Het verhaal achter onze liefde voor Battle Chasers
Achttien jaar geleden stapte ik als comicbook -en game liefhebber de plaatselijke stripboekwinkel binnen om een kijkje te nemen naar de wekelijkse lading splinternieuwe getekende avonturen. Mijn oog viel op een stripboek die volledig anders was dan ik gewend was. Mijn interesse lag in die tijd voornamelijk in Japanse manga en Marvel Comics, maar dit was iets nieuws. Ik bladerde kort door het stripboek en werd weggeblazen door de prachtige en vooral dynamische artwork. Wie was deze Joe Madureira eigenlijk? Voor ik het wist waren zowel mijn broertje als ik helemaal verkocht. Wij moesten Battle Chasers verzamelen!
MAD!, zoals Joe Madureira graag door het leven gaat, had er twee hardcore fans bij. Tot onze grote teleurstelling stopte de Battle Chasers comic bij deel 9 en besloot MAD! De comic-industrie te verlaten voor de game-industrie. Na de redelijke onbekende studio Tri-Lunar opgezet te hebben (zoek maar eens op Dragonkind) zette MAD! samen met Ryan Stefanelli, David Adams en Marvin Donald Vigil Games op. Dit was de studio achter de geweldige games Darksiders en Darksiders II. Er gingen wat dingen mis met uitgever THQ en ook Vigil Games hield op met bestaan. Maar toen onthulde zich uit het niets een stralende zon aan de horizon. MAD! was eindelijk terug en dit keer als Airship Syndicate, vastberaden om het Battle Chasers verhaal na zeventien jaar af te maken en zijn nieuwe game ook in dit geweldige universum te laten afspelen. Wij mochten na een uitgebreide Battle Chasers Nightwar speelsessie vragen aan MAD! stellen.
Wat heeft MAD! over Battle Chasers (Nightwar) te zeggen?
We grepen de kans om de legende in een 1 op 1 gesprek te bombarderen met vragen en fanboy gedrag. Lees dus snel verder!
Protoculture: So, we are here with Mr. Madureira and it’s a great honor to finally meet you in person. We have a couple of questions for you so let’s start of with this one. I am personally a huge fan of turn-based games, but a lot of people around me tend to prefer more action/ realtime oriented combat. What is the reason you chose turn-based and do you think it might alienate certain players that don’t like the turn-based style of gameplay?
MAD!: Well, it’s possible. But it comes down to what type of game we wanted to make. We are all fans of Japanese turn-based strategy games and we knew we wanted a more strategic feel. Action combat is awesome, obviously it’s much faster. But honestly the type of gameplay you pick as a developer will always turn off some people. You really just have to go with the type of game you want to make and I think it lends itself very well to our big colorful characters and you will really get a good look at them. We can do way more moves and tactics now, while in an action game it is pretty hard to make. Honestly we would need a much bigger studio and budget and we knew from the beginning this is the team we wanted to use and this is the game we wanted to build. It might be a smaller game, but hey we’re just such huge fans of tactical combat. Selfishly it is the game we wanted to make.
Protoculture: Ofcourse, in the end it will always be about the game you guys want to make.
Protoculture: Did I see correctly that between turns there is no time limit? Probably so you can strategize and think of what to do next?
MAD!: Yeah, we had a more action oriented system where you could run out of time. But everyone who played it got a bit stressed out. I think if you’re really going to do strategy you need to let people think about what they’re doing. Read all the abilities, do the math, you know, for some of the more intricate battles. So yeah, it just made sense to give players unlimited time.
Protoculture: So did you grow up with games like the classic Final Fantasy series, etc.?
MAD!: Final Fantasy, Lunar, Arc the Lad, Suikoden. I mean yeah, you know, I love these games.
Protoculture: Will Knolan unlock new types of magic or be able to use powerful teleportation magic which he can use to send enemies to another dimension like he does in the comics?
MAD!: Yeah, we keep joking about Knolan opening a portal and the fist of Snaggletooth coming out to grab his foes. It is not in there, but we just keep joking about it. Most of his magic is going to be group based, he’ll do a lot of AOE (Area Of Effect) damage and will probably have a weak heal. His moves are being finalized as we speak and his moves aren’t as fleshed out yet as the other three characters you see in this build of the game. But he will have a nice variety of magic.
Protoculture: Will you unlock new attacks by leveling up your character?
MAD!: You get what we call lore points and get to spend these on your moves to make them stronger or buy a complete new move.
Protoculture: I kind of asked this before the interview too. But will the characters have classic rpg archtypes? At first I thought Calibretto might be a bit tanky, but then he did some amazing group heals and felt a bit like a druid, still being very powerful.
MAD!: We really wanted him to be more unique, not what you would think by seeing him. He is more of a gentle giant and his connection to nature and his inner peace is a very strong part of his personality. This makes him more interesting than just being a big tank character with huge guns. Plus Gully is pretty indestructible already and can be seen as the tank. They each have their own roles, but they can be altered by the abilities you choose to slot them with. You get three Battle Bursts and will get even more than three at some point. This means that you might choose three different ones than I would . You could have a Garrison that does a lot of AOE, which means your Knolan can focus on other attacks and balance your team accordingly. They all do have a defined combat role right of the box, but you can tweak it from there. It’s very customizable.
Protoculture: I love the details in when you do the group heal with Calibretto, the part where you see a little green bird decend. It looks awesome!
MAD!: I am glad you liked that. We were struggling to figure out what the heal should look like when he does that and the bird really seemed to fit.
Protoculture: Well yeah, he always loved birds in the comic too. He had a bird on his shoulder most of the time too right?
MAD!: We actually do have birds that land on his shoulder when you enter a battle. I am not sure if it’s in this build of the game though. And there is one that lands on it’s hand at the start of the battle. Did you notice it? Because I think that is in this build right now.
Protoculture: No, I actually did not notice this.
MAD!: Well, I will show you after (MAD! said with a smile).
Protoculture: I’ve already asked this about the loot. But will the gear and weapons be visible on your character?
MAD!: Well, weapons will be, but each individual armor component will not. We will have skins in the game though.
Protoculture: Will these skins be actual references from the Battle Chasers universe or could it also be designs from a different universe?
MAD!: If we end up doing a lot of skins and if they’re really popular, I can definitely see us having fun with it and doing some cool pop-culture referenced skins. But as of now they’ll have one that you will probably recognize from the comic. I actually released a page of different Garrison skins variants at one point. Where there is like a ninja, the drunk version of him from the bar, the one where he is in his vagabond outfit when he tries to kidnap Gully back from Knolan and Calibretto. There is also the one when he places flowers on the grave of his wife. Go look them up! I tried to take moments from the comic and for people that never read the comics they will probably think it’s cool anyway. We are trying to make the game fun even if you’ve never heard of Battle Chasers. But for hardcore fans like yourself you’ll find a bunch of little nuggets, easter eggs and references!
Protoculture: Okay, this is a question you probably won’t even be able to answer anyway. But I’ll just ask it. Will Aramus (Gully’s father for people reading this and don’t know who I am talking about) be in the game?
MAD!: Yeah, I can’t answer that question… (MAD! chuckles a bit)
Protoculture: That’s usually a yes or a maybe…
MAD!: Ehhhh…Not really, maybe I just don’t want to break your heart…I don’t know.
Protoculture: That’s really nice of you.
MAD!: I will say that for the most part the story that’s in the comic will continue in the comic and the story in the game is a separate thing. I think introducing Aramus in the game would take a lot of explanation for people that are not familiar with him. So that would be the main reason he may not be in the game… (was that kind of a spoiler Mr. Madureira…?) He is mentioned and does effect the characters in the story.
Protoculture: Aramus is so mysterious. On one hand everybody claims him to be this awesome hero, but then on the other hand he has kind of a darker side when he actually abandons his bastard son and sends him of into slavery. He’s such an intriguing character that I personally always been fascinated with, wanting to know more about him and what actually happend to him.
MAD!: You’ll learn more soon.
Protoculture: Yesterday I saw the picture of him again, on top of a horse in that Deathknight looking Wargolem armor, it’s so iconic and kind of leads in to my next question.
Protoculture: Where and when does Nightwar actually take place? Is it really a sidestory?
MAD!: It’s a sidestory and takes place during an undetermined time after the comic book. It would be after that timeline, but it’s not very specific. I really want it to feel like a side adventure. The characters already know each other and have been together for a while. Gully is a litle older and she’s been training with Garrison more. So she’s a little more confident in her attacks. She is no longer a stumbling little kid.
Protoculture: But where does the name Nightwar come from?
MAD!: In the comic they were actually fighting a lot of humanoid opponents and I never really got to do a lot of monsters.
Protoculture: Mostly the Lycelots (werewolves) right?
MAD!: Yes that is correct. In this story they end up on this misty hidden island and it’s overun by undead, skeletons, vampires and other “things”. So that’s where Nightwar comes from, basically fighting nightmarish creatures.
Protoculture: Ofcourse, creatures of the night!
Protoculture: Okay my final question. What about other characters. I think you mentioned one other new character being in the game right? Has he been unveiled yet?
MAD!: We already showed him on Kickstarter. His name is Alumon and he’s a devil hunter. He also plays in to the vampire hunting storyline. I released some art online and he is in the background of this canvas print. I really love drawing the guy.
Protoculture: I can imagine. I mean, your style is timeless…
MAD!: Oh man thank you!
Protoculture: No, thank you. And again, it was an absolute honor finally meeting you in person and thank you so much for the signed canvasprints. These are going to be heirlooms for sure! Good luck with the game and let’s keep in touch!