ID@Xbox is an amazing tool that allows Video Game Developers to bring their titles to the Xbox One with relative ease (or so they have told me). This allows for gamers, like myself, to receive a large amount of titles that we would otherwise not have the chance to play. Recently I was lucky enough to have the chance to ask Michael Heald of Fully Illustrated about his upcoming title Wulverblade. Fully Illustrated is partnering with Darkwind Media to create this upcoming title. Wulverblade has personally peaked my interest for quite awhile, I love History and action games are one of my favorite genres. This was an interview I was extremely excited for and I was not disappointed. I want to personally thank Mr. Heald for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer these questions.
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?
Tough one as I’m sure everyone says the same thing, there’s lots 😉 But if I was narrow it down, it would be Streets of Rage or Street Fighter 2. Streets of Rage jumps out as I remember seeing it on a friends Mega Drive just as it launched and feeling my jaw hit the floor. I then totally fell in love with the game (and the genre) from that moment forward. Streets Fighter 2 then steps in as the heavy hitter to be honest as that game became a borderline obsession for me. The game was just incredible, we all know that, but it was the character design, the sprites, the feel and overall atmosphere that made it special. Huddling around an arcade cab to try and win the machine was always an amazing feeling. Pure magic.
2. I am a huge history buff myself, and the history of the Roman Empire is one of my favorites. I know your game is based off of the Massacre of the Ninth Legion; your team has even spent countless days with research and even on location. Can we expect a game that is not only historically accurate in its dates, times, and locations, but also in its representation of the characters involved; whether it be in how they move, react, or speak?
Absolutely! Every aspect of the game can be tied into some form of historical roots! The historic element of Wulverblade is one of the key factors for me, it makes the game what it is. I’ve followed historical fact wherever and whenever it’s been possible. The degree of time spent on the research has easily equalled that of the development, I kid you not. I actually had a Roman reenactor look over the game and he was bowled over by not only how accurate it all looked, but how impactful the combat felt. His feedback made my day! The clothing, armour, weapons, colours, environment, everything, is all tied to history and in my opinion, that makes for something special.
As the Roman history of northern Britain is sketchy and limited almost exclusively to the writings of Tacitus, I’ve obviously had to use some creative interpretation in the game. The names of the characters are mainly fictional, but where names are known (like Boudicca, Agricola and Hadrian etc) they are used accordingly.
I’ve travelled to MANY fort ruins, stone circles, baths and other landmarks for research purposes, so everything you see in the game has a historical set of roots that you can almost taste!
The Roman Legionaries and Centurions also ‘work’ on screen in a similar manner to how history says they did too, so at certain points in combat, the leading centurion will call the Legionaries back, command them to form up and then they use a actual formations from the time. When this happens, it spells trouble for you as the player as their formations are hard to crack. You need to learn the strengths and weaknesses of these formations and figure out how to break them.
3. The title is a curious one “Wulverblade”. I know a Wulver is a type of werewolf believed to be found in Europe, and the hilt of the sword the main character holds seems to have the emblem of a werewolf on it. Does this play any significance into the main story? What was the thought process when developing the title of the game?
Very well spotted! The Wulver is a mythical character from our (Britain’s) ancient lore that is said to be a kind hearted creature (as opposed to an evil, malevolent werewolf from other parts of the world) and one that symbolises protection and caring. The Wulver was known to leave food upon the doorsteps of starving families and guide lost souls to their homes. Caradoc and his family (the protagonists in the game) are the protectors of the northern tribes of Britannia, so the Wulver was a perfect symbol for them to carry
4. Will there be any customization involved with your character? Will you be able to change the way he looks, weapons he holds, etc?
In Wulverblade I wanted to keep it old school to the core, so you start out with the ultimate badass from the very first second of the game and it is down to you to learn how best to utilise the characters skills. So while you can’t upgrade the character, you can rest in the knowledge that you’ve got a maxed out warrior from the outset. You just need to learn how to wield that power! You can pick up other weapons along the way, so for instance, when the Legionaries throw their pilums (spears) at you, if they miss, you can pick them up and throw them right back! There are LOTS of weapons to pick up along the way.
5. Will the Xbox One version have multiplayer capabilities? If so what does this entail? Will there be a couch co-op mode?
a. We will be launching with 2 player co-op campaign and also 2 player arena modes (all local at launch, but hopefully we’ll be able to introduce online too at some point). The 2 player modes are SO much fun and have been a massive hit at the games show’s we’ve taken Wulverblade to so far. We even won ‘People’s Choice Award – Best Indie Game 2014’ at Play Expo in the UK this year. Over 20,000 people turned up to the event and had to vote for their favourite indie of the show. So the two player action is proving a lot of fun.
6. Wulverblade is coming to the Xbox One using the ID@Xbox program started by Microsoft. Has ID@Xbox made the process easier for your team overall? Do you feel the ID@Xbox Program is a success overall?
We are SO grateful to the guys at ID for allowing us on the program and they’ve been ace to work with so far. We would wholeheartedly recommend taking your game to Xbox One if that’s something your readers are considering. It’s an amazing platform.
7. One of your key points of interest for the game listed on your website states that there will be “Amazing unlockable features that leave you eager to play again!” Can you go into any more detail, without giving away too much, as to what we can expect to unlock? For instance will this be items, videos, or new gameplay modes?
In short we want every person that buys the game to think ‘daaaaamn this is good value for money!’, so on top of the standard features of the game (which are broad) you’ll be able to unlock quite a bit more too. There is one BIG unlock that we are sure will make players very, very eager to replay the game. It’s not an unlock that limits the game without it, it’s just one hell of an awesome reward if you finish it 😉
8. Were there any other concepts and ideas thrown around before the setting of 120AD was decided upon?
Nope 😉 I have been obsessed with making this game for so many years. The story is what makes this game really different from anything else and when you play/experience it, we really hope that you’ll come away feeling something totally new.
9. Your game plays in the side scrolling beat-em-up style. Was this the initial idea that your team decided on, or were many variations thrown around?
I’ve been using ‘I’ a lot in this interview, but that’s because Wulverblade as an idea/concept has been something I’ve personally been working on for many years. When I teamed up with my good buddies at Darkwind Media in 2013, the game was already ‘a thing’, at least conceptually anyway. So the side scrolling brawler idea was very much at the heart of the concept, in as much as the story was too. Side scrolling beatem-ups disappeared with the dawn of 3D graphics when the Playstation and Saturn came about, and it’s been my dream to bring my favourite genre back from the dead!
10. I want to first of all thank you for taking the time to finish this interview, and last but not least I just wanted to see if gamers would be able to get their hands on Wulverblade in 2014 or is the release date still up in the air?
Thanks for taking the time to interview me, it’s much appreciated! As far as a release date goes, it keeps slipping (as we want it to be perfect) but it’s looking like mid 2015 release window right now. It’ll be worth the wait