Trending Games | World of Warcraft | Overwatch | Valnir Rok | Runescape

    Facebook Twitter YouTube Twitch.tv YouTube.Gaming Discord
Register
Quick Game Jump
Members:3,824,259 Users Online:0
Games:965 

Vorp! Q&A with END Games Entertainment

By William Murphy on May 26, 2011 | Interviews | Comments

Vorp! Q&A with END Games Entertainment
MMORPG.com:

Firstly, thanks for taking the time to chat with us guys. Making a brand new game with a brand new studio is probably eating up lots of your time. But let’s start by introducing you each to our readers. Though they may not be familiar with your names, I’m pretty sure they’ll be familiar with your work.

Scott Brown:

Hi, I was a founder of NetDevil who made games like Jumpgate and LEGO Universe before leaving at the end of last year to form END Games with Ryan.

Ryan Seabury:

Hi, I was the Creative Director behind the award winning LEGO Universe and also a former founding partner of NetDevil. I enjoy SCUBA diving, hockey skating, video game playing, downhill skiing, being a dad, and my healthy drinking habit. I enjoy taking long beaches on walks, and reading the moonlight under a full poem. And I’m an Ex-Mormon!

 advertisement 

MMORPG.com:

Well, let’s get the obvious question out of the way first: what happened at NetDevil? You were both mainstays for such a long time, I mean you cofounded it, and with the recent troubles with the studio… well, you can clarify better than I ever could. What can you tell us?

Scott Brown:

Creative differences is the best way to put it. Over the last few years we had noticed a difference in the way the market works. We see the timing as over for the small developer to be building games that take four years to make, require purchasing a box and paying a monthly fee. The market changes so fast now that I felt a different approach to development was needed. While at NetDevil we had come up with a concept called “ship the vertical slice” or basically ship the most fundamental concept of the game as quickly as you can, and work out the rest of the features post launch with community input.

A game might still take four years to fully develop, but why not have it out in public for 3.5 of those years instead of waiting until the fourth year to see what people think. It was something I was trying to push through on the titles we were developing at the time in Jumpgate Evolution and Fortune Online but it was not a philosophy shared by everyone. So rather than get in the way with competing ideals, I decided it was best to leave and put our development philosophy to work. A handful of very talented and experienced people who shared our feelings about how to make games joined soon after.

Of course leaving NetDevil was heart breaking, it was a company we had built up from my basement into an over 180 person shop. The people I worked with were amazing and I miss so many of them, but sometimes to change things you need a clean start so that’s what we did.

Ryan Seabury:

Leaving NetDevil was very difficult. It covered over 1/3 of my entire life, everyone who worked there felt like family, and LEGO Universe was my baby, as I had been involved exclusively on it for the last 5 years. To me LU was (and is still) the ultimate MMOG concept, so walking away was gut wrenching. Although it may seem counter intuitive, a big factor in my personal decision was based on making sure LEGO Universe had the best opportunity to succeed possible. As Scott points out, there were too many competing ideals at odds culturally. I felt the project would ultimately suffer without change; departing was the only path I could see to enable that.

On that note, I’d like to point out The LEGO Company deserves incredible praise in navigating the turbulence of the studio over the last six months and supporting the LU team that remains. LEGO took care of the team well beyond reasonable expectations and I believe they have a strong foundation to build on with their studio going forward. Despite the pain and stress, I sincerely believe LEGO Universe is better off for it today.

MMORPG.com:

Well now you’re on to greener pastures, or at least a different shade of green. Your new studio is called END Games. What’s going to be the driving focus for your new endeavor together?

Scott Brown:

Release games quickly into the market, see the reactions for players and adjust from there. Also, we are going to try and make our games even more accessible than before. Lower hardware requirements, work in a browser or even on a phone or tablet. We also want to try lots of different game ideas. When you makes games 4 years at a time it can really stifle your creativity, at END games we have already been making 3 totally different games and we are not even 6 months in with our small team.

MMORPG.com:

With the turn towards Facebook as a platform, is END Games done with MMOs then?

Ryan Seabury:

What does a game like Vorp! look like after 4 years of development in the marketplace? It’s quite possible it will have many of the characteristics of what we would label an MMO, but our goal isn’t to make it an MMO just for the sake of it. We want to make fun games and see where they evolve naturally with our player communities. And what does MMO mean anymore?

Scott Brown:

I think the problem with the question is with the term MMO honestly. We are going to make online games in lots of different forms. My opinion is that everybody gets too caught up in if something is a MMO or not. Was Jumpgate even an MMO? Why does something have to be an MMO to be a great online experience with your friends? Online gaming is something I love and will continue to work on, but we won’t do only online games. Especially with the move away from monthly subscription fees we don’t have to feel so trapped into hitting all the checkmarks “required” to be an MMO any longer.

MMORPG.com:

Tell us a bit about Vorp then, and why you chose it as your first foray for END Games.

Scott Brown:

Vorp! represents the combination of a few games we loved from our past and present gaming: Star Control, Subspace/continuum, and DotA. It also was a great technical foundation for us to build upon for more games in the future. The Star Control series is one of my most cherished gaming memories and Vorp! tries to bring back that old school feel of matching up ships with wildly different weaponry against each other. Subspace was so much fun to play in these big space battles and added that online component to that style of game. And DotA introduced one of my favorite session based advancement concepts of leveling up quickly, and trying different builds each time you play. We are trying to capture those elements from all 3 games into Vorp! and make it a really unique competitive experience online. As the game grows in features you will see lots more long term advancement, a campaign mode, and more that will feel more like features you would see in a traditional MMO type game. It is a project we love and will continue to update for years.

MMORPG.com:

It seems to me like Vorp really could be one of the first Facebook games that actually feels like a game and not some time limited, money grubbing chore. But how does the game plan on earning a stream of revenue?

Ryan Seabury:

Thanks, I’m glad you feel that way because that was precisely the goal. We want to offer a game that’s actually engaging and fun to play. You can actually play to earn just about every unlock in the game so it is truly free to play. But if you’re like me, a dad with a demanding job, I don’t mind spending a few bucks on something I’m having fun with if it unlocks more things quickly. As a gamer, I really love this freemium model that has evolved, where I get to try so many different things, and the ones I really enjoy I can support with a few bucks here and there to go deeper.

Scott Brown:

Right now we will be selling both additional ships and skins for those ships with B! (pronounced Bang) inside the game. You can also earn B! by just playing as well so you don’t have to spend any money at all. We are also hoping that by including features like full screen support, it does not have to feel like the more traditional Facebook games people have played. This is another example of our development philosophy, if Facebook ends up being the wrong place for the game, we can also take it out and find other mediums that make more sense.

MMORPG.com:

When most gamers think “Facebook games” they think of titles which spam their friends’ walls, force you to get “neighbors” to progress, and in general games that are little more than forced advertising for a product. Please tell me that this sort of practice isn’t in Vorp’s future.

Scott Brown:

We will certainly bring more features to take advantage of Facebook’s social network but I never understood forcing people to brag about doing something they did in 3 seconds of game play, who cares honestly? Now bragging that I beat my friends high score, or bragging that a won a match is something I would want, so those are the kinds of things we are going to be adding over time.

Ryan Seabury:

I’m a spam hater too, I hated the early days of Facebook gaming where every day there was another app to block from spamming my wall. On the flip side, discovering things that your friends like is actually really cool, and I do enjoy indirect cooperation and competition mechanics in certain social games. However, it should be in your control when you feel like helping a friend or being in “discovery mode”. I’m sure we’ll make some mistakes as we go, but hopefully you’ll find the game fun enough to forgive us.

MMORPG.com:

One more doozy before I let you both get back to making me my own personal ship in Vorp. You’re not the first devs to slide over to Facebook as a new wave of online gaming. Garriott, Koster, and so many more are making their way into the social gaming arena. Is Facebook really the future of online gaming, or do you guys see it as a place where there’s just too much room for experimentation and untapped potential?

Ryan Seabury:

Let’s be clear, Facebook is *a* platform, not *the* platform. For our first title, Vorp!, Facebook provided a great starting point simply for minimizing our development efforts on things like distribution, authentication, billing etc. and a huge audience. This way we could focus on making the game as much as possible with our limited team size.

We’re really more interested in pursuing interesting gaming concepts that may transcend platform. We’re thinking more about the player’s overall experience: how can you interact with our game on the web? On your phone? On a tablet? On a console? The game concept is king; the choice of platform(s) is just a tool to deliver it. I think it is fantastic to see experimentation and innovation occurring to a level that we complain about the noise… isn’t that what we’ve been wishing for as gamers for years?

Scott Brown:

I think it’s a great place to be making games today, as for tomorrow nobody can know that answer again pointing to our change in development philosophy, we can’t know the market in 4 years, so don’t build a game that takes that long to release.

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, and lover of all things gaming. He''s been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002. Be sure to follow him on Twitter for all of his pointless rambling.