If you’re not yet familiar with Kakao Games and Nimble Neuron’s Eternal Return, it’s an interesting take on both MOBAs and Battle Royale games. It hasn’t been out as long as many games in either of those genres – launched last October – but it’s still built up a pretty loyal playerbase, enough for the game’s developers to plan to release it on consoles in the near future.
With the console’s eventual launch on the horizon, it’s only natural that the developer would be thrilled about it. With that in mind, we had the chance to speak with their team. The game’s executive producer, Seunghoo Kim, was kind enough to provide some pretty in-depth answers to all of our questions. You can browse them all below.
MMOBomb: Before we dive in, could you introduce yourself to our readers and tell us a bit about your role in creating Eternal Return?
Seunghoo Kim: Hello, my name is Seunghoo Kim and I am the executive producer of the Eternal Return franchise at Nimble Neuron. I am responsible for all development, business, and IP expansion for Eternal Return. I will do my best to provide an exceptional gaming experience and service through Eternal Return. I hope readers can encourage and support Eternal Return, and I really look forward to communicating with MMOBomb subscribers!
MMOB: Eternal Return is described as a mix of Battle Royale/MOBA/Survival games. What prompted the decision to mix these elements and what did you take from each to make it work?
Sask. : I was very intrigued by the world and the characters of the first Black Survival. While Black Survival is a battle royale that takes place on a 2D map, we thought bringing this concept to a 3D MOBA battle royale would make the game even more immersive. That’s why we started developing the game.
We are currently developing the game so that the elements of crafting, combat and survival are well blended. We are constantly communicating with the community and taking feedback into account to determine how to develop the game.
MMOB: What was the hardest thing about bringing these genres together in one game?
Sask. : Since there are quite a few things players need to learn, we encountered quite a few challenges trying to provide a good experience in terms of UX. This is still an area that needs a lot of work, so we plan to introduce further improvements to provide clearer information and a better experience in terms of UI and UX.
Moreover, strategic PvP games require a lot of information and strategies, which requires the help of our community. We are working hard to establish a good connection between the Eternal Return community and other players.
MMOB: What games did you watch the most while conceptualizing Eternal Return? Have you looked elsewhere? Movies? Anime?
Sask. : It might seem obvious, but we mostly leaned into the original Black Survival. The hardest part was adapting the unique worldview into the game, and that’s still the hardest part. In terms of game visualization to fit the 3D MOBA battle royale genre, we looked to similar isometric MOBA games. (LoL, DOTA, HoS, etc.)
We encountered many technical and artistic difficulties when converting the original characters and background to 3D format. During this process, we referenced many different subcultures of games, movies, and animations. We’re still studying many different benchmarks to keep up with trends, and we keep improving the visuals of the game.
MMOB: What prompted the story involving AGLAIA and the experiments on humans? What impact did the story have on the art style of the game, if at all?
Sask. : We wanted to make a battle royale game, but we also had to figure out how to build a compelling story. We weren’t convinced by the motivations presented in well-known battle royale movies for hosting “survival games”. We believed that a strong motivation, such as a study towards rapid human evolution, was necessary.
There are two contrasting areas in Eternal Return: Lumia Island, where subjects of an experiment must fight in a game of survival, and a laboratory where AGLAIA researchers oversee the experiment. For each area of Lumia Island, we’ve created an old, run-down, overgrown atmosphere typical of the Battle Royale genre. Instead, we placed the AGLAIA laboratory, representing evolution and ideals, in the center of the island. Thus maximizing the visual contrast between the two areas.
MMOB: Most battle royales have a large number of people, and MOBAs are usually 5v5. So how did you settle on 18-player matches?
Sask. : We always get help from community feedback. At first it was a 15 player game, but then we increased it up to 18 players as we went through the Alpha test. Currently, the player needs for each individual mode have changed over time, so we are considering reducing the player count to 15 players for the single player mode and increasing the player count to 21 players for the teams.
MMOB: Eternal Return has a very large list of “test subjects”, close to 50 by my count. How do you keep them all balanced for this type of game while ensuring that each one is unique?
Sask. : Balancing is always a difficult problem. We collect a wide range of stats, but each mode requires different balancing, and the required balance also varies greatly depending on the level of play. other ranks where the majority of players play.
It also becomes a problem when they are too strong in certain segments of the game. Even the meaning of being “too strong” differs depending on the segment we are looking at. Normally, kill count or winning the match is important, but as you move up the ranks to higher elo, the ease with which test subjects can earn ranking points also becomes very important. .
With that in mind, we make sure to keep the balance cycle running continuously with bi-weekly updates.
MMOB: Eternal Return has been in Early Access for about a year and a half now. From the outside, it looks quite long. Could you provide some insight into the EA process and why a game like Eternal Return might be at this point for so long?
Sask. : The development culture at Nimble Neuron is not about achieving a favorable outcome through marketing efforts backed by financial strength. It’s about quickly delivering game updates to players when they’re ready and deciding if the game is worth playing based on player feedback.
Steam Early Access is a system where player feedback can be received as quickly and as accurately as possible. Even before Early Access, we improved the game based on the player feedback we received through multiple tests.
While a completed game may be defined differently depending on perspective, we want to continue to keep the game in Early Access to communicate with players until we achieve a quality we are proud of. MMOBomb readers can help us make the game better by playing it for free on Steam. Of course, we at Nimble Neuron will continue to communicate with players even after the game is officially released.
We would like to thank Seunghoo Kim for spending time with us!