I’d be lying if I said I was fully prepared for the recent EA Label Showcase in London.
Yes, I knew some of the people who I’d be interviewing and I knew just what to expect. I had all my questions scribbled down for talking to Chet Faliszek about Left4Dead and I had fully prepared myself to be slaughtered repeatedly in Battlefield: Heroes. Still though, there were two things that I hadn’t counted on.
The first was the revolving seating in the presentation room where journalists were introduced to the games on show. I was sat near the edge of the platform, so when it started to spin I almost fell over.
The second thing I wasn’t prepared for was Battleforge, an online card-based RTS from the creator of Settlers which was announced at the show. It came out of nowhere as far as I was concerned and that both shocked and intrigued me.
I took a chance to get familiar with the basics of the game with one of the designers, a charming fellow called Sebastian, but I was quickly grabbed up by the Creative Director and creator of Settlers, Volker Wertich. It turned out that he wanted to tell me about the game personally – something else I hadn’t counted on…
bit-tech:Ok, so Sebastian was just introducing me to the game, but let’s go from the top. Am I correct in saying there’s no offline mode in Battleforge?
Volker Wertich: Yes. It’s an online only real-time strategy game, though we do have some singleplayer missions.
BT:That’s kind of odd, isn’t it?
VW: Yeah, the reason for that is that we really wanted to be able to hand out rewards to players, which is a core part of the game, and also to prevent cheating players. By making everything run through an online server we can stop cheaters and make the game fairer too.
BT:So, there’s no cheats or anything at all? The game is cheat-proof?
VW: Ha! Well, in theory of course there can always be cheats, but we have the options available to close down those games.
BT:It’s an odd choice though, online singleplayer – what made you want to make a game like that? It’s almost like a new genre in some respects.
VW: Oh no, not really. If you play a MMORPG and you are killing stuff for experience then that…well, yes that is different because there are other players, but you can also be relatively alone. You just have the communication tools to contact other players.
What we did was approach the game the other way around though. Why we invented Battleforge is we noticed that lots of RTS games have lots of factors that are important for an online game. Things like accessibility, persistence, rewarding and socialising – these are all important in online games.
We noticed this and thought we could build something around it, so Battleforge will be the first long-term online RTS game.