Interview With David Staats of Visions of Zosimos
Visions of Zosimos is an upcoming MMOCCG (Massively Multiplayer Online Collectible Card Game) that draws from real world texts regarding mythical forces and alchemy. This will be the first major release from creator Forever Interactive.
OMGN recently interviewed Project Director David Staats about the upcoming release, how the Kickstarter Project is being employed to make this game possible, and how this game stands out in the crowded MMO market.
1. Tell us about the game and some of its key features.
“We are currently working on Visions of Zosimos, an Alchemical Card Based MMOCCG -- the first of its kind. Drawing inspiration from real-world ancient texts, players take on the role of a student of alchemy, an ancient precursor to chemistry with an emphasis on mysticism and mythology, as well as the transmutation and binding of elemental and spiritual forces. As students, you'll gain rank and reward by creating a homunculus, an artificial being formed by the elements, fueled by the teachings of your chosen Alchemy Master, and inhabited by the spirits of real-world heroes, villains, myths, legends, kings, warlords, and tyrants.
“Your homunculus, under your direct control, acts as your avatar as you vie for control over the last unclaimed frontier -- the afterlife. Utilizing a combination of spells, ambushes, and minions, you out-fight and outwit your enemies while exploring alternate planes of reality shaped and molded by the stories and beliefs of our ancestors. Visions of Zosimos will be free-to-play with a micro-transaction model, in which players can purchase new cards, homunculus molds, and more.”
2. What was the inspiration behind the game?
“Visions of Zosimos is a reference to an early alchemical text of the same name. Zosimos of Panopolis (an alchemist living in third or fourth century Egypt) detailed a dream he had, wherein he details the creation of the homunculus for the first time in alchemical literature.
“Many of us at Forever Interactive are also self-admitted history and mythology nerds. Some of the most vivid and fantastic creations, characters, and thoughts have come through in our own history and stories, and we wanted to take those and move forward with them.”
3. How many people are responsible for putting this project together?
“At its core, this intellectual property has been created by roughly five individuals. There have been numerous card artists and other members of the team working in the cloud to produce the game. At one point, it was over 60 people. Currently, we have approximately 40 team members working on the project in their spare time.”
4. How do you feel about Kickstarter?
“Kickstarter is an amazing tool for creative minds to share their projects with the public. Without this outlet, there would be a lot of projects which would never see the light of day, simply due to the lack of funding.”
5. Do you think what you are doing now would have been possible without Kickstarter?
“Without Kickstarter, we would still manage to get done what we desire to get done, but not nearly in the time frame we are hoping or the quality level we are aiming for.
“This ultimately allows us time to fine tune other aspects of the game while ensuring we can reach a solid launch date in 2013.”
6. How does the current state of the gaming industry effect your decision in the design of the game? Is this a positive or negative thing?
“We’ve always planned on Visions of Zosimos being a free-to-play game utilizing micro-transactions. This will allow us to gradually add more and more content to the game throughout its life cycle, similar to the manner in which normal CCGs release card sets. Being free to play allows players who might not have initially tried the game to pick it up.
“While designing the game, we looked into all matters of MMO games currently out. A lot of the development team play MMOs, both new and old, and we have seen how the MMO market has become a bit stagnant in its design. We want to do something that was a new approach to the model, while still keeping the aspects of MMOs that players have come to know and love.”
7. Tell me a little about yourself -- background and favorite games in particular.
“I grew up loving games, as most developers do. The very first system I owned was the Atari 2600, which my grandfather bought us as a Christmas present. I don’t think he realized at the time what he was creating! I would spend a large portion of my free time at the arcade, sometimes going back home to grab another $5 bill and heading back to the arcade. I distinctly remember going with my dad one day, and as he watched me, he told me I needed to find something better to do with my time. As most parents at the time, I don’t think he understood the future the gaming market had in store.
“I started with Forever Interactive in 2008 as a combat designer on our MMORPG Infernal World, primarily dealing with class abilities and level progressions. Through hard work, dedication and a strong passion and desire to learn as much as I could, I quickly moved into the lead combat designer position for the game. When the economy crashed in 2009, we refocused our efforts onto smaller projects. That was when the Visions of Zosimos team began to form and start to work on its core ideas and mechanics.
“I came onto Visions of Zosimos in 2010 initially as one of two lead designers, and that eventually landed me a position as the project director and the product owner for Visions of Zosimos. It has been my goal ever since to push Visions of Zosimos to become a fun and unique game.
“Some of my favorite games include(d) Star Wars: Galaxies, Sid Meier’s Pirates!, Heavy Rain, and Mortal Kombat 1 through 3. I don’t have a current favorite -- it really depends on what I’m playing at the time and if it strikes me in the right mood.”
*Note: OMGN staff writer Edward Kaczynski is a volunteer with Forever Interactive. The opinions expressed in this interview are of Forever Interactive and not reflective of OMGN.