the format.

When asked by our interviewer ‘how does NCsoft build from the ground up?’, D’Souza explained: "I can’t speak for NCsoft as a whole, only about our development strategy in Europe. What we’re looking to do is to create novel game experiences, not to make copycat games in any way. While we totally appreciate games like World of Warcraft, that is not our starting point for developing new products. What we do is to identify a number of game concepts at a very high level that could be interesting, and we put them through an incubation process which we use to prove the game mechanics before even considering pre-production. We do that through a series of iterative processes."

He explained that it is NCsoft’s intention to lead in the MMO space the way GTA has led in the single player games space: "In MMOs, as in any other genre, there are companies that will tend to lead from the front and there are companies that tend to chase. In the case of GTA, for example, there were a whole load of companies that tried to jump on the so-called bandwagon with varying degrees of success and I’m not sure that it was ultimately profitable for them to do so. In the same way, by simply redressing the World of Warcraft game mechanics in a different style, I’m not sure if you’re actually adding value that gives consumers choice. I’m very much from the school of thought that says you build the experience from the ground up. Building from the ground up gives players an experience that is distinct from a pre-existing experience."

NCsoft europe has also employed a strict testing and iteration process for its ideas.

"What we’re doing is taking the agile approach to development and then applying that to the proving of the design concept,"said D’Souza. Obviously, nobody has a crystal ball and you don’t really know what’s going to work until you’ve proven it, so step number one is proving that a certain set of game mechanics actually works and is fun. Is it actually fun at its core? Incubation isn’t even pre-production because we’re not trying to take the end user or the visuals into account, we’re only looking at it from a game mechanics point of view. If it’s not fun, it goes in the bin."

Read the full interview here.

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