Ace Team Talk Rock Of Ages

Ace Team, the Chilean studio behind the fantastically unusual first person beat ’em up Zeno Clash, are now making a game that combines bowling with art history. It’s called Rock Of Ages, and it’s a game of two halves. One half is that of a boulder crashing around destroying stuff, the other is about defending things from that errant ball of rock. Sounds suitably strange, but what of the details? We talked to Ace Team’s Andres Bordeu to find out more.

RPS: We’ve all seen the extraordinary and awesome trailers, but can you tell us a bit more about how the game plays? There are two parts to the game, if I understand correctly? What sort of challenges can we expect to have to face?

Bordeu: We still haven’t shown much of the defense portion of the game, where a player can populate his/her side of the circuit with all sorts of obstacles and units that will slow down a player from reaching their castle. The objective of the game is to destroy the enemy castle gate before they destroy yours. Thus, it’s also important to effectively guard your side. Both players will spend time playing the offensive and defensive roles. Once a player rams the enemy castle gate, the game changes to a top-down view where you place your strategic defenses. Boulders take some time to ‘build’ at the top of the hill before they can be launched again.

The game will also feature a few other game modes that are all about different objectives, but we’re keeping those secret for now.

RPS: Can you explain some of the objects we can see in the trailer, for instance there are both 2D cutouts, and solid objects? What is the effect of these in game?

Bordeu: Since this is a game where you roll through obstacles destroying everything in your path, we wanted to have a lot of stuff that’s fun to run over. But many of the obstacles you’ll locate downhill are placed by your adversary for the purpose making your route much more hazardous. Breaking through everything isn’t always your best strategy, thus we wanted to differentiate some of our ‘destructibles’ so it’s more obvious what is a solid obstacle and what is just there for your crushing pleasure. We thought that the people from an army should look really puny and always stack close to bigger units and that we should have lots and lots of them so players are tempted to run over the formations. The 2D cutouts were ideal to convey this idea and it also adheres very well to the Monty Python aesthetic we’re inspired by.

In future trailers we’ll be showing a lot more of the 2D cutouts. We have hundreds of little characters that really populate the environments once players begin to build their defenses.

RPS: Why is the boulder smiling?

Bordeu: Why not if it’s having so much fun! J The boulder from the trailer is smiling, but we’ll also have some angry boulders to pick from! And if any of the boulders take too much damage and too many pieces chip off you’ll find yourself with new expressions below the crust.

RPS: Where did the idea for different ages of art style come from? And which periods does the game feature? Can we expect any crazy abstract modern art levels?

Bordeu: We’ve always been really interested in having a diversity of visual flavors to exhibit in our games. Sometimes you get to play games that have truly amazing environments, but you’re treated to the same visuals for the complete ride. We really like to display variety when it’s possible. When we developed Zeno Clash the same idea was in our heads and we ended up creating all sorts of settings. It’s also more challenging and fun to create that way.

As for the different periods the game will feature Ancient Greek art, Medieval, the Italian Renaissance, Rococo, and Romanticism (mostly Goya). There’s a bunch of other art styles that we’d love to include, and we’re not discarding the possibility of doing so through DLC, but that’s getting a little ahead of ourselves.

RPS: And the game is Unreal engine? Why that rather than the Source engine you used for Zeno Clash?

Bordeu: After we finished ‘Zeno Clash: Ultimate Edition’ the next natural step was to develop our next games for a broader amount of platforms, and we didn’t want to leave the PlayStation 3 out. At that point there was no Source integration for the PS3, thus we started looking at other options. We had some really positive feedback from Epic when we showed them a teaser of Rock of Ages and we were very interested in Unreal Engine 3. We’re very happy to have adopted their technology which has proven to be tremendously powerful, flexible and focused towards the developer.

RPS: Why Rock Of Ages and not Zeno Clash 2?

Bordeu: Because not long after we announced Zeno Clash 2 we realized it was a mistake to immediately go down that way if we were going to establish ourselves as a new game development studio. We don’t want to be one of those companies that is known for a single title, especially when we have so many creative people that can explore new concepts. Actually, we’re currently in very early stages of another title that also isn’t Zeno Clash 2 (it’s too early to say anything about it yet though).

Still, we don’t plan on forgetting our first title and we will continue the story and deliver a great new Zeno Clash experience–but when the time is right. When that happens people will see that again we’ll present something fresh that stands out and it will not be just more of the same.

RPS: Thanks for your time.


  1. Rinox says:

    This looks pretty fun. And just…different, kinda like Zeno Clash did. I wish there were more developers like ACE.

    • Sunjumper says:

      I agree that there are not enough decelopers that are like ACE.
      Maybe Ice Pick Lodge who also follow their own (if more depressive) visions.

      But it is good to know that ACE Team does exists and that they are successful enough to continue sharing their lovable lunacy with the rest of the world.

    • Bas says:

      The games industry would be so much further in terms of being accepted if more games like this were being made, instead of Gears of Honor: Third Warfare.

  2. Will says:

    This game is looking so, so wonderful.


    • Will says:

      Hmmm, ‘Spring 2011’. Chilean spring or English spring? They’re at opposite times of the year, y’know!

  3. Matthew says:

    Long live ACE. It’s companies and games like these that make it all worth it.

    (But guys, do reconsider Source for your next thing. I should think currently Source is the most cross-platform you can get. Also I just like it more than UE3 :-)

  4. MrSafin says:

    ACE seriously ROCKS.

    • Urael says:

      I think you’re being too timid. Try a boulder approach…

    • Rinox says:

      Most of their games look like they are permanently stoned

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      Let’s hope they don’t balls this one up.

    • Haplo says:

      Ah, well. I guess you could say they’re off like a rolling stone after a rocky start.

    • Alex Bakke says:

      This’ll turn out to be a load of boulderdash.

    • Brian says:

      These comments are getting silly. Time for a clean SLATE.

    • Haplo says:

      A clean slate? Have you LOST YOUR MARBLES?!

    • Man Raised By Puffins says:

      Gneiss work guys, you’ve really got my pun-glands groaning.

    • Lambchops says:

      And here was me thinking we’d used up all the ball/rock based puns yesterday!

    • westyfield says:

      @ Rinox

      Agreed, they’re tripping balls.

    • Scandalon says:

      They are one studio we should not take for granite.

    • Alex Bakke says:

      That one was oreful.

    • The Deleter says:

      Let’s hope this game doesn’t end on a flat note.

    • Evan says:

      this game seems to feature a ROCK

    • Duuuude says:

      Seems like they really want to rock the boat, just perhas sans boats.

      Just as long as they make sure the game is rock solid before release.

      Let’s not go about this in any roundabout way and say it like it is: rock on!

      I am amazed nobody has resorted to bowling analogies yet, but I bet that’s mostly because brits go off their ROCKer whenever something resembles yankdom.

      Their first title was great, so let’s hope this one is a chip off the old block.

      I was quite stoned while writing this, so I hope I did not run anyone over.

      Rock out with your cock out!

  5. Chris D says:

    I’m all for developers not churning out endless sequels, although if that was the plan it might have been nice not to have had Zeno Clash end on a cliff hanger. But this is a minor grumble and Rock of Ages is looking very interesting so I’ll forgive them.

  6. Baboonanza says:

    Ace Team are my new favourites. I will shower them with adoration and hand-made papercrafts..

  7. plugmonkey says:

    This puts me in mind of the brilliantly mental Odama on GameCube.

  8. noobnob says:

    Wait. Waaaait.

    THIS is Unreal Engine 3? It doesn’t look like anything else made in UE3! Where are the shiny plastic models?

    • Urael says:

      I was thinking the very same thing – it’s the first time I’ve not been able to spot UE3 by screenshot alone.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Mirror’s Edge was U3 as well, I think.

    • pupsikaso says:

      That’s because the majority of games being released on UE3 (meaning, games that could afford to buy a commercial license) are all pretty much the same.

      But the UE3 engine is actually very, very flexible. If you want to see it’s full power check out the tons and tons of free indie and student projects that use UE3. You’ll have an even harder time recognizing it then.
      It’s really a shame how narrow the published games use this amazing piece of technology.

  9. frags says:

    Are there pig men with balls for chins in this game?

    • Malagate says:

      I just want to know if I can roll the rock of ages right into someone’s beak. RIGHT IN THE BEAK.

    • sfury says:

      Don’t worry, I’m sure they’ll make a Zenozoic-themed DLC.

  10. LeksikonW says:

    Band/Album Names Inadvertently Created by Andres Bordeu in This Interview:
    – Her Side of the Circuit
    – Your Crushing Pleasure
    – New Expressions Below the Crust
    – Romanticism (Mostly Goya)
    – Tremendously Powerful, Flexible

    (all also possibly Electric Six songs)

  11. Pilou says:

    I’m proud that a chilean team shows so much creativity. Maybe they could include a level where you have to set free 33 trapped miners!

  12. sksk says:

    It’s nice to know the boulder’s expressions aren’t written in stone.

  13. Simon says:

    I love it. This is the only thing on my WILL BUY! list :)

    As a side note, the old Zeno Clash article here on RPS was what made me start reading RPS near-daily (up to now where I whack the site with an endless barrage of F5’s to see new content).

  14. sfury says:

    So… where do I pre-order than?

  15. michaelar says:

    I guess I find myself always rooting for Source, since it was so promising and technically advanced. Now one of the only non-Valve companies using it are moving away from it to — what else — UE3. I guess I’m just a bit bummed. I hear the Source dev tools are pretty arcane, so maybe that’s part of it. Looks like UE3 is The One True Gaming Engine after all, but I too tire of the Giant Chromey Man Boots look for everything. Kudos to everyone who can make it look different from the “defaults”.

    And good luck, ACE — this looks like a wonderful game!

    • Scandalon says:

      Dear lord, where is this idea that the engine = art style?!?

      And yes, source sucks from a “jump in and learn to do stuff” standpoint…

    • Thants says:

      Just look at Mirror’s Edge or Borderlands or this game.

    • Dominic White says:

      I think it’s more that Unreal 3 games often seem to ape the art-style of the bundled assets, and use exactly the same shader effects. See the trailer for The Ball – those big dinosaur armor dudes at the end look like they’re lifted straight from Gears Of War.

  16. Danarchist says:

    I think that is an oddly gorgeous game. See mister ebert, you ARE a dusty old loon!

  17. Snuffy (the Evil) says:

    I hope there’s a pop art setting, just for the “rock & roll” puns.

  18. Navagon says:

    This game looks like it could be a real breath of fresh air. I’m loving the art styles.

  19. Fenchurch says:


    Or, potentially, ship names from an Iain M Banks novel! =-P

  20. Fenchurch says:

    I’ll chalk this up as a victory, then.