Interview of David Cohen

Q : Could you tell us a bit about yourself ?

Hello, my name is David COHEN CORVAL. I founded Nevrax 3 years ago and I am the company's CEO as well as the producer for Ryzom. I'm 31 and I live in Paris.

Q : Can you give us a short description of Nevrax ?

Nevrax is a company dedicated to the creation, development and maintenance of MMOG. We have about 40 people working in a dozen of complementary teams. Our skills cover every aspects of the creation and conception of these new entertainment products :
-   World and game design.
-   Coding of new technologies (client, server, network, production and administration tools).
-   3D graphics (modelisation, textures, animation, special effects).
-   Maintenance of finished products.

Nevrax does not handle the administration of the game once released, even if we will of course always provide debug, updates, patches and add-ons for our games.

Q : Why did you decide to create a MMORPG ?

A lot of things. Mainly the frustration of not being able to "exist" in the worlds described in books. I usually don't have a lot of interest for the stories of the books I read. I quickly get bored by the adventures of their heroes. While reading, I start from what the text says and then try to imagine and create a sensorial description of what is not said. I'm really fond of sensorial immersion. A roleplaying game where everything happens only in your head is not enough when you have felt that sensorial immersion. A session of Call of Cthulhu in front of your character sheet, in the living room of your parents is nice. But it will be a lot better if you can bring your friends in the heart of a forest, by night, with only a few lanterns dimly lighting an abandoned shelter. This is now compulsory for me if I want to feel that "I've been there" feeling. Also, feelings do not exist if they cannot be fed by senses. I also dream a lot, and usually not the kind of dream that reviews the past day. I dream almost each night and I can almost always remember what it was about. I usually need an hour or so in order to be back to earthly matters. I need to express what I saw, heard and above all, what I felt. Nothing better than creating a MMORPG to re-open these doors to the fantasy world and go back into it, and this time, not alone !

Q : How long have you been working on Ryzom ?

For a long time. Its hard to be really acurate since Nevrax was created for Ryzom. Let's say since late 1999.

Q : How many people from Nevrax are working on the Ryzom project ?


Q : Can you give us a short insight of your typical day ?

I wake up at 8.00 (with the 'dreamache' I mentioned above), I have a shower, play with my cat and go to work (I usually eat something on the way) I'm at work at 9.30 and the TV series starts : - email (around 20 per day). - company administrative matters. - production review. - production work. - midday roundtable with the leads at 12.15. - lunch break in front of my mails. - company work. - production work. - review of the day at 7pm. - review of the company work at 8pm. - preparation of the next day. - back at home at 10pm. - diner and DVD (manga, documentary or cult movies). - I'm in bed at 1am with my laptop to check community websites - I eventually sleep at 2.30am (with some writing from time to time til morning).

Q : What inspired you when you created the universe of Ryzom ?

Many things, from the works of Miyazaki and David Attenborough to the single piece of moss you can find in our forests. I watch small scale life and I like constrasts and parallels between adverse items. Of course, you need a direction, a way that you can follow in order to create a consistant whole. And finally, there are the dreams.

Q : What is the main difference between Ryzom and other MMORPG ?

A lot of things. It depends on what you're talking about (code, game design, world design…). Basically, the main difference is the potential actions available to the players through guild features and in the world itself, that can all altered by these actions. That's what we want to do, and it is a very important part of the gameplay of Ryzom. General quality is also on top of our 'must have' lists. We don't want to be only different. What we want to create is a new entity, with an inovative shape and core. This will affect all levels, from the players who will inhabit Ryzom to the people who will operate the game and to our own future developements. Everyone will be satisfied with this, or our goal won't be achieved. The first version of Ryzom is only a starting point, but it has a crucial role. It is a foundation that we will all use to build the Saga of Ryzom (players, operators and developers alike). The difference will come with time and that's what will make the universe of Ryzom so rich and prolific. The liberal gameplay of Ryzom is quite inovative too, but is still attached to some of the classic RPG features (role, evolution, etc). The relationship between the universe and the gameplay is also especially rich, but eventually, the question about what makes Ryzom truly different should be asked to the players themselves.

Q : What is your best memory about the developement of Ryzom ?

The best one ? I can't tell... But one of the best is definitely the day I saw the first Fyros female walking in her town, calm and graceful, like a panthere on its hunting grounds. She was full of life, even without talking. At that point, I was convinced we were right.

Q : The worst ones ?

Again, I don't know. These last three years have been the best and the worst of my life. It's hard to think about punctual bad memories. You forget them, or they become less intense with time. Also, hard times and various problems are never solved on the moment, and they never come alone either. My worst memory during the developement of Ryzom will always be the anxiety and stress that follows everyone of us. Sometimes it is really alarming when uncontrolled events endanger our work. Even more when you cannot share it and when you have to work on in spite of it.

Q : The 'Saga' of Ryzom... Does this mean you have a specific evolution in mind for the game ?

A lot of evolutions are scheduled on different scales. As I said earlier, the Saga of Ryzom will have three parts. Each of these parts being divided in at least 2 worlds. Atys is the first world of the first part. After this, the Saga will open its doors to new territories, new playable civilizations, new creatures, new gameplay features, and more. Beyond the Saga itself, we plan to take the players to new horizons, pushing the current limits of the MMOG genre as long as the public will follow us.

Q : Anything you would like to add ?

I don't know when I will have the opportunity to adress the community again, so here it is. I know it can be annoying to wait a long time before being able to play a game. But if this can help, I would like to say that it is the same for me, and for all the people working on Ryzom. We too long for the day when we will be able to play Ryzom. Because only the fans will eventually be able to say if we were right or not. Meanwhile, as you will see in the newsletters, we are putting a lot of efforts into the game, and you will soon be able to see and hear Ryzon coming.