Tag Archives: Patrick Hudson
Things have been a bit quiet over the last month or so, both here and at Robot HQ. The silence is usually a sign of big news to come and this is no exception. Today Robot Entertainment has announced how the studio plans to move forward with Orcs Must Die! Unchained following the recent Open Beta. There is some important news here about the future of the game.
The big news
Open Beta is about collecting feedback from players, the community and looking at the data. As players play the game data is collected which tells Robot what people like to play and combined with feedback on forums and reviews helps shape the final game based on players needs. Unfortunately after very careful review the decision has been made to stop work on the PvP Siege mode. This is absolutely not the end of OMDU, instead the Survival mode will now get the studios’ 100% focus. Siege and Survival modes have long been battling against other for studio resources. Balancing the heroes abilities, traps for both modes was becoming very difficult and has been slowing overall development progress for the game.
However the research from the data, the players has shown that there is more demand for gameplay closer to the classic OMD1 and 2 tower defense style. Robot have been working on the Siege mode for a number of years, rest assured that after all this time this decision is certainly not one that has been taken lightly. It is unfortunate but by focussing on making Survival a great game mode ensures solid foundations for OMDU with a strong community of players who can pick up the game and have great fun. Something we all want to see. This is not necessarily the end of PvP play for the long term, it is still open to returning. It will not be in the form that we see right now though.
There will no doubt be many disappointing Siege players reading this news, especially those who have been supporting game from the outset where Siege mode was the main component. For those players I say stick with it. Stick with the game as Robot moves forwards with Survival. What we see with Survival today is not how the game will be looking next patch. The studio has invested all its manpower in the new Survival mode. It’s going to be a big push with a lot of great content coming up. OMDU is heading to its roots. With the foundations in place it is important to remember that OMDU is built to scale, to adapt to new ideas and game modes later down the line. Getting a great Survival mode in place is just the start.
Robot Entertainment continues to listen to the community to get the best outcomes for the majority of players. Be sure to check out the full blog post on the Orcs Must Die! website to learn more about the reasoning and the plan ahead. There will also be an Insider Access tomorrow with Robot CEO Patrick Hudson and Executive Producer Chris Rippy. That’s at the usual time of 3PM CT. Ian Fischer, AKA “Morther” will also be taking to Reddit with an AMA on Thursday September 22nd. You can catch the Reddit right here: http://www.reddit.com/r/OrcsMustDie
Siege mode will be removed from the game with the next update, which so far does not have a confirmed release date. Stay tuned for more news.
Have you been following closely on Facebook and Twitter? If so you may have spotted some very interesting new “Ask Me Anything” features on Reddit. Known as AMA’s players have been asking questions directly to the bots at the studio. Taking part so far has included:
- Chris Rippy – VP Production
- Justin Korthof – Marketing Manager
- Patrick Hudson – CEO
- Nananea – Community Video Co-Ordinator
BadVogonPoet asked Justin:
You’ve worked in a community position across several different companies in the video game industry for quite awhile now.
What are some of the differences you’ve seen in Community Management and Marketing over the years?
Do you think it’s easier to with social media as popular as it is or does it make some aspects of marketing and community management harder?
The largest change has been that Community Management has split up into several disciplines these days. A CM used to have to kind of be a jack of all trades and manage every conversation that was happening online. These days, it’s all split up. There are social media managers, forum moderators, community feature developers, website developers, and so on. More specializations.
As for whether or not it’s easier with social media, it depends on your goals I think. SM has obviously made it easier than ever to connect with a broad range of people at virtually the click of a button. But it’s also inserted ridiculous amounts of noise into word-of-mouth marketing. It can be REALLY hard to stand out in all that noise if you’re not clever.
RoyalFino asked Chris:
MrBlue42 asked Patrick:
The Steam ratings for the game are currently rather negative sadly, mostly due to the business model, not the game itself. Do you think the business model is good as it is currently or is there still some tweaking necessary?
Syndrogo asked Nananea:
Patrick Hudson, Robot Entertainment’s CEO has taken to the official website to update eager fans on the current status of Orcs Must Die! Unchained and where things are heading. Its been around a year since closed beta and Patrick makes note that this process has truely been a closed beta and not akin to a “pre-release demo”. Indeed we have seen comprhensive changes from what we see today in the closed beta than what we had a year ago.
Patrick’s open letter updates fans on the plan going forward. Things are going to start to take a faster pace as the studio targets the Go Live date for OMDU to be early 2016. This means we will see an open beta between now and then. We don’t have an open beta date just yet, but it should be forthcoming soon.
In a nutshell the priorites for the game going forward are:
- Improvements to the PvP mode aimed at better combat, hero depth, crafting and general offensive gameplay breadth.
- New heroes consistently rolled out starting with the next patch.
- More PvE. We think of PvE as traditional Orcs Must Die! gameplay. We have ambitious plans for PvE that we can’t wait to unveil. The Endless mode recently released is just the beginning.
- Polish. Lots and lots of shiny polish.
In addition Robot is keen to provide regular updates and more insight for fans on the roadmap going forward, including patch dates and content. On Insider Access, Community Manager, Justin “SixOkay” Korthof hinted of a system where we can upvote certain feature requests.
We’ve got a new OrcsMustDie.com website coming soon along with some detailed updates, including another open letter from SixOkay to give us even more information on the plans ahead coming out later this week. Be sure to keep yourself in the know and look out for this on the OMDU Forums.
Meanwhile take a look at the full letter from Patrick Hudson on the website using the link below:
New year, new Robot staffers! Today Patrick Hudson, CEO at Robot Entertainment announced on the studios blog that Paul Hellquist has now joined the team as Lead Designer. Paul has an impressive career in the industry having spent a considerable number of years at Gearbox Software and Irrational Games before that. Paul has worked on Bioshock as Lead Designer and Borderlands 2 as Creative Director. Needless to say Paul brings a great amount of experience to an already strong team.
Patrick Hudson took the company blog, posting:
I spent a considerable amount of time with Paul recently, and I was consistently impressed with his breadth of thinking, passion for great design, and humility. His remarkable portfolio of work is clearly well-earned. Paul is a great fit for Robot, and I expect him to have a profound impact on the games we make, starting with Orcs Must Die! Unchained.
Speaking to Gamasutra, Paul said:
“It’s always difficult to leave a place you’ve spent a huge chunk of your career, but it is always exciting as well. Robot has a great track record and I’m thrilled to join the talented and veteran team. I look forward to adding my perspective and skills to Orcs Must Die! Unchained and future projects.”
REF also welcomes Paul to the Robotic studio – we’re looking forward to the next phase of Orcs Must Die! Unchained due to be announced soon.
Today Robot Entertainment announced at the PlayStation Experience keynote that Orcs Must Die! Unchained will also be coming to PS4 along side the PC version of the game in 2015. This is Robot’s first return to console since the original Orcs Must Die! on XBLA and is the first title that Robot has produced for a Sony system. Robot’s CEO Patrick Hudson said:
“We’re very excited to welcome PlayStation 4 players to our community, Orcs Must Die! Unchained delivers a unique blend of tower defense and competitive multiplayer action along with the game’s signature humor. We can’t wait for PS4 fans to jump in and start slaying Orcs!”
To get us and PS4 fans excited about OMDU, Robot have also released a brand new trailer, with OMD humour aplenty this excellent trailer has been playing at the Playstation keynote:
Its great to see OMDU being launched on an additional platform, expanding the audience greatly. Fantastic news!
Robot Entertainment have announced a new partnership to extend Orcs Must Die! Unchained’s reach into China. In addition to GameForge publishing the title in the EU, Tencent Games will be working to make the game big in China. Of course, with every new announcement comes a new shiny trailer. This time, in Chinese, of course.
Tencent will be marketing the game as a Tower Defense Online Battle Arena, another categorisation for the already diversely categorised game. Steven Ma, Senior VP of Tencent Games commented in he press release:
“We believe the innovative gameplay of Orcs Must Die! Unchained will open a new category in our portfolio of Western titles for the expanding Chinese online gaming market—and as the leader for gaming in China, our focus is on bringing players the very best games and best experiences. The combination of Robot Entertainment’s proven creative abilities and Tencent’s operating experience will be a win-win deal for our two companies and for gamers across Greater China.”
Robot’s CEO, Patrick Hudson went on to say:
“China is a massive and growing market, and we are thrilled to partner with the leading publisher in China, Tencent Games, to further extend our global reach.”
This is not the first time that Robot has partnered with a China-based publisher. In the past the studio has worked with Yodo1 to bring Hero Academy to the Chinese audience and the partnership involved not only localization but also an exclusive new Hero Academy team and map for the Chinese audience.
It looks like Robot are planning to repeat Hero Academy’s successful model with OMDU. A new hero has been announced, “Mulan” along with new traps. There is a second trailer to give an idea on what these Chinese elements may look like:
It looks like the Chinese version of the game will be a seperate entity, but there are no specfic details on how big the changes will be compared the EU and NA versions of the game, though Robot has indicated on the forums that the changes wont be too much.
In any event, its great to see the reach of the game has been extended to another territory. May the Orc invasion continue!
Following on from our first part of Robot’s PAX Panel review we now move on from looking at the studios history to present day to looking at some of the interesting prototypes they have been working on in-between OMD2 and OMDU. For the first time we get a glimpse at some of he games that could have been from the creative minds at Robot.
The first concept that came up at the studio was a game called Mithril, a project that Lance Hoke worked on. It was an accessible hex based browser game that would have the feel of Age that would work well on web browsers and tablets like the iPad. Similar to Tribal Wars but with a much deeper level of strategy. We saw the following concept art from the PAX slides:
There wasn’t too much detail on this one, it sounds like it didnt get very far along before the next concept came to surface, not much to report on this one but be sure to check out the commentary on the Twitch VOD.
Lonestar was the next concept the studio worked on. Ian Fischer described it as emergent gameplay which refers to the gameplay adapting to the actions of the player. For example in games like The Sims where players can tell their own story and the gameplay is shaped by the actions they take. Another example might be games like Fable where players actions can shape the world around them.
In Robot’s case with Lonestar they set out to create a sci-fi sandbox world that woul have completely randomly generated planets. The players ship had crashed on one of these planets and the player was tasked with finding a way to survive and escape the planet. Everything about the planet would be a randomly generated simulation including the beings that were already living on it.
The only downside with Lonestar were the challenges of managing the in-game ecology and for a number of other reasons, the project would have been a very large under-taking. Robot went on to scale down the project for their next prototype called “Victory”.
The biggest thing that you’ll notice about Victory when watching the PAX panel video that it was a shooter. A big departure from the typical type of game for the studio to work on. Once again it involved planets that were generated emergently and colonies would be formed on each planet. The generated planets would all have their own unique environments and properties and everything in the game would be a simulation. One simple example would be how close and far the planet would be from the sun would affect the properties and environment of the planet. Players would take the form of a space troubleshooting team who would travel out to these planets. Players would have to figure out what was happening on each planet and what problems there were that needed fixing.
Ian game some example of problems such as overheating reactors and being taken over by space pirates as just two possible scenarios amongst many others. Players would be challenges to resolve planet problems as quickly as possible before things got too bad. For instance enemies might get bigger and stronger over time, like this monster:
Robot considered making a very early preview of Victory at PAX the year before, but in the end decided they would return back to Orcs Must Die! for their next game based on TONS of feedback they were getting from the community and press alike. As great and as interesting as these concepts are, there was just so much overwhelming demand to continue the OMD franchise and out of that Orcs Must Die! Unchained was born.
Orcs Must Die! Unchained
Following two very successful games of OMD the bots at Robot had long heard the calls to expand the multiplayer element of the game, first adding co-op in OMD2 and then having to cater for the desire to have PvP OMD gameplay. It was out of this that Unchained! was born, and Robot is set to deliver all the things a budding OMD fan could want including full 5v5 fortress siege multiplayer action.
For the first time in the series players would be able to experience the offensive side of playing OMD.
We are able to see some excellent early art of the game coming together from its early stages. It is interesting to see the steps Robot took before getting to what we see today in the closed beta. They even had long hair for the War Mage and Sorceress at one point to show that they have aged between OMD2 and Unchained. Here we can see one of the very early levels and early UI design:
We can can also see some early hero designs below, some of which may still make it into the game. These are actually just a selection of hero ideas that are currently sitting on the walls at Robot HQ. They have a ton of ideas and there certainly isnt a shortage of ideas on the OMDU hero front. Check out some of these cool designs:
Thoughts to take away
Things that we can learn from the PAX panel is that Robot is a very diverse studio with very creative minds and can work on a number of different projects over an array of different game genres. We can get an idea that the studio is still interested in strategy but also have a keen interest in emergent gameplay. As we move forward into the future looking at Unchained and beyond, its an exciting time to be a Robot Entertainment fan and I’m sure the studio to continue to keep us guessing even more so from this PAX panel on what kind of other concepts are being though up from the orange pod inside the studio!