Namco's Yoshinori Sato has revealed further information about the company's first massively multiplayer online RPG, Tales of Eternia Online. The game has been in development for two years, in association with game developer Dwango. Tales of Eternia Online will be set in the world of the PlayStation game Tales of Eternia, which was renamed Tales of Destiny II for its North American release. This world was chosen due to the original game's uniqueness in having two different worlds for the player to explore, Inferia and Celestia, which naturally makes for an interesting concept to expand upon in an MMORPG. It is known that Inferia will be available when the game launches; Celestia will be unveiled some time later. Whether or not Celestia will retain its own unique language from the original game remains to be seen.
Mr. Sato stated that Namco is developing the game with the "greater Asian market in mind." The Tales series was chosen for the project due to its unique anime-influenced style, which is popular throughout Asia. The PC-based game is being designed to run on computers that would be found in a typical Asian Internet Cafe, due to their widespread popularity in the region. While exact systems requirements have yet to be announced, it is known that the earliest operating system capable of playing the game is Windows 98 SE.
Tales of Eternia Online's plot will take place around the middle of the PlayStation game's timeline, just before the party crosses over to Celestia. While the games' stories do overlap, there has not yet been mention of appearances of the original game's main characters, although such crossovers cannot be ruled out. What will be retained for the online game are many of the series' traditional elements, changed slightly to facilitate an online game. An example of this is the "skit" system, in which players will converse with each other via a window that pops up with the respective players' character pictures, as seen in previous games in the series. The character image will be created by the player when they create their character at the start of the game, through the selection and combination of various eyes, hairstyle, facial shapes, etc.
Battles will retain the series' familiar "linear motion battle system", but as the integration of this into the game is not complete as of yet, concrete information on how this will translate over to the PC is not yet known. Players will be able to use a keyboard and a mouse in battle; gamepad support has not been announced. Parties can consist of up to four players, although solo play is also possible; after a battle begins, additional players can jump into the fight to assist the party. At the end of each battle, the party leader determines how items and experience are distributed among players who participated.
Five character classes have already been revealed for the game, however: Warriors, who specialize in defense; Swordsmen, who specialize in attacks; Martial Artists, who are capable of using both healing and attacking abilities; White Sorcerers, capable of healing and support magic; and Magic Sorcerers, who utilize attack magic. A guild system will also be present in the game.
Minigames are another series tradition returning in Tales of Eternia Online. Notable is a game in which the player can cook various dishes using a variety of items obtained through the course of the game.
Tales of Eternia Online is scheduled to begin beta testing in Japan in early 2005, with a Spring release to follow. Launches in other Asian territories are expected within the following year.