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AusGamers Battlecry Developer Interview with Rich Vogal
Post by Steve Farrelly @ 11:38pm 28/05/14 | Comments
AusGamers was invited to get hands-on with Battlecry Studios' Battlecry F2P game, and also spoke with industry legend Rich Vogal about where the game, and the studio, is at. Read on for what he had to say...

AusGamers: Alright so you guys gave us some background before on what you’ve been up to, and playing [Battlecry] was a silky smooth experience that I really enjoyed. What was the major tenet in going into the project like this for a budding, young studio? Going into a space like free-to-play where you do have such strong contenders?

Rich Vogal: We certainly do. We looked at all the competition and we said “here is what we are not doing”, and that was the first thing we said. Tons of FPS’ are coming out free-to-play, there is no way we are going to compete with that, and there is no way we are going to compete with big titles like Call of Duty or Battlefield. You just can’t, so we said “that’s out”. We looked at MOBAs and there are too many out there so that was out. We looked at RPGs or CRPGs and said no -- we didn’t really want to compete with that either as there would be a ton out there.

So we said, “how about action-combat?”. We looked at each other and said “I don’t know of any multiplayer action-combat games out there”. The team asked why, and we looked everywhere and we couldn’t find a single one, realising that there was this white space that could be filled. So our first mission of our game for last year was getting the fun; getting our core combat fun as we had to mix melee and ranged together and that isn’t an easy thing to do. Then we had to come up with a fiction that made sense as we wanted it to not occur in the 15th, 16th or 17th century. We actually wanted it to occur in the realm of when Empires existed, like 1910 to 1917.

So we said if we are going to do that, we need a reason why you can’t have guns, and so that’s why we came up with the idea of gunpowder being banned and the whole pansophic technology that exists if gunpowder wasn’t available. How would the world evolve? This is also where the idea of battle zones came about, so we all thought of Clint Eastwood’s movie where he had all the people paint the town red before the bad guys came, so that’s why you saw that kind of artstyle where everything was painted red and this is the battle zones we created.

Viktor Antonov kind of wanted to make it very pretty, and very allegorical to ‘this is the time you are going to die’, what would the world look like to you in this kind of phase when you’re between life and death. So that’s why, as we said in the presentation, we developed that look that people say “I know what that is,” and we were really impressed with Journey and other [videogames] that came out with a very different look. We wanted to come out with a very dramatic, engaging look that people would know, and that’s how that look came about as well.

AusGamers: How difficult was it to nail down the melee in a multiplayer aspect?

Rich: We worked so hard. Our first eight months, that’s all we were doing was getting that camera position. We wanted a tight camera, we didn’t want a huge [third-person camera] pulled back, or overhead -- we wanted it tight. So we have over-the-shoulder. We also wanted the combat to feel visceral and intimate. There are also a lot of things that you haven’t seen yet that will be put into the combat to make it more realistic. What we are doing with the range and the melee is making sure the camera is fluid as well as the animation. So people feel like they have actually hit somebody, and that it is dead-on and really action-orientated. The whole template is action-combat, so we go forward making sure it feels action-combat. Arkham Asylum and God of War were big things we looked at for their combat and you know I said for our elevator pitch, I pitched it as Team Fortress 2 meets 300.

AusGamers: It makes perfect sense, and to know that you are kind of looking at pedigree like Arkham Asylum -- I mean Batman’s combat is second-to-none -- and not looking at FPS games or anything else in the space in that capacity speaks volumes about how you’ve come in and approached this in a completely different way. This leads me into my next question, why free-to-play? Why not a straight up retail title?

Rich: Bethesda put us on a mission -- they wanted to get in this market. We want to get into the free-to-play market, but keep the Bethesda quality and engagement there. So we wanna offer people real value, make sure we differentiate ourselves because we are actually offering high quality, Triple-A values to a free-to-play game. The other philosophy that we wanted to go into the game with is there are no gates in our game that you have to pay to go through. We want to make sure that players see something, it’s a value to them, and they want to purchase it. We aren’t going to stop you from doing things in the game because you can’t afford it. We aren’t about that.

That was key to our philosophy as well, so that if we offer value to a player, we believe they will come and they will play it and we offer valuable things that people want. They can play and earn iron and get those things if they want them as well, or if they want to go buy things we have vanity items, convenience items but not things that you can increase your advancement by paying. That’s not what we are going to do, and we won’t block or gate you.

AusGamers And the in-game currency that you earn, all you’re really doing is just fast tracking that if you pay any money?

Rich: No, nothing will help you advance in the game that you can purchase. You have to play to earn that. We are going to make sure that happens, we are big believers of that. There are things you can do for convenience that give you, for example, temporary boosts that can be bought from the market, but they aren’t permanent. You can also buy items to make your character look cool, but we’ll talk more about that later down the track.

Again though, there are no gates in the game. There are no items to advance you quickly through the game if you pay.

AusGamers: In Australia we are obviously geographically challenged when it comes to server infrastructure, so what can you talk about in regards to servers?

Rich: Right now our philosophy is “to be on the cloud.” I can’t tell you who the cloud is, as we have three vendors right now. So we are distributed, and that’s what we want to be and our whole game and approach is global.

AusGamers: Platform-wise, are you aiming for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One?

Rich: It’s PC right now, you can make your inference of what we might do but I can’t tell you right now. We are aiming for launching on PC first.

AusGamers: Any second-screen stuff for character management?

Rich: We are looking into that, again our whole mission statement is to be play a game anytime anywhere. It is why we were formed, so don’t be surprised if things like that do come out.

AusGamers: Will there be any sort of player created content as well? Mods are a really big thing for PC, so will you be supporting that with Battlecry?

Rich: It certainly is, and it is not something we are ignoring is all I can say. But yes, it is absolutely huge.

AusGamers: Coming back to the actual fiction of the game, when you look at some of the other games in these spaces they are not as rich as even the short amount that you showed us here. How deep have you gone?

Rich: Every character that you see playing today have names and a backstory to share. We’ll be explaining more on our website as we move on to our launch. So every single one of the enforcers will have a huge backstory about how this character is formed, why they became what they are and that’s done for every single class we have. So there is a big backstory, and that is important to Bethesda and something we see that gamers love.

AusGamers: We got to see a bit of the artstyle and it really captures a lot of different influences like you previously said, so my question is will you be looking at adding different universes in at all?

Rich: We don’t know, everything is open right now. However, Viktor worked really hard with our team, and we worked really hard to get this look so the whole goal of making something that people recognise as our game I think we really achieved.

AusGamers: So you are going to be offering a beta in 2015, will there be a soft launch at all?

Rich: We will have the ability to go soft launch, we’re just not announcing dates yet. When you go to our website now we are asking people to fill in lists and asking players to sign up for potential beta signups.

AusGamers: In terms of maps, obviously we only saw one today, do you have a lofty figure at the moment?

Rich: We have several in development with different games modes. You were playing one game mode that we first started with to get our combat loot down and is our most polished, however, we have several in the pipeline that we are working on.

AusGamers: Could you go into detail a bit more about the metagame?

Rich: Not right now, we really haven’t set everything down. We have a formation of a high level plan we want to do and make sure everything we develop is working towards that but we don’t really want to talk about anything until we totally have it in the game and working. Right now that isn't the case, but we are aiming to be big. We want to allow factions and communities to join together, to join the forces and to fight for territory. It’s a metagame basically.

AusGamers: Can you talk about the rewards that come about from that?

Rich: There will be rewards for factions that fight together but we haven’t decided what they will be.

AusGamers: It sounds like we’ll need to wait for E3 and beyond for more information, so Rich we’ll leave it there, but thank you for your time.

Rich: Absolutely. Thanks man, appreciate it.
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