With free-to-play titles, players often worry that they’re just pay-to-win. How can you assure people that pay-to-win won’t be a problem in Hawken?
In Hawken people will pay for variety, or for aesthetic changes that don’t affect gameplay. I like the term “pay-to-be-fabulous”. Items or weapons that might affect gameplay will also be available just by playing the game and earning or unlocking them. So you can choose to spend time or money to progress in the game, which allows non-paying players to compete on level ground.
You’re teaming up with Gaikai to release Hawken on the streaming platform. Do you think cloud gaming is here to stay, and will it be a big part of the next console generation?
I’m not really sure what kind of effect cloud gaming or streaming will have on the next gen consoles, but with Sony’s recent purchase of Gaikai I’d assume that it will play some role in the next PlayStation.
Cloud gaming is sort of the next logical step in the industry’s progression from retail to digital distribution, which is becoming more and more prominent. I think in the future as internet speeds increase and infrastructure improves, there will be less and less emphasis on any specific physical hardware.
You’re a small development team making a game that looks like it’s coming out of a AAA studio. During development, has having a small team caused any problems? Did it ever prevent you from doing things with Hawken that a larger studio could’ve done?
Well we always kept the size of our team and our resources in mind throughout development of the game, and tried to work intelligently around our limitations. The design of Hawken always involved delivering what we could excel at and excluding anything that we wouldn’t be proud of.
For example, we decided to limit the scope of our game by focusing on a multiplayer experience that we could polish, rather than a single player campaign that would involve lots of scripting, cutscenes, level design and pacing/story elements that would be tough to manage with our small team. That way we could focus on art and gameplay and let the players create a fun experience through their own interactions with each other.
You found a publisher for Hawken in Meteor Entertainment. After Double Fine’s recent success, it seems more and more developers are turning to Kickstarter to find funding. Do you think you could’ve made Hawken a reality without publisher support?
Not the current version of Hawken, which has had a lot more depth added. I’m sure we could have had a pretty successful Kickstarter campaign, released a simpler version of Hawken with less customization and content, and then moved on to the next thing.
But by teaming up with Meteor Entertainment and using the free-to-play model we’ve really been able to expand the game and the universe, and offer an experience that can grow and evolve with the community. The original dev team couldn’t have done anything like that on its own.
Hawken, from Adhesive Games and Meteor Entertainment, is due to enter open beta on 12th December 2012 for PC.