Now it’s easy to point out that Smashmuck Champions is probably the most unique MOBA out there. There’s no denying that. Some might even say that’s its weakness, being how few people seem to know about this game despite it being in beta for quite a while now. Well with their Steam launch just a few months away and some major websites finally giving them the time of day, those days will soon be coming to an end. But there’s no need to go into the details of why this game is so cool. Our video on MMOHut later this week will serve up a heaping helping of Platimus. And I bring him up because he is the totally off the wall kind of creation that only a collection of crazed PAX gaming fans, half-drunk off their heads by 5pm, can think up. And I feel he has nothing on PAX Prime 2013’s fan created hero.
For those unaware, Kiz Studios is becoming a bit of a cult hero among design studios for not just hosting another boring panel where old D&D players sit on a stage shooting the shit for an hour, but instead actually opening up a MOBA champion design forum in which the attendees get to shout out ideas to think tank an actual upcoming hero. And this year was my first time getting to attend in person. Let’s just say, we had one hell of a weird bunch.
Based on some of the responses, I’d say half of the attendees had never heard of Smashmuck Champions before. And that’s good. That’s proof of just how much gamers want to become a part of the development process. I think all gamers at some point imagined how they would do a game better. But outside of a few epic studios, that just isn’t ever possible. Hell you’re lucky most of the time if a developer even pops in on the forums once in a while. But to have three lead developers and a masterful artist present to make your designs a reality on the fly is a dream come true.
Now that’s not to make light of game design. Throw a handful of colorful gamers in a room and ask them to design anything for a game, and an hour later you’re going to have absolutely no progress whatsoever. Kiz Studios has instead created a sort of cookie cutter guided tour of how to make their public demand heroes step by step. Being a MOBA this can be a much simpler process since all heroes share some key similarities.
And so the show of hands began with attendees voting on various roles and defining features including role (dps, tank, or support) and archetype. And while I was on team deadly hummingbird, the clear overabundance of homeless in Seattle won out with the audience siding with an alien transient riding a hovering shopping cart. Who also looked a bit like Cthulu… on crack.
Once the role and archetype was established, the audience broke down into a bit of mob rule as we hammered out possible traits (of which all heroes have 2) and skills (of which all heroes have 3). This was a great look into the minds of the design team even more so than the randomness of PAX attendees as you got to see what is considered and what isn’t by a professional MOBA development team. Common responses including “We’ve already done that before” and “That’s too symbolic of a Pirate” demonstrated the importance of clearly defining the role and artstyle of a new hero to not steal the thunder and therefore value of already existing content. Balance surprisingly seemed to come secondary to Kiz Studios as typically they stated that it was a “boring numbers game” that they would flesh out later.
So what did they eventually decide upon? Well some distinctly Smashmuck Champions traits including collecting garbage to gain power ups, parasitic space flies, and a random respawn point in the form of a flaming barrel and space cardboard (now forever known as sparbor for its distinct neon green glowing edges) would grant Charlie additional buffs to take the fight back at his aggressors in the way only the homeless can. Lingering area of effect debuffs and/or dots also seem on the table along with mechanics that will punish players that focus Charlie in battle.
It’s hard to say exactly which notes will end up in the final version but if you want to see more of what this one-of-a-kind process is like, you’re in luck. The full demo can be viewed on the PAX2 Twitch.TV channel at the following links: