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Zeno Clash 2: Andres Bordeu interview [ENGLISH]

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Q.-A. ENG

Please introduce yourself for our readers.

My name is Andres Bordeu. I am one of the cofounders of ACE Team, the studio behind Zeno Clash and Rock of Ages. My role in the studio is game designer, but like everyone else here at ACE I also perform several other tasks. I am deeply involved with the game production and my chores cover things like developing environments, working on game mechanics, developing particle FXs, etc.

 

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Father-Mother is humiliated and spend all his in a cage, the just cause triumphs, and madness proceeds. What further, Andreas? What's next??? We can’t wait!

Though I can’t get in to specifics to avoid spoiling the story I can say that the events in the second game take place shortly after the first one. As you point out the Golem has taken control of the city to some extent. He wants to bring order to chaos and the revelations he brought to the inhabitants (about their life and their families) have left mixed feelings in Father-Mother’s clan. Some of his former children have turned their back on him, but there are other characters, like Rimat, that are still loyal. The same happens with Golem. Not everyone is happy with his appearance, and Ghat is responsible for bringing him to the doors of Halstedom, so many of the inhabitants have hostile feelings towards Ghat.

The story starts out simple and gradually escalates, introducing new characters who will shed more light about the mysteries of the land of Zenozoik, so players will learn more about how the world has become what it is.

In general, the plot is already completely worked or while partially in the project? How you will «dispatch» it to the player? Some stories printed on the rocks? Cut-scenes? Etc?

The backbone of the story is pretty much complete, but Edmundo (art director and writer here) is still making some changes as we move through the project. The story will be told mostly through cut-scenes, dialogue with NPCs and other familiar resources. But just like with the previous game the world will include a great deal of personality, which from our point of view complements the story and enriches it.

Will Ghat meet more friendly NPCs? Corvids, maybe? (Homecoming :)

Absolutely! Several of Ghat’s brothers and sisters are no longer hunting him, so this time they’ll be his allies. Actually, the game features a really cool ”ally system”, that enables players to recruit defeated enemies or specific characters so they can later help you during fights or perform specific tasks. This system will be tied to our new player stats, so it will be great to see how many players are capable of befriending specific characters that will be harder to team up with. It will be cool to be fighting alongside some of the more remarkable characters from the first game.

And who will play the role of the enemy this time?

I don’t want to spoil any crucial story elements, so I’ll give a reserved answer: Golem plays an important part as antagonist in the story, but there are also other important characters that play this role.

Finally, sandbox or something similar? Please explain for our readers.

The game is not a sandbox game. It resembles more an action RPG –similar in structure to a Zelda game. Basically, this time around players can wander freely and move in between levels as they please. The world is no longer built in to ”detached areas”. If you see an important structure in the horizon it’s possible you will be able to reach that location by moving in that direction. But like the previous Zeno Clash (or some RPGs) the story plays out linearly. But this time it’s the player’s task to get the plot moving forward.

Perhaps, Ghat also got some improvements? :) Jumping skill, btw?

Yes, Ghat and Rimat (second playable character), will have new moves and weapons at their disposal. We’re still sticking to a no-jump policy, because we think removing the jump function worked well in the first game and we don’t see how it would benefit the current design. The game has no platforming, so there’s really no purpose in jumping.

Is it feels difficult to control Ghat’s movements and stunt-kicks? Whether the mechanics of game even changed?

The basic mechanics are an evolvement of the previous game, so players of the first title should feel quickly comfortable with the controls. One important change we’ve developed is making the basic punching less rigid by allowing you to aim your punches. The first game only allowed you to throw punches in a static locked position. Now when you are locked you can aim for the head or any other body parts within reach. This sounds like a simple change, but from a design perspective it opens up more interesting interactions during fights. With improved collision detection the enemy fight stances (postures) really affect how you approach an adversary. This will also contribute to make the fighting less repetitive and more varied.

We think we’ll be delivering some of the most robust first-person melee combat mechanics in the industry.

How about arms & guns? The arsenal will change for sure? We are waiting for something extravagant and so authentic, «bad-ass-punchy-jurassic-style» stuff, you know :)

We’re keeping most of the old weapons and introducing some new ones. We acknowledge that the shooting portions of the first game weren’t its stronger points, so we’re making sure we can deliver a more satisfying experience this time around. Some of the most relevant changes involve removing the infinite ammo, and making weapons much more effective, but breakable and scarce.

Additionally, the game will feature more than just regular weapons. We’re introducing new ”power-ups” & ”contraptions” that will really add a new level of complexity to the combat. Some of these are quite unique and unlike anything you’ve used in another game before.

Expected question. People love microeconomics, branchings of dialogues, they usually long to dig in inventory.. Do Zeno Clash 2 carry some RPG-features?

Zeno Clash 2 introduces some RPG elements, but it’s important to say that we’re not aiming to build a top-tier RPG with hundreds of interactions like The Elder Scrolls, The Witcher, or other similar games. We’re a small indie company building a game that is huge for our studio, but not something that can compare in scale to what AAA companies are building in the fantasy game scene. We also believe that a more focused design is more appropriate for our game, because the combat is still an important part of the experience. That is why we’re mostly looking in to ideas that are more comparable to other action-RPGs.

 

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Do you have that feeling, that you are «entered in a genre»?

I believe the term ”First-Person-Brawler” (or FPB) started to be used after we released the first game. ?

Still, I think that the most proper classification would be ”Action-RPG”.

How many people work over game? It would be good to know, who made such unusual design and wrote the scenario

Our studio is composed by 15 people, who are all involved in this project, but we are outsourcing some work with very close sources. The story and world has been conceived by Edmundo Bordeu, one of the cofounders of ACE, but the rest of the team also has important contributions to the setting, the background and other elements of the game. Carlos (other cofounder) and I work alongside with Edmundo when establishing specific details about the world.

How are you doing with Atlus? They are happy with your work, do they?

We’re really-really happy with Atlus. They’ve been an excellent partner and a great publisher who understand our work. They’re very excited about Zeno Clash2 and they’ve provided great feedback that is helping us develop the best game we can make. After Rock of Ages and Zeno Clash 2 we want to continue bringing unique concepts and hopefully they’ll be on board with whatever we create next.

What deficiency of games, in your opinion, is felt in the worldwide game-market?

I think the market has expanded so much and is evolving so quickly that it would be difficult to say that we’re going through a period with a lack in creative ideas. We’re constantly seeing changes in the industry, not only related to the games per-se, but also in the way companies fund them, the way companies bring them to the consumers, the way we interact with new hardware, etc. If anything I’d hope the market would slow down a bit, so everyone can catch their breath!

As a consumer I’m still super excited to see what we’ll see in the future, but as a developer the velocity with which this market transforms can be a bit scary. I just hope people always have interest for crazy unorthodox ideas. ?

 

Spoiler

 

And the main question: ZENO CLASH 2! WHEN? :)

Unfortunately it’s still early to say. I’m sure that if I try to predict a release date I’ll fail, so I’ll just refrain from making any statement regarding a possible release window. Hopefully we can get it out early next year. That’s as specific as I can be.

Thanx and big up for your work! Giants!

Thank you for inviting me to participate!

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