Paragon Interview: Why Epic Are Making A MOBA & More

You can read about Paragon, Epic’s new MOBA, over here, but there were parts I had to cut out of the feature for flow and length. If you’re wondering about the game’s replay system, crossplay with consoles, approach to chat toxicity, and why Epic are making a MOBA in the first place, read on for some bonus materials from my conversation with creative director Steve Superville.

Why Epic Are Making A MOBA

League of Legends was Steve Superville’s previous MOBA of choice. Each morning he and colleagues at Epic would come to work and “tell these stories of the fantastic fights and teamfights and combos, how we won the match, how we came back, how we pulled it off. Those stories were things that got told and retold and retold.”

A couple of years ago the team at Epic had decided they wanted to make a competitive multiplayer game – not something new in and of itself at Epic so they were also looking for a challenge. “What are we naturally doing?” was the question Steve posed and the answer was coming in and swapping MOBA war stories.

Superville and his team felt there was something special about MOBAs and the stories they’re able to create so they decided to try and figure out what. “We figured out it’s the teamfights, it’s the interplay between characters, it’s that your life expectancy is long enough that we start making decisions off each other. I see you engage, I hold back with my ult [ultimate ability], I wait for the perfect moment to pull it off and the plan comes together. There’s also the strategy with the map choices, the itemisation… Games are always fresh because of the way the MOBA genre is.”

How The Replay System Works

Epic wanted to address the fact that cinematic renditions of MOBA plays and the actual gameplay can be very different, more about capturing the feel of playing rather than play itself. “We wanted to challenge ourselves. Can we bring our gameplay much closer to the cinematic that we would make that we announced at PSX and make it feel like an Epic game?” says Superville.

He gave an example. “We knew we wanted to keep the game physical so you can understand and parse what’s going on. Rampage (a tanky fighter character) picks up a rock and throws it across the map rather than just spawning a particle effect somewhere over there. Not that we don’t have plenty of that too.”

This brings us to the game’s replay system. I only saw it briefly but it’s a toolset designed to allow you to pull up replays and manipulate them. You can get information on players and their builds, watch them play and examine matches from multiple perspectives, but there are also a bunch of editing tools in there too. The idea is that players will be able to create their own cinematics (I’m predicting a future awash with slow motion replays of teamfights) and, as with those MOBA storytelling moments Superville mentioned at the start, share them with others. They’ve also told me that gif creation should be possible.

Sharing moments is something I actually do a lot in Destiny when I something cool or weird happens, although only using the PS4 video capture so it’s not fancy editing.

Superville adds that every game of Paragon gets stored on the replay server and you can search for your own matches, friends’ matches, characters you want to learn better and so on.

I tell him I spent one of my matches playing Gideon – he’s kind of like a mage with a short-range teleport, a meteor strike, a tether and a black hole which sucks people towards him at his disposal. If I wanted to improve my Gideon play, he explains, “you can filter all the replays ever by Gideon, maybe filter by things that happened within the last week and find a Gideon match where he went some ridiculous KDA and load it up and start learning from each other.”

The replays also let you see skill builds and the deck of cards (the substitute for your item options) so I ask whether there’s a way of just saying “Import that deck” – or at least as many of the cards as you have unlocked from that deck. “We aren’t there yet,” he admits. “We’re probably a good way away but that is the goal, especially to expose an API to the community so they can build websites.”

How Crossplay Works Between PC And PS4

The game is intended for PC and PS4 with players from each able to join the same match. I’m so wary of this because Smite went to console as well as PC but separated the two versions out because there are very real differences in what’s possible when using a gamepad versus a mouse and keyboard. A particular concern for me is the ability to turn fast. On PC it’s a really quick action, on console in Smite it takes longer, thus heroes are more vulnerable to things like being snuck up on. I spent all my time with the PC version during the preview event (for obvious reasons) so I can’t answer that from experience but I did put the question to Steve.

“The end goal is to make one game and have it be a uniform experience across games, including cross progression and cross purchase,” is how Superville puts it. Specifically referring to my concerns about the different platforms advantaging or disadvantaging particular actions or characters he adds:

“In terms of controller versus mouse and keyboard, the nice thing about MOBAs is the pacing of the game and the design of the game and combat of the game is not so twitch-based. It’s much more about positioning and teamwork and understanding the strengths of your character and the weaknesses in another character and making decisions in unison with your ally rather than jump 180 noscope headshots where everything is determined by how fast you can move your crosshair on top of a pixel. That’s just not the game we’re making.”

I think this is one of those things where I want to try it out and see how the platforms compare once the beta is live and people are playing regularly to see if the experiences feel like they’re compatible.

How Epic Hope To Keep In-Game Chat Healthy

“We’re approaching it gingerly and diligently,” says Superville. “We know player interaction is both the reason people stay in a game like this and the reason people will leave. Particularly when it’s free-to-play, I don’t have any financial investment. I paid $60 for CoD so it doesn’t matter who is yelling what at me, I’m going to play $60-worth whatever that means to me. So we have the team chat wheel, we’ll introduce map pinging sometime relatively soon. Currently you can only text chat to teammates which boils down on some of the toxicity and that doesn’t at least go cross-team.

“We debated a lot about whether to do global voice-over-IP and I’ve just never seen it work out well. We’ll figure things out. We may do it but start everybody muted and you can selectively choose to unmute – that’s up to you.” My own suggestion is that perhaps you can earn the right to use voice by gaining positive reputation or feedback from others – easier communication as a reward for being helpful or pleasant to play with. But then again, if you don’t offer a voice option there’s always Ventrilo or Teamspeak or Mumble. Even Skype. Perhaps the bigger challenge will be facilitating voice across PS4 and PC.

Read more about Paragon in our feature published earlier today.

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20 Comments

  1. FurryLippedSquid says:

    Epic are making a MOBA because, at the time, they were the in thing and hoped to make lots of money from it, perhaps even a platform for esports to make even more money.

    Safe to say they have now missed the mark, like a few other development houses.

    • zxcasdqwecat says:

      There’s always ut4

    • crazyd says:

      They are making a MOBA because it’s easier to jump on a bandwagon than make something new.

      • SyCo_Venom says:

        Ya because making unreal was a dumb idea when quake and quake2 were there and making UT was so dumb since quake 3 was there. I do not know about you but I like options and competition.

        I mean really whats out there? Smite is somewhat similar but overall not that impressive and its really different, Paragon plays more like a 3rd person shooter while smite plays like a WOW. As for the other MOBAs LOL and DOTA2 and HON have there on style and HOTS is a very causal game that will never see decent competitive numbers or players.

        Every idea has been done ever thought has been thought its all about taking whatever idea and making it unique espically in the gaming world. Now if you argument was rather EPIC can pull it off after there last few releases you may have somewhat of a point.

        Is it you hate mobas or that you hate epic. Because other than the fact its a moba it looks to be pretty unique to me. I for one am not a fan of the socialist idea of 1 choose for everything. Should they make another MMO cause we know we need another one of those…….. should they make another FPS cause there isnt enough of those. I mean really there are less MOBAs then most other genres that bigger companies are will to tackle.

        Im sure you understand board rooms and running a company and trying to sell the idea that you want millions of dollars to develop a brand new ip/game that u have no clue on how it will sell or if there will be any interest. Or, you could look at the player base of lol and dota and ask what is that they like and what can we do to make that unique and have its own feeling.

        But Im sure you have your own gaming company that has done so well and you are the arbiter of truth in gaming and u can know what ppl will like and not like.

        Cant believe we read the same forums.

        • Rikstah says:

          Making another FPS is far less of a risk.

          For a MOBA to be successful financially is much like an MMO, you need a strong, large playerbase dedicating most of their game time to your game. You either do very well or do very badly.

          Considering that the market is saturated, with only two real winners in the game (dota and lol), I’d say its a bad idea trying to jump on the MOBA bandwagon.

    • Don Reba says:

      Yeah, at a time when EVERYONE is making a MOBA, the question of why Epic is making one is not that interesting.

  2. MadMinstrel says:

    I was slightly disappointed to find out Paragon was MOBA, but oh well. I like Epic for their engine, not necessarily for their games.

  3. BlackeyeVuk says:

    Cuz they want that sweet-ass ka$ha like every other greedy-ass mofo.

    You have brainfart game mechanics with no depth involved. All that moba is one giant bait for “competitive spirit” delusionalists. I mean you get the idea of how much brain cells you need involving playing such game(s).

    And people ask why them mofos so rude. Cuz them mofos brains works in neutral gear while playing that crap. Im not gonna be like them brainwashed zombies, I have standards, they are low, but at least i can argue with myself and H.K47 over efficient body disposal. Creepy, stupid, pointless but private.
    And even failed concepts still earns them monies.
    What philosophy you need for failed crap like that,you just need someone to hit them clogged-neutral-gear-weirodes with some good clutch IN DA FACE.
    TL;DR People are sheep, therefore we need games like them mobas. MMm I like mine with one dimensional map over and over again.

    • Morlik says:

      You, sir, have clearly never played Dota or Dota 2 at any meaningful level.

      • BlackeyeVuk says:

        Probably. But I still played alot of original DOTA back in the day. Even before Frozen Throne exp. by Eul.

        Maybe Im just old, and not some braindead kid anymore.

        • HopeHubris says:

          You don’t sound old, you sound like a mid-late teen “I’m too old for childish games” people that don’t realise how childish they actually sound

        • SyCo_Venom says:

          So you have played a mod for an old game that was made by amateurs that wasnt nearly as polished and developed near as long as DOTA2 and no other mobas but you know it takes no thought to play? Then why dont u have play it and makes all that money?

          While I am not a dota fan, more of a LOL fan the whole game is a chess match form start to finish. Espically against equally skilled players. Im sure shooters require so much more thought right?

    • Unclepauly says:

      Just cause someone likes something you don’t makes them braindead. You sound extremely ignorant and I’ll leave it at that. The part about one map? You don’t like sports then I take it, because it’s literally the exact same idea. The playfield isn’t what matters, it’s the strategies that are played out that does. Wouldn’t matter if the field was a square or a triangle, as long as it is large enough for the strategies to play out.

    • jrodman says:

      Wot?

  4. king0zymandias says:

    I want to try this game. But I really wish they would turn the particle effects a few notches down. It’s all over the place and clutters the screen up completely. The art is detailed and well thought out, so why would you want to cover all of that up most of the time with all that cheesy effects?

  5. Turkey says:

    Probably way less of a risk than making a brand new AAA singleplayer game with a campaign.

  6. Dances to Podcasts says:

    You see this quite a lot from developers, this ‘we love playing these kinds of games, so we decided to make a game like that’. I understand they do it as a ‘we’re just like you’ kind of sentiment. However, I would much prefer something like ‘we had this great idea for a game and this business model just fits it’. Of course, that would mean your game shouldn’t be derivative either, but I guess that’s the whole point…

    • keefybabe says:

      That’s normal though and it happens with pretty much any creative endeavour, like music. Some band uses a massive wob wob, people including other musicians like it… wob wobs everywhere.

  7. keefybabe says:

    I can’t do MOBAs. Since I have a job, a family and a number of non-gaming hobbies I can’t play for the amount of time that would be anything like meaningful.

    And if you haven’t had the practise, you’re no good, and if you’re no good then everyone has a massive go at you or ragequits.

    Hell, I’m so bad that I let the Bots down playing single player on DOTA2. No MOBAs for me.

    • Aldehyde says:

      You’ll never escape the rage in these games. Even pro players have ragers in their games. Hell, a lot of the pros themselves are downright twats in-game.