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Special Sections: Priest Interview

Priest is an upcoming MMO game set in the Wild West with a horror themed feel to it, currently in development by JC Entertainment. Taking time out of their busy schedule Jason Kim and Jihak Chung chatted with us about this great looking game.

Jihak Chung from Priest - Div Devlin (10-15-02)

Div: Could you introduce yourself with a brief summary of who you are and how you have been involved in gaming?

Jihak Chung: I am a project manager of the Priest team. I manage & direct employees, schedule, and development of the project and I personally deal with the planning process.

Div: Priest has been categorized as a massively multi-player online western themed horror game. Could you tell us more about it?

Jihak Chung: Priest is a fantasy action-horror, full 3D MMORPG. Additionally, Priest is a multiplayer, head-to-head combat game that introduces controversial themes in a Wild West setting. Based on the original comic by Min-Woo Hyung, Priest follows the trials of Ivan Isaacs, a disillusioned former priest who sold his soul to battle the evil fallen archangel, Temozarela. Combining elements of both classic simulation and action games, Priest introduces a unique player vs. player/NPC structure and item/pet fusion system to create an FPS-like role-playing game. The features of the RPG genre, character development and the insertion of emotion are added into this, creating a totally new and unique genre.

In a departure from the scores of medieval fantasy games, Priest is set in the midst of a lost land of the American Western Frontier, with Gunmen, Marshals, and Indians. It has an atmosphere that creates a grim and gruesome ambiance while providing a healthy dose of gory, violent action.

Div: With the current market trend leaning towards epic fantasy and space genre games, are the players ready for Priest?

Jihak Chung: Priest will primarily target users who are fed up with the traditional MMORPGs on the market, or otherwise looking for a unusual/new gaming genre. We will also target users who are familiar with and enjoyed the Priest comic.

Our initial marketing strategy in Korea will be to focus on the fans of the original comic, and gradually spread our attention to a more generalized form of user. In the Foreign Market, we will use our unique themes of the Wild West, Catholicism, Fantasy, and Horror to advertise the difference between our “Hard-Gore” game and other games on the market.

Div: Priest is set in America's Wild West Frontier based on the popular Korean comic of the same name. If players in N. America have never read the comic will they be able to follow the games premise and storylines?

Jihak Chung: Currently, the English translated version of the comic “Priest” is being published in the US. On July 23rd, 2002, the first volume was published, and soon the second volume will be published as well.

The sentiment or atmosphere of Priest will be more attractive to the North American customers than the Korean customers. The Wild West, Fantasy, Action-Horror elements and the Hard-Gore atmosphere seem to be more suitable for the foreign market (esp. the N. American region) than the Korean market.

The various foreshadowing and scenario stories will be told, in detail, by the in game quests, as such, the players will naturally learn the story as they progress through the game.

Div: How historically correct will the game be based on the Wild West that has been romanticized in films, books etc?

Jihak Chung: The game world of Priest takes place in the era of the American Western Frontier. But, the design is not exactly modeled on the real “wild west.” It is a fantasy world of the west developed by our team. In order to add elements of an interesting game such as zombies, items, skills, etc, the game did not “fix” its model onto the historical Wild West. Therefore, unlike the typical Middle Ages or total fantasy worlds, the world of Priest is a fiction-like “wild west” world, which we think will give a very new experience to our players.

Div: Aside from the item and pet system described, will players be able to own and ride pets, like horses in game?

Jihak Chung: There are plans on the table for creature taming and summoning skills, but those need to be worked on further down the line after we get things moving. However, for transportation purposes, we are working on a variety of ways for players to travel across the western land in the appropriate style. The final result for each form of transportation is still unknown as we must consider every side of the picture for proper gameplay balancing.

Div: The faction system setup allows for players to fight over and control towns, does this allow for player versus player conflict? Can players become outlaws or form posse's to hunt down outlaws?

Jihak Chung: The users of Priest are separated into two opposing factions. Within these factions, teamwork and consideration of faction-mates is required, and the opposing factions will have large, organized conflicts with each other. The users must always find a role in aiding their own faction, while finding ways to work against or defeat the opposing faction.

Players may not break out of their factions and become outlaws, however, there may be events within the game where you have to fight against outlaws, and bandits who like to raid trains. Some quests may even require you to hunt down criminals, or take a role as a sheriff.

Div: How will the Player vs. Player system work to curb player killer's who go out and randomly kill new players?

Jihak Chung: Priest has "safety zones" for newbies. Each faction will have specific towns that only their own faction can access. Newbies will spend their time within these zones to level up.

However, one of the main objects in this game is the "exhilarating combat experience." Therefore there will be no absolute safety zones, but just "relative safety zones" that only your faction can play.

There will be no PvP within a faction, and opposing faction members will look like MOBs, therefore traditional Player Killers (griefers and such) cannot exist and only strict PvP against opposing factions may occur.

Div: The Player versus Player system for faction combat is being built into the game's engine from the ground up, with balancing resolving around that, or is PvP going to be included later?

Jihak Chung: Priest, from the very beginning to the end, will have the structure of Temozarela and his "Blood-stained Preachers" directly opposing Ivan and his "Dark Pilgrims." Following that theme, the faction vs. faction brand of PvP combat is being taken into account throughout the development cycle. Of course, if balancing is needed later on, then those changes will be made.

Div: Resource Area's, can you explain more on this? Can a player who has a Prospector character actually mine for gold and become rich?

Jihak Chung: The resource system is a little different between the factions. For money, silver will be used as the common currency. To acquire silver, a player must kill monsters and give the heads of these monsters to hunters or marshals, or receive taxes from an occupied town by becoming the strongest team. Other various quests and missions will earn players money. The human-like Pilgrims will use silver to upgrade their weapons and items, while the demon-like Preachers will use silver to increase their spiritual powers.

Div: Priest is being developed for the Korean version first and the American version will follow shortly after. In the past we have seen games that did not translate well to the American market. Will Priest N.A. support it's own live teams?

Jihak Chung: Priest will have its own centralized development team in Korea to handle any necessary programming changes/modifications for either market. However, the North American servers will be supported by its own team located in Southern California and will keep a strong communication link with the development team in Korea. Should there be a need for a direct intervention by the development team then the only thing that would prevent them from making immediate fixes would be a difference in time zones.

Div: How will servers be handled for the game world? Will new maps load up as zones, or will game areas be seamless?

Jihak Chung: The game world in Priest has a structure of 12 towns set in the Western frontier. Meaning, the structure is like smaller maps inserted into one big map. There will be some loading times when transferring to different smaller maps. But these loading times will be very short.

Div: Last question, if players would like to be involved in beta testing, how do they sign up for North America?

Jihak Chung: We will have the beta test of the English version of Priest in the Northern American market in the 1st quarter of 2003. We will let people know how to participate in the beta around that time.

Our thanks to Jason Kim and to Jihak Chung for taking the time out to talk to us, answering our many questions.

If you would like to learn more about Priest, you can find their official site at: http://gamepriest.com/
I'm looking forward to this break from the standard fare of mmogs!

Discuss: Yippie Kai Yay seems appropriate!

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