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Men of War: AS Patched, Interviewed

Men Of War: Assault Squad just got a big old update, which you can download here. I took the opportunity to have a quick chat with DigitalMindSoft's Chris Kramer about the launch of the skirmish and multiplayer-focused strategy title, which I reviewed here. Read on for Kramer's thoughts on how the game was received, DLC, the problems with a large beta test, and what still needs to be done.

RPS: Presumably this first patch is based on feedback from the beta, which was a pretty extensive beta. Did it need to be so long and with so many players?

Kramer: From a quality assurance point of view we could have done with far fewer players, but Open Betas give players a good impression of what they can expect from the game. Since we are using a cd-key authentication system, Open Betas also serve as a preview of the multiplayer for players, because multiplayer demos can’t be done easily with such system. But it’s the best protection against piracy and assures that everyone playing online in lobby is an honest customer. Another reason for the length of the beta was that we had the game scheduled for an earlier release than we ended up with, so the first Open Beta was made available close to the previously planned release date. In the end, having 2 Open Betas turned out to be a quite positive experience, as we had enough time to adjust the game to the players needs and see the feedback to our changes once more before shipping the title.

RPS: How do you feel about the critical response to the game from the press? Has Men of War received any more attention this time around?

Kramer: It’s always quite hard to get the press interested in a WW2 game, there seems to be quite some resistance towards that era, which is quite understandable if you have tested such games for years. The fact that it's officially a stand-alone expansion rather than an entirely new game doesn’t make things easier either, as one could imply it’s just more of the same. None the less, many journalists came back to us congratulating us for the title. It seems we also have a growing fan-base among the press. Surely we still don’t get the attention other (over)hyped titles receive on the big gaming platforms, but for that we have a growing amount of journalists who write great reports about the game, underlining their interest in the game, rather than just pumping out news. Also the number of publications focusing on PC exclusive titles is relatively small as well, so I think it’s fair to focus and give back to those websites with exclusive material.

In this case, we are sitting in the same boat and I would prefer to have 10 journalists who love the game and produce quality articles rather than 100 who just do their job without passion or real interest our game.

RPS: What are the most exciting changes on this new update?

Kramer: The most exciting thing for players is likely the significant amount of new vehicles and weapons which have been added. The "home guard" class of infantry especially, ended up receiving a lot of love and come with some new and interesting weapons which haven't been seen in the franchise yet. On top of this, the Japanese infantry got a lot of additional attention to detail as well. We did a good amount of research to find weapons which would be fitting for their elite troops and to vary them a lot more from existing factions. I’m also confident we improved the infantry combat system even more, making the whole game more interesting. I hope players will see the dedication we have to our title and that we are determined to make this game even better.

RPS: There's a big DLC button on the main menu, but currently no DLC to be had - what plans do you have for that?

Kramer: We are trying a very interesting DLC scheme, perhaps unique at this point, as other developers haven't used this model yet. My personal belief is that everyone will benefit from a better game, so instead of selling new units, or new features or factions, we are going to sell new skirmishes and multiplayer map packs, but give away all the other content that is produced during that period for free. For instance, new vehicles or multiplayer features that are developed will be added into patches to improve the game and provide a more interesting and richer gaming experience. The system is simple; we continue developing the game while players support us through buying DLC. In the end they get new skirmishes and multiplayer content, as well as improvements on the game. The current patch is an example of this. Since we have no plans for another expansion for Men of War, we are really focused on providing continued support for this title. So while the DLC may add multiplayer maps and skirmishes, players are actually receiving a free add-on for the game from all the other content that is bundled with the patches.

Regarding the new skirmishes, they will be unlike any of the ones currently included in the game. They use the same basic concept but their mission objectives, units etc. will vary a lot from the ones you saw in the game so far. Today I’m going to reveal that we are currently working on defense based skirmishes, reminiscent of many of the missions in Men of War, while still providing all the new features and gameplay enhancements skirmish brings to the game. A massively action loaded package!

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Jim Rossignol