MMORPG.com: Why don’t we start by having you tell us all about Squad Wars? Is it an MMO, is it an arcade flight game? Is it a CORPG? All of the above? It seems a bit like World of Tanks in space, if that’s accurate. And that’s an awesome notion.
SCOTT BROWN: Squad Wars is an online space combat game. It is geared towards players who want real ramifications for the success or failure of their actions in the universe. What is different in Squad Wars compared to a game like Jumpgate is that we are removing the massive empty world and replacing it with hand built missions or scenarios that you play to complete to your goals. World of Tanks in space is a good comparison for the billing model and maybe the networking/zones model as well.
MMORPG.com: In a lot of ways, Squad Wars looks like the sort of spiritual successor to Jumpgate, and perhaps a bit of what you wanted to do when Evolution was in development. What did work on both of these games do to influence the design choices and focus on battles in this new game? For that matter, has Vorp! effect Squad Wars’ direction too?
SCOTT BROWN: I would say all the games we have made have influenced the design of Squad Wars in one way or another. I feel it is the spiritual successor to Jumpgate, at least it is for me. We are definitely trying to solve some of the same issues we were addressing in the early Evolution designs as well in Squad Wars but it is also different in some ways as well. Sqaud Wars is meant to be a hardcore, PvP space combat simulation game. We want to return to the pure adrenaline of cockpit based space combat. We feel that is the genre most ignored in space titles today, and it is what we most want to play.
MMORPG.com: The idea of these instanced battles all tying into an economy and territory control sounds pretty epic. Will there be PVE content for those who prefer to steer away from competitive play, or is Squad Wars strictly about the player to player battles?
SCOTT BROWN: To start our attention will be on balanced PvP scenarios. If the demand for additional PvE scenarios is there we will add those after launch but the goal is to be razor focused on our primary gameplay of PvP.
MMORPG.com: How will these instanced battles work into an economy and territory control? Will there be some sort of “hub” for players to congregate in, and see the universe-at-large from?
SCOTT BROWN: Yes, you will see a galaxy map of sectors and you will choose which one to battle over when running a sector capture mission. Once the mission is full with players the battle will begin. The results will turn the sector ownership towards that of the winning squad. The best example of a game I can think of that did this is the old multiplayer Battletech from Genie. That is just one kind of mission you can play in the game however.
MMORPG.com: What about character and ship advancement? What kinds of things can players expect to trick out on their ships, and how will you make them feel like they’re progressing?
SCOTT BROWN: It should match player expectation pretty closely here. You have a ship with various components to improve like engines, guns, shields, etc. We also have something we call a CoBot similar in function to astromech’s (R2-D2 for those less nerdy) that level up as you use them and can provide bonuses to your ships. There are no dice rolls or anything like that however, so you don’t have stats like strength or accuracy. It is a skill based game.
MMORPG.com: There’s a brand new Kickstarter page for the game. Why Kickstarter? And what will you use the money earned from it for?
SCOTT BROWN: I will never be able to explain this better than they did over at Penny Arcade. The short version is this type of game is very niche and it is tough to get a publisher or investor behind this idea. You also give away control as when someone gives you money they rightfully expect some say in what you do with it. Crowdsourcing offers the dream of building the game the way you think it needs to be done. We tried both publishing and investment models while at NetDevil and are excited to see if crowdsourcing can work. The amount of money we are looking to raise I am sure seems high but $250,000 for an online game would make Squad Wars one of the lowest cost online games on the market. But we have a strategy of how to get there and a small but mega experienced team that has built several MMOs in the past.
MMORPG.com: One of our reviewers is notorious for getting sick in dungeons, FPS games and flying games tested JumpGate Evolution long ago and loved it because she did not get vertigo. What's the magic in doing this so that sensitive folks don’t have to play with a barf-bag?
SCOTT BROWN: I think it is a mix of high framerate and the game moving in the way your brain expects it to. Hopefully that continues on in Squad Wars, we are already really happy with the controls in the game as it works now.
MMORPG.com: You've had a few hidden gems in the past few years like the mobile app Going Nuts! and that little space meets DoTA Facebook game Vorp! Vorp! is much beloved by a small but rabid fan base, and got nice kudos for an indie game. That said: what does it feel like to attempt to get back into the major leagues of MMO development? And if we can talk about it: what are you doing with Vorp! now?
SCOTT BROWN: We love making games and needed a creative break from titles that take 4+ years to build. We think with the emergence of the free to play market that we no longer have to be forced to contend with the top MMO of the day requiring X thousands of missions or X hundreds of hours of content to be in the game to validate your monthly fee. Free games allow us the ability to focus on a core game concept, release early and build features and content past launch. It also allows players to be involved so much earlier in development, like with did with the original Jumpgate back in the late 90s.
In terms of Vorp! we have some exciting news but we are not quite ready to share yet. We are moving the game to a much more PvP centric location.