Recently, 20th Century Fox flew myself and a couple of other journalists out to L.A. to check out Family Guy Online, the 3D MMO based on the series. Besides getting some hands-on time with the game, Fox representatives as well as studio heads from A.C.R.O.N.Y.M. and Roadhouse Interactive, the developers behind the game, walked us through some of the particulars of bringing Quahog to the PC.
What follows is the first installment of three, where the folks behind the game broke down what the vision was for Family Guy Online and what it meant to them to make players citizens of virtual Quahog.
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Gary Rosenfeld, Sr. VP Fox Interactive explained that one of the goals of the game was attempting to create a “mid-core” title that creates the Family Guy experience for casual gamers while still delivering a strong MMO experience. He touted the experience and skills of the Roadhouse Interactive team, made up of former EA and Nexon employees to deliver the game along with two writers from the show for the Unity-based, browser-based game.
Ian Verchere is the COO of Roadhouse, formerly of Radical Entertainment and lead on the early Beavis and Butt-Head games back on the Genesis and PC. He explained that the basic premise of the game is that “you want to become a citizen of Quahog.” They wanted to be faithful to the RPG mechanics without making it transparently a series of dice rolls, making the characters your typical RPG class types based on the Griffin family, with abilities and skills consistent in tone with RPGs but also faithful to the Family Guy characters. The ultimate goal of the game is to become a “model citizen” of the tiny burg. This is FGO’s meta-story, with Mayor West doling out increasingly bizarre missions at critical juncture throughout the game. Completing missions for the mayor will allow players to not only level up but unlock in-game achievements.
Verchere says that the early going in the game will allow enough handholding for gamers who don’t know from hunting rats or navigating an MMO world. Roadhouse has been monitoring player analytics to understand how users are dealing with quests, finding that the addition of a minimap and quest menu helped new players complete in-game objectives instead of simply wandering. With all of the content currently in the game, a player who knows how to speed-run through it might be able to complete the current incarnation of FGO in about 6-8 hours.
We had a chance to see a couple of quests played out in-game, the first an on boarding experience with the player getting their first mission to retrieve a fedora with a feather for Peter. Once the player completes this mission, the hat becomes a customization item.
We had a look at a group quest in the Quahog Police Station where multiple players would need to fight inmates and collect 20 lock tumblers to get them all back in their cells. Verchere said that for this particular mission, about three players were necessary given the way the difficulty for this particular mission was tuned. Fallen enemies collapse to the ground the familiar Family Guy broken body pose (you know the one I’m talking about). While the player-controlled camera was still whipping around, Verchere promised that the Roundhouse team was still in the process of polishing it up.
Finally, we saw the randomly-spawning Greased-up Deaf Guy character who players can chase at some points in the game. True to the character, you can never actually catch GuDG, but leaderboards will track how long you’re able to stay within his chase radius which will shrink at higher levels and if other players are chasing him as well, you can drop attack items like mines and bear traps from your pack to stop them.
Greased-up Deaf Guys and vision statements weren’t all we had a chance to see. Come back tomorrow for our next installment, where we’ll drill into the customization component of Family Guy Online and on day three, I’ll share my impressions of the slice of gameplay we got a chance to test out.
By Charles Webb
*Additional Pick-Up: PolyPWN.com, Gamer.RawSignal.com