SmashMuck Champions Exclusive Interview
Smashmuck Champions is a new MOBA game developed by Kiz Studios, a team full of passion for their work and a particular love for the word muck. We travel to Planet Muck and delve into the mysteries of this free-to-play cartoon game.
MMOBomb: Can you introduce yourself and give us a small overview of Kiz Studios?
Sure, I’m Ben Rodgers, Lead Game Designer at Kiz Studios. We’re a small, independent studio working on multiple gaming platforms. Our studio is generally geared to a slightly younger demographic, but our appeal reaches far beyond that. SmashMuck is geared towards a slightly older crowd.
MMOBomb: How would you describe SmashMuck Champions? Is it fair for us to call it a MOBA-lite game? Is it aimed at casual players or is it intended for all types of players?
In most MOBA’s there’s a really hard entry point for new players. New players fuel the opposing team by getting killed, losing matches can go overlong, and players can get overwhelmed by choice. It makes the experience for new players very difficult, and less fun during that first match. Additionally, it frustrates more experienced players on the same team.
I like to think of SmashMuck more akin to a Class-Based FPS. Players can jump in with a very low barrier to learn the controls and contribute in some way to the team, even if it’s just running around attacking the first enemy they see. Short match times and fast respawn times give players lots of opportunity to learn without feeling like they’re failing or letting their team down.
In terms of a competitive vs. casual feel, we are striving to let first time players get into a game fast and have fun with their first match. That being said, there will always be a competitive component to SmashMuck. We have plans that cater to more hardcore players through Tournaments and Leagues. We should have more information on those at a later date.
MMOBomb: Can you give us a description of the game modes? Which one do you think will hold the players’ interest the most?
We support 5 game modes currently:
3v3 and 5v5 Plunderball: This is a capture the flag game mode.
5v5 Conquest: A control point capture mode. Each team attempts to control points on the map. The more points you hold, the faster your team’s score will increase. The first team to 100 points wins.
5v5 Siege: A Turret/ Garrison destruction mode. Each team spawns minions to help support their assault. A bomb at the center of the map can be used to blow up turrets. The first team to blow up the opponents Garrison wins the match.
5v5 Destroyer: Each team is in charge of a giant mechanical construct. The objective is to fuel your Destroyer to power it up while knocking out your opponent’s Destroyer.
We plan on rotating these different game modes out (keeping 5 possible PVP modes at all times) to make room for new game types. New game modes will stay in rotation based on how well they’re received. We want to keep the game fresh with constant updates to champions, equipment, and game types.
Based on feedback, lots of players seem to enjoy Destroyer a lot. 3v3 Plunderball remains very popular, but that might be due it being the easiest to get a game going during non-playtest days.
MMOBomb: How many champions do you expect to have by the time the open beta is available?
As many as we have time for. Currently, there are 16 in game now and two are still in internal testing. Building/testing new champs is probably the most fun we have at the office, so it’s not hard to get everyone on board for more. Obviously this number will be more solid when we get closer to entering Closed Beta.
MMOBomb: Will players be capable of summoning or recruiting other NPCs to help them in the battle?
Two of our current champs: Mainframe and Sprout, summon turrets that target enemies within range and provide buffs to nearby allies. Strategic placement of these turrets helps turn the tide of a battle for each of them. We have tried a skill-based summon before (on Mainframe) that followed him. It’s something we’re going to revisit for future champs and weapons.
In Conquest, players that capture points will summon a group of Minions to guard the point.
In Siege, Minions will spawn automatically from the garrison.
With new game modes, we can spawn Minions in all sorts of ways.
MMOBomb: You have some experience in Flash and Mobile games, but clearly SmashMuck Champions is your most ambitious game to date. Did you find any additional challenges during development?
This is the SmashMuck Team’s first foray into online development. We’ve had to basically start from the ground up. We’ve learned a ton over the course of our short development cycle so far. Things have had to be redone with our server and database that have had major changes to the game. Luckily, these problems have always ended up with a solution that worked to improve the game, rather than restrict our options.
MMOBomb: What kind of items are you planning to offer in micro-transactions? Are you carefully studying which items break the balance of such a game and avoiding it?
Our goal is to keep the game from being pay-to-win. All of our weapons have a trade-off that keeps them lined up with players that don’t choose to buy anything. Our other power-boosting items such as Badges and Training Routines have Coach Level requirements that will factor into the matchmaking system. All of these items are purchasable by playing the game and earning the in-game currency. The only items that can only be purchased through micro-transactions are purely cosmetic features, such as Skins and Emotes.
We have several different metrics in place to track and adjust the power of champs and equipment. We also use this data to determine which champions will get additional skins, weapons, and emotes during our updates.
MMOBomb: How did you come up with the idea of having all your games themed around Planet Muck? Do you have your next games already planned in your mind?
The SmashMuck team is a small branch of Kiz Studios, a team consisting of 8 full-time developers. The rest of the studio is currently working on three additional games developed for mobile devices. Each of these games is within the Planet Muck universe, but don’t relate to SmashMuck specifically.
For future games, we are in the process of designing an Asynchronous Turn-Based Strategy game for Mobile Devices in which we hope to tell more of the Planet Muck story.
MMOBomb: When can we expect the open beta?
We don’t have an official date for Open Beta at the moment. Once we get closer to our Open Beta date, we should have more information.
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