Dungeon Runner's Next Big Thing

dr6.JPGFree-to-play dungeon crawler Dungeon Runner is expected to get its next big update this week. I chatted briefly with lead designer Mark Tucker earlier today about what we can expect to see from the update, labelled Chunk Number One.

In a nutshell, the update will add player versus player worlds, multiple character support per an account, in-chat item linking and a new high level dungeon.

With the update players will be able to three characters per an account, they will also be able to link to item descriptions (for better bragging rights in chats) and the team has done a bit more tweaking on latency issues.

"We've gotten a lot of criticism about the responsiveness of the controls," Tucker said. "We've done some major edits so your avatar will respond more quickly."The player versus player worlds will work a lot like the instanced PvP battles of Guild Wars. Players will have to log into a PVP server and then go up to a non-player character to launch a team battle in a randomly generated dungeon. Initially, this dungeons will be relatively straight forward, but the development team hopes to eventually include special items for use in battle.

"Right now there's not a lot of variety in the maps, but we're hoping to change that in the future," Tucker said. "Players might stumble across a buff shrine, or something that can change areas of the map, or find items or power-ups like what you would find in a first person shooter."

Currently the points earned in PvP battles won't be good for anything but bragging rights, but that could also change.

While PvP is a relatively big addition to the game, the biggest add-on coming from Chunk Number One will be the inclusion of a new level designed for characters level 75 to 100.

The new area is called Ratsputin's Gulag, named after the boss of the area, and will include lots of new quests and monster types. Keeping with the theme of the game, there will be plenty of inside jokes, like a quest that pits you against Gold Farmers.

While NCSoft is still hesitant to talk about the profitability of the mostly free game, you can pay for access to a small set of exclusive features and a new members only server, they do say they are quite happy with how the game is shaping up.

'We are tracking well compared to other NC Soft titles," Tucker said. "The development team has a goal in terms of number of subscribers. There is a point when we become profitable and it's not a very big number. At that point we can grow the development team."

NC Soft spokeswoman Opal Lertutai said they have 120,000 active accounts and that they have about 75 percent of the $US5 a month paid accounts needed for the game to break even.

In the coming months, Dungeon Runners will also be getting loading screen advertising for the non-paid accounts through Double Fusion Advertising, something that will surely help the game survive.


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