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.