Q: We are pleased to interview you. Thanks you for concede us your time. First of all, could you introduce yourself to our readers?
Answer: The pleasure’s mine. I’m Andrew Fernandez, Producer of Asda Story US service.
Q: I would like to start with a question from our readers. What does ‘Asda’ mean? Is there an explanation?
A: “Asda” is a term that means "topsy-turvy", and refers to the world of Asda Story being an omnibus, or compilation of various classical stories and fables. The monsters, landscapes, and art style of the game are inspired by a variety of source material such as Lewis Carol's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the collection of folk and fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, among others .
Q: Let’s talk about Asda. How many North American players live a second life in Asda?
A: We’ve got tens of thousands of people taking part in Asda’s ongoing world and narrative. People from countries around the globe and across dozens of languages have fallen in love with the game and are now active members of our community.
Q: Is Asda targeting a specific age range?
A: Our whimsical art style speaks more towards a high school to college audience, but some of our most hardcore players are well out of school. We’ve got players ranging in age from 8 year-olds to retirees all interacting and playing together on a daily basis. Asda has something to offer people of any age, be it their first MMO experience or if they’ve been playing online RPG’s for years. One of our strengths lies in being able to attract people across a wide demographical range, and the depth of the art direction, content, and game play is enough to maintain focus with a younger audience that plays because they enjoy the stylized world, to an older audience that stays for the competitive and community aspects of the game.
Q: Why do you think that Asda is different from the rest of MMOs in the market?
A: Asda fills a very specific niche in the online game space that the majority of our competitors cannot. We combine the attractive aspect of being completely free to download and play for as long as a user likes, with a game of high enough quality content that we can compete with MMO's that would otherwise require subscription fees to keep running. We’re also very home-grown, and are able to focus more on the opinions of the player community more closely than a larger, more corporate-centric game is able to. Right now we have Community Managers and customer support staff that were avid players of the game on their own a few months ago, and contacted us about finding full-time positions at GamesCampus. I really think that’s Asda's main strength, the fact that the personnel running the game's operations now are probably the biggest fans of the game and chose to play it on their own before ever coming on to work with us. To be honest sometimes l have trouble making them leave the office to go home when they’re done for the day. Combining the avidity of our staff with the solid content of the game results in a dedication to the quality of our users' experience that’s hard to match by companies that are running things from a more business oriented viewpoint.
Q: We would like to know more about Soul Mate system. What can you say about it?
A: The Soul Mate system in Asda Story is a fairly unique concept that I’m actually surprised other studios haven’t seized on yet. The system voluntarily binds all of the characters on two players’ accounts together, and grants them access to special abilities and powers that aren’t available to individuals playing alone, and a number of other in-game benefits such as earning additional experience while playing together. It encourages development of the community by making it more beneficial to explore the game together with friends rather than alone. We’ve even had several couples meet in-game, then meet in real life, and eventually get married! The Soul Mate system allows for more tightly knit bonds to form between players within guilds as well, and that teamwork and greater degree of strategy and experience playing together improves the competitive and community aspects of the game all around.
Q: Could you talk us about Asda’s background?
A: Asda Story opened in August of 2008, and was created by the respected game development studio MaxOn Soft, who have years of industry experience backing them up. I can safely say that they’re the best and most professional developers I’ve worked with in the industry so far. We've come a long way content-wise with the game since its release, and I'm looking forward to showing our community what we have in store for them in the months ahead.
Q: Our writers define Asda with two words: cute and fun. Why this game is more fun and cute than others?
A: Asda is a lighthearted, almost casual game by design, with more of a focus on community development than most other MMO’s out there right now. One of our main goals is to encourage players to get to know one another and have fun exploring a fantasy world together. People are definitely more engaged when there’s a very welcoming and tightly knit community interacting, meeting new people, and sharing new experiences with one another. The “cute” aspect is simply a result of the great work of our art design team. They’ve really created a world that people can fall in love with and spend a lot of time immersing themselves in. I’ve always said Asda Story’s art style reminds me of a combination of World of Warcraft and Kingdom Hearts’ cartoon-stylized designs. When you’re able to compare the look of your game and the quality of its content to two of the best games ever been made it’s really something to be proud of.
Q: Talk us about the future. What are your plans in 2010 and beyond?
A: Right now we’re planning a rather large update for this summer that will add quite a bit of content and increase the depth of the game a great deal. Our existing in-game systems and mechanics are already extensive, but the update we’re labeling “Chapter 3” is going to add in a huge new PvP system where players will be able to fight over and control territory, as well as increasing the level cap, releasing a new continent to the game world with a number of additional maps, as well as updating a ton of new player skills, abilities, and job classes.
Q: Thanks you for your time. It was a pleasure. Do you have something to add?
A: Thank you for having us. We’re very proud of what we’ve done so far with Asda Story since its release, and we're looking forward to taking things a lot farther in 2010. We aim to explore what’s possible and try new things that people haven’t experienced before in the free to play MMO genre. Getting our players to have the best experiences possible in our games has always been our primary goal, and with Chapter 3 we hope to continue that tradition in the months and years ahead.