Interview: "Earth Wars" interview with Space Ape designer and lead Chris White
Thanks to the awesome Jodi Sahlin at Space Ape, Ben's World of Transformers was able to interview Chris White, lead game designer and product owner of "Earth Wars", the new Transformers mobile game.
1. Some of the music in the game sounds like it could have come right from the original 80's cartoon. Can you talk about the process of composing the music for the game?
We were big fans of the Transformers score from both the G1 movie and cartoon. Personally I loved Vince DiCola and Casey Young's instrumental work on Transformers; the synths from that era are fantastic! Casey Young had even worked on tracks for Michael Jackson and Tina Turner. However, we wanted a sound that was modern and fresh with respectful nods to the past.
We were keen to absorb some of those electronic influences into sections of the game that referenced the Transformer's alien origin on Cybertron, for example when you enter the Space Bridge. However, the game is set on Earth and for those sections we plumped for an epic orchestral sound, with nods to the brass and strings favored by the G1 cartoon.
2. What was the process behind deciding the special abilities of each character (ex: Bumblebee's EMP)?
When we started the project our go to guide was the Transformers Universe book, written by Marvel's Bob Budiansky who defined much of the original backstory. The design team wanted to strike a balance between referencing the chacter's profile abilities whilst ensuring the gameplay was as fun and balanced as possible.
Bumblebee was an interesting and important character. We went through a number of iterations before we landed on his final behavior. He disables defenses as a nod to his espionage function. He also dodges enemy fire due to his quick and nimble nature. If you zoom in during battle you'll sometimes spot him backflipping out of the way of incoming fire.
3. Many of the character models appear to be based on existing "Transformers" action figures. Why go that route instead of creating original designs or using designs from the original animated series?
The cartoon team had the advantage of being able to fix the camera to make the transformations look good. We wanted the Earth Wars Transformers to genuinely transform; parts visibly moving from A to B. In the team screen, you have the flexibility to fully rotate around the bots and zoom in as transformation takes place. We don't 'cheat' the transformations as they did in the original animated series, where parts simply vanish or appear from nowhere. For example, if you look at a character like Arcee, there's no way her G1 movie design would actually work; it defies the laws of physics! I love the concept of transformation as a puzzle, figuring out where each piece fits.
4. The characters in the game draw from the "Generation One" line up of characters. Are there any plans to mine characters from other continuities such as "Beast Wars" or the Unicron Trilogy?
We'd love to incorporate as much of the Transformers universe into the game as possible. We've included new Transformers characters including Windblade, Slipstream and the Torchbearers. I'd love Earth Wars to become the Transformers title with the greatest number of playable characters ever. Let's speak again in another year on this one!
5. Will we be seeing new campaigns to add new characters to our rosters?
Yes. Not for a little while yet, but rest assured we have plans...
6. Is there any chance in the future of being able to "convert" a character into resources? Example: I have a two star Powerglide so I want to convert my one star Powerglide into Energon/Crystals/Alloy etc.
It's not out of the question or a bad idea, but don't expect it anytime soon.
7. How do you plan to keep the game fresh so players will want to keep coming back?
There's a whole team crafting new content for Earth Wars. We've introduced six new bots in our first three weeks. We have loads of awesome characters planned with unique gameplay advantages. If you check out Arcee, you'll spot she has a special decoy ability, cloning herself to attract enemy fire. I'm particularly excited about Ultra Magnus and Galvatron...
Characters aren't the only thing we're working on of course. We have brand new features and regular alliance events planned that will extend the game in all kinds of exciting directions. This is just the beginning!