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An interview with zanzarino! http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=20705.msg263046#msg263046
« on: February 02, 2011, 10:46:54 PM »
Don't you ever wish you'd get to know just a little more about Elements? And who could tell you what you'd want to know? I think there's only one man fit for the job, and that's the Creator himself:

zanzarino!

Luckily, I managed to snatch him for a little interview, I hope you'll enjoy it!


vrt:First things first: Who are you, where are you from, and what do you do for a living?

zanz: Who am I? Just a 32-year old guy from Italy, from a small town close to Milan; I moved to Ohio 4 years ago and I do web design for a living.

vrt: How did you first come up with the idea of Elements?

zanz: I was working on a final project for a class I was taking at college (Interactive media design) and I decided to create a small CCG based on an idea I had in my mind for a while.

I thought about the 12 elements while browsing http://na.aiononline.com/. Aion is a MMO with great graphic design and amazing music, yet, it was still using the same old warrior/ranger/mage/priest format. I was disappointed and tired of MMO's having the usual 4 classes and I really wished I could create something refreshingly new so I drew this on a piece of paper.



vrt: Did you ever expect Elements to become as big as it has?

zanz: No, but I actually saw some potential while I was working on my project so I decided to make it "real" and actually put it online. For a few weeks I worked on it full time. My girlfriend's comment was "Are still working on that game?". Now she is asking "How many visits did Elements get today?". (We average about 18,000 visits per day now, not counting Kongregate!)

When I published Elements I did not expect much from it and the server structure was not ready for such a success either, maybe someone here still remembers those days where it was hard to even login to the game.

vrt: The community is pretty loud; does this ever bother you?

zanz: Not at all. Online communities are loud by definition and being loud means that someone cares about the game. I am sure that if we had a "tic tac toe online" community that one would be very quiet. All of my appreciation goes to ScaredGirl for managing such a big loud community and for keeping it under control.
 

vrt: Do you ever look at the card ideas section, and use it?

zanz: I often look at card ideas, and I sometime decide to use some (kind of evident in 1.26), I used to avoid implementing card ideas from the community because of the "why didn't he choose my idea" effect. But some ideas were very good and I noticed that usually the community is happy about those cards being implemented even if I am taking only parts of the idea.

I also often spend time reading all of those stories, forum games and creative ideas stemming from my original idea of the 12 elements. I am often surprised and flattered to see that so many found that idea inspiring. Maybe a MMO based on elements would really have a huge success: how do you feel about an MMO where instead of the boring, overused warrior you have a gravity elemental gravity pulling all of the enemies on him while a entropy elemental is creating some strange random pet-creatures and an aether elemental is making those creatures immaterial?
What I tend to ignore are the polls, those are usually quite biased on “what does this change do for my deck”, as opposed to “what does this change do for the game”. I am sure that a poll that would ask "Would you make nymphs easier to obtain" or "Would you tone down some of the False Gods" would have obvious outcomes, yet I still do not think those changes are good for the game.
vrt: What future plans are there for Elements, besides things such as the t500? How are the plans to prevent 'grinding'?

zanz: I had lots of ideas in my mind, but not much time, so I'll have to make some decisions soon. Some of my ideas are:
    T500 (you already mentioned it).[/li]Daily quests, randomized and based on the 12 elements: Today time, kill N enemies within 15 minutes. Tomorrow life, defeat N enemies with an EM etc.[/li]The World of Elements idea, with the map etc. is still there, and the T500 might actually be a step in that direction since the database structure might be quite similar for the two.[/li] Adding personal pets; that gain experience, level and gain skills is also something I thought about.[/li] Adding 12 factions, or empires, where you decide to gain loyalty toward a certain faction and lose loyalty from the opposing faction doing certain quests. E.g. I do quests for light and the darkness faction starts hating me. When my loyalty level is high enough I get some special reward (something like a light mark augmentation, or a special light card)[/li]Adding 12 professions that allow players to create personalized cards. Creating a card would require materials and a certain proficiency level[/li]

vrt: Any intention of making Elements into an iPhone app?

zanz: It would take me years to do that, and I have the feeling that by the time I am done with it, iPhones will have the technology to use the browser version without a dedicated app.

Did I tell you that I played an Elements game on my droid the other day? The graphic was not that good, it was slow and it was hard to click on the cards... but making a mobile friendly flash version would still be much easier than re-coding everything.
vrt: Speaking of which; how often do you actually play Elements for your own entertainment?

zanz: Never. I tried several times, and I always found myself fixing bugs or adding content instead.
vrt: On the forum, a lot of people try and sort the elements into categories. Do (or did) you have a clear description of what you think the elements actually are?

zanz: I do have a very clear idea of what the elements are and what the elementals look like in my mind. I wish I had time to do some detailed artwork for each element but it would take too much time to do a decent job, I also tried to write a small description for each elements but it still really takes too long... I'll add the description for the first 3 just as a sample:

    Entropic elementals do now have a defined form; they look fluid, ever-changing in shape. Entropy itself works like a force that separates and creates random entities at the same time, like dropping some black ink in a glass of clear water, what is that thing that created all of those strange shapes within the water? Entropy.[/li] Death elementals are often made of what’s left from a living creature after its demise, you can picture them as made of bones, but that would be simplistic, most of them are made of a liquid similar to petroleum or a solid similar to coal. They often look like frail skinny figures, but they will not die if you stick a knife where you think their heart should be, in fact, the best way to hurt them is to try to heal them – burning them might be an option. Death is that force that incessantly infects, ruins, poisons and causes a living thing to finally give up; it forces them to attempt to create an offspring before too much damage is done to preserve the spark of life. Do not judge it as an evil force; it is also what keeps the death/ life cycle of the universe in motion.[/li] Gravity elementals are chunky, dense, heavy beings, somewhat similar to sumo wrestlers. They control that force that pulls you close to another object and its direction. They can decide to make themselves a center of gravity making you fall toward them; or they can decide to put that center of gravity somewhere else in the space and they can simply fall there, instead of walking. They ultimately control acceleration, and the motion of anything around them. Gravity works sometime as the opposite of entropy, remember that drop of ink dissolving in the glass of water? Gravity elementals could turn it back into a perfect sphere of ink suspended in the middle of the water.[/li]

vrt: In Elements, one can see a lot of influences from Greek, Egyptian, and Roman legends and folklore. What else inspires you?

zanz: Pretty much anything that is somewhat well known, so that there is a common background between me and the player… but at the same time fantastic enough, so that the original idea can be adapted to the world of elements.

In other words: I could create a card and call it Svruncatillax and pretend it is an airborne neurotoxin that only I know of, that flows from plants when they are pissed off and it makes people commit suicide. But that would make no sense, and if I would make a movie based on it, it would be a terrible movie, right?

What I am trying to do is start with a known concept from legends, science, or pop-culture; add some nice art that stimulates imagination and finally create a fantasy variation of the original concept.


vrt: A game like this would look great on a resume; would you want to pursue a career in game design?

zanz: I had a few companies contacting me, one worth mentioning would be Zynga (http://www.zynga.com/); someone from Zynga was very impressed with Elements and called me. But at the HR department some other guy wasn’t really impressed with my resume since most of my work experience is actually in chemical engineering (we will leave that detail of my existence as a mystery) and had nothing to do with game design. I never got an interview, but I am quite sure that if they did actually interviewed me I would be working for them now.

vrt: Elements has had contributions made to it by one other programmer that we know of; ChrisKang. Whatever happened to him?

zanz: I have no idea, he actually found Elements while I was extremely busy on some other projects and he did a good job at understanding the code and adding a few variations, but when I got back and spoke with him, and actually gave him parts of the code to work on… he vanished. It was probably too much work without an explicit income for him.
vrt: There's been quite a few mentions of hacking; such as to get more nymphs, money, or score. Is safety a high feature on the to-do list?

zanz: The vast majority of hacked accounts are already automatically removed. There are many hackers out there that keep on trying to hack into the game, and I am not even trying to stop them, it would just make elements more entertaining from their point of view. All they can do right now is adding whatever they want to their account, but everything will be immediately removed from the database anyway; or add their score to Mochiads, that is actually so easy to do that if I was a hacker, I would feel like insulting myself for putting a name there, one of the main reasons to get rid of the T50 system. Trying to make Elements completely hack proof would mean no more development at all. Also, I am not a bank, and I do not have any credit card information stored anywhere, since Paypal handles anything vaguely related to money.
vrt: Mitosis and Acceleration being good examples; you tend to tone down cards a little before they make it into the game. Do you show them stronger on purpose, or is this really just community feedback?

zanz: I tend to follow a 'W'-shaped curve, the initial idea is often a little overpowered so that we can test how useful the card can be, but it will probably be “nerfed” before release because it is much easier to “buff” a card later rather than “nerfing” it later.

Fractal is a good example of a card that was not nerfed enough before release and now touching it means having frustrated players that leave their gold fish sitting in front of a sushi special on food network just to get some type of revenge. We cannot do that, PETA might be disappointed.
vrt: Speaking of new cards; anything you want to let the community know? :)

zanz: Anytime a card concept is born it can be found on the development page. The only card I can think of that should be here soon but is not on that page yet is Sanctuary.




A big thank you to zanzarino for doing this! I hope you enjoyed the read.
So long and thanks for all the fish!

Offline BluePriest

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Re: An interview with zanzarino! http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=20705.msg263050#msg263050
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2011, 10:56:54 PM »
now THATS an interview! Awesome look inside zanz's life
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Re: An interview with zanzarino! http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=20705.msg263051#msg263051
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2011, 10:57:05 PM »
Heh.. PETA. He always manages to sneak in a bit of humour.

Since I've known about daily quests and the rest for a long while, I'm not gonna say anything more on that than what I've already said: it's awesome. But what really gets me excited is the faction concept. Not that I want to become enemies with Time or anything, but it would really give the game a more RPG-y feeling, which is also a more personalised feeling. Like you actually -are- this elemental. Exactly what I'd love.
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Offline Ekki

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Re: An interview with zanzarino! http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=20705.msg263055#msg263055
« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2011, 11:05:10 PM »
Awesome interview :D

Love the idea of daily quests, and WoE development...

Thanks Zanz!

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Re: An interview with zanzarino! http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=20705.msg263064#msg263064
« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2011, 11:18:37 PM »
Quote
T500 (you already mentioned it).
Daily quests, randomized and based on the 12 elements: Today time, kill N enemies within 15 minutes. Tomorrow life, defeat N enemies with an EM etc.
The World of Elements idea, with the map etc. is still there, and the T500 might actually be a step in that direction since the database structure might be quite similar for the two.
Adding personal pets; that gain experience, level and gain skills is also something I thought about.
Adding 12 factions, or empires, where you decide to gain loyalty toward a certain faction and lose loyalty from the opposing faction doing certain quests. E.g. I do quests for light and the darkness faction starts hating me. When my loyalty level is high enough I get some special reward (something like a light mark augmentation, or a special light card)
Adding 12 professions that allow players to create personalized cards. Creating a card would require materials and a certain proficiency level
Zanz, it's epic ideas like these that keep me and many others sticking to Elements. All of these ideas are simply great and I'd love to see them implemented into the game at some point. Personal pets sound especially awesome.

Quote
like dropping some black ink in a glass of clear water, what is that thing that created all of those strange shapes within the water?
Brownian motion? :P

Quote
I could create a card and call it Svruncatillax and pretend it is an airborne neurotoxin that only I know of, that flows from plants when they are pissed off and it makes people commit suicide. But that would make no sense, and if I would make a movie based on it, it would be a terrible movie, right?
Dude, this would be the best movie EVER. Seriously? Angry plants --> neurotoxin --> suicide? Epic.

Quote
The only card I can think of that should be here soon but is not on that page yet is Sanctuary.
Can anyone tell me exactly what this does? A quick forum search has many references to it, but what exactly does it do?

--
All in all, a great job interviewing, vrt, and a great look into Zanz's world.

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Re: An interview with zanzarino! http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=20705.msg263066#msg263066
« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2011, 11:22:44 PM »
Wewt! World Of Elements all the way!

This was a nice read, very informative and answered a few burning questions too.
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Re: An interview with zanzarino! http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=20705.msg263071#msg263071
« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2011, 11:30:58 PM »
Thanks to Vrt and Zanz for this, it was quite interesting :)

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Re: An interview with zanzarino! http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=20705.msg263072#msg263072
« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2011, 11:31:15 PM »
Loved it thanks vrt and Zanz!

Quote
# Adding 12 factions, or empires, where you decide to gain loyalty toward a certain faction and lose loyalty from the opposing faction doing certain quests. E.g. I do quests for light and the darkness faction starts hating me. When my loyalty level is high enough I get some special reward (something like a light mark augmentation, or a special light card)
# Adding 12 professions that allow players to create personalized cards. Creating a card would require materials and a certain proficiency leve
 :o :o AWESOME.

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Re: An interview with zanzarino! http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=20705.msg263074#msg263074
« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2011, 11:32:18 PM »
Wow, it's rare I actually stop to read something as long as this, but this kept me very entertained.  One thing really surprised me though:  The image of each Elemental as a relation to the Element he/she represents.  I doubt I would have ever even considered an Elemental's appearance to reflect the Element he/she embodies and I'm extremely eager to hear the remainder of these revealed at some point in the future.  Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, zanz :)
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Re: An interview with zanzarino! http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=20705.msg263080#msg263080
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2011, 11:36:13 PM »
Quote
The only card I can think of that should be here soon but is not on that page yet is Sanctuary.
Can anyone tell me exactly what this does? A quick forum search has many references to it, but what exactly does it do?
Zanz mentioned this in chat one day. It would be a permanent, probably :light, that stops hand and quanta disruption for the owner.
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Re: An interview with zanzarino! http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=20705.msg263089#msg263089
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2011, 11:54:16 PM »
Quote
Dude, this would be the best movie EVER. Seriously? Angry plants --> neurotoxin --> suicide? Epic.
I saw that movie. I dont remember the name, sorry.

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Re: An interview with zanzarino! http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=20705.msg263094#msg263094
« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2011, 12:00:06 AM »
Awesome interview!

Thank You both!

 

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