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Zenith: The Last City—What It Takes To Build A VR MMORPG | Full Interview Q&A

Zenith: The Last City—What It Takes To Build A VR MMORPG | Full Interview Q&A

Zenith: The Last City is an upcoming VR MMORPG from Ramen VR that’s slated to release on PC VR, PSVR, Quest, and non-VR PC platforms sometime this year. Last week, I sat down with Andy Tsen, CEO of Ramen VR, to discuss the game, their ambitious plans, and what players should expect with a game of this scope and scale.

If you’d rather watch the interview instead of read it, which clocks in at just around 45-minutes total, then you can check that out above. We met in the UploadVR virtual studio, the same one that we use to capture and stream our twice-per-week talkshow podcast, VR Download.

Keep in mind this was a 45-minute long conversation-style interview, it wasn’t an email Q&A or anything like that. Enjoy and let us know of any questions or comments down below!

zenith vr mmo concept art wide

Zenith: The Last City—Made-For VR MMORPG

Andy Tsen, Ramen VR CEO: Zenith is a virtual reality MMO and it has kind of a JRPG East Asian aesthetic. It’s kind of sci-fi fantasy and we want people to be able to come into the world and just explore and have a really positive, fun kind of RPG experience that they would have on any other platform except built for VR. We really think that this is the stuff that people have been wanting for a long time, and that’s why we set out to build it.

David Jagneaux, UploadVR: Yeah, you guys had a Kickstarter campaign, right? I’m drawing a blank on remembering how much you guys ended up raising but it was pretty successful, right?

Tsen: Yeah, we had a $280,000 Kickstarter a while back ago. Mm hmm.

UploadVR: Awesome, that’s exciting! You talk about VR MMOs, it’s something that everyone wants, everyone has been dreaming about since Neuromancer came out, since who knows how long. And certainly, pop culture has fed into that with– You know, for me growing up, there was .hack//Sign and then Sword Art Online and The Matrix and Ready Player One, and there’s just so much pop culture centered around that idea of this magical sci-fi fantasy world where we can all go in and hang out and do stuff together. Obviously, VR headsets are getting us closer to that. In what ways do you think Zenith is doing things that hasn’t been done yet?

Tsen: Well, we’re building a full-scale VR MMO and so… It’s basically a lot of is uncharted territory, right? I’m actually a big fan of Orbus and the guys at ATT -A Township Tale. Everybody has their own take on what of their MMO should be. But what we’re really trying to do is create a top extremely polished core game loop that is really, really fun to play that feels a lot more polished and a lot deeper. That’s our fundamental goal; to create an experience where it feels both familiar to MMORPG players as well as completely unique being in the space of VR itself. As an example, Zenith is going to feel a lot more like an action RPG than something like Final Fantasy XIV or WoW where they are basically spreadsheet simulators where you’re pressing macros and you’re doing the whole hotkey dance, right? In Zenith, you literally have to parry enemy’s attacks, throw fireballs, you can slow time. And of course, all of this is tied together by a gorgeous environment where we’ve spent thousands of hours creating unique props and content and just building a world that feels fully alive and immersive. Along with that, obviously, one of the most important things about VR is a sense of presence and I think that that’s something that other genres outside of VR, MMOs can’t really reach. And so for us, it’s all about that feeling of physical embodiment in the world. That’s why we introduced our recent pop one-style gliding, we have climbing, we have full-body IK, right? These are things that will make the players feel like they’re really in the world living a different life essentially.

UploadVR: This is a key question for me that a lot of MMOs don’t handle this well and I feel like a lot of MMOs- like you alluded to- with spreadsheet simulator style gameplay, they’re all very target based. You target an enemy, you use your abilities and you just flow on from there. But is everything in Zenith real time? Like if I cast a fireball, does it travel in real time through the game world where it’ll then hit an enemy or can he dodge it? Or if I miss with bad aim? Is that an aspect of it? Can I target something then automatically hit it?

Tsen: Yeah, absolutely. That’s where you get to the real time action RPG part of this. Yes, things in Zenith do feel like real time. You’ll have to raise your sword up at the right time to block an attack, you’ll have to do gestures to cast spells. We have a pretty innovative casting system that we’re excited to show people. But yeah, if you aim wrong, for example, or you throw your fireball in the wrong direction, it’s not going to hit the enemy.

UploadVR: Got it, got it. That’s pretty cool. I know nowadays there are a handful of MMOs that do stuff like that, like New World is coming out soon a non-VR MMO that’s going to have real time combat, but it’s pretty rare still. Most all the big MMOs are all target-based, you don’t have to really aim anything. So, I’m excited to have a game like that in VR for sure.

Tsen: Yeah, for sure. I think there’s a couple of MMOs out there that are a little bit more action paced in the non-VR realm. If you look at games like Black Desert Online or Guild Wars 2 to an certain extent, they feel a little bit more Diablo-ey or Path of Exile-ey. Also ESO I guess is another example of something that feels a little bit more real time. But for us, we are literally talking about having hitboxes and being able to dodge enemy attacks and being able to parry. One of the things that’s really cool is in Zenith is you can actually parry enemy projectiles. You can block arrows, knock arrows down as they are coming towards you.

UploadVR: Nice. Okay. That’s pretty cool. I think a lot of MMOs right now even going back all the way back to Ultima and the early days, such a big part of an MMO, obviously, the fact that it’s online is the community, right? You have to have a good core community, you have to be welcoming and accessible to new players, you have to have endgame content to keep the core community happy for months and years on end, and there’s just so many layers and facets to it. What are some of the ways that you guys are hoping to keep your community engaged and embrace and encourage social interaction and stuff like that?

Tsen: I think the community is at least as important as the game design and the marketing on the game if not more so. We’ve spent the past two years building up a really passionate and engaged and active community on our Discord where I think we’re over 25,000 people now and that’s just on Discord alone. And that’s been really exciting to see because… Well, there was a bit of time there where we were just heads down on coding and getting ready for all of the milestones we had to submit and we didn’t do much community engagement because we were so busy building the game. What was really cool to see was our moderating team and regular members of the community really come together and form a community that’s not just about Zenith, but also just about being friends and just hanging out and streaming together. We have people that have gotten married because of our Discord. They met in the Zenith Discord and they got married. And we have somebody who’s now one of our top moderators that said that he’s basically a lurker in other discords but was so welcomed by our community and felt so accepted that they actually spoke up for the first time and then became a moderator, and so now this is like a family to them. That’s the kind of community that we’re creating outside of Zenith.

Within Zenith, one of the cool things that we’ve really seen that I’m pretty excited about is our guild system. Because what we’re seeing is people are already self-organizing in our Discord around different guilds and stuff like that. We have a Guild Recruitment channel and a place where people can form guilds and tag themselves. We have a variety of social features within Zenith, obviously. Your standard friend system, parties and guilds as well as things that encourage more emergent gameplay like public events that can be completed with random people all over the world. I don’t know if you’ve played Destiny or Final Fantasy 14 with the FATEs, it’s kind of like that in terms of just having events spawn over the world that you can play together. But ultimately, I think what’s really important is just to have the gameplay reflect the need for collaboration. If you look like EverQuest is still out there today, right? That’s still making money. They still have a full team dedicated to churning out content for EverQuest because so much of it in the early days was impossible to do by yourself, right? You had to–

UploadVR: They just celebrated 22 years this week.

Tsen: Yeah. Yeah. Did you ever play by the way?

UploadVR: Oh, yeah. EverQuest is my first MMO. I played that a lot.

zenith vr mmo crystal

Tsen: Nice. WoW was my first real MMO, Classic WoW that is. What I will say is like with games like WoW and 14, they have gotten so good at basically just hitting a button and getting into a queue with someone, a random person, that you don’t necessarily need as much community. For us, it’s always about striking that right balance of yes, it’s easy for newbies to get in and party up but also, there’s enough challenging endgame content there where you still need to organize and you can’t just do pugs, you need to basically know people and form friendships and alliances.

UploadVR: That’s great to hear because my main MMO that I play personally right now is ESO. Sometimes, I could play that game for three hours straight and never have to type in the chat box, you know? So much of MMO design nowadays is about streamlining in terms of not just accessibility, but streamlining content so that you don’t have to even turn your brain on hardly. So, I think VR is not really the right medium for that type of game design. I think the more interactive and more hands-on something is, the better it is. So, I think you guys are taking a smart approach here where you’re going to try to incentivize real collaboration and communication because… And a lot of people forget every VR headset has a mic built in. So, it’s not like someone could not have a mic and not have a headset, you know? If you’re in VR you can talk, so you might as well embrace that.

Tsen: Yeah, definitely. It’s something that’s important to us. I think one thing we’re excited to explore when we have a chance to implement it, for example though, is voice modulation. I know that a lot of people want anonymity. I certainly do when I’m online. I’ve played a lot of D&D and I played a lot of– I don’t know if you’ve heard of this game, Neverwinter Nights.

UploadVR: Yeah, for sure.

Tsen: Yeah, I used to play it in a lot of RP servers online and in those worlds, you’re typing out what you’re saying so that leaves a lot more to imagination. And if you’re in an MMO, one of the things we want to do is eventually allow people to sound like whatever they want to sound like so that they can basically… they don’t pierce the veil essentially.

UploadVR: Yeah. For me, roleplay is something that I’ve done a little bit here and there in some games but whenever you’re using your real voice, you can feel shy about it especially if it’s around strangers. I definitely think that kind of thing would definitely help encourage them more and I mean, you’re putting on a VR headset. It’s kind of like wearing a mask in a way. You’re becoming your avatar more than when you’re looking at a computer screen so I think that kind of stuff is going to be really great.

Tsen: Yeah. Then the other interesting thing that we’ve seen is typically in a VR or an MMO of any kind, you want to spend several hours in there, right? For most of the, I guess, not even hardcore just like a regular MMO player wants to log a couple hours on a given weekend. At least for me the way that I do it is when I’m really busy weekdays, I’ll do dailies, right? Weekends, I want to put a lot more time into it if I have it. But in VR, you’re not talking about a 30-minute dungeon, that even feels a little bit too long for the average user to start off with. What we really want to capture is the same feeling that people get when they’re going into a game of Pop: One or Blast-On or Beat Saber. You go in and the first five minutes there’s already something that hooks you in. And that experience itself is the thing that gets you into the VR device. But then once you’ve played for five minutes, it’s “All right, I’ll just do another five minutes. And another five minutes.” So that’s been my pattern of the way I play games in VR is that I’ll jump in for a quick game of Beat Saber and then an hour later, I’ll be like, “Oh, how did this happen?”

zenith vr mmo new enemy screenshot

UploadVR: Yeah, it’s tricky, right? I mean, designing an MMO, that’s the type of game that you want your players to play that for hundreds and hundreds of hours and designing it in a way that not only has the content there– You don’t want it to feel like you’re going to punish people if they don’t but at the same time, you do want to reward the people that do. It’s such a tricky balance. I don’t envy the task of trying to balance one of the first ever VR MMOs and make it sticky for all types of players out there. There’s just so many variables involved.

Tsen: Yeah, definitely. Thankfully, we’re not doing it alone. We have a great team. We have a game designer, Colin, that we brought on board that has a decade of MMO design experience. He worked on Rift, ArcheAge, and a couple really other popular games, Atlas Reactor and some other stuff like that. We’re fortunate to have a really amazing team of gaming veterans to help us start to bridge this gap between what a traditional MMO is and what a VR MMO should be.

UploadVR: Going back to that point a little bit, can you talk a little bit about the types of content that will be in the game? I mean, I’m assuming there’s main story quests and side quests and group dungeons and stuff, but for someone that jumps in to play the game, what are the types of events and activities and things that they’ll be able to do?

Tsen: You mentioned main story quests? Those will be there. We have procedural quests that will be able to ramp up depending on what level the player is and what areas they’re in and things like that. We mentioned public events earlier where you can go through and complete quests together, as well as just world boss events and also having group dungeons that people can go into and play together. There’s also just a plethora of things people can do in the world whether that’s going out and seeking treasure chests, kind of like Genshin Impact if you guys have played any of that. Or just going and leveling up the crafting. For example, one of the most fun things in this game right now is fruit gathering because you have to literally climb up the tree. And the distance grab only goes five meters, so sometimes you have to like stretch out to a branch to grab an apple and put it away. I guess what I would say is, all the core experience of an MMO is going to be there at launch, but we have plans to add a lot more on top of that later. I think the thing we want to avoid is stretching ourselves too thin so that we can’t deliver a polished experience across all the things we’re going to launch. The thing we also have to keep in mind is that we’re a small team. Right now, we’re about 10 people fulltime and with a couple other contractors beyond that. So we have to think of clever ways to not be constantly on this content treadmill that bigger AAA studios are able to do, right? If you have 100 artists and 20 game designers and 20 engineers, you can just create content without really thinking about reuse. For us, it’s all about having a really fun core gameplay experience like killing monsters, leveling up, getting loot, completing public events, and having those systems all tied together in a way that can be repeated over time.

UploadVR: Yeah, I know you’ve talked a little bit about the scale of the game, the multiplayer, sociability of it all and all that stuff. But I think the big question a lot of people probably have about games like this is how much is it truly an MMO? How many people will you see at any given time? Is it a truly open world? Are there instances or are the zones segmented? How does the actual game design look from a top level in terms of being an MMO?

Tsen: I think MMO is a term that has been really liberally used especially in mobile. And when I say MMO, what I’m trying to say is an MMO in the sense of something like WoW or Final Fantasy 14, where it will be a large world where you can have thousands of people per shard. Our eventual goal, of course, is to make it even bigger and tie the different shards together to have this infinite world, but we’re starting with just a regular MMO and a regular shard which by itself is hard enough.

UploadVR: That’s what Elder Scrolls Online did, right? They have the “One Tamriel” thing that they do where just depending on whenever you load into a zone, it’ll just assign people into that zone with you on the fly in a way. So, I mean, if I were to go fight a world boss, how many people can be there with me at any given time? Is there like a cap on that or is it just whoever is nearby? How does that work exactly?

zenith vr mmo lizard enemy

Tsen: It’s going to be whoever is nearby, right? We need to take into account traditional load balancing issues that other MMOs have as well. You see this with Black Desert Online or Warframe and to some extent FFXIV and WoW as well. But basically, for example, if you’re in a party and you’re in a highly dense zone, your party members are prioritized in terms of latency and how well they’re rendered. And then the other people, you know, depending on what platform we’re playing the game on, are either at a lower level of detail or if there’s hundreds of people, you kind of just call it out completely. So like in Warframe, for example, you’ll be able to see most of the players around you but if you have a really dense zone like in a city or something, you’ll see players that just have name tags or kind of shadows. That’s the kind of thing that we’ll need to implement at launch to be able to support this. But our goal is to have it be a full-scale MMO with full-scale world bosses and things of that nature.

UploadVR: So you mentioned depending on platforms, I guess you’re alluding to the fact that on Quest, for example, if more than a handful of people are nearby, it’s probably you’re not going to see fully detailed avatars, right?

Tsen: Yeah. It depends on… Even within the Quest platform, there’s like Quest and Quest 2, right? And so one thing that we will make sure to do is that we’re not sacrificing anything from a gameplay perspective. That’s the most important thing to us, is that across all the different platforms people can have a… They won’t be hampered by having an older device or a weaker device versus, you know, PCVR, for example.

UploadVR: Cool. And it’s coming to PSVR as well, right?

Tsen: Yeah.

UploadVR: I got to ask, how does it play on PSVR? Because the move controllers don’t have analog sticks and so I mean, they’re kind of limited a little bit from a playability perspective. Is it going to be teleport only on PSVR or how does it work?

Tsen: Yeah. We can’t reveal too much about that yet. Partially because we’re still deep in the dev cycle for that, I don’t want to kind of say anything that might change later on. But what I can say is that we’re going to try to offer the same types of movement mechanics in PSVR as you have on other platforms. Yeah.

UploadVR: Gotcha. Yeah, there’s a lot of devs that have been creative about ways to do that. So that makes sense.

Tsen: Yeah, we have on our team people with decades of experience at Sony working on networking and gameplay so, you know, we’ll have a good idea. We’ll do a couple of iterations and I think people will be happy. Also excited about like the new controllers that have just come out.

UploadVR: I was just about to ask you. Well, what do you think about those?

Tsen: I think those are awesome.

zenith vr mmo screenshot 5

UploadVR: They look great.

Tsen: Yeah. I am really excited about just how VR is coming together. You’ve probably been doing this for a while David, but my experience started with the DK2 back in like 2015. And every year since then, people have been saying like, “This is the year for VR. This is the year it’s going to take off.” And I really think we’re starting to kind of hit that inflection point. It’s really just about how many people have been able to hang in during that entire kind of strenuous time where there wasn’t a lot of revenue and it was the dark times.

UploadVR: Yeah. I think the important thing that the industry has seen is it’s expanded enough to have something out there for everybody, including the accessible, cheaper hardware, like the Quest 2 that is still super good, super great, has a good library. But then if you want to go high end with an index and a PC you totally can. And then you’ve got the console with the PSVR, which has an amazing library of games. Hopefully, it seems like the next headset is going to be better from a hardware perspective. I think that that’s the big thing for me, just seeing so many different options that are all viable is super exciting because for the longest time it seemed like everything felt so unfinished and experimental. But now we’re finally at that point now where I could… If I have a friend that is a gamer or something like that, I feel comfortable just recommending a Quest 2 nowadays without any caveats. Because up until then it was always like, “Oh well, if you don’t mind never turning around, you can get this headset,” or “If you don’t mind setting up and mounting cameras on your walls, then you can get this headset.” But now all that stuff’s gone and it’s exciting. And I think games like Zenith are exciting and they’re the kind of games people have been wanting to play. I’m excited to try it for myself. I haven’t gotten to try it yet, I’m really eager to try it out, hopefully.

Tsen: Yeah. Definitely love to run you through. We’re currently kind of crunching on the Alpha that, as you know, is coming out in about a month and hoping that’s going to be a really good experience for everybody. To go back to your point of kind of how you can recommend headsets to people now, I used to have to recommend people headsets. And now I’m in people’s homes like my brother-in-law, I’m just seeing people that are like- they just bought it! Not because I was like pushing it like a drug dealer, but like they have it and they’re like playing it. And one of them had a broken controller and it was like, you know, that’s how you know you’ve put a lot of hours into it when you’ve slammed your wall on accident so hard that the controller breaks.

UploadVR: Those controllers are pretty sturdy too, so that was… yeah, rest in peace that wall. That was probably pretty hard impact.

Tsen: Yeah, it was a zombie… It was one of the zombie defense games, he didn’t tell me the title.

UploadVR: Classic.

Tsen: Yeah.

zenith concept art trees

UploadVR: Yeah. That’s awesome. It’s a great anecdote that I think a lot of people are starting to have more and more nowadays where instead of people asking me, “Should I get a VR headset?” It’s, “Hey, which game should I get for my VR headset?” It’s a very different question that I get more commonly now. So that’s pretty awesome to see.

Tsen: Yeah. And we were kind of excited to be able to get the major platforms really excited about Zenith as well, working with both, as you guys saw, being on the PlayStation store coverage as well as the Oculus coverage. It’s just been a really great experience for us. I think there is a unique moment in time for companies of our size to succeed right now. Basically, we are in a period of time where people want this, but AAA studios haven’t exactly committed to building MMO yet, right? Because it’s super, super expensive for that kind of scale. And so if we can deliver an experience now, we could really help set the kind of tone and define a lot of the mechanics that become known in this next group of, this next wave of MMOs to come out.

UploadVR: Yeah. You look back and Meridian 59 and Ultima, you know, those had to come before EverQuest and WoW could come. It’s a kind of a similar trajectory and, you know, it’s exciting to see. I do want to speak a little bit about some of the other things on the horizon out there. Like I know you talked a little bit about Orbus. Have you seen much about Ilysia? Is that one that you’re aware of very much? And how does Zenith compare to Orbus and the other VR MMOs that are on the horizon? What are some of the differentiating factors?

Tsen: To be honest, we’ve been really deep in development on Zenith. We haven’t had much time to come up for air. Ilysia is a game that we’ve definitely heard about, but we haven’t really delved too deep into it. What I will say is competition is always healthy, it always makes for a better product. And ultimately, I think, there’s going to be a lot of differentiating factors that players will be able to choose from when they play or choice when they have the products in front of them. I’m really personally excited about the features that Zenith has and I think we’ll be able to have a lot of people excited about that as well. Again, I haven’t done too much research into this, it’s mostly, you know, seeing it in our community. Like, “Hey, have you heard of this other game?” type of thing. But I guess a lot of it comes down to just the core game design as well as the aesthetic that we’re trying to hit. I think with us, we kind of have this JRPG, Sci-Fi fantasy, really colorful, stylized cel-shaded look. Other games are different.

UploadVR: The kind of the Cyberpunk almost sort of Sci-fi fantasy style, like you said, is not super common. I think most people when they think of MMORPGs, they have in their head kind of the Ultima, EverQuest, WoW style of medieval fantasy. But you guys are going for a little bit different of an aesthetic there while still having swords and magic, but also having skyscrapers. It’s kind of an interesting amalgamation.

Tsen: Yeah. I guess a good example of this would just be something like Final Fantasy, right? Final Fantasy, if you’re a fan of VII or any of them really, there’s always this kind of element of technology or steampunk or dieselpunk, but then there’s also kind of if you go far enough out into the open world, a lot of it can feel like fantasy because it’s natural environments, it’s wide open plains to explore, it’s lush forests. And we have all of that. I think is just… It’s going to be exciting.

UploadVR: Cool. One other topic I want to talk about is I would love to hear some more from you about the moment-to-moment gameplay. Because I know that you guys have previously described your melee combat as similar to Beat Saber. So if you could talk a little bit about what that’s like for the player, you know, like what they’ll physically be doing and how it works, that’d be great.

Tsen: Yeah. So that was like really early on. And I remember saying that and then getting coverage about it because Beat Saber was like the biggest thing back then. Well, first of all, there’s 30 minutes of uninterrupted gameplay footage on our YouTube- it’s not cut or edited at all- that anybody can just go on and check out. That’ll give people a good feel for what the gameplay is going to feel like. But second of all, in terms what we meant by in the early days having Beat Saber-inspired combat, was that you would be able to block things. You would have to time things to make sure that you were hitting things optimally. Now in the early prototype, what we had was literally lines that you would kind of slash through, and you’d have to slash it at the right time.

UploadVR: Oh like Until You Fall style, kind of?

Tsen: Yeah, like Until You Fall style. We got some feedback on that that was a little bit too gamey for what people were looking at for an MMO. They wanted something that’s a little bit more visceral. So we modified that so that timing is still important, but it’s no longer so obvious like you have to do this or you have to like… Yeah, and so combat now is basically… I think one of the most important things is the enemy stagger gauge. The idea is that you would be doing movements in real time, like parrying, blocking or if you’re made, to sling fireballs. And then that would all be incrementing attacking the enemy stagger meter. And then when they get staggered and vulnerable, that’s when you’d go in and you do maximum damage.

UploadVR: Got it. I’m nearing the end of my play-through of Final Fantasy VII Remake. So the term stagger is very large in my brain right now because that’s a huge part of that game. Yeah, that’s common mechanics, that makes sense.

Tsen: Yeah. If you’ve seen the stagger gauge in Final Fantasy VII, it’ll feel a lot like that.

UploadVR: Cool.

zenith vr mmo beach dock town

Tsen: There’s also this problem with energy fatigue. If you’re going to be playing a game for two to three hours, you need to make sure people aren’t getting exhausted while they’re in there. So our goal is to kind of make the game reward reflexes and strategy more than like just raw physical prowess. It’s definitely not a game like Blast-On where you’ll be literally dodging things all the time, there’s going to be a component of just reaction time and timing and strategy.

UploadVR: Got it. And the last topic I’d love to touch on a little bit is, I know you mentioned things like loot and stuff earlier, but what is the gear system like? Are there lots of items and customization in terms of armor and weapons? Can I look down and see my entire avatar? Because you mentioned full body IK, I’m just curious to know how deep and detailed is that system.

Tsen: Yeah. Players will be able to look down and see the different armor sets that they’re equipping. We’ll have a lot of different armor types, really awesome looking unique armor sets that people will be able to put on. If you could imagine something that’s kind of like any other MMO, where you have tons of loot and gear to grind after, you know. You have modifiers and stats on those things. For us we also want to take that one step further and kind of allow people to continue making their armor sets more and more powerful over time. Enchanting those armor sets, making those better, enhancing them. That’s how we kind of think of loot. And also just making it extremely apparent when you’ve gotten a really powerful piece of loot. We want people to feel every piece of armor they get. Because again, it’s kind of like an action RPG mixed with an MMO so you can’t just get something that increases your stat value by five and like increases your DPS by one, that’s not going to make you feel more powerful.

UploadVR: Yeah, that’s very important. That’s definitely good to hear. Reminds me of two very specific important questions from one MMO player to another is, will there be transmog? Can I change the look of things to look like other things?

Tsen: We do want to have a transmog system. It depends on whether or not we can get it at launch, but that’s definitely something that we’re going to put in.

UploadVR: Okay.

Tsen: Yep.

UploadVR: Cool. And the second one is: In terms of trading, will there be like a player economy type of thing going on where high-level gear that you get from one place you can sell to someone? And will things be bound to you when you pick them up? Is that going to be part of the game design at all?

Tsen: We’re still pretty early on the player economy side of things. All I can say is that there will be one, that’s something that we promised our backers on Kickstarter when we raised that. I think what we want to do is we want to introduce it in a way that is sane. We’re not quite EVE Online where you can literally sell everything and your job is just to become a corporate overlord. We think of our ourselves more like a traditional kind of MMO where there’s some player economy in there, but there’s also a game economy outside of that. Players that choose to participate in it will be rewarded handsomely but it won’t be a requirement.

zenith vr mmo alpha beta timeline

UploadVR: Okay, cool. Well, sounds like you guys are checking a lot of boxes and hitting a lot of bullet points, and I’m very excited to check out the game. Hopefully during the Alpha, I’ll find some time to try it out and play it. Why don’t you go ahead and let everyone know the dates of the upcoming Alpha, how they can pre-order, and platforms, when it’s coming out… and all that good stuff.

Tsen: Yeah, sure. The game, the first pre-Alpha starts on the 19th, and it’ll run for about a week.

UploadVR: Of April, right?

Tsen: Yeah. Sorry, April 19th. Some people were messaging me today about why it hasn’t started yet. It’ll start on April 19th and run for about a week. Unfortunately, pre-orders have closed at this point. We just had a phenomenal amount of demand and we want to make sure we can fulfill that and make sure everybody has a good experience. We’re working hard to be able to open that up, but no guarantees on that yet. I would just encourage everybody to come check out our Discord and our mailing list. Yeah, Alpha will be the first taste people get of the game publicly so we’re excited for everybody to try it out. Important thing is to just note that it is a real Alpha not like a marketing Alpha, so it’s going to be rough, it’s going to be a little bit unpolished. There’s going to be crashes and bugs, you know? We want to set expectations on that. We still think it’s going to be a really fun experience though.

UploadVR: Right. So this is an Alpha test, not a free demo. It is an Alpha test.

Tsen: Yes, it is an Alpha, a real one.

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For more on Zenith, make sure and check out all of our past coverage here. Check out the official Zenith: The Last City website and join the extremely active Discord server to stay up-to-date on everything.

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