Tag Archives: Orcs Must Die!
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:
Are you based near Dallas? Have a keen eye for game balance issues? Have free time this summer? Robot might have the perfect summer job for you! The Game Balance team at Robot Entertainment are looking for 10x new recruits to join the team at the studio this summer to help with the game balance testing for Orcs Must Die! Unchained.
The position is full time, at the studio so you’ll need be relatively local to Robot HQ in Plano, Texas. If this ticks your boxes and you are interested in the gaming industry this is an excellent opportunity to work on-site with Robot Entertainment staffers to work on a ground-breaking new game. Certainly a fantastic experience for your CV.
Here’s what you need to know and do:
Robot Entertainment in Plano, TX is looking for 10 smart, dedicated, and hard-working Play Balance Testers to work on our new title Orcs Must Die! Unchained for two months this summer, starting June 1st. If you are an accomplished MOBA player (with a deep knowledge of games such as League of Legends, DOTA2, or Smite) and are looking for a full-time summer job, we’re interested in you! Any experience you have playing any of Robot’s previous Orcs Must Die! games is a bonus, but not a strict requirement to be considered for the position.
The 10 openings are hourly positions that will pay $10/hour, with overtime potential for any hours worked in a given week over 40. The Play Balance Testers will work on-site in our office in Plano, TX from 10AM to 6PM, Monday – Friday, and will report to the Game Balance Designer.
If you are 18 years of age or over, interested, and think you qualify, please email a summary of your gaming experience and other qualifications to Recruiting@RobotEntertainment.com with SUMMERTEST in the Subject line, along with your contact information and availability for working this summer.
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!
Some of the bots from Robot Entertainment have been hanging out at PAX Prime this weekend, hosting their very own PAX panel titled “An afternoon of fun with Robot Entertainment”. In our first part of our two part series we cover the first part of the panel which looks at Robot history including their time at Ensemble Studios and the games that lead up to Orcs Must Die! Unchained. For anyone who was in attendance there were plenty of free things being given out including a bag, poster, buttons, t-shirt, band and “Founders PAX” access to the Closed Beta.
Fans who tuned in to the stream on Twitch were also in for an opportunity to win these sweet prizes. Also making an appearance again is the exclusive Cardboard Tube Samurai skin for the War Mage. This exclusive vanity skin is only being made available to PAX attendees and lucky Twitch stream winners.
Digging into the panel things started off with an introduction to the studio including highlighting Robot’s internal biergarten that they have in the studio and the colour coded pods for each discipline of staff (artist, programmers, design, community etc). Following an introduction of the studio the panel began to talk about Robot’s roots including their time previously at Ensemble Studios taking the audience through the past legacies such as the Age games and Halo Wars, including the big Halo MMO project codenamed “Titan” that was unfortunately cancelled by Microsoft.
The panel go into some detail about the cancelled MMO project and is well worth watching the stream for any Ensemble fans. Ian Fischer confirms previous Ensemble staffer comments that the game was largely cancelled due to Microsoft’s desire to pursue more casual games.
Age of Empires Online
The panel went on to talk about Age of Empires Online and how it started out as Age 4. Ian Fischer described how they originally thought about going back to the old caveman Age 1 settings whilst still at Ensemble Studios. When the studio was shut down, Microsoft wanted to continue the Age 4 project but didnt want it looking like another Age game and wanted to pursue a more casual look. It is this reason why Age of Empires Online adopted the casual more cartoony look in the final product.
Robot also pushed to have all the Age games put on Steam instead of Games of Windows Live. Although they never did it in Robot’s time managing the Age Community, Microsoft has finally got round to it recently and the Age games have been top sellers on Steam for some time now.
Prototyping new games
Whilst most of the studio were working on Age of Empires Online there was a small group in the Orange Pod who spent time prototyping new games for the studios first original IP. Before things morphed into Orcs Must Die! the studio worked on a “tool kit” that would allow players to build their own games. This tool kit idea then turned into a game codenamed “Saber” which later became “Orcs Must Die!”. Here are some early art and designs for the game:
You will notice that Saber started off looking much darker more serious than the lighter more comic feel of OMD today. As the development progressed and things like physics traps were added the OMD we see today was born. Of course it was soon time for the studio to name the game beyond its prototype name “Saber” and there were alot of discussions in the studio.
“Orc Invasion”, “Overrun” and “Onslaught” were some of the names that were considered alongside Chris Rippy’s “Orcs Must Die!”. In the end it was whittled down to just two, “Onslaught” and “Orcs Must Die!” and the studio was split 50/50 on each name and in the end a decision was made to go with OMD. The OMD name also helped Robot’s art and design move the game into a more lighter setting. This can also be seen in the War Mage’s art development where he started out more serious before becoming the more goofy hero we see today:
Orcs Must Die! shipped in 2011 and went on to win AIAS Strategy Simulation game of the year.
Robot’s next original IP was to be Hero Academy a mobile game on Android, iOS and Steam. Once again the project started out from the orange pod. Patrick Hudson talked about the Team Fortress 2 integration and the relationship with Valve and also that they got approached by a number of other IP’s about adding more teams in the game, but it was felt that those would not be as good a fit. Hero Academy also won an award at AIAS, Mobile Game of the Year.
The next mobile game spearheaded by Chris Rippy was a sci-fi RPG “Echo Prime” on iOS and Steam. Which by the way has recently had a price reduction if you haven’t already picked it up.
Orcs Must Die! 2
OMD2 was released 30 July 2012 and added a whole bunch of extra monsters, a second playable character (Sorceress) and added Co-Op. After OMD2 the studio decided that they were going to let OMD rest for a bit.
More prototyping – coming up in part 2
Whilst the OMD series was placed on hold the bots began prototyping more new original games across various genres from strategy to FPS. We’re going to cover these very interesting prototypes in part 2 of this blog series later this week. Be sure to check back where we discect some of the other original ideas what have been toyed around with in the studio.
In the meanwhile… be sure to check out the stream VOD of the PAX panel where you can see the hour long panel talk about all of the things mentioned above and some of the things we are covering in part 2 later this upcoming week which includes these awesome never before seen concept ideas, and of course Orcs Must Die! Unchained. Check back soon!
Following up on the recent Six Questions feature we have put the most common themes to SixOkay, Robot’s Community Manager to answer your burning questions. Without further ado here are some answers to your questions:
1. Will Hero Academy have any more updates?
At this time, we are not planning any new updates to Hero Academy. As with everything, we need to balance the available resources at the studio. Currently, we’re focusing our attention on a big, exciting new project that we’ll reveal to everyone soon.
2. What do you think of the idea of giving fans the opportunity to participate with the further development of Hero Academy? As example Robot Entertainment could allow the community to design new maps?
This is an interesting idea. It’s a lot like creating mod tools for OMD games, however. The amount of work that would need to go into supporting community-built and distributed maps for Hero Academy is actually pretty significant. As I mentioned above, our resources are focusing currently on a new project, and we can’t focus on building UGC tools for Hero Academy at this time.
3. I’d like to ask what an average day at the office is for you. I can imagine that you’re in contact with a lot of different publicists after a game has been announced, and you’ll be quite busy with the community in the few months after release, but what’s your average day during down time, like now?
There’s never really “down time” around here. Even when we’re not public on new games, there’s always a ton of prep work going on to make sure we’re prepared to support everything once the game is announced. Aside from that work, there’s also all of the support work that needs to get done for released games. There are support emails that need to be answered, social media that needs to stay engaged after release, tons of discussion about how new games can support community, event planning that usually goes on for months before a major trade show, and a lot of writing and rewriting for things like websites and press releases. It’s sort of like an iceberg. There’s the small portion that you see publicly, but a massive amount of work that goes on below the surface to support that public material.
4. Design question for OMD2: Were The Hive and Chilled Caverns set up specifically so that the fliers could not be managed by ceiling/wall traps? The fliers in The West Wing were total cake to manage due to grinders and then you get The Hive. Yikes.
It was a deliberate decision. Because that DLC pack introduced the Dwarven Missile Launcher, the designers wanted to make it harder to kill flyers with traps, encouraging players to turn to the DML. It’s one of the most powerful flyer-killing items in the game, so we wanted to make sure we gave people a real reason to use it.
5. Will Orcs Must Die! and/or Orcs Must Die! 2 be linux-compatible to work on Steam Machines any time soon or at all?
This isn’t something that we’re focusing on currently.
6. When will we be hearing about that new game you’re working on with Gameforge? An approximate time period would be nice
Very soon. People who’ve been following Robot since we opened have probably noticed that we have a tendency to reveal new projects around PAX East. No sense changing our habits now if they’ve always worked before.
Today marks the 4th anniversary of Robot Entertainment. Formed back in 2009 following the closure of Ensemble Studios, Robot Entertainment is today a grand 4 years old!
In that time it is fitting that they have worked on / released four whole games, namely Age of Empires Online, Orcs Must Die!, Hero Academy and Orcs Must Die 2!
The Fabulous Four are certainly all fantastic – but which is your favourite? Let us know in our poll!
Whats your favourite Robot Entertainment game so far?
- Hero Academy (49%, 104 Votes)
- Orcs Must Die! 2 (38%, 81 Votes)
- Age of Empires Online (7%, 15 Votes)
- Orcs Must Die! (6%, 11 Votes)
Total Voters: 211
To celebrate Robot Entertainment is having a 75% off offer on the official Robot Entertainment store. If you’re missing a game or some DLC you can pick it up at a mammoth 75% normal prices. Age of Empires Online is excluded as it is not a title published by Robot Entertainment. Don’t miss this great chance to complete your Robot Entertainment collection thus far!
With an influx of new players on the way with the release of Orcs Must Die! 2. I thought that it might be a good time to make good on my promise and write a guide to becoming a better player. I wasn’t sure how I wanted to do this; therefore I decided to just share some of my thoughts and experiences over the last year while playing OMD. It’s also important to note that “I don’t know everything”. I always approach the game with something to learn. Most of my greatest achievements were inspired by others.
I’ve had tons of fun and will continue to decode a few more secrets, but with OMD2 coming out soon, I will be moving on to the next chapter. Hopefully everyone can learn something from this article and become expert players that push the limits of OMD 2.