In an interview over on Venturebeat
), Monolith Producer Ruth Tomandl has a lot to say about their upcoming Lord of the Rings-themed MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) title, interestingly explaining how the developer doesn't see the console-focused Guardians of Middle-earth as competing with the successful and entrenched PC MOBA titles like DoTA and League of Legends:
I think it’s an advantage for us, certainly, to be only coming out on the consoles. It’s let us focus on making a really good console game, but it also eliminates any question of competing. Because yeah, those games are very established. They’ve had a lot of time to iterate. They’ve had a lot of time to polish and come out with new champions and stuff. I think if we went head-to-head with that, we wouldn’t have a very good chance. Guardians of Middle-earth is a new game, and it doesn’t have all the history and polish and established fanbase. I think being on the consoles gives us a chance to surprise players and give them something that’s familiar to them, but also new.
I think that we’ve seen that with MOBA players..we brought a lot of professional MOBA players down here to test the game and give us feedback on it. They said that they felt like it was a separate genre. Part of it is that they’re so steeped in their particular game and all the minutiae of it. Anything that deviates slightly from it, they see it as completely different. But also, they said that there were enough differences, the controls were different enough, that they didn’t really consider it to be in the same genre as the PC MOBAs. I think it’s a good place for Guardians to be in. It’s something that people recognize, but at the same time we’ve been surprising people. It’s always a good thing to pleasantly surprise people with your game.
Elaborating on the gameplay differences that tailoring a MOBA title to control-pad player for a console audience, Tomandl goes further to explain some of the practical ways the game diverges from the PC genre's traditions:
A lot of it is the pacing. The matches are shorter. You get into matches more quickly. When you get into a match, you start the larger battles more quickly. We shortcut some of that initial laning and jockeying for position and getting a creep score phase. I think pretty much all of the PC MOBAs have that. We start you off with three abilities unlocked already. The map is a little smaller, so you move between lanes a lot more. There’s more incentive to move between lanes. I think it just gets into more of a fast-paced battle more quickly. Which is something I think console gamers are more interested in. PC gamers, I think, have more patience to invest a lot of time and then reap the rewards of it, whereas console gamers want to get in, play a match, get out, and get more expertise that way, by playing more matches. I think that’s the biggest difference people will notice. We’ve also added some things like upgrading your towers. Upgrading your soldiers. The shrine captures. That kind of thing. The player customization. The character customization is different. But I think the biggest change people will notice is the pacing.
There's more juice in the full interview for console players looking for something new, and seasoned PC MOBA vets interested in some couch-time, so head over to Venturebeat
for the rest.
Guardians of Middle-earth is scheduled for a digital distribution release on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in Spring 2012 (Northern Fall).