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SMITE Interview with Todd Harris

By Garrett Fuller on July 18, 2011 | Interviews | Comments

SMITE Interview with Todd Harris's Industry Relations Manager Garrett Fuller sat down with Hi-Rez Studios COO Todd Harris to discuss their upcoming MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena), SMITE.

SMITE is a great title, what was your inspriation for a game about the ancient gods?

Todd Harris:

Late last year we started brainstroming ideas around a game inspired by Defense of the Ancients style gameplay, but with a more action-oriented third-person view rather than the traditional real-time-strategy 'above the battle' view. In addition to the 3rd person view, we wanted a very strong theme for all the playable characters. We entertained a few different ideas until our CEO Erez proposed mythical gods in January. At that same time my daughter was reading the one of the many novels within the popular Percy Jackson series and it hit me how mythological gods, which I think we were all obsessed with at some point, are still underrepresented in games - particularly as playable characters. I mean who doesn't want to be a god? So... playable ancient gods, plus action conflict led to the name "SMITE".


How strongly will players be tied to one god? Can they choose others to play?

Todd Harris:

Players are divided into two teams and each player chooses a god or goddess to play for that particular match. Players are tied to that god for that match only but then can choose a different god for the next match. In this respect it is very similar to playable heroes in Defense of the Ancients, Heroes of Newerth or League of Legends champions.

Will the gods be divided into their respective pantheons as factions?

Todd Harris:

We are starting with 5 pantheons as inspiration for the first set of SMITE gods - Greek, Norse, Egyptian, Indian, and Chinese. However there are no gameplay restrictions or benefits associated with grouping by pantheon. Within a match there is no faction concept - it is all about team-play and complementary skills between the individually selected gods and their powers.

What types of skills will players have at their disposal? We’re thinking of godly arsenals here.

Todd Harris:

Our design team starts with the traditional associations and attributes of the god and then figures out how to best express that in terms of the standard gameplay elements like damage-dealing, tanking, crowd-control, life-stealing, etc. People expect Zeus to be able to rain lightning bolts from above - and fortunately he delivers.

How deep in development are you on the game?

Todd Harris:

We are at that great point in development where we can call an internal playtest and it is a race to find an available seat in the playtest room. The core systems are in place and we are playing end to end matches that are tremendously fun. Still plenty of balance passes ahead, more polish to add, and of course additional playable gods over time.

When can we expect to see some gameplay footage?

Todd Harris:

Certainly by this fall.

Where can players learn more about the game?

Todd Harris:

Right now the best source of information is the SMITE fan page on facebook. In the coming weeks we'll be communicating additional information and opening up discussion forums for SMITE.

What is your favorite part of working with such iconic characters from ancient history?

Todd Harris:

Dusting off my old-skool copy of D&D's "Deities & Demigods" hard-back book - the neglected cousin of the Monster Manual. Whether it is that book or others there is truly so much deep reference around ancient deities that it is a great theme. My favorite part is seeing how all these known deities are brought to life by our talented design and art team.