Wow, a quick run to Google turns up quite a few games credited to you, and related to a range of interesting intellectual properties to boot! Are there any titles you’d like to highlight as games you’re especially proud of, or that serve as clear milestones in your career?
The most recent game that I’ve worked on is an adaptation of Samurai, a board game by award-winning designer Reiner Knizia. It really showed us that building an online community of thousands of players is a blast and that inspired us to focus more on the online experience.
I gather you created a lot of Windows PC games before moving on to iOS. What drove your decision to make such a leap, and what’s been the most challenging aspect of this transition?
Actually, the transition was a gradual one at first. I started out doing mobile development for J2ME enabled devices in 2007 and worked through Windows Mobile, Blackberry, and Android before discovering the joy of the iOS platform. For me, it’s clear that iOS really is the key platform to support.
As an independent studio we’ve found the biggest challenge with iOS has been getting a fair share of attention in the App Store. With the high volume of games being released almost daily, it’s increasingly difficult to stand out. That’s why we’re bringing out a new type of gameplay with Legion of the Damned.
William Dietz has mentioned that you & co. are longtime fans of his novels – it must be so exciting for the Offworld team to be working on such a project! So how did an opportunity like this come about?
No doubt, this is a super exciting project! We’ve been planning on making a turn-based wargame for years now and one of the questions was what setting to place it in. We thought back to our favorite combat SF books and since Legion of the Damned was at the top of the list, we thought, why not start at the top? We contacted him with our proposal and were excited to hear it was something he’d been looking to do as well.
Help us get a feel for how the gameplay mechanics are shaping up. Should we expect a table-top wargame style reminiscent of Reiner Knizia’s Samurai, or have you deviated significantly from that kind of formula? And what will the interface be like?
Legion of the Damned is a turn-based strategy game so it has some elements that play like a table-top wargame. Players will have a third-person view of the battlefield, and fog of war will restrict what enemies they can see based on the position of their units and the surrounding terrain.
We’ve taken great strides to make the interface as intuitive and easy to use as possible; even players who have never tried a turn-based strategy game before should find it very easy to get up and running. Early screenshots are available at www.legionofthedamned.com.
Is all game content derived from pre-existing material in the Legion of the Damned books, or does anything constitute an expansion of the series’ universe?
Nearly all the units in Legion of the Damned are based on pre-existing material from the books. One of our goals when designing the combat was to make it feel like an actual battle that you’d read about, so players familiar with the series might have a leg up on the competition at first.
However, for gameplay balance, there are a few units that were designed for the game. With Bill’s help, we’ve made sure the new units are consistent with the races that created them, and that they follow the overarching theme of the game.
How challenging has it been to develop Legion of the Damned’s Online Multiplayer mode? Have you decided on the maximum number of players who can join a game?
As we’ve seen with the development of iOS games, online multiplayer is really where it’s at. While we’ve definitely made sure that the game has a challenging and “no cheat” AI, a big chunk of the game’s design is to accommodate online play.
Up to four players can engage in the same battle with options allowing for every player for themselves or team play. Players will also be allowed to rate and share the maps they’ve created, which continually builds the community and maximizes replay value.
The Custom Map Builder feature sounds really cool. Will players be getting pretty much the exact same interface the development team uses to create campaign levels, or will it be streamlined in any way?
Except for a few small simplifications, the custom map builder will be essentially the same as what we’re using to create the campaign levels. This is key for ensuring the game has lasting replay value and players have lots of options when designing their maps.
In addition to using the custom map builder, players will also have the option to generate random maps as well.
Finally, let’s give you an opportunity to plug the art, voice, and music talent recruited for Legion of the Damned. Have you worked with these artists on previous projects, or is this their first collaboration with Offworld Games?
Two of the people we have worked with on previous projects, including music composer Mike Weiser and artist Vaclav Jakubek, but two new talents we’ve brought on for this project are Mattias Holmgren (Morningdew Media) and Alex Iglesias (mecha artist extraordinare).
We’re also working with six different voice actors, lead by Chris Hawkins (Sgt. Major Booly) and Liz Fairbanks (Windsweet), for the campaign mode and will be releasing a teaser trailer soon that will showcase the awesome work they’ve done.
Big thanks to Conlan Rios for taking the time out to complete this interview while he programs away on Legion of the Damned. You can get a fuller view of Conlan’s game development history at his personal website. Thanks again to Rodika at Offworld Games for facilitating.
While you’re waiting to see how Legion of the Damned shapes up, check out the early screens available at the game’s official site. Also keep an eye on Offworld Games’ studio site, Twitter feed, and Facebook page for the latest news.