Lead and Gold was Paradox Interactive's first major experience with the home-console. Released on PC first, this Wild West-themed multiplayer shooter was moderately successful, and was a nice little title to get to grips with. Now, the team are back, and this time they're going medieval with Wars of the Roses. We sat down with them at GamesCom to find out why:
Strategy Informer:So, how do you go from the Wild West to an English civil war (we've had a couple)?
Gordon Van Dyke: It's a very 'sexy' sitting to have a game in. A lot of people have done it successfully in a single-player environment, but we wanted to attack it in a multiplayer environment. Multiplayer is a very successful experience - an experience that players look at for longevity in gameplay. It gives you a lot to do, you can interact with other people, form alliances and friendships. They key part that's always been a challenge for people to give accessible mêlée combat that people can understand from the jump, like it's easy to know "oh, I have a gun and I can shoot it".
I think we have a really solid foundation for that. There also needs to be a learning curve though so that players don't get bored. There is a gap in the market for games like that, it has become about one type of experience dominating the multiplayer environment at the moment, and whilst players enjoy that, they also want something else to compliment that or to give them something that takes them on a different adventure, rather than a military shooter.
Look at knifing in Battlefield. People love that. In my former life as a producer on Battlefield, and one thing that people loved on the PC. One thing people really liked where the "Knife a Dev" times. It was hilarious because people really wanted to get your dog tags. You'd have this hoard of guys coming at you with knives, like a hoard of zombies.
Martin Wahlund: What we learned from Lead and Gold is that players had a lot of fun when they were up close. We had long range from the beginning, but we kind of narrowed it down to 15, 20 metres and it was more personal. This will be even more personal because of the melee battles. Lots of people clashing together in the fray, the heat of the battle, it could be a really nice experience.
Strategy Informer:What changes have you made to the core technology? Are we talking Lead and Gold with swords here or is there something more?
Martin Wahlund: It's completely new technology, I'll say that first. Because this is really tailored for this kind of games - a lot of networked players and stuff like. It's a fresh start, we've learned a lot of the Lead and Gold experience. What we wanted to bring from it was the team play, the up-close fights, the jump-in/jump-out - if you have 50 minutes, like you're playing it on a lunch break.
Gordon Van Dyke: Having an engine that allows for quick iteration is key. Everybody jumps on during a lunch break or at the end of the day, and you play what you've been working on.
Strategy Informer:Being very multiplayer focused, you're probably going to have all the standard game modes, but what are you going to do to make it unique?
Gordon Van Dyke: We have some incredible designers, and they generate lots of ideas. It's a matter of going through what would be the best one, and then testing it. Of course we'll have the standard ones, but we want to be careful not to fragment our player base by giving them so many options that they don't know where to start. It's a balance between classic game-modes, new game modes, and how many game modes as a whole.
As I was saying to Martin not so long ago - because we're on PC, initially, it's very flexible to hear what the community is saying, what do they want next? What is important to them? Instead of us trying to make too many decisions - just give them a world of choices, and then we can bring that out.
Strategy Informer:Lead and Gold was on the PSN - will you be doing the same with War of the Roses? Maybe even get a Xbox 360 release?
Martin Wahlund: This tech supports both consoles, it'll support android from November. The focus now is on the PC version - although it won't support Macs. We want to do a game that's really good on PC. You sometimes are limited in what you can do because you want to hit all the platforms, so we're taking a different approach. So we're mainly focusing on PC. If/When we go to other platforms, we'll be thinking "well, how can this perform well on this platform?".
Gordon Van Dyke: It'll be done specifically for those platforms, it won't be copy/paste ports. Especially in controls, I think controls are very important. There's so much difference between a mouse and keyboard and a controller, and you have to be really honest with yourself about that. If you want to deliver something on the console first, you have to be prepared that when you go over to the PC that those controls a specific to the PC. We don't want to short anybody on any experience.
We have the ability to really grow this franchise with the PC community, they are used to updates, used to patches - I should know I had to give them a day one patch when I was working on Battlefield 2142. You really need have your shit together when you're going to go to the console.
Strategy Informer:Being set in a historical period that isn't covered that often, you could almost see this an opportunity to educate your audience a bit over the period. Is that something you're particularly concerned about?
Gordon Van Dyke: The single-player campaign - because it is Paradox - we have a really talented writer who's into all the historical stuff, so that element of the game... even in our game we're not going to have really fictional weapons or scenarios like.... Eskimos attacking or something. Nothing like that. The armament, the things that are available to you, we're going to make sure that it's all historically accurate. Even in the single-player- you may play as a fictional character, but you're going to be story driven through this cool story where you interact with historically accurate characters, during events that really happened.
Maybe they come away with some extra knowledge, but that's not a goal of ours or anything, but that's a nice extra thing. "Oh, this guy found history interesting because of a videogame", I wish I had that when I was little! If you think of Rome - the HBO series- and everything there... I think learned more about Caesar through watching that.
Strategy Informer:Do you have a release window in mind? Will there be a demo, or a beta?
Gordon Van Dyke: We're looking at Summer 2012, and we're definitely looking at doing a beta. It's important, especially if you're a multiplayer game, you need that feedback, you need to get real world experience before releasing a game, Players are very passionate about participating in this game that they are about to spend money on, and they can influence the quality of the game, and prove or disprove theories - because a lot of its guessing until they get their hands on it. Nothing can re-create having thousands and thousands of people playing your game.
Short but sweet, it's still relatively early days for this game so there wasn't much else to say. Lead and Gold was a great little title that gave a lot of people a good time, and we're confident the team can do the same again here. And who knows, you may learn a thing or two.