On the Front Line: A 'Wartide' Dev Q&A
We sat down with gaming studio Outact to talk about their new game, Wartide: Heroes of Atlantis, now available for Android and iOS devices!
KONG: Outact formed in 2014; can you tell us a bit more about how the studio came to be and what inspired your direction as a studio?
Outact: Many of us have been working together for nearly a decade and some over two decades. As a team, our history can trace back to Iron Lore Entertainment, where some of us developed the highly acclaimed ARPG Titan Quest. Prior to forming Outact, we spent 5 years at Tencent, where our core cross-continent team was formed and strengthened.
In summer 2014, when the concept of Wartide came up, it took us no time to build the company and begin this journey...
KONG: Your team is spread across different countries. Does working from multiple locations have an impact on the way you do business? Why did you decide to stay so international?
Outact: We believe the quality of a studio, and therefore the quality of the games we create, comes directly from the expertise and relationships within the team. The core of Outact was born in the relationships the principals had from working together in the past. Having a chance to work together again was a big reason we started the company in the first place. We believe in bringing the best people together, regardless of location – and with today’s technology we are able to collaborate effectively no matter where in the world we are.
Beyond building a world-class team, our international structure is key to who we are in other ways. It gives us a firsthand presence in the biggest game markets in the world, and that gives us the ability to learn and grow from emerging trends in both markets. That’s key to our ability to bring a new and unique perspective to game development in any market.
Being an international company is in our DNA. The differences in perspective, talents, and cultural viewpoint make us the studio we are, and I believe, make us unique in the industry.
KONG: One of your core values as a developer is to create fun and innovative games at all costs. Can you elaborate further?
Outact: We try to never forget that at our core, what we do is create fun and engaging experiences for our players. Our backgrounds span many genres and technologies, from PC RPGs, shooters, console sports games, web games, MMOs, and mobile games. In all of these different games, on all of these platforms, our mission is the same – provide a compelling, engaging, and most of all, fun experience for our players. To us, that’s what game development is all about, and it’s what we love to do!
KONG: Your first game as a studio, Wartide, is a deep hero-battling RPG. How did you come up with the initial concept for the game? What has changed from the initial idea to the final design?
Outact: Being a team of avid gamers, we were inspired to make a game that we wanted to play on mobile devices. Our team has fond experiences of creating memorable ARPGs and MMOs. Naturally on mobile, we found ourselves playing more and more midcore games, but were disappointed that they tend to simply reward the player for investing time or money, rather than developing specific strategies to tackle in-depth challenges and discover creative solutions. This inspired the idea to create a unique mobile experience where players feel they control their own destiny, armed with various options for winning each battle. This has been our goal since the inception of the project and has never been compromised.
KONG: Coming back to the studio’s core values, what do you think is the most fun and innovative part of Wartide? What are you most proud of?
Outact: As a tactical hero-battling RPG, Wartide is all about how you build and enhance your heroes and troops, and what combinations of them you bring into battle. Our pre-battle deployment system gives players options for creating different formations, and the in-battle gameplay provides more options for players to execute and enhance their tactics. Beyond that, the dynamic and visually stunning battles are really fun and engaging.
KONG: What advice would you give to teams who are developing their first game?
Outact: Firstly, work on something you are passionate about. You are going to be spending many many hours working and reworking your game as you develop it, and having a real passion for what you are doing is the best driving force for making a creative product. It will keep you energized when nothing seems to be going right, and it will guide you in how you shape your product.
Second, have a clear vision for your game – know what it is you’re building and know what is great about it – why will it attract and inspire your players?
Third, know your audience. Understand the kind of player who will love your game and never lose sight of their perspective as you develop it – always try to look at your game with the eyes of an outsider. Be brutal and unflinching in searching for its flaws, and try to understand what will really engage your players.
Last but not least, believe yourself. You will face countless challenges and hear numerous critiques throughout your development. Listen, learn, and improve, but never lose faith. This is the top reason we can release Wartide.
KONG: We know that your team is very data-driven; how has "following the numbers" impacted Wartide?
Outact: Business intelligence is our primary way to improve player experience. We analyze player behaviors to understand if any game design is flawed or confusing. We also use big data as a tool for game balancing, feature evaluation, and cheat detection. Wartide cannot be where it is today without heavy use of data analysis.
KONG: Now that you’ve survived your first game release, what’s next for Wartide and Outact?
Outact: First and foremost, we are focused on continuing to expand and deepen the Wartide play experience. We have a lot of exciting things in the pipeline that will be rolling out soon, and continuing to build out the Wartide universe will be our main focus for the near future. That said, we do have some other interesting things cooking. Stay tuned for more on that!