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Interview

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Irth Online developer Tony Pungitore
By: Blair Morris | Game Data | 11:51am, December 5, 2005
Codemasters Generic UK Eshop Pop up
One of Irth Online's lead developers, Tony Pungitore, wears many hats when it comes to the "behind the scenes" work on the game. In some cases, you can say when it comes to Irth Online, the "buck" stops with Tony, or at least that's what the development company, Magic Hat Software, has to say about Tony.

Kicking off OMGN.com's Irth Online Week, we talked with Tony about his impressions of various topics pertaining to the game, including a possible look into the future of where they may be going next with the game.


OMGN: When did development begin on Irth Online, and how did you become involved?

Tony Pungitore:
The company was formed by Alan (Chipura) and Dennis (Robinson) about two years ago and a few months later I jumped on board. Alan and I go back to the dawn of time. Basically the project started in Alan's basement from a bunch of friends who loved to play MMORPGs and it snow balled into what it is now. So, we are an example to all the dreamers out there who want to start something and don't know where to begin, and are seemingly against all odds. A little vision, a little talent, and a lot of hard work and persistence can get you there.


OMGN: What kind of game is Irth Online, and what will the individual gamer experience within the game?

Tony Pungitore:
Irth is entirely skill and civilization based. No classes, no leveling and non-race based. You can be any available race in the game. Players will not be subjected to predefined characters, classes or races. You develop your character any way that you see fit. You can be who you want to be. Don't like what you've become? Change by doing different things and become something else. We believe in the freedom of choice. Everything we develop goes back to a simple question, "By implementing this feature will we be restricting players or will we offering them more freedoms and choices?" Freedom and choice is good and it is what drives our creative efforts.


OMGN: With so many MMORPGs out there now for gamers to choose from, what makes Irth Online unique from others in its genre?

Tony Pungitore:
The first thing that makes us different is our attitude. We are not corporate giants. We're just regular guys that love computer games who are part of the MMORPG community. We depend on the community to guide us and help us. This game was shaped by the community. We consider the community a part of the development team. We have embraced them as our own and they are vitally important to us in all that we do. They have helped shaped the game into its current form and will continue to do so during its life span.


OMGN: What has been some of the things players have requested, and seen implemented into the game?

Tony Pungitore:
Player Housing! Everyone wants a house. You got it! One free house for every account. Don't like the neighbors? Move out and find another village. Decorate your home. Fill it up, and enlarge it eventually. Player housing exists in player run villages. If you're in a guild and have 10 members, you get your own Guild Village. Not only can you decorate your homes but you can decorate the landscape of your very own village. Aside from homes, in a Guild Village, you get a public building, a bank, and one crafting station and NPC hired hands. Set up your own little Kingdom! Your own piece of the Irth!

Crafting, crafting, crafting. Did I only say that three times? OK, Crafting. If you can see it you will either be able to craft it or will be able to craft it soon. We have multiple varieties of woods and ores with different stats. Over 200 food recipes! Over 200 Brewing Recipes! Over 200 Diagrams for bandages for the healer! Over 200 potion recipes! Reduce reqs for metal armors with a Tinkerer's positive charged Irthonium Rod. Blow glass out of sand or crystal; crystal containers add extra buffs for potions and brews so put your ale in a crystal mug! Make tapestries and rugs. There are hundreds of herbs to gather. Go mine for ores, gems, crystal and granite. Be a mason or sculptor. Make fireplaces, furnaces, stone furniture, huge statues! Go chop down trees, go fishing, pick cotton, or skin hides and pelts. Weave baskets to hold extra items. Make tents! Make Braziers! Make clothes! Dye clothes! Tons of different leathers! Tons of armor varieties to craft including sexy female armor! There are tons of combat and magery skills. Enchant, de-enchant, and more, much, much more.

Develop multiple professions. You can't possibly develop them all, but do whatever you want to do. Be an archer and a mage! Be a swordsman and a tinker and a pharmacist and a healer. Be whatever you want to be. I feel free how about you! The Irth is your oyster!

These are some basic features of the game. What separates us from other games is that we work with the community. Unlike other games the community has been part of our development from the beginning. They saw the game built up from square one. We let them see all our dirty laundry. They've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. The community has so many great ideas; ideas that are better than any we could ever come up with on our own.


OMGN: What are some of the more exciting features in Irth Online to you personally?

Tony Pungitore:
As far as world building it would have to be the little secret hide-aways that you come across. Little cavern entrances hiding between boulders that leads off to a series of mazes and dangers and ultimately brings you to a hunting ground, secret chamber entrances under the water etc. We all love to find a great hidden discovery so we've tucked quite a few in, You just need to find them. And I know that you will!

I personally put a very hard to find skeletal mage's lair. After I put it in I thought to myself, "Hmm, maybe I made this too difficult, they may never find my…my…my masterpiece!" They found it. Never underestimate a player's will. They can find and get to places that baffle all reason. When a player comes across something not very obvious it is very rewarding for both them and us.

Another feature that I really like that we haven't yet fully implemented is non-static story-lines. The story-lines will react to player actions. When we introduce different server types, stories will evolve differently on each server.


OMGN: What has been one of the more popular features with Irth Online for its community of current gamers that you've seen?

Tony Pungitore:
People go nuts crafting in the game. Some of their houses are impeccably and uniquely decorated. I mean totally decked out. One player cut down all sorts of trees and decorated his whole house out of logs. He made log furniture by arranging them in certain positions. He made log tables, log chairs, log sofas, log picture frames, log walls, log beams, all sorts of neat stuff, all made from logs that he gathered by cutting down trees. The first time I saw his house I said to myself, "Where did all these log items come from? We don't have these items in game?" It never even occurred to me that players would do that, and then to see it! It's awesome!


OMGN: In terms of game-play and in-game features, do you feel Irth Online can hold it's own with the heavy-hitters of the MMORPG community like EverQuest and World of Warcraft?

Tony Pungitore:
I like both those games. They are a lot of fun. We're really not trying to compete with them though. To be quite frank I wouldn't even know how to. We are a different type of game. We don't offer someone a pre-defined one dimensional Paladin character that needs to be leveled. Not that there is anything wrong with that, it can be a lot of fun. But we have developed our game in response to what the community told us that they wanted to see in a game. In essence a 3D skill based MMORPG. Come to our forums and you'll see the greatest ideas and concepts come up. No matter how much you give our players they want more and more and more. They're always pushing the envelope and we are here to make it happen. So we don't really respond to what Warcraft is doing but rather what our community demands from us. As the community sees that we are responsive to their wishes, we grow stronger. In essence we are competing with the challenge that the community puts forth.


OMGN: How much free-will of play does Irth Online give the individual gamer?

Tony Pungitore:
Irth is all about freedom. Certain characters by nature may have a propensity to develop select skills, but anyone can develop any skill. For instance if you dwell in the desert and want to be a fishmonger, it will be a little more difficult for you because of the proximity to water. But if that's what you want, do it up! It's your choice.

If you see a tree, cut it down if you want. If you don't like the color of your shirt, dye it! If you don't like horses, ride a wyvern! If you see an unlit light post, light it up. If you're in the wilderness and you need to eat, make a campfire and cook. If you feel like you're character has become unbalanced and cannot effectively pvp, change it! Do different things, learn new skills, become who you want. It's like real life.


OMGN: Is the game storyline forced and the gamer must follow a "path" through the game, or can the gamer do what they want, play how they want, and in certain instances play by their own storyline?

Tony Pungitore:
Well, we have designed the game so that the players will become the storyline. Players can ignore the storyline if they so choose. But we may pick up on what a character is doing and run with it. Our players will become heroes and villains. What they do will be integrated with Irth stories and the two will evolve to become a new storyline.


OMGN: Any plans for special events within the game?

Tony Pungitore:
The game has been released for three weeks now and we have not yet implemented events. We will have ongoing events hosted by GM's. We have several planned.


OMGN: With Irth Online officially launched, where does the development team go from here? Will we continue to see several updates to the game with new features added?

Tony Pungitore:
Well, I don't want to say too much. We are updating and adding content at least twice per week. But the latest really big feature that should be ready soon is Civ Wars. The first implementation of Civ Wars relates to The Wonders. There are three wonders. The Arcadian Fount of Wonder, The Mezotek Wonder of Lavesh, and the Morbus Wonder of The Cursed. When a PvP Civ takes over an opposing civ's wonder, very special things happen. Whoops, I've said too much…Mums the word.


OMGN: Would there be anything extra you'd like to say or tell the OMGN.com readers?

Tony Pungitore:
I would like your members to come into our forums. If you want to help shape our game, then jump on board. We respect your membership and understand that their opinions could be extremely helpful to us. So if you want to join a game where management considers you part of the development team, come in. Anyone can play the game for free by taking a trial account. So try it out. If you like it buy a copy. If you don't tell us why not, and challenge us to change something. We can then evaluate whether or not we can meet your expectations.


***Click here to found out about your OMGN exclusive discount to Irth Online***
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