Interview with Betadwarf (Forced)

Our Interview With Forced Developer Betadwarf!

1. We like to start of every interview with the same question, to see the many responses we will get. The question is very simple. What game has been the biggest influence in your life and why?

Hm. Hmmmmm. Hmmmmmmmmm. Difficult question, so I’m gonna have to go with a double answer for that. First is the old “Champions of Krynn” RPG from SSI. I think that was the first time I saw how a computer game could function as a window into a much greater world – and it was a kick ass game to boot. And them, I’ll have to be a pretentious fart and say “Braid”. I remember just dropping the controller and walking around in my apartment, after completing it, just being completely overwhelmed. It showed me, what’s possible with games, and it pushed me towards the decision of moving into game development myself.

2. I love your string of pictures under the “Team Story” tab on your website How difficult was it to live like that for so many years? Most people couldn’t fathom giving up everything for their passion, and you lived it. Does that make Forced more than just a game to your company?

Well Forced is many thing to us. It’s both a game, but it’s also the ‘origin story’ of our game studio BetaDwarf, and for most of us it also represents a personal journey from happy amateurs into professional game developers. And no, it was not always easy – especially because we weren’t sure, if we would even be able to get the game out. I think that was actually harder than the living-together aspect of it – the uncertainty. Especially as we pretty much restarted development a couple of times, starting almost from scratch. Those were tough moments. But in the same vein, there were also moment of incredible joy and pride, when we did something that worked, and we felt, that we could compete with the rest of the industry.

3. Being an arena style cooperative combat game can we expect to see any sort of customization between the characters? Or is all customization based solely on which one of the 4 weapons you choose?

There is a lot of customization within each of the four weapons. The way it works is, that you choose one of four different weapons, and each of these weapons then have their own bank of both active and passive skills – 16 in all per weapon. As you play the game you gradually onlock slots and skills, and when maxed out, you can have 3 active skills and 3 passive perks – but the number of different combinations is huge (specifically there is 112896 possible combinations). And when you are plaing more than one player, it’s even more.

The trick is, since all players can apply and ‘spend’ marks, that have been applied to enemies, skills can interacti with each other between players, with f.ex one player picking skills that apply marks to enemies, with another plyaer choosing skills, that spend these marks for superior damage.

4. From what I have seen of Forced, it looks to add action with a large amount of puzzles. What was the hardest part of level design? Was it making the puzzles, or finding a way to keep the action flowing while trying to achieve everything you wanted out of it?

Actually, I think what was most difficult regarding both action and puzzles was, to get a good difficulty curve, where levels were challenging, but didn’t feel impossible or unfair. The balance between the two elements were actually not that difficult to achieve. Because the individual levels/challenges are fairly short, we can make some that are more puzzle-oriented, more action-oriented or a mix, without too many problems. As long as we get the overall balance right for the whole game, we are happy. By mixing the weighting of the elements in the different levels, we also make sure, that players can play the experience they like best themselves. Since it’s not mandatory to complete all challenges to progress in the game, the players have the option to skip a level from time to time, if it doesn’t sit well with them.

5. Your company, Betadwarf Entertainment, is going to be using the [email protected] program to launch Forced on the Xbox One. Would Forced have made its way to Microsoft’s console without this program? Or did it pave the way to allow Xbox gamers the opportunity to play your game?

There is no doubt, that the [email protected] made it much easier for us to bring Forced to Xbox One. How it would have fared without, is always difficult to say, but so far we are really happy with being a part of the [email protected] programme, and Microsoft has been relly nice to us, and helped us with a lot of things.

6. Forced is meant to be played cooperatively with up to three friends, but is it possible to still play this game by yourself? Or are their some aspects that gamers will miss out on if they decide to go at it alone?

Well – when playing solo, you will have to make do with yelling at the screen, instead of at your friends, when you die :) – But other that, it’s perfectly possible to play the game on your own. The difficulty of the game scales with the number of players, and we have made sure, that’s it perfectly possible to complete the game with one player only. Of course it transforms the game a bit, but we’ve put in some mechanics, that make it possible to use all of the gameplay elements, even when playing solo.

7. Is their going to be any difference between the Xbox One and the PC version? If so what will those differences be?

Well, one great thing is, that with the Xbox One we will have a lot of horsepower at our disposal. So we expect the Xbox One version to look as good as the best pc settings. Other than that, the versions should be pretty identical. Since we are working with Unity, it will (at least in theory) be the same code, that both the pc and the Xbox One-version is compiled from. So any improvements in one version, will probably be rolled into the other as well. However, we will probably put in a few improvements in both versions, as we work on the Xbox One version.

8. This style of game isn’t used very often, especially when adding in the puzzle element. What brought on your decision to use the top down style? Was is an overwhelming decision or was it a debate for some time? What other ideas were bounced around for Forced before it became what it is today?

The top-down style was chosen, because we thought, that this gives the best possible overview of the playing field, which is especially important in Forced. Since one of the key elements is guiding the Spirit Mentor around between players, and for this, you need to know where all the players are placed. This is also why players still share the same camera, even if they are playing multiplayer on individual computers. I don’t think we ever really seriously considered other solutions. It just felt right for us and Forced.

However in the really dark early days of Forced (When it was actually called Faith of the Guardians), it was envisioned as a Heroes of Might and Magic-esque Facebook game. But that’s a loooong time ago :)

9. What is your best memory in the development process that Forced has been through? What will be your lasting memory of Forced once your team has moved on to its next project?

I think the best memory was, when we got approved on Steam Greenlight. Mind you – this happened at a time, where Steam was only approving something like 10 games a month. But when we got this message, I knew, that we would make it. We would be releasing our game! It was the light at the end of the tunnel, and from there on, it was just a mad dash to the finish.

And I actually think, that that moment is the one, that will stay with me. But I think Steffen and Kenneth, the two founders would prob. point at the release day, as their special day. Both of them had taken out personal loans for almost 100.000 dollars each, but within a day, they were debt free!!

10. Lastly I would like to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to respond to our interview and will end it with one last question. As of now Forced does not have a confirmed release date on the Xbox One, but do you expect gamers to be able to play your game this year?

When it’s done? Yeah sorry for giving such a cliché answer, but right now, there are still to many unknown factors, so we are not sure which side of New Years Eve it ends up on.

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Written by: Hugo

“Don’t be so gloomy. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.” ~ The Third Man

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