The Soulframe MMORPG from Digital Extremes, makers of the popular free-to-play shooter Warframe, was announced this year at TennoCon and generated a lot of interest from the community. However, few details about the new product are known so far.
Preview of MMORPG Soulflame with all known information.
Game portal PCGamesN took an exclusive interview with Jeff Crooks, creative director of the upcoming MMORPG, and we did our best and translated it into Russian. So over the past few weeks, we finally have more information on the project influenced by Princess Mononoke and other Studio Ghibli productions.
From one big world to another
Warframe has been around as a service game for almost a decade and is far from dead. Duviri Paradox’s next major update will add as much content as any of its predecessors when it releases this winter. While it’s always difficult to let go of such a busy project, Crookes felt it was time for Digital Extremes to open up something new:
“From a creative and personal point of view, it was definitely a difficult choice. We’re still very connected to Warframe, and with the way it’s progressing, it’s not like we’re tired of working on it. Quite the opposite, given what the project still has to offer after so many years. It’s just time to develop and Steve and I [Синклером, директором по видеоиграм Digital Extremes] would not start something new if there was not the same passion for it, as when creating Warframe. In terms of company growth, there are people in DE who were instrumental in the creation of Warframe, so this is a great opportunity to give people a chance to grow professionally.”
MMOs are known to be some of the most difficult games out there and this difficulty only increases as the genre matures. Any such project that comes out today is forced to compete with such well-established games as Final Fantasy XIV, Guild Wars 2, Destiny 2 and, as always, World of Warcraft. Crooks, perhaps demonstrating the kind of entrepreneurial mindset that a game director needs, sees this as a motivating factor:
“We love this challenge. He pushes us to try to be as unique as possible in the themes and roles players will play in this new experience. As with Warframe, we hope that if we can succeed, the game will find its audience,” he says.
Stylistically and aesthetically, Warframe is what you would call “sci-fi”. However, Soulframe goes in a completely different direction:
“No, it was an easy choice,” says Crookes. “We knew we wanted to offer a stylistic contrast to Warframe and thankfully Steve and I share a lot in common, so it was quite fun for us to spin the wheels and start laying the groundwork. However, we’re building on some of our aesthetic strengths, so I’m sure Warframe players will notice certain similarities in views or choices.”
Thus, the developers intend to try to realize the potential of Soulframe, using some experience and developments of the old product.
Representativeness, ethnic diversity and turbans
MMOs often don’t have many skin color options – even major games/communities like World of Warcraft have taken over 15 years to add additional ethnicities, even with such a large player base. Crookes felt it was important to provide these options:
“This is very important to us, especially since we came in with such a diverse player base as Warframe. The key aspect will be that for each character we will offer a wide range of options.”
Warframes like Nezha were created with Chinese folklore in mind, and that same thoughtfulness will be reflected in Soulframe. “As fantastic as Soulframe is, we really want the world to be down to earth and understandable. Having this cultural depth and diversity will only help with that,” says the developer.
Players from certain marginalized groups have also requested the ability to introduce/customize character turbans, and this has been increasingly heeded in recent examples, including Disney Dreamlight Valley. How about Soulframe?
“That’s a great question,” says Crooks. “Actually, about a year ago, I was talking to a character artist about what kind of turbans we could offer as customization elements. As with our previous answer, we want Soulframe to be a highly inclusive experience for players of all backgrounds. Diverse representation is important to us and we know it is important to our community. But at this time, we are unable to show variations of turbans or other traditional headwear.”
This desire for variety extends to the gaming experience that DE aims to make: “…as broad as possible without diluting the gameplay. We hope to have a variety of class options that welcome different playstyles, in the hope that people will want to explore Soulframe.”
Soulframe release date and gameplay
Crooks confirmed that: “Soulframe will be free to play. Our team is thrilled to use our vast experience from working on Warframe to create an entirely new game that will add fantasy to the Digital Extremes portfolio.”
The author also emphasized that Soulframe will have a less intense experience compared to Warframe. Characters will rely on abilities, thinking about moves, and so on. Another project from the very beginning will send users to the open world.
It may have been a daunting prospect to present such a massive project at the Tennocon show that has become synonymous with Warframe, especially early in development, but Crooks stuck to the old principle to calm his nerves:
“We always feel some degree of anxiety about Tennocon, no matter what is revealed, but Warframe has taught Steve and me that if we create what we like, it is transferred to the players. Soulframe has been incredibly fun and rewarding so far, and we’re really excited about how we’re getting closer to the end, so we hope it works again.”
“Soulframe is still in the early stages of development,” says Crooks. “While there is currently no launch date or window to share, plans are in place to keep players interested by periodically hosting streams that will provide information and insight into our teams’ progress.”
Are you looking forward to Soulflame? Did you like the announcement and the cinematic? Share your opinion in the comments.