Bloodline Champions Interview: No Crits, All Skill
Questions by Neil (Murxidon) Kewn, OnRPG Journalist
Answered by Tau Petersson, CEO of Stunlock Studios
Bloodline Champions is an exciting arena-based PvP game brought to us by Stunlock Studios, we sat down with Tau Petersson the CEO of Stunlock Studios to ask some questions on this highly anticipated title.
OnRPG: Could you outline the main premise of Bloodline Champions?
Sure. Bloodline Champions is an arena PvP game where player skill and teamplay is the most important factor of them all. We wanted to make an online action-oriented game where there were no random numbers, not target locking, no critical hits. We wanted player skill to be the most important factor.
OnRPG: The game is currently in closed beta, how has the reaction been so far?
It's been very good; the game focus completely on PvP and a lot of players says it's the kind of PvP game they've been waiting on for a long time. That's really the sort of feedback that we wanted to hear, so we're very happy. The feedback from the press too has been very positive, which is great.
OnRPG: Comparisons may be drawn between the arena combat in Bloodline Champions and that seen in a lot of massively multiplayer games (World of Warcraft being a prime example), what differentiates the two in terms of core gameplay?
In Bloodline Champions all abilities are aimed, so there's no target system. This requires a different kind of skill than most MMO PvP and gives a fast paces gameplay that a lot of people seem to find highly entertaining. There's also no luck or critical hits in Bloodline Champions, to help make sure the best players win. Those are probably the biggest differences, but there are also many other things that sets the two apart.
OnRPG: There are three game modes in Bloodline Champions, Arena, Capture the Flag and Conquest. With Arena being the standard no respawn, kill or be killed affair and the second mimicking Capture the Flag, Conquest makes for an interesting gameplay twist. What can players expect from Conquest?
Conquest is a game mode where teams take control over certain point on a map, when you hold all points you keep the enemy team from respawning. So if they don't manage to get control over one of the points after a certain amount of time or they all get killed, your team wins.
OnRPG: Although 1v1 battles are available, team combat is likely to the most anticipated feature of Bloodline Champions, are there any mechanics in place to help teams establish themselves within the game? (Team names, logos, etc.)
To play with a pre-made team in the ladder you get to create a team with a name and a banner. When we get the tournament system implemented their might be even more features available to give your team a proper identity.
OnRPG: The game goes out of its way to remove any element of "chance" from combat (such as critical strike chance), something we see a lot of in MMORPG arena battles, what brought you to this decision?
I guess our designers were tired of losing to luck rather than skill! There are many of those games out there, so we really wanted to differentiate Bloodline Champions from the rest, and making sure it was primarily based on player skill was pretty much the first thing on the list for us.
OnRPG: Whilst MMO arena teams may be attracted by Bloodline Champions competitive, skill-based encounters, does the game cater solely for the hardcore?
No, definitely not, the basic game play is very easy to learn which makes the game very fun even if you're not a hardcore player. It's a bit like the concept of a fighting game, it's very easy to play, but you can also get insanely good and competitive in it. I mean I'm really bad at fighting games, I just button mash, but I still enjoy them. Especially when playing with friends, and when you learn one combo it feels great that you're getting better and better the more you play.
OnRPG: Will players new to the genre find themselves swamped in battles with highly skilled players? Is some element of matchmaking in place?
There is matchmaking available, and when you create your own custom games you can choose which grades (in-game measured skill level) people need to be between to enter the game. So in that regard the game is very accessible. People coming into the game for the first time can easily start playing with people their own skill level, which is really important considering the game's focus on player skill.
OnRPG: Are dedicated servers available or will matches be created and managed by individual players?
The game runs completely on dedicated servers, this is to help us prevent cheats and hack since it would ruin a PvP game.
OnRPG: One of the most important aspects of any PvP-based game is how well players are protected from cheaters, bots and other malicious activity. What steps have been taken to eliminate the risk posed to both casual and high ranking players?
We run the game on dedicated servers to prevent cheats and such. This gives us the possibility to keep a close eye on the game and if we suspect any type on cheat we'll set it to our number one priority to put an end to it. We have also implemented features in the code to prevent these types of activities. We continue to work on these aspects throughout beta, as it is important for us to have a fair play environment.
OnRPG: It is unusual for games that emphasize competitiveness and ladder climbing to allow for user generated content, usually to ensure fairness and reduce hacking. Are there plans to allow players to import custom maps, textures and other components into casual or ranked games?
There are no plans for that, no.
OnRPG: There are many different roles available to players, split into four classes. Tank, Healing, Ranged Damage and Melee Damage. Add this to the many skills and abilities available to the sixteen individual roles and it could make for some pretty varied encounters. Has it been a struggle to balance classes and class combinations within teams?
It's very tricky to balance the different bloodlines, we put a lot of time into balancing to try and get it spot on. Since the beta started we also get a lot of help from our players to balance the game. With just 14 people at the studio it gets pretty hard to get it all right when the bloodlines get available to the real players, so then we let them help us out to get the final tweaks done. We tweak the bloodlines every patch to try and make the balance even better, it's very important to us and the game to have it done right. The feedback we've been getting from players so far, though, tells us that balance is very good.
OnRPG: How many maps will be available for players when the game goes live?
As it looks now we're sticking to the 12 maps we have, depending on the workload we might try to find time to develop an extra or two until launch.
OnRPG: With the game being developed with the Microsoft XNA Framework, could we see 5v5 arena clashes heading to Xbox 360 or Windows Phone 7 in the future?
It would be great to bring the game to the Xbox 360, but there are no plans for that as of now. You never know, though!
OnRPG: When can we expect Bloodline Champions to hit digital shelves?
The launch is planned late 2010/ early 2011.
OnRPG: Thank you for your time!