Call of Champions - Spacetime Goes All-Out with MOBA Best Practices
The first time I met Spacetime Studios CEO, Gary Gattis, was at the Austin GDC in 2010. Then, we hunkered down under a stairway out of the way of traffic and he showed me Pocket Legends, logging in a different character each on his iPhone, his Android phone, his iPad and his PC based laptop computer and we ran a dungeon together. What an innovation it was at the time. This meeting brought that first one to mind as the Hilton Seattle’s concierge led me through what seemed to be a utility area to the private meeting room beyond. A nicely appointed room with comfortable chairs to be sure, but as Gary said, strangest location for a meeting room he’d ever experienced!
Mobile gamers might remember Pocket Legends, the first cross-platform mobile MMO to make it big. Spacetime Studios perfected the 3 minute dungeon with their Legends series of MMOs, dabbled in mobile RTS games and are now offering their brand new MOBA, Call of Champions.
Gary and I chatted a bit about where Spacetime Studios had gone with their games, and Gary spoke of how serious they were with getting their MOBA right, candidly speaking of their attempts at Clash of Clans clones which I agreed weren’t really very much fun. However, for Call of Champions, Spacetime Studios went all out with their research and due diligence, consulting with companies like ESL and obtaining best practices for the genre before designing their game.
Call of Champions has a few differences from your typical MOBA. There are two lanes to the arena, with a “maze” area in the center. Instead of going in at level one and buying your skills or items, each Champion goes into battle with their full 5 abilities. There aren’t any minions either. Instead, there’s an “orb of doom” in each lane that you push with your Champion through proximity, towards opposing towers. The orb inhibits the tower and cuts the attacking power down 50% of course that puts you in range of the tower if you want to keep it there. Champions have volume and mass here. The beefier Champion will have better pushing power, but cannot prevail against two opponents.
Matches are 3 v 3 and there aren’t any potions, items or equipment to worry about. It's combat from the get go, but there’s a maze in the center of the map with buff points. Stand over one and you gain the power-up, however, pick up the buff and then stand in the center and “channel” for 5 seconds and you buff your team. Of course you can be interrupted while you are channeling as the mini map reveals your position.
The game is easy to get into and learn, and new players can jump in and play immediately without having to worry about learning character build outs and best equipment or skills to buy in the heat of the game. Matches are 5 minutes long, making it the perfect commuter or waiting room MOBA. If a base isn’t destroyed, victory is measured by most kills, least deaths and then most damage. Call of Champions isn’t just hack and slash either. There’s the RPG element in it – your characters grow and level, there are 10 levels in each ability your Champion possesses. There are 5 general roles that Champions fall into: Tank, Support, Mage, Fighter and Assassin, but you choose how you allocate your points to customize the build, and that is done after matches without the pressures of combat. That's right, your characters progress outside of battles as well.
There are also quests to do such as “Kill X enemies” or “Destroy X towers with an Ice Champion” and every champion has a background story. Remaining true to being family friendly, there is no blood and no gore in this game although there are lots of fancy combat animation and spell effects. Chat is only possible with those on your friends list. With only 3 to a team it is also easy to get enough family or friends to make a group and play together.
Call of Champions is free to play and monetization is through premium accounts where you earn gold and xp 50% faster. However, matches are made according to levels and players are ranked using the ELO system so there isn’t any “buying to win,” and Champions can be unlocked using currency earned in game. Currently in beta, Call of Champions is expected to launch soon. It might not be everyone’s idea of what a MOBA should be – my 12 year old nephew wants minions in his MOBAs. Lots of minions. The more minions, the “more better!” My 13 year old niece read the background stories of all the characters before choosing one. I found it fun and engaging, my idea of what a PvP arena should be like, and the 5 minute matches to my taste.