Interview við Steffen hjá BetaDwarf
Skrivað hevur HForce tann 20/11/2012 klokkan 16:04 1

BetaDwarf er ein nýggj donsk fyritøku, sum í løtuni mennir Action RPG spælið "Forced". Spælið hevur nakrar áhugaverdar features, sum gera tað annarleiðis frá øðrum spølum á marknaðinum. Hvørjir teir eru, kanska tú m.a. lesa um niðanfyri!
Samrødan varð gjørd á enskum.






Hi Steffen! First of all, would you like to introduce yourself and your game to Gaming.fo's readers?
The Danish games industry is really small. You may know games like LIMBO or Hitman, but there are really few studios doing well. So what we realized several years ago, was that pursuing a game development career was basically the same as wanting to be a professional football player. Being aware that only a few succeeds, Kenneth (my partner) and I founded BetaDwarf two years ago at a University in Denmark, and we decided to go all in!
We convinced a lot of people who wanted to build CV’s, to join us with the possibility of a job in the future and potential revenue from FORCED. Rumours of an ambitious startup quickly spread and as we had hoped, more than 10 awesome people joined us, in just the first year. We had found a deserted classroom at our university and we actually lived there, because it was a bit far from the city and it became convenient to just crash near the computer. Some team members even skipped their apartments to save the rent, because they spend all their time in our classroom studio anyway.
After a year of what was basically training and learning how to work as 10+ team, we applied for government funds, and were the first students to succeed. We got $30.000 which meant everything for us at that time, because the university had discovered that we were living in one of their classrooms, which apparently was not okay. So we literally googled the cheapest place to live in Denmark, and found a big house in Karlslunde, which 7 of us moved into. The 8 others in the team kept their apartments and are taking the train instead of the stairs down to the living room, which is now our studio. We’ve been here for almost a year now, and more than 30 people has contributed to FORCED, however the core team is around 8 people.

What makes Forced different from other cooperative games on the market today?
FORCED is about small concentrated challenges (a bit like small WoW instances). These challenges vary a lot from being very tactical, action oriented or even puzzle solving. You can play 1-4 players but we have put a huge effort into scaling the difficulty vs number of players. Usually games just ramp up enemy health- and damage or number of enemies, or they might even put in a limited player AI or simply not allow anything else than a particular number of players. Our solution is quite ambitious, as we are making new enemies and even altered environment based on number of players. So in a 3 player game, you can encounter enemy types that you would never see in singleplayer. This also allows us to make enemies that require a lot more co-op to defeat, as these ones doesn’t have to be beatable in singleplayer.

The most unique mechanic in FORCED is the spirit mentor. It’s a trainer formed as an orb, that guides the players through the challenges and the gladiator world that the hole has lead to. Basically it’s a player shared character. Players can control it simultaneously, by simply pushing a button, which will call the Mentor to the calling players position. The Mentor can interact with special shrines, forming it into a powerful bomb, a magical razor blade, a healing pulse, a shockwave and many other powerful forms that are vital for success. Activating the Shrines and utilizing the shrine powers ensures a lot of tactical player movement in the game. And when a team communicates and really utilizes the orb, it turns FORCED into a very unique experience.

Spirit Mentor video:



Besides the Spirit Mentor, there is also another cooperative mechanic - the combat mark system which allows various cooperative maneuvers. Most player abilities either spend or add marks, and in that way players are able to combine abilities for more effective playing. “An area stun ability, stuns all surrounding enemies while adding 3 marks to them and a chain lightning shot is fired to spend those marks dealing heavy lightning damage”.

Unlike many ARPG’s, FORCED is controlled with either dual stick controller or w,a,s,d + mouse, allowing movement while you attack and aim.

It might be a bit surprising but we could not find many other games that had good melee combat design for such controls. They would typically require the melee attacker to take a few hits, and we did not want FORCED to become a potion management challenge. We’re really happy with our solution, which involves a knockback system where interrupting enemy attacks and dodging are important. So for instance one of our design goals became to ensure that a threat would never result in damage that could not be avoided.

What has inspired and motivated you to undertake game development?
Well games are a big part of our lives, and the idea of making a living by simply working with your hobby sounded too compelling. Even though the odds are harsh as I mentioned, we decided to go for it nevertheless!

There are a few Danish development stars, such as IO and Playdead, but it's hard to make a mark in the international market. In what way does your team have what it takes to break through?
It’s probably covered in the first answer?

Are there any benefits to being a Danish studio? Is game development something the government takes seriously, and works to support?
Not really, there is some support, and we’ve also received some, but I’ve heard that many other countries support it a lot more. It’s especially weird due to the fact that around 120 game oriented students graduate every year and there only around 25 new job openings each year. So it’s kind of a big bottleneck and it’s hard to start a studio without any funds, but again it is possible.

You've launched a Kickstarter to fund the remaining development on Forced. How did you decide that this was the correct course of action?
We thought our situation and game fitted Kickstarter rather well. Also we only needed a very limited amount of funding compared to many other game projects, so we found it realistic to take this path. We also had a fantastic start but a week later the games section exploded due to all the UK games joining the palette. And competition for visitors and discoverability became immense...

There have often been talks of game development on the Gaming.fo forums. What advice do you have to someone who either wants to be hired by an established studio, or who dreams of starting their own?
Hehe “Just do it” and probably to be as multidisciplinary as possible. The more you know the pipeline you need for your game, the better the chances for success. I would advise not to start with a project like FORCED, it has been a tough ride. We’ve learned a lot, but we could have given ourselves a much more fair start on game development. Find something that seems fun to do and allow yourself to work with something fun at least part of each day. Game development is about motivation, and learning how to keep it high is quite beneficial!

Thanks for your time, Steffen! Feel free to have one last shot at advertising your Kickstarter to our readers.
We only have a few days left and we really need all the support we can get. If you are low on funds you can also help us promote it and get some rewards as well here: LINK
Not only will FORCED be a great game due to your support, you will also help establish a new hard working game company in Denmark, and we will focus on the hardcore gamers and not the Iphone. Your support means everything, and we would love to offer you FORCED in the start of 2013 so please help us do so.

Kickstarter video:



LINKS:
Heimasíða: LINK
Kickstarter síða: LINK
Steam Greenlight síða: LINK
Livestream frá skrivstovu: LINK

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