Luvinia World Exclusive Interview

Luvinia World, aka Luvinia Online, is a free to play MMORPG with anime-style graphics developed by Shanda Games and published by SOA Games. It’s a fun, casual, quirky, social MMORPG. Although it’s not exactly breaking new ground with innovative gameplay, Luvinia nonetheless manages to entertain players with its huge game world, daily in-game events, player families, four classes/12 subclasses, dungeons, epic bosses, and more. Due to its low system requirements, Luvinia World is also a good choice for those on older computers or laptops.

luvinia worldWe spoke with SOA Games’ Susan A., Operations Manager and Head GM of Luvinia World, about what makes Luvinia World special and the future of the game. We also talked about Luvinia’s relaunch, its passionate player community, and the difficulties of localizing Asian MMORPGs for the Western gamer.

Lacey B: For our website readers who don’t know much about Luvinia World, can you give us a brief description of it in your own words?

Susan: Luvinia World is an anime based MMORPG set on the continent of Savajela where the world is locked in a battle between the elves and the Orcs. While the humans have made great progress creating outposts from which to work the battle continues within which the humans play an integral role. You progress through the game discovering the secrets of the dwarves in creating powerful gear and learning new skills to the ultimate goal of one of 12 final classes. It is a bright colorful world full of unique surprises that is set in an isometric graphics system that runs smoothly on even lower end computers contrary to many of the MMORPG games of today.

Lacey B: What is your favorite part of the game?

Susan: I love Luvinia. When you first look at it; it is a seemingly simple bright colorful game. Once you start playing though you realize two things: the ease of communication builds a strong social community and the game has small complexities that keep it from becoming tedious.

There is always something to do in Luvinia. There are system events that run around the clock which prevents the grind fatigue that some other games offer. Gear is largely based on a players own desire to work for it and is not dependent on drops through raids which for me personally was a huge plus. You can choose to run the simple game, or you can choose to master many small complex functions within the game.

Lacey B: Luvinia Online went offline with the closure of Outspark. What made SOA Games decide to revive it?

Susan: I’m glad you asked this. When Outspark shut down the game it was done without any notice leaving many of the players that make up the Luvinia World community feeling quite lost. One player in particular went on what was to become the LOVE LUVINIA Campaign. He created a love Luvinia Facebook page, a Youtube video and went to great lengths across forums in many places to rally the players to show that the game was worth reviving. All of this attracted the attention of the SOA Games team who were quite impressed by the determination of the community in general. SOA Games decided to look into the viability of reviving the game and with the help of a multitude of volunteers set the revival in motion to become the republished game you see today.

Ultimately, Luvinia’s revival was the power of a community that loved their game.

anime mmorpgLacey B: What challenges did you face in relaunching the game?

Susan: Oh wow there was so many. Shortly before the game went down Outspark had advertised a huge expansion. We knew that if we brought it back players would be expecting this expansion. This meant a lot of work on game translations alongside the normal things that go into the publishing of a game – servers, a support system and so on.

There was also the question of whether or not we would be able to offer these players their old characters which meant obtaining the old database and making sure that the integration was smooth. Remember that SOA Games is a relatively new publisher so we were learning as we went along. When we ran the alpha and beta tests successfully we knew that it was going to be OK however there were many pre-existing bugs in the game which we wanted to make sure we addressed before the official launch.

Our goal was to make the entire game more enjoyable. There was also a lot of doubt about whether or not SOA Games would be able to pull it off. Since it all happened very fast it seemed almost unbelievable. Outspark shut down the game on February 6th 2013 we launched on August the 20th 6 months after it went down. Even now as I think about it I am amazed at what we achieved in those 6 months.

Lacey B: How successful was the relaunch?

Susan: The relaunch was successful. We launched on August the 20th and the community that loved the game rallied with huge excitement behind its revival. Have there been ongoing challenges and a learning curve? Of course. But we have made and continue to make huge changes in the game that make it even more appealing for the player base.

luviniaLacey B: What, if any, features have changed from the previous version (Luvinia Online) and how have these changes improved the game?

Susan: The list of changes is really huge.

(Editor’s note: made the list into bullet points for easier reading)

  • We added the level 95-100 content expansion which introduced wings/flight into the game.
  • We addressed a multitude of longstanding bugs and translation issues.
  • We created new resolution options so that players could play on higher resolutions.
  • We unbound many bound items offering the players the opportunity to vend these items in game.
  • We have introduced new ways for players to obtain premium items without using cash.
  • Gear has been made easier to obtain.
  • We instituted a friend referral system with Elite premium rewards.
  • We changed to new servers when we discovered the old servers were not up to our standards.
  • We have done some class balancing and continue to look at this in the higher levels.

All of these changes have made the game more exciting, given players new things to do and new ways to do them all while offering a smoother more pleasurable experience.

Lacey B: In your opinion, what is the greatest difficulty in localizing a Chinese MMO for the North American market?

Susan: Things that work in an eastern MMO do not always work in a North American market. Finding the needed game changes is probably the most difficult thing. Sometimes these things need to be looked at and adjusted through trial and error. We work very closely with the developers to make these changes and monitor them closely to see how they affect the game. I am happy to say that we are finding these needed changes and addressing them weekly in our patches with huge success.

Lacey B: For the final question, what’s next for Luvinia World?

Susan: Growth. We hope to eventually be the first outside version of Luvinia to match the Chinese level cap of 110 (our level cap is currently 100). We want to see the community grow even stronger than it already is. We hope to introduce new and exciting events that offer great rewards and challenge the players in new ways without becoming tedious.

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