You’re about to read a sentence. And when you do, please make every attempt to restrain yourselves. No shrieking, no slamming the keyboard with both fists, gorilla-style. Ready? Here goes:
Free to play isn’t always a bad thing.
Hopefully you kept your inner ape in check.
That’s the whole idea behind Therian Saga. It’s an online browser RPG with an set of “ethical F2P” rules. Those who want to pay a little extra are free to do so. Those who’d prefer not to be crushed under a horde of pay-to-winners can live their lives unmolested.
The game stays fairly true to both sets of parents. On the F2P side, it’s easy to pick up and built for small bursts of fire-and-forget gameplay. Because the game’s heroes do most of the work for you. Characters do the actual heavy lifting- kill x boars, harvest x grain, and so on- while the player takes on a management position. It’s the kind of thing that’d be ideal on a mobile platform, although the game’s not on mobile right now. Soon, however…
And the RPG side of the family tree gives way to deep lore, worldbuilding, and a surprising amount of depth for how you want your particular little hero to develop. That is, all the things you won’t find in whatever generic dragon RPG is currently making the rounds in iOS ads.
I had the chance to speak with Alexandre Maltais, the CEO of Virtys (the indie studio behind Therian Saga), to find out a little more about how “free to play” and “ethical” can work in the same sentence. And also about what the future holds for Therian Saga.
1. Therian Saga came from “20 years of experience organizing role-playing game activities.” How much of the game do you see as a tabletop RPG experience, and how much do you you see as a direct descendant of video games and video game RPGs?
The core team came together from various backgrounds, which we tried to mix together in order to create a game that would draw from that rich diversity. The world map and the textual description of locations will give a tabletop feeling to players, like they are reading a campaign setting while looking at a paper map. The dungeons often give the feeling of gamebooks because of the task system based on the hero’s skills. Some of our founders also have a vast experience with LARP organizations, which we feel inspired the creation of the game universe and the medieval historical reconstitution. Also, it had a deep impact on the crafting system of the game.
2. Therian Saga is a free-to-play game with some paid elements, yet you stress it’s an ethical F2P game. How does Therian Saga differ, in this regard, from other F2P games?
We believe in a non-aggressive monetization strategy where the player can truly enjoy 100% of the game without being forced to pay. Our objective is to invest in the long term retention of the players. For example, to make sure the gameplay remains balanced, we do limit the number of consumable items that can be used daily in order to prevent unfair advantages for premium players. We’re confident that respecting the player with a fair monetization system will pay off in the future.
3. Where did the idea of autonomous heroes in Therian Saga come from?
Having the heroes autonomous in the execution of their tasks allows the player to focus at a strategic level, which is more fun than simple repetitive actions. This provides a game that is more challenging, thus rewards the smart players!
Also, we know that players are busy with their real lives and we wanted to offer a game
that would not consume too much time. For an experienced player, it’s possible to keep your heroes active all day with short gaming sessions.
4. The core gameplay mechanics are very simple- clicking on quests to fulfill them, and letting the timer run out as the player character does the grunt work. Yet it’s surprisingly addictive, and the first time I fired up the game, I ended up logging about two hours of playtime without even realizing it. How do you maintain that kind of balance, between very basic gameplay elements and a continued level of interest?
For us, it was all about offering a complex multi-layered gameplay. We could have limited ourselves to a sandbox universe since our game mechanics are complex enough for that. But we decided to add layers of storytelling and world building that will provide the player with a much more intimate relationship with the game. This means players are trying to reach both self-imposed and story-imposed goals at the same time.
5. Are there future plans for Therian Saga? And will it ever be available on iOS and Android?
Yes! We think the concept of Therian Saga is perfect for mobile devices. We’re currently working on user interface prototype and we’re very excited about the potential of the game.
One of the key characteristics of the game is the short sessions during the day. With a mobile version of Therian Saga, the players could follow the progress of their heroes while they’re on the go.
6. You recently announced a new partnership with Gameforge. How did this come about, and what do you expect to gain from the partnership?
Gameforge is highly interested in the potential of Therian Saga to resonate with their player base. After initial negotiations, we decided to work together on an initial testing campaign in order to confirm the potential of the game. Should Gameforge been interested in partnering with Virtys, it would be awesome news for everyone, particularly the players.
7. Unlike a lot of RPGs, much of the gameplay in Therian Saga seems very non-combat oriented. Working a trade, crafting, playing politics, etc. Why did you choose to approach Therian Saga from this particular angle?
It’s true that combat is not the primary focus of the game. The main motivation came from the fact that we have an asynchronous game, which means that heroes must be autonomous in the execution of their tasks, including the combat. We decided an elaborate crafting system would provide with a more challenging game.
However, we still believe an elaborate combat system would be important for the future of the game. We’re planning a refactoring of the combat system in the next few months.
To see what Therian Saga plays like, head over to the game’s official site to start playing.