July 3, 2014
Skara: The Blade Remains – An Interview With Cesar Ortega (Part 2)
Be sure to read Part 1 of this interview.
Recently, I was given a wonderful opportunity to partake in an interview with Cesar Ortega, co-founder of the development team behind the upcoming game Skara: The Blade Remains, coming soon to Steam. Here is Part 2 of the interview.
(me): You are using the Unreal Engine 4 for Skara: The Blade Remains, yes? Can you tell me how this has affected the design of your game? What benefits or limitations it may have posed?
(Cesar Ortega): “We are extremely grateful to Epic for allowing us to use UE4, it is a great engine that is allowing us to produce a AAA game that will be released for next gen consoles with the small budget of an Indie game. A funny story is that we started using UE3 18 months ago and when Epic saw our progress, they decided to give us access to UE4, we had to scrap all our work and start from scratch, but I’m sure you agree that the end product looks fantastic.”
(me): In the game play trailer, I do not see any sort of UI (user interface) present? Will there be one and if so how extensive or minimalistic will it be?
(CO): “Our plan is having a minimalistic User Interface so players need to be aware of their avatar´s reactions and animations, as well as sounds, such as the breathing — which indicates the fatigue after running or dodging too much. That matches with our idea of a realistic combat system, trying to avoid on screen life-bars and stats.”
(me): Skara is set to come on Steam Early Access in July, correct? What sort of feedback will you be looking for from your players?
(CO): “We are already playing Skara with some of our Steam friends and forum users. We are focusing all the development on the community, as we are creating this game for them. From the very beginning we discussed a lot with them about the features they wanted to see implemented in Skara. Our dodging system or team actions are good examples for that – features that came across from our forum and polls on Social Media. Now that we can play the game with them it´s amazing how the community is helping us out pointing the features that work and which ones don´t. They are truly an important part of the development team, and a quick look at our forum shows that.”
(me): Do you have any further plans for this game after its initial release? DLC and the like?
(OC): “Sure, our plan is to release the five original races of Skara and the five arenas plus the Coliseum. After that we want to keep making the game grow, adding more playable races and scenarios and letting players to be involved in the creative process. There are also so many things we want to implement in Skara: an arena editor to allow players to create their own arenas and share them with the community, new special attacks and in-game mechanics, crafting… We are a small team but we are dreaming of a big game.”
(me): The game is set to be Free-to-Play. Will there be any sort of micro-transactions involved?
(CO): “Yes, but always in the free-to-win tradition. All the items will be cosmetic and can be bought with in-game currency: the only way to win battles in Skara is through practice and skills. Fatalities are the perfect example about this: players will be able to spend some money in spectacular ways to finish their enemies, but it won’t influence the gameplay, only a way to differentiate yourself from other players.”
(me): How would you describe the responses you have been getting both through Steam’s Greenlight program and from your Kickstarter campaign?
(CO): “It actually makes all the sense: as we don´t have the budget to run an expensive campaign to attract players our only way to get attention to Skara is building a community, directly speaking with every one of our future players. That can be a hard process because developing a game is an exhausting activity, but it is always worthwhile talking with gamers and building the game around them. That explain how successful Skara is when it comes to the Greenlight program or the current Kickstarter campaign. We passed Greenlight in 8 days!
(me): How many people do you have on your development team and are there any plans or hopes of expanding?
(CO): “Right now we are 15 developers creating Skara: that´s a quite small team for such an ambitious game, but Unreal 4 allows us to achieve astonishing results.”
(me): Is there any estimation on a full launch date?
(CO): “It’s too soon to say because there are a lot of features that we want to release in Skara, but I would say the full launch of the game, with the five races, the six arenas and all the game mechanics we are picturing for the beginning of 2015.”
(me): Are there plans for a console release?
(CO): “Sure! We are already working with the Xbox One dev kit and our plan includes also PS4.”
Again, my thanks to Cesar Ortega for taking the time to answer my questions and be sure to check out Skara: The Blade Remains on Steam’s Early Access in July.
Maybe I will see you on there.
Image Credit: SKARA via Kickstarter