Montag, 19. Januar 2015

Interview: Xander Bing

A few days ago the "Hyperzette" posted a review about the UK based roleplay grid "Spellscape". Roleplay in Virtual Worlds is a very complex way to spend the time in the virtuality, it is always of interest, what exactly goes on. What would be better, than asking the man behind the scene Xander Bing about his world "Spellscape"

Hyperzette:
Hello Xander, I want to ask you a few questions about "Spellscape", which you may answer. to kill the curiosity of the readers of the "Hyperzette".
I guess that "Spellscape" is not your first experience with running a Roleplay in a Virtual World. Can you tell a bit about your history in the roleplay genre and the development of "Spellscape" ?

Xander:
Well my time in virtual reality started back in 1998, even before SL was around. My primary interest has always been creating virtual worlds but I have always felt that they need to be more interactive. I didn't really get interested in roleplay until joining SL though. It seemed that RP at SL is more user driven, so I wanted to create a different experience using OpenSim. Where region code, website and in world scripting can be used to create a strong framework to build interactive quests and develop a back story to go with them.


Hperzette:
I know that you have at least one helper in building the regions so far. How many people are involved in the management of the roleplay and the maintenance of the grid ?

Xander:
There are currently three people on the team including myself. Gawwain Inglewood is an experienced builder and mesh artist who has created a lot of the custom mesh content we have in our public worlds. Our opensim tech and programming is mostly handled by Alicia Raven. My skills are generally website programming but I do a bit of everything from programing and building to customer support.
from left to right: Xander Bing, Alicia Raven, Gawwain Inglewood

Hyperzette:
Roleplay is a game of many faces. It can be settled as a medieval, science- fiction, urban street or you name it theme. The name "Spellscape" suspects something fairytale, medieval like ?

Xander:
Well the quests and story that we will be creating ourselves, are themed on witches and wizards. People who own regions here will have access to the quest creation system and for them only their imagination is the limit. I would love to encourage some of our residents to follow other themes and story ideas such as sci-fi. The quest system as it evolves will be universal and providing they can create a sim and script game objects, any theme will be welcome.


Hyperzette:
What kind of role can a participant take over ? Are the roles predefined by the game or the gamemaster or is it possible to create own roles ?

Xander:
For the quests there will be some back story for the players character to guide them through completing quests in world. When a player starts a quest from the website they will follow the story like an interactive book. The website will show a chapter and the player will complete a series of scripted tasks in the world that will advance the story. The player will never be able to see the next chapter until they complete the current one.

Hyperzette:
Is there a possibility to develop the role one has chosen or change roles by own means or with experiences the role has gathered ?

Xander:
As the player completes quests, they will gain experience points for things like questing, potion mixing and spell casting battles. Awards will also be given for completing certain quest tasks and advancing in experience. In the future there will be game items that will only be available to players with higher experience. Also special items will be collected as the player completes quests. The website will show statistics for each player and also collective statistics for their coven.
A coven is an in world group. Players will be able to create their own covens or join others. The coven groups stats will reflect all its members and be shown in a league table on the website based on combined experience points of its members.

Hyperzette:
I have seen a few roleplay games, where you just play your role on an every day base.
For example being a knight, all I can do is drinking, eating, talk to other players, maybe participate in a tournament or fight another knight and that's it. I mean that is my daily real live waiting on things happening, no development of the role no big excitement. Just living the day. Will there be real challenges or tasks for players for all kind of roles ?

Xander:
Well their roles will be defined by the story of the quest they are currently playing. As we add more quests and more stories the roles the player can follow will grow. Think of it as a library with many stories.

Hyperzette:
After all this bits of information about the game, how can one participate in the game ?

Xander:
To participate, users will require a local account at "Spellscape". This is because to start quests, track player stats and accomplishments the player must login to the website. Also scripted game items must be non exportable.


Hyperzette:
How will a player be informed about maybe new challenges or tasks she or he could be interested in ?

Xander:
On the website is a quest directory, there are lists of current quests here which we will be adding to. Currently there is an Easter egg hunt quest that we created last year to test the basic system. We still have some work to do before we are ready to start adding serious quests with more complex storylines.


Hyperzette:
Will there be more than one challenge running parallel so one has to make a choice what to do ?

Xander:
Players will generally be able to select quests in any order. Some may require competing other quests first if they are a continuation of the same story.

Hyperzette:
Roleplays as I know need to have a gamemaster or a taskmaster who coordinates and observes the course of the game. How is that managed at "Spellscape" ?

Xander:
The game is managed through the website, here players will choose quests and follow the story. Their progress in world is followed by scripted objects and our own custom game module that works as part of the simulator. We have made a lot of modifications to the script engine as well to help scripted game objects track player information and their current progress in the quest. Any game events in the world will only be triggered if the player is at the correct part of the quest.


Hyperzette
"Spellscape" is a grid which is using the X$ as a currency. The exchange rate for that is 250 X$ to 1 US$. Is there any need for a player to spent money in the game and what is the need to have money ?
Can a player win money after finishing a successful campaign ?


Xander:
Our virtual economy system is more of a general purpose thing. We have some residents that are selling their creations and we also sell some non essential game items ourselves. The intention however is to make the games playable to everyone for free. The basic HUD and wand system are free but we also have some more fancy wands with different designs or colors. Potion ingredients can be purchased in bottles to save time, but the basic idea is that players will collect ingredients from around the grid for free to create their potions and spells. So basically its free to play and any extras sold for x$ will be non-essentials.

Hyperzette:
Register to "Spellscape" is possible right away but the first campaigns are still under development as far as I am informed. When can we see the first challenges coming ?

Xander:
Well at the moment we have been planning some changes to the quest system based on our testing and input from friends. We hope to be starting to make these changes soon. Right now the hardest part for me is thinking of stories that we can turn into interactive quests. We will need to build a lot more locations as we go along. We will definitely be tweeting and posting to Google groups when we have the first quests ready to play.


Hyperzette:
I may have forgot something to ask which might be important for you to tell the readers. This is the chance to do so.

Xander:
I think many people assume that "Spellscape" is just about roleplay. This is not true, we want to create a full featured grid for all purposes. Our site has both web based inventory IAR management and region management with OAR backups. We are planning a lot more things for the future that we hope will be useful for residents of all kinds, not just game play.

Hyperzette:
Thanks Xander for answering the questions


Interviewpartner: Xander Bing owner of the Grid Spellscape
For the Hyperzette: zaphod Enoch

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