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Orcs Must Die! 2 Interview

The Rooster Teeth Expo is a considerably smaller convention than most others that get covered (though it did balloon up from last year’s relatively paltry 500 attendees to this year’s 5,000), but given the strong ties to a huge franchise like Halo with their Red vs. Blue series and the convention’s location in Austin, TX, they get some exhibitors that you wouldn’t likely see otherwise. 343 Industries had a huge play area with a line that almost Ouroboros’d in on itself, and Austin locals Twisted Pixel Games had a section for each of its currently released games (no news on Lococycle until PAX Prime, I’ve been told), directly across from also Austin-based t-shirt and graphic design company Glennz Tees.

And then from near my hometown was Robot Entertainment of Plano, TX. They were with probably the second largest booth (not counting the competition stage and the Nerf shooting challenge area), showing off their upcoming titles Orcs Must Die! 2 and the Steam version of Hero Academy. I caught up with Robot’s community manager Justin Korthof and managed to get the hot scoop on the soon-to-be released Orcs Must Die! 2.

How long after the first one did you start working on Orcs Must Die 2?

Almost immediately! While we clearing last bugs and stuff for the first game, we started some DLC work, and did some DLC work for a little while after ship and we were already digging into design ideas for the sequel and it was obvious right out of the gate people were going to want co-op out of it and certain things like Endless, as well, which we just announced. So we dug in and started figuring out how we were going to make all that work and got right to work on it. We’ve been busy!

There was a significant positive response to the first one.

Yeah, it was good. We were very happy with it. Everybody seemed to like it, and we liked it, so it was fun for us to be able to jump back in and do a big sequel and do a lot of stuff people were asking for.

Were you guys surprised by the positive response?

Yes and no, I mean, we love the game, but you never really know how it’s going to go until it’s out there. I mean, it was obviously very nice to get that reaction from it, but it’s hard to say we expected it. Like, once a game’s out there, you never know how they’re going to react. Some things that seem like a sure thing, people just hate it. But thankfully it worked out for us and everybody seemed to really enjoy the first game.

What are the big changes?

Obviously co-op is the big one, right? Everybody asked for co-op; all the reviews, every player asked for co-op and we immediately set in to do that. Co-op’s the biggest thing we’ve added. We’ve gone back and we’ve added the new Endless Mode, like I was saying. We just announced that, which is a huge additional chunk of gameplay that people wanted. We’ve gone back and refactored a lot of things, like we’ve rebuilt the physics system so that combos and traps work better now.

The biggest one we did was going into the spellbook and reworking how all of that works. In the first game, you could go upgrade every trap once and that was kind of it. That was a good system for that game, but 250 skulls upgraded everything in that game. You earned skulls playing through. In this game, it takes over 1,700 skulls to upgrade everything, so the trap spellbook is a lot bigger. We’ve added the whole new trinket system, all the old traps are back plus a bunch of new ones, every trap has at least five upgrades for it, so we’ve really blown that system out.

So by the end of the game, your War Mage and my War Mage are not necessarily going to have the same spellbook. When we go into co-op, it provides a really fun opportunity for us to go “well I’ve got the arrow wall of fire arrows and you’ve got arrow wall with ice arrows so let’s both bring our arrow walls and combine those together,” and it should make for a really exciting experience playing with other players and seeing “well, they’ve got these sets of special traps which are totally different from mine” and seeing how those work together.

What about story developments?

Yeah, I mean, the story was light in the first one, but it was there, and we’re continuing that story. There’s a campaign in this game that picks up literally a handful of days after the first one ended, and we follow through with our two main characters the Sorceress, who was the villain in the first one, and the War Mage, who—now that he’s closed the rift, he’s out of a job, basically, so he’s gone off to become a miner in the dwarven mines.

Our story opens up just a week or two after the first game closes and we find out where our characters are and how they end up having to fight together. It’s a light story. We don’t go into—it’s not Mass Effect, but we try to take it seriously and do something cool with it and make it work out. The story we’re trying to tell this time around also works for the features as well. We’re bringing these two characters together, which makes it perfect for co-op play, and they’re very different characters and when you bring them together, lots of cool things happen.

What about enemies and weapons? Has variety increased?

Yeah, everything in the original game is back with a lot of new variants and then we’ve added a ton of new monsters, too. So like from the original game, we had one type of orc that would run around. This time we’ve got three—light, medium, and heavy orcs—and it really mixes up the mobs that you’re fighting. We can play with difficulty a lot that way. The hunters have two new classes; there’s a Savage Hunter and a Grenadier Hunter. Stuff like that.

But then we’ve added all the new enemies, like there’s the Earth Elemental, which are giant rock creatures that when you blow them up, the crumble into smaller rock creatures. And we’ve got a whole series of trolls. There’s Mountain Trolls and Swamp Trolls and those guys are brutal, the Mountain Troll especially. They’re enormous and they constantly regenerate health—all the trolls do. So as you’re attacking them, they’re regenerating health, so you have to just constantly pound on them with spells and traps all at once trying to take them down before they can stay healthy and get through the rifts. And like I said, we’ve got new fliers in there; we’ve got a ton of new creatures in there so it’s significantly expanded over the first game.

Do you guys have a release date?

July 30th! Just three weeks away. Very close.

What platforms?

PC-only. We had a really good Xbox community last time on the first game, but the Steam community was just a lot bigger, and we knew going into it we were going to try to make a much bigger game and we were going to do it in the same amount of time—actually, slightly less time, so by focusing on one platform, we can do all of that in the time we wanted to, and so we picked the platform where we had the biggest audience, and that was the Steam PC guys.

Was XBLA cert a consideration?

I mean, that’s part of the development process, right? We just had to choose one platform to go with and that’s what we went with.

From what I’ve heard, it seems the Xbox cert takes considerably longer.

Yeah, with Steam, you don’t have to do that. You just get your game out and there you go. So that’s part of it, but largely we just wanted to focus on making a bigger, better game, and going with one platform allowed us to do that.

And expanding to other platforms is a later consideration?

I mean maybe. I would never say no, but you know, we’ll see. If we release this and the first game has a huge sales spike or whatever and we get tons and tons of new players, then, you know, maybe, but right now there’s no plan.

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