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Rise of Immortals: Q&A With Exec. Producer Steve Wetherill

Interviews By Garrett Fuller on August 04, 2011

Rise of Immortals: Q&A With Exec. Producer Steve Wetherill

Tell us the history of Rise of the Immortals. How long has the game been in development?

Steve Wetherill:

We began development of Rise of Immortals in the first half of 2010.

Petroglyph is known as an RTS developer - we have our own RTS engine and tech - and of course RTS is where the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) genre first arose (with Defense of the Ancients mods to Warcraft 3). This placed us in a great place to create our own MOBA game, so we were able to quickly produce a prototype. We found that the early gameplay experience was compelling, and it proved to be a hit at our company-wide play sessions. At that point, we kicked the project into production, and we have been on a fast track since then.


What are some of the lessons you are learning from Beta? Are you able to implement player feedback into the game?

Steve Wetherill:

A core tenet of our ideology has been to ensure the MOBA community has a voice in shaping the game, so throughout the game’s development; we took into account the MOBA community's interest in seeing the genre evolve.

The first real lesson we learned was that the community usually has various points of view on just about every feature and change that’s introduced. It has been a challenge to balance the Immortals and their abilities in a game that has core features that promote serious competition amongst the players, and thus a lot of debate on what is really balanced.

The second lesson is that the community we've seen develop around the game has a real passion for helping to make the game fun. We rely on their feedback on a daily basis when new updates are released on attributes and item changes of characters. They will often write pages of strategies and walkthrough guides on these Immortals, and know very well when a change has been made.

MOBA games are becoming huge in the market; can you tell us how Rise of the Immortals fits into this new breaking genre?

Steve Wetherill:

The thing Rise of Immortals offers that is different from the competition is the focus on persistent character development and specialization. This is done through several elements:

- Persistent level on each Immortal. Each Immortal that you play retains its own persistent XP and level. For each level, you earn one discipline point for use on the Discipline Tree.

- Discipline Tree. This is also unique per Immortal, and allows you to focus your character along three paths. You can put discipline points into the offense tree, the defense three, or you can choose to put points into the champion tree, which directly augments tactical abilities. The champion tree is tailored to the specific abilities of each Immortal.

- Artifacts. In addition to the persistent level and discipline trees, each Immortal builds a collection of artifacts that provide various persistent stat boosts. Artifacts are purchased using Prestige Points, which are awarded for completing games.

The other unique aspect to our game is the Social Hub, which is where players gather to queue for games using our matchmaker, chat, emote, dance, and where various vendors sell persistent items such as artifacts, potions, as well as new Immortals, skins and so on. The social hub is a place to show off the skins you have purchased for your Immortal, and we plan to keep evolving this area in the future with enhanced storefronts for example.

All these elements are wrapped around a core MOBA gameplay experience, and we believe this evolution of the genre is a compelling offering for MOBA fans.

What are your favorite parts of the game? Are there elements that you really feel passionate about?

Steve Wetherill:

The heart of the game, and what we really enjoy most of all, is the 5v5 PvP gameplay mode. It doesn't get any better than gathering four friends and stomping another team. Player vs. Environment against the AI bots is pretty cool too. PvE is always going to be less competitive than PvP, but the core mechanics are the same and it gives players new to the genre a chance to get up to speed before venturing into PvP. It also gives more experienced players an opportunity to try out different Immortals and get a grip on their abilities before entering the PvP arena. The developers play at least a couple of games every day to ensure we are seeing what the community experiences when they play.

Is there anything you would like to say to players that they may not know?

Steve Wetherill:

There are many more Immortal choices coming soon with a variety of skins, items, and abilities. Rise of Immortals starts off with a tighter character count than other MOBAs typically do. We really wanted to ensure the game had a core group of balanced and fun characters first, instead of offering quantity over quality.

What are your plans for the game launch? Is the light at the end of the tunnel in sight?

Steve Wetherill:

The light is shining right at us! We’re currently in open beta, and making the last few tweaks and balance passes before we open the game up to everyone. We haven’t set a date yet, but it will be in the near future.

Do you have plans for the game post launch? I know it is early…but we have to ask.

Steve Wetherill:

We have lots of plans. Post launch, we’ll release additional Immortals, skins and models, powerful new items, and regular giveaways (our swag closet is huge). We also have plans for new scenarios and scenario types, and new gameplay features. More will be revealed on those as we get closer to launch.

Most importantly, we plan to incorporate a lot of the ideas the community comes up with. This has been central to our development process from the beginning - those who have been part of our beta phases and have participated in the forum discussions will know that we have a very unique community with much more developer interaction than might be seen with other games.