Gabe Heiland on Swordsman’s Differentiation & Future (Interview)

lh_swordsman_openbetaThe martial arts themed MMORPG is quite new to audiences in the West. A scant few games have made the transition from overseas. This is naturally relative to how many are currently available there. Fewer still have done it with any resounding success. That’s only one of the reasons Swordsman, from Perfect World Entertainment, stands tall. It’s not only the latest such import, but, according to our reviewer, one that keeps her heading back to hone her wax on, wax off skills. It’s unique – again, to us in the West – angle and game design even has her thinking a little outside the review box. Hence why Pherephassa reached out to PWE for our first interview.

Lore Hound: Who are you and what are your duties in regards to Swordsman?

Gabe: I’m Gabrielle (Gabe) Heiland, the Product Manager for Swordsman. I oversee our version of the game and serve as the main point of communication between our audience and our developers.

How would you describe Swordsman? How does it stand out from other martial arts themed games?

I’d describe Swordsman as an epic playable martial arts movie. The movement and combat is very fluid, giving you a sense of the power of a martial artist from the comfort of your computer chair, while also delivering a great story, told through cut scenes, of love, loss, and betrayal.

What excites you the most about the game?

For me the appeal is mainly in the movement. Swordsman is a very responsive game. Your combat effectiveness is tied directly to your skill as a player and knowledge of the game, rather than set skill rotations or gear. You can triple jump, glide, air dodge, and block at the press of a button, making your reactions an integral part of gameplay. It’s very satisfying to pull out a win in our arena because you blocked at the correct time, dodged under your enemy’s attack, then came crashing down on them in a vertical charge.


What has been the most fun watching players react to?

I enjoy watching their social interactions. Swordsman was set up to focus on guilds, and that has carried over in game. It’s fun to watch the players scheme and attack each other, but also plant spies, or make surprising alliances for safety. The guild base really becomes the center of a character’s experience in game, so finding the right guild for you is key to success.

Has there been any community feedback that has surprised you? Anything that stands out as something the dev team would like to specifically address?

We watch our forums and in game carefully for player suggestions, and bring them up with our devs multiple times a week. In our most recent talk, we discussed the possibility of expanding the character slots. With 10 different classes to try, this has been a sought after feature that our devs were surprised they hadn’t considered.

lh_swordsman_release_date_wuxiaMany of the events and activities in game are limited in some way – you can only do them a certain number of times per day. What is the reasoning behind that design?

There are a couple reasons behind those kinds of decisions. The main one is to focus the efforts of the server and increase engagement. If everyone can only do an event once/day, and it has a 2 hour window – that encourages players to team up to take on the content and be more social, increasing everyone’s chances of finding a group. Additionally this keeps people from “grinding” the same content for specific rewards, which is a time honored MMO tradition known for being super boring.

Let’s talk about the future. What can players look forward to seeing in upcoming months?

So much! We have a lot of content we’re working on behind the scenes to amplify every aspect of the game. We’ll be announcing things very soon on our main news page, but within the next year you should expect to see more levels, zones, instances, pvp styles, power systems, and a ton of optimization to make the existing game even better.

Is there anything I haven’t asked about that you’d like to share?

There’s so much I’d LIKE to share but can’t yet, I hope to be able to follow up with you soon with more detailed information about exciting upcoming changes!