During our hands on preview of the up and coming Blood Bowl game from Cyanide, Strategy Informer got the chance to interview two of the game’s project managers: Antoine Villepreux from Cyanide, and Xavier Assemat from publisher Focus Interactive.
Strategy Informer: So, how do you go from nearly getting sued by Games Workshop back in 2004 over Chaos League, to developing one of their IP’s into a game five years later?
Antoine Villepreux: Well, looking back at Chaos League, Games Workshop saw that we were able and competent to develop such a game. But we didn’t take anything from Chaos League. They are two very different projects.
Strategy Informer: But because of the out-of-court settlement, you were actually granted the rights to develop Blood Bowl into a game. Was that something you had wanted originally or did it just happen?
Antoine Villepreux: It was something we wanted to do yeah. We’re all fans of Blood Bowl at the office for a while, and it was something we were very keen on doing. And then Games Workshop agreed to let us do it and so we were of course happy to do it.
Strategy Informer: Have Cyanide and Focus Interactive worked together before?
Antoine Villepreux: Yes we’ve had a very close working relationship. Focus has been producing our games since the beginning, so it’s been about 9 years now.
Strategy Informer: What were Focus’ feelings about this game? Did they think it was a good IP to develop?
Xavier Assemat: Yeah. Not only does it have great potential, but the community is quite big, and it’s been around for 20 years. And the game is great. There was another game back in 1995, but I think the gaming community deserved a newer version, and I think we’ve achieved that.
Strategy Informer: Coming back to that 1995 game, did you take anything from that? Were you inspired or did you see what they did wrong and improved on it? Etc...
Antoine Villepreux: No. There was no need to take anything from the old version. It was trying to be an adaptation of the board game just like we are. It was just an adaption of the rule book and table-top game. We did look at it just to see what it was like, but as we said the gamers deserved a better adaptation then that. And not only refreshing the game, but also putting more effort into the additions.
Xavier Assemat: You can’t have a photocopy of a photocopy; it’s easier just to go straight to the source. So in this case just take the rule book and make a really new game out of it.
Strategy Informer: This Blood Bowl game is based on the current Living Rulebook 5.0’s rule set. Are there any plans to incorporate any future changes to the rulebook?
Antoine Villepreux: Well the right conditions are met. For example: If there is a new rulebook, if it is accepted by the community and players, accepted by Games Workshop and is properly implemented... then we would look to see if it can be safely incorporated into the game via a patch or something. Especially in light of the extra content we will be doing, we would have to see how any rules affect that. It would need to be accepted by both the community and Games Workshop however.
Strategy Informer: How easy/difficult was it to translate the complex rule book into a videogame format?
Antoine Villepreux: It was easy and hard at the same time. Easy because a lot of the work had been done for us: The rulebook was there, it was already balanced and it was simply a matter for us to copy it word by word. Of course it wasn’t that easy because those very same rules were very complicated, and there are of course different interpretations to rules, the game evolves over time, and of course out job was to give life to the table top game. A lot of the challenge was to give that ‘life’ to the game, since we’re dealing with inanimate miniatures. We had to re-invent the universe a bit. We couldn’t just take the miniatures and put them on screen.
Xavier Assemat: Whilst we did all this though, we had to also stay true to the game.
Strategy Informer: So far there are no plans for a Wii or a PS3 version: any particular reason for this?
Antoine Villepreux: Well there’s one very simple reason for [the PS3]: We’ve never done a PS3 game before. It would have been a big risk for us, and we’ve already got a lot of investment going into the other four platforms we are doing. Of course we are not against the idea: If the game is a big success, then why not?
Strategy Informer: A new element to this Blood Bowl adaptation is the ‘Real-time’ mode – what was the decision process behind that move?
Antoine Villepreux: Well there were many reasons: We wanted to add value to the table top game, not just a straight adaptation without adding anything. We already had experience with real time games like this from Chaos League, so we knew it would work. We also thought it could be an interesting way to play the game.
We also wanted to attract other kinds of players to the game, especially ones that might be put off by the turn-based game. It adds value for the new players, but also for the hardcore players as well because the Real-time mode allows you to play a game that would normally take hours in a short space of time.
Strategy Informer: You’ve currently got a Closed Beta running at the moment – how’s that going?
Antoine Villepreux: It’s going good. We’ve had a closed beta going on for about a year now. A small group of hardcore fans have been making sure we’ve made the adaptation faithful, they’ve been very helpful. We’ve now opened up the beta to more players so we can stress test the servers, test out the multiplayer a bit more, test hardware etc...
Strategy Informer: There are plan for expansion packs. Any ideas what you want to do for that?
Antoine Villepreux: Yep, absolutely. We didn’t have to think that hard about what we wanted to do after this. The table top game already has a lot of content associated with it. Take races for example: there are about 20 races in total, but we’ve only got 8 in the game at the moment, which is already a lot for a computer game. We can also add new stadiums or environments. On top of that though, the table-top game itself has expansions, so it’s logical to try and adapt them also. There are special cards and other things we still haven’t added. But again it depends on the success of the game.
Strategy Informer: Just finish off, obviously Blood Bowl isn’t the only niche game that Games Workshop produces. There’s Epic, Warmaster, Inquisitor etc... Do you have any desires to develop any of these or did you just want to stick to Blood Bowl?
Antoine Villepreux: We had many ideas about the other IP’s. We are a niche game company, so that’s not really an issue. But of course it’s up to Games Workshop who they want to develop their IP’s. It fits within our mind-set and policies though.
Blood Bowl is certainly shaping up to be a surprise hit this summer. Whilst it doesn’t quite reach out to the mainstream, there’s still a lot of appeal here for more open-minded gamers. Hardcore fans of the series will of course love it. Stay tuned for our full preview.