Interview: Deadbreed Development Team Shares a Vision
The indie group of Swedish game developers that are building their MOBA Deadbreed, have been hard at work preparing a game that they believe is their own collective vision. Amidst all of the excitement and effort that being a project leader in a development team gone rouge must entail, we got a chance to ask Stefan Ljungqvist some questions about the upcoming game, and what we should expect from their new creation.
MMOBomb- First off, can you tell us a little about the team behind Deadbreed? All we really know is that some of you have worked on Just Cause. Do you have an official studio name?
Stefan Ljungqvist- We are (still) a somewhat mysterious group of veteran Swedish game developers that have gathered to make a game we are passionate about. We have decided to focus purely on making a great game rather than building “a studio”. So we are Deadbreed – pure and simple. For us it’s a focus statement. Perhaps this is more akin to the production structure of film where great individual talent and companies come together to make something spectacular rather than focusing on the business- and bureaucratic sides of forming a studio.
Some of us started making games in the early days of the ATARI demo-scene, and as we’ve grown older, we wanted to return to our roots where a small group of multitalented developers could work hard and passionate together on something they believed would be pure awesomeness, without putting too much thought in to if it would sell or not. And then once the major parts of your vision and game play is there, you can start thinking of the best way possible to reach your audience and find great partners to help you do it in the best way.
Working on big budget titles with a major publishing partner is also exciting, but there’s a difference in the amount of opinions involved and how decisions are made in regards of how the game plays, looks and feels. With a smaller, independent team you are able to make faster decisions and iterate quicker (read change your mind more often as you discover what works and what doesn’t) without going through too much bureaucracy and risk to impact the project and plan negatively, as all people making decisions are directly involved in the development of the game. This can also be an advantage for the vocal gamer, as early feedback from the community can impact on the direction we take the game, something that is currently happening with Deadbreed on Steam. We are reading all feedback from the community and take that into consideration that in as we continue development.
We all shared the vision of working in a smaller autonomous team, with shorter development cycles and focus on making the best game we possibly can. For me personally, I also wanted to get back into a more hands-on role for a change, where I could create too, not only lead or direct. And with my background as a pen-and-paper RPG and tabletop miniatures games designer, I really wanted to make a game that focus on well-designed characters and their progression.
Looking at the change in the industry over the course of the past five years or so, with the arrival of new exciting platforms, ways to deliver games to the players and possibilities in innovating how games are played, we’ve seen many experienced developers going indie. We are just one of many teams out there, trying to make it happen.
MMOBomb- What makes Deadbreed in your eyes “Hardcore”?
Stefan Ljungqvist- We are trying to make a game that will appeal to the gamer that wants a “deep” and expansive game play experience, a game that is not too hard to get started with, first and foremost fun to play and then hard to master. There’s more to this experience than what you see at first sight. Also, there must be a massive replayability factor. This is what constitutes a “hardcore” gaming experience in our eyes. A game that’ll require you to think – provides deep strategic and varied tactical challenges as well as rewards for skillful execution. But I guess some would also argue that a great level of detail, a niche theme and a more “gritty” look and feel are common contributing factors to a “hardcore” gaming experience.
MMOBomb- Unlike most MOBAs, which traditionally offer 5v5 as the standard game size, you've opted for smaller 3v3 matchups. Why is that?
Stefan Ljungqvist- First of all we wanted to have a fast-paced pulse to our game, aiming for matches clocking in around the twenty minute mark. Having fewer players is one way of ensuring that the games will be shorter. But this is not our only reason. Trinity also plays a part in team composition, making breed type selection (all Nightbreed, Daybreed, Halfbreed composition or a combo?) a tactical factor and also simplifies the team Sentinel voting. We also found that a three player team suited our exploration and quest gameplay better and last but not least, three player teams also sits well with our Clan/Guilds meta game. This said, I can say that we are looking at innovative ways to evolve our game play to allow more players and are exploring multi-team modes, like 3v3v3 maps for example.
MMOBomb- How important is farming in Deadbreed versus killing enemy players?
Stefan Ljungqvist- I guess it really depends on your style of play. Like in other MOBAs, a solid executed “farming” strategy will accumulate a significant amount of gold over time, while killing an enemy hero generates a larger chunk of gold. On a smaller map, there’s plenty of opportunity for player vs. player action, so in Deadbreed hero kills and deaths both become more frequent and therefore more important. In addition to creeps, the maps also feature other PvE elements that enable the player to accumulate gold – for example completing quests and exploring dungeons.
MMOBomb- Is there an item shop in game or does all hero customization occur outside of the match?
Stefan Ljungqvist- There’s an in-game “shop” and the basic concept of our shop will feel very familiar to players of other MOBAs with the huge exception that our interface revolves around the character and a drag-and-drop functionality showing your item changes in real time as you equip/unquip. You’ll be able to customize your hero both during and outside the match, however there are some additional features to this that we will continue to detail in the coming months.
MMOBomb- Speaking of customization, can you tell us more about how you can customize your hero through unlock-able artifacts, and can you elaborate on how those will wear down over time?
Stefan Ljungqvist- In addition to the possibility to adapt and remodel your favorite hero’s equipment, and thus the way he plays and looks during the game, Deadbreed offer the player the possibility to craft Artifacts. Artifacts are built from recipes like “normal” items, however they are unique meaning there can only be one in play at any given time during a game, adding an additional layer of strategy and tactical planning to hero item builds. In addition to this, Artifacts level up with games, unlocking relic slots that open up further customization opportunities for you to tune specific items for your favorite heroes. For fans of RPGs, the concept of “socketing” items should feel very familiar and for MOBA fans, you could really simplify this by saying we have moved the “runes” stats modifications associated with the player to individual items instead, and added unique effects on top to make these items really stand out in gameplay.
MMOBomb- In the trailer we see a ranged caster modified for melee combat, to what extent can you mix and match those playstyles and abilities?
Stefan Ljungqvist- This is the really unique feature of Deadbreed – the items you equip your hero with not only shape the way your hero looks while playing, they dictate the way he moves and attacks to. So equipping a one-handed sword and a shield will make your hero a melee fighter with that sword’s attack range and animation set, while re-equipping the same hero with as an archer change your attack range and animation set to bow and arrow. This opens up totally new ways for the player to explore custom items builds best suited for that particular hero’s abilities, opponents and match scenarios. In addition to this, we also have ways for the player to enhance, further customize and even re-tool hero abilities and will provide more information on that as we get closer to release.
MMOBomb- Tell us more about Sentinels, who are they and why do we want to change our
status with them?
Stefan Ljungqvist- The Sentinels are ancient guardians of the Deadbreed bloodlines – arbitrators of the infernal battlegrounds where dead breed strive to break their undead bonds and lay to final rest. These immortal deities have been charged solely with construction of and ruling over the battlegrounds of death and decay as a punishment for their doings in the real world, but behind the façades, they vie for power while swaying the dead breeds to their philosophy – an eternal conflict among themselves for the right to lead an uprise from this hell and reclaim their rightful place in the cosmos.
As you progress in the game, you’ll uncover the cabal of the Sentinels and learn more about their individual weaknesses and strengths and how they fit your heroes and play style. You prove your Zeal for a Sentinel by choosing it as your Guardian in a match. Then the outcome of that game will modify your Standing with that particular Sentinel, affecting its strengths, abilities and enhancements in coming games making it a more formidable last boss for the enemy team to conquer in order to win (and the other way around). As your Zeal increases, you’ll open up further paths of the cabal and gain access to older and more powerful Sentinels to devote to. Will you stay loyal to a specific breed lineage or even a single Sentinel? There are strategic decisions to be made and rewards to be claimed on a daily basis as your loyalty to the Sentinels are put to the test.
MMOBomb- You mention customizable map objectives like PvPQuests and Dungeons, could you give us an example of how those work?
Stefan Ljungqvist- We have several systems working simultaneously to deliver a more intriguing “RPG-like” experience without losing the intensity of MOBA experience. At the core, we have player behavior meta quest generation, which simplified means that the players’ basic actions and interactions are generating quests. For example, if my hero gets killed, I can get a quest with a two minute window to take revenge and claim an additional reward should I succeed and slay the enemy hero who killed me.
These types of quests are issued through our match broadcasting system. Then we have reoccurring map/environmental “questgivers” that are more narrative in context and can have horror presentation elements, but their quests still revolve around core game mechanics and activities. For example, you’ll encounter a witch den and can, if you are playing a Nightbreed hero (in this example), get quested instead of fighting. Most of these “narrative quests” are short and straight forward, like the witch asking you to acquire Nectar and deliver it to her before the end of a night cycle for a special item reward (carefully balancing time invested for gold value payback). Other common activities revolve around our special map resources (Spirit, Nectar and Blood), where players for example are able to raise dead from graves as followers by instilling them with Spirit, or summon a troll from its cave by dropping Blood on a troll stone. In addition to this you can also enable personal meta game quests, like for example quests/activities related to your chosen Sentinel guardian.
The concept of Dungeons is familiar to all hack’n slash fans – and our game has plenty of monsters and loot, however the big difference being that our Dungeons are much, much smaller in size and offer no way out than the way you went in, leaving you vulnerable to the enemy team. So, dungeons are our “mini-adventure” version of other MOBA’s monster nests. In regards of Dungeons, there’s always at least one fixed entry/exit point to a Dungeon in each map, however individual players can in addition to this enable an additional Dungeon (available to all players in the game) in the vicinity of their starting area, creating further options for an intended “jungler” type of player role.
MMOBomb- Is it your plan to offer different maps with different win objectives or scenarios?
Stefan Ljungqvist- Yes, we plan to add maps with time, however our initial release will be focused on a single awesome map. We think the depth of our core gameplay will give us plenty of time to work on additional maps after its gone live in Beta.
About the Author
Michael Dunaway has been part of the MMOBomb team for years and has covered practically every major Free-to-Play title since 2009.
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