Werner Bayer aka Bladefist of Pardus
Following is an interview that was done with the co-founder of Pardus, Werner Bayer aka Bladefist:
OMGN: Let's start with a self-introduction of yourself.
My name is Werner Bayer, developer and administrator of the free Massive Multiplayer Online Browser Game “Pardus” (http://www.pardus.at). Aside from my work on Pardus, I am a full-time student of computer science and software engineering. I live in Austria, near Vienna.
OMGN: What was your experience as a gamer before Pardus? Did you play games like Space Merchant (or its successor Space Merchant Realms) or TDZK?
I have always enjoyed space games such as Elite, Freelancer and X. Unfortunately, trying to stay competitive with other players in games such as those took up a great deal of time, and as a full-time student this was nearly impossible.
OMGN: What was your inspiration/motivation for creating the game?
Our (the Pardus developers) primary motivation was to create a high-quality game that we would enjoy playing ourselves; specifically a game in which it is possible to compete fairly with other players regardless of how much or how little time you have to devote to playing. We feel our “Action Points” system has addressed this issue very well; in Pardus, a player who spends 15 hours a day in the game has no particular advantage over a player who spends only 15 minutes a day.
OMGN: Is Pardus based/inspired on any BBS games such as Trade Wars? If so, which game(s)?
There are many influences in Pardus originating from classic science fiction games such as Elite, Master of Orion II, or Hardwar. Of course Pardus is a completely independent game with its own ideas, but there are some “Easter eggs” honoring these classics scattered throughout the game. We have never played BBS games, but Pardus has been compared to Trade Wars by many people before.
OMGN: Why was Pardus created as a browser-based game instead of say, a downloadable program game?
Aside from enjoying browser games ourselves, we wanted Pardus to be easily available to anyone with an internet connection, without the hassle and/or potential danger of downloads. Being browser-based, a
player can easily access Pardus from any computer anywhere, as long as it has an internet connection.
OMGN: Why was the decision made to create a space trading strategy game when there were already many games in that subgenre?
Myself and the other developers have always enjoyed other space-games and browser-based games. In creating a game we ourselves would want to play this was the natural subgenre; it was something we were all familiar with and enthusiastic about.
OMGN: In what ways has running a game enhanced your gaming enjoyment?
Only in the sense that we have less time to spend on playing, so gaming time has become more valuable.
OMGN: Running a game is often a labor of love as opposed to being a money maker. How active is Pardus community in helping to promote the game, creating fansites for the game, making good suggestions for new features and ways to operate the game or other help with the game?
Our community has been absolutely wonderful in offering support, ideas, materials and other assistance that has been invaluable in helping Pardus expand and improve. Players have created countless fansites ranging from artwork and role-playing stories to player-written guides and even “newspapers” covering in-game events. Our Feature Request Forum is usually filled with intelligent, well-thought-out ideas; a great many of which have been or will be implemented into the game. Pardus would not be what it is today without our outstanding player community.
OMGN: How much influence has Pardus had on other games?
There has definitely been some influence on similar games, and even some outright attempts to duplicate Pardus. So far, however, none have come close to matching Pardus and generally only serve to bring us more players.
OMGN: What has the response to Pardus been like?
The response to Pardus has been overwhelmingly positive right from start of alpha testing. Though obviously the player base was much smaller back then, the support, feedback and patience as we added and adjusted features and content was priceless. Today, with our player base numbering in the tens of thousands, that support has only grown.
OMGN: Some say that Pardus is just another browser-based game. How do you respond?
Pardus has a lot of features that are unusual enough among browser games to make Pardus stand out from the majority of them. Just a few of these features include a tutorial including live “Help Chat” to help new players get started, a complete absence of in-game advertisements, an active and dedicated moderation team that keeps Pardus free of spam and cheaters, an “Action Points” system that allows players to compete fairly regardless of how little time they have to devote to gaming, and perhaps most important of all, an unusually friendly and intelligent player community.
OMGN: There are some who believe that innovation has disappeared from online gaming. In what ways does Pardus break the mold?
There are many innovations Pardus has introduced into the world of online gaming. Most notably is the huge freedom of choice our players are enjoying. There are no predefined classes like “fighter” or “merchant”; in Pardus you literally are what you do, be it peaceful trader or vicious pirate. Then there is the dynamic economic system, with prices adjusting to supply and demand just like in the real world. Competition takes place only between players – as one of them put it: “I love the fact that there is no NPC trading mechanism. You want your building to sell? It has to be able to compete in a *real* market, where real people make real decisions to buy or not buy.“ Many players also enjoy our “dark” features: Piracy, ambushes, bounty-hunting, cloaking, drug and slave trading, even smuggling body-parts. There are countless other innovations – you can best find out about them by playing Pardus. It’s free after all. ;)
OMGN: How many play Pardus?
As of this writing Pardus has about 20,000 players; this number continues to grow daily. Many players who joined Pardus during alpha testing in 2004 are still actively playing today.
OMGN: What is the maximum number of players that Pardus can handle?
There is no maximum number of players. As our player base grows, we are continually upgrading our servers, improving our code, adding new universes, adjusting game content and otherwise making accommodations to meet player needs. Just recently two new game universes have been added; Pardus is running as smoothly as ever.
OMGN: What do you think that the future holds for browser-based games?
Sadly more and more browser-based games are started commercially by big corporations, with the goal of being money makers. This of course adds professionalism and quality on at least a superficial level, but with developers not really caring about their communities there will not be much more left of those games than empty shells. However, I am sure there will also be more and more independent games like Pardus with a staff caring about high quality for both game features and the community. I think there will be even more competition between browser-based games in the future, hopefully with game developers trying to outdo one another in quality, not in money-making.
OMGN: If you could go back in time and start all over, what would you do differently?
All little problems that have become apparent in the two years of game testing and buildup would be considered right away, but in general there is nothing that would have come out a lot better if done differently.
OMGN: Where do you see Pardus a year from now?
Pardus will be a different game then, with a lot more game features – just as it was a different game a year ago. Although the testing phase has officially ended months ago, we always want to improve as much as we can. Hopefully there will be even more players who enjoy playing our game.
OMGN: How is beta testing progressing?
Beta testing ran from April to October 2006, at which time Pardus went gold.
OMGN: Finally, would you like to add anything?
Thank you for he interview, and good luck! :)