Interview with Matt Mihály – Starmourn's Creative Director and CEO of Iron Realms
Today, I had a chance to sit down with myself and find out a little more about what I’m working on. I’m both the one asking the questions and giving the answers. I’m a one-man interview machine!
Q: CEO and Creative Director, huh? You think you’re better than me?
A: Uhhh…This is an interview about Starmourn right?
Q: I’m the one asking the questions here, not you.
Q: As you should be. Here’s a question: Are you a complete narcissist? I mean, what kind of dick interviews himself?
A: I’m starting to regret doing this with you already, if that helps.
Q: You should feel honored that I’m taking the time here. Ok, so you love text Muds, I get it. Why make a new one though?
A: A good question. Excelle…
Q: Get to the point please. You’re very wordy.
A: I’ll try to be briefer. So, what you may not know is that…
Q: I need to stop you right there. I definitely already know it, but for the sake of the audience Imma let you finish anyway.
A: Thanks, you’re very generous.
Q: I know.
A: Right… I looked around and took account of our MUDs, and realized we had five (now four) fairly high-fantasy MUDs. I love sci-fi, and we’ve had a lot of requests over the years for a sci-fi MUD, so we decided to make it happen!
Q: Didn’t you have a sci-fi MUD in development previously – Tears of Polaris? Sounds like you really screwed the pooch on that one.
A: Yes, we did, though I had virtually nothing to do with it, personally. None of our senior team did, which was a big mistake, and one we’re not repeating with Starmourn.
Q: What do you mean?
A: Well, I’m personally handling creative direction and a bunch of high-level game and world/lore design, and I brought over Justin Walsh, the long-time producer of Achaea, to produce Starmourn. We also hired an experienced building lead, and together with some great volunteers, we’re kicking some ass.
Q: What’re your favorite sci-fi properties?
A: Star Wars is my favor…
Q: BOOORRRIINNNG. Star Wars is ok, but it’s too mainstream. I, myself, am into 1950s-era sci fi out of Latvia. Go on though, and tell us more about your bourgey tastes.
A: Well, as I was saying, Star Wars is my favorite, but close behind would be the Foundation series by Asimov, Dune, the Takeshi Kovacs novels by Richard K. Morgan, the Mass Effect games, the Commonwealth Saga by Peter H. Hamilton, and lots more.
Q: Man, why do you have time to read all those books? Is that why Starmourn isn’t already out? Because you’re lazy and sit around all day reading and stuffing your face with chocolate bonbons?
A: Not exactly, no, though I wouldn’t turn down a nice bonbon if it was offered to me.
Q: Well, your now-confirmed laziness aside, when you DO actually do something useful on Starmourn, what’s your favorite thing to work on?
A: My focus tends to be on building out the world design (vs the actual in-game building) along with working with Justin on high-level game design. So, for instance, I recently put together the requirements for our bodyarmor system along with a medium level of detail around how it should work, then handed that to Justin who produced a technical design based on it, and then one of our coders implemented it. I’d say my favorite thing to do is either work on designs like that or worldbuilding and lore. I’m also the one that created and works on the Starmourn website, though that’s not as much fun for me as game design work.
Q: Besides this interview, which I’m still not sure you feel suitably privileged to be part of, what are you working on today, for instance?
A: So far today I’ve worked on getting this new blog set up, done this interview, and worked with our concept artist on the concept for a new player race – we’re adding a 12th!
Q: Oh, now that’s actually interesting. I thought there was only one player race left to release. What can you tell us about this race, and how can I help you make it suck less?
A: We’re not ready to announce it yet, and it’ll be the last player race we announce, but I can tell you it’s a race that’s culturally pretty focused on death.
Q: Death eh? We talking vampires or what? No, no, don’t tell me. I want it to be a surprise. I’ll shoot you a private email with my ideas, which are probably better than yours by a mile anyway.
A: Yes, I’m sure you’re right. I’m on pins and needles waiting to see what you suggest. Also, no, they’re not vampires.
Q: That’s too bad. Vampires are awesome. What else are you guys working on right now?
A: This is going to sound potentially boring but is actually kind of great – we’re building a generic permissions system that will let us attach sets of permissions to everything from books to areas to achievements to abilities etc etc and will also allow players to do the same with things like their ships, doors, and so on. If you’re familiar with, for instance, setting permissions on your door in Achaea….this is much more versatile and powerful.
Q: You’re right, that does sound boring. Anything less yawn-inducing?
A: Haha, well, like I said, I think it’s something players are really going to appreciate, and it helps us enormously with all sorts of other systems where we might want to gate access to content or functionality behind anything from level requirements to membership in particular orgs to anything else. As for other things, we’re working on the avatar-based (vs ship-based) combat system, and the first class in Starmourn….but I’m not going to tell you anything but that about it right now!
Q: You’re just now working on the first class? What the hell have you guys been doing over there??
A: Well, Starmourn started from scratch code-wise, barring the small library of shared IRE code, so there’s a ton of foundational work that had to be done before we could get to this point. Everything from movement to in-game building to any kind of communication etc etc all had to be built before we could even think about working on combat, and then we had to work on combat before we could start on the first class.
Q: So…give us a hint about the class?
A: Sure. I will give you four letters that you can then speculate wildly on. “Mech.”
Q: Mechs? Yes! Can I be a giant panther mech that transforms into a space yacht on weekends and for parties?
A: If I tell you yes, can this interview be over with?
Incredibly hyped for this! Question: between you, ( The Interviewer) and Matt, who do you think would win in a chess match? I’m incredibly excited about having all the races finally out. I’m sure everyone’s excited for learning about class systems, but the lore and histories are what I love delving into.
That’s a tough one. I feel like I’m probably better than he is at chess, but I’m guessing he’d disagree.
BRB Matt a private e-mail with all my thoughts and ideas on what race is going to be released.
Seeing as you’re just getting started on the first class, I feel like this would be almost the best time to say I really hope the class abilities won’t be 80% PvP only. Not only is it annoying and exceedingly repetitive and grindy to use the same ability from level 5 to 99, it drastically reduces my ability to immerse myself in pretty much any class or learn pretty much anything about them.
…plus I totally want to blow up a room full of space orcs.
It was funny and entertaining and all. But so little real info :<
Loved the reference to Tears of Polaris, been waiting for an Iron Realms Sci-Fi MUD ever since! Looking forward to sinking my teeth into this when the gates get opened. Would love to see an interview with Justin as well!
This post and the information in the FAQ have got me STOKED about this game!!! I can’t wait to get in there!
Minor features suggestion: could you please include a random name generation feature for characters created for each race? That way we can get a flavorful name that fits the race/culture.
I would like for the PVP System to be optional. Also, accessible map for blind players with a soundpack for mush and vip if possible, it would surely bring more players