Skara The Blade Remains Interview: Gameplay Mechanics, Xbox One eSRAM, PS4 API And More

8 Bit Studios talks about its upcoming multiplayer online versus title.

Posted By | On 10th, Oct. 2014 Under Article, Interviews | Follow This Author @GamingBoltTweet


Skara: The Blade Remains might not stand out in this day and age. As a Kickstarter-funded game, it portends to be the world’s first Multiplayer Online Versus or MOV title wherein 16 players enter an arena and fight to the death. It’s powered by Unreal Engine 4 and the developer managed to procure $36,015 in funding. It’s not the biggest or baddest game set to hit the Xbox One, PS4 and PC but it’s certainly unique. There’s something about the game that calls out to a brutality reserved for fighting games while maintaining the aura of competitiveness and casual appeal that free to play games enjoy.

GamingBolt spoke to commercial director Cesar Ortega about Skara and the development process behind it, including its support for micro-transactions and the general inspiration behind the game.

Rashid K. Sayed: To begin with, tell us a bit about yourself and company? What is your staff strength and how did you guys started?

Cesar Ortega: We grew up together playing (and criticizing) videogames. We wanted to create our own title, mixing features from several genres because we couldn’t find one on the market the game that really seemed to have everything in it.

Skara_The Blade Remains_03

"Those who want only a quick match or a violent short skirmish will enjoy our Basic Game Modes, having a lot of fun with their friends or people around the world."

We put together a fantastic team combining developers with a lot of experience working in AAA games and some young talent coming from university, where Pablo teaches for the master’s program. The result is a well-oiled machine with huge potential, as we believe is shown in Skara after only ten months of development.

Rashid K. Sayed: Skara – The Blade Remains is an intriguing take on combat. What was your inspiration behind the game?

Cesar Ortega: Lot of different games, actually. We love Versus Fighting games, and our combat system aspires to be similar to Tekken or Soul Calibur. But to take this combat system to a multiplayer environment our inspiration are action games, from League of Legends to Call of Duty—yes, we do think it’s possible to merge all of these feature into a single title

Rashid K. Sayed: The game will bring 16 players together on a single ground, hacking and slashing at each other. Can you please explain how this will work? Will there be any special rewards for the last man standing?

Cesar Ortega: Actually it will, since we want to provide a different experience for every kind of player. Those who want only a quick match or a violent short skirmish will enjoy our Basic Game Modes, having a lot of fun with their friends or people around the world. Those players able to discover  Skara’s secrets will get access to faction modes, creating their own armies and constantly unblocking new features available only for the most successful players. This way we encourage competition between gamers, offering a skill-based game where only accuracy, quick reflexes and practice can guarantee wins.

Rashid K. Sayed: Since this is a free to play game, what kind of micro-transactions can we expect in the game?

Cesar Ortega: We are committed to making Skara a free-to-win experience. All the content will be cosmetic and freely accessible through virtual currency that can be earned during combat. Fatalities or ways to personalize your character will also be accessible through micro-payments, for example, but those players who don’t want to spend money will be able to purchase them with their in-game money.

Skara_The Blade Remains_02

"Successful players will get the opportunity to create their own clans or tribes (we call them factions) and invite other players to join."

Rashid K. Sayed: I find it interesting that there are fatalities in the game. How do you plan to make them different yet unique from games like Mortal Kombat?

Cesar Ortega: We implemented a few really brutal ones, such as grabbing your enemy’s heart and showing it to them before they die. I don’t remember seeing that in Mortal Kombat! Our animation team really enjoy making them. It’s the time they can become free and create the spectacular scenes that will inflict fear over enemy souls.

We are also looking at implementing in-game procedural dismemberments in Skara, although this may come later.

Rashid K. Sayed: Players can take control of different territories. Can you please let me know how that will work?

Cesar Ortega: That is one of our favourite features and we are going of take a lot of care when implementing it. Successful players will get the opportunity to create their own clans or tribes (we call them factions) and invite other players to join. They will get a small point on the overall Skara map and will expand it as a consequence of their wins. The most successful factions will even get the chance to create their own arenas, and be remembered forever as those who ruled Skara.

Rashid K. Sayed: What kind of weapon/armour customization options and skill sets can players expect in the game?

Cesar Ortega: Players can create different customization sets to adapt to any battle or situation. This way, players can equip their character with a heavy armour if they are about to confront powerful enemies on the Siege Mode, or select Ranged Weapon equipment if they prefer to be in the distance backing their fellows with a rain of arrows. The way players of the same team or faction choose their equipment will become a huge thing in Skara, as the possible combinations can determine the outcome of a battle.

Skara_The Blade Remains_01

"The new SDK gives more resources to developers, and that´s always a good thing. We still haven’t decided where to use that extra 10 percent from the CPU, but probably not in effects."

Rashid K. Sayed: The game is confirmed to be coming to Xbox One. The eSRAM has been the culprit for majority of the games not running at 1080p on Xbox One. How are you tackling this situation?

Cesar Ortega: It’s too soon to say for us at this moment. We have our Xbox One developer kits as members of the ID@Xbox program, but we are focusing on the pc version first. As we are a small indie studio and we are not able to work on both versions at the same time, so when the moment comes to port the game to Xbox One and PS4, I´m sure we´ll face some technical problems, but I’m also sure we’ll overcome them.

Rashid K. Sayed: Are you using the June Xbox One SDK Update and Freed GPU Resource not using the Kinect, to improve performance of the Xbox One version?

Cesar Ortega: The first tests we made were with the June SDK, so our initial impression is that we are extremely happy with that 10% extra GPU.

The new SDK gives more resources to developers, and that´s always a good thing. We still haven’t decided where to use that extra 10 percent from the CPU, but probably not in effects. We are creating our effects to run similarly on both systems, no matter if it´s a PC or a console. But expect great things in our LOD´s system, with a more polished view of the characters and scenarios even from the far.

Rashid K. Sayed: Is the Xbox One version going to run at 1080p and 60fps on the Xbox One and PS4?

Cesar Ortega: We hope so, but again, it’s too soon to say. The tests we made are quite encouraging so far.

Rashid K. Sayed: What kind of differences do you see while developing on the PS4 and Xbox One? What makes them similar yet different from each other?

Cesar Ortega: Both systems are putting a lot of care to making life easier for developers, and that´s a huge improvement from the previous generations of consoles. We were able to port an internal build of Skara for Xbox One in less than 20 minutes, so we are dying to go deep with both systems.

Skara_The Blade Remains_04

"We have been lucky enough to get access to Unreal Engine 4 even in a beta stage, but that proves that a small studio can compete in graphics with the big names on the industry."

Rashid K. Sayed: What are your thoughts on the PS4’s API? Do you think it will make the development of the PS4 version of Skara easier?

Cesar Ortega: Sure, the evolution of the API has been huge, and I see Sony´s platform as a great tool for indie devs to get their games published sooner than ever.

Sony is being surprisingly helpful so far, I think they understand now how important the indie scene is becoming, so we are glad that they are making life easier for devs, porting a game for PS3 was a nightmare and I guess that´s a lesson Sony learned. Actually we think both Sony and Microsoft are doing a great job with Indies for now!

Rashid K. Sayed: Tell us about the PC version. When can we expect early access to begin?

Cesar Ortega: September 2014. We are right now testing and balancing the game with our Backers on Kickstarter, since we gave them instant access to our pre-alpha as soon as the campaign ended. For all of those who missed our campaign, you can still get an invite via our website and forums.

Rashid K. Sayed: We do know that Unreal Engine 4 is a great match with PC. But how will Unreal Engine 4 help the PS4 and Xbox One versions?

Cesar Ortega: Honestly, expect great things from Unreal Engine 4 on the next generation of consoles. They made everything easier to work on multi-platform titles, and that will mean a lot of small indie studios delivering exciting experiences with beautiful graphics. Also, blueprints are a cool way to quickly prototype features or even complete games without writing a single line of code, so I anticipate a lot of titles coming from Unreal to Pc and consoles.

We have been lucky enough to get access to Unreal Engine 4 even in a beta stage, but that proves that a small studio can compete in graphics with the big names on the industry.

Rashid K. Sayed: Is there anything else you want to tell our readers about Skara?

Cesar Ortega: Thanks a lot for the questions and greetings to all the Gaming Bolt fans. Hope to see you all fighting in Skara soon!


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  • Guest

    Definitely a PS4 fanboy doing the interview. Pretty pathetic fishing for answers.

    • Guest

      Thats funny cuz i though he was defitely a X1 fanboy. Seriously, fanboyism is pathetic. And you pathetic fools never give it a rest.

  • Omar

    If interviewers stopped asking about the differences in capabilities and resolution, I bet consumers would barely be able to tell the difference between the games and often mistake one for the other.

    • Guest

      And why do you want that? So that people wont know the truth, that the X1 is inferior? Well some of us wanna know which is better,and prefer the graphically superior version. We dont all just buy a system based on which company makes it, or follows their friends around like some follower. And just want the best version of the game on a system (Notice i said system, i could care less about the PC).

    • Omar

      But ur reply just proved my point. U need the data to tell u which looks better and not ur own eyes. I didn’t say they should never release this info. Just not right away and see if all this fuss is about something or about people just wanting to feel they have something better even when their own senses can’t tell the difference. U really don’t see how crazy that sounds?

      That would make u the same type of person to say a PS4 game looks absolutely gorgeous at 1080p and then when u find out its 900p, u’d say so what, its still gorgeous. I’ve just seen some PS fans say 900p is fine as long as Xbox is 720p. So why isn’t Xbox 900p fine as well? Because PS4 hit 1080p? U’d be hard pressed to notice the difference, I guarantee that.

    • Guest

      First of all, alot of people can tell. I dont know how many times I’ve heard people say that they cant tell the difference between 30fps and 60fps, or cant see tearing when the game tears like crazy or doesnt notice the frame drops and more. Just because you cant tell the difference between res, doesnt mean i cant. And im not saying a game looks like crap just because its not 1080p, but when a game is 900p on one system and 1080p on the other, i would rather have the higher res one. Period. 900p is not that bad in of itself. It just hearing these fanboys try and downplay it to defend their beloved system, is both insulting and rather infuriating.

    • Omar

      First of all, I mentioned resolution, not fps. But u mention screen tearing and dropped frames which isn’t a commonality and u actually have to play both versions to give ur own analysis, not quote a Digital Foundry test. If u have both systems then good for u but most of these, “Mine is so much better than urs” arguments are dumb. U would think people were comparing PS4 to Xbox 360. Ur tired of fanboys just like I am but the resolution isn’t necessarily what people are defending. Its being told that they’re inferior for their choice; at least it is for the sensible people. I wouldn’t choose either system due to a slight increase in resolution alone. Its much more than that such as UI, system abilities, friends, games, etc.

    • Mark

      U know man I think most X1 gamers wanna just be able to have discussions in the comments section without having to “defend” their system of choice, or bash the PS4 just to get some PS4 owners to calm down with the trolling. It does happen with both sides mind u, but from my experience I’ve seen alot of PS4 owners just jumping in Xbox articles trying to run with their systems’ resolution output over the Xbox. I get that of course trolling will always be here.

      But I think what Omar was saying is that; by journalists asking about resolution and frame rate and the technical specs, sometimes even more than the actual game mechanics and stuff, readers are now absorbed by targets and specs, rather than the aspects of the game that will or won’t make it worth our time.

      And now we can see how strong this subject of resolution is. People r actually basing their opinion on wether or not to buy a game, on resolution alone. You’d basically want a 50+ inch TV, and sit 2-4 feet from it, to get the maximum effect of 2M pixels.

      It is fine for journalists to point out the difference in resolution and frame rate. It is their job to point that out. But I think sometimes they push really hard to get a statement from a dev that’s good for a headline article. Imo. People do luv negativity, unfortunately. I think some of this “power” debate and trolling by fanboys, could be silenced a bit more by journalists. A simple question about how’s the developement going with each console would be good imo. I think the focus of the game gets lost when target specs take center stage on headlines, or a good portion of an interview. I think devs are turned off at this.

      Contrary to pop belief, studios optimize on resolution and frame rates toward launch. So imo, journalists are asking about this (in this interview) too early in a game’s lifecycle, and thus too much. I kinda feel how Omar feels.

    • Omar

      Yeah, we are definitely on the same page. Sad to see what’s been happening with this kind of gaming news. Its worse than any previous generation. With the approximately 16 or 17 million current Gen consoles sold, 2/3 of that being Sony and 1/3 being MS ita not hard to come to one conclusion with all the comments I’ve seen. Half of PS4 owners genuinely like Sony and the PS4. The other half (okay, maybe a little less than half) apparently just hate Xbox and probably Microsoft as a whole since MS bashing seems to be popular nowadays. Some 360 fans ran out and bought a PS4 out of anger from the initial reveal and now are using the resolution argument as justification for their purchase. Just sad all around.

  • bardock5151

    “Cesar Ortega: The first tests we made were with the June SDK, so our initial impression is that we are extremely happy with that 10% extra GPU.

    The new SDK gives more resources to developers, and that´s always a good thing. We still haven’t decided where to use that extra 10 percent from the CPU, but probably not in effects. We are creating our effects to run similarly on both systems, no matter if it´s a PC or a console.”
    By the sound of it the PS4 is holding back the Xbox, you know in the actual graphics.
    But they are holding the PC back.

  • d0x360

    Enough with the questions about esram and ps4 api. Whoever does these interviews has no idea what either of those things even do which is evident by the lack of detail in the questions. “How’s that api!?”

    Can we just focus on interview questions about the games, their inspirations and how they play/what new ideas they bring to the table? Constantly shoe horning questions in about things most of the audience doesn’t even understand is a waste of time.

    • Guest

      Oh shut up, and you do? And what new ideas/inspirations can they bring to the table that hasnt already been done? And the only games doing anything new are indie games, which all MS fanboys claim to hate, cuz they associate them with Sony. You just dont want people to know the PS4 is superior. Thats your problem.

    • d0x360

      We already know the ps4 is more powerful so do the world a favor and grow up.

    • Guest

      So stating a fact is immature, but acting like a whiny little baby about it (you) is mature? In what world guy? oh yeah, thats right, in yours. Man up.

    • d0x360

      You have some serious issues. If you think your delusional fanboy nonsense is going to get a rise out of me you are sadly mistaken.

      Any actual gamer wants interviews about games to actually be about games. Does the api make the game more fun for you?

      Do you have any idea what api is and how it functions? Does any of that information make a single bit of difference as to whether a game is good or not? Do you really believe an indie Dev has the time and resources to actually exploit intricate low level system calls on multiplatform title? Do you have ANY idea what I’m even saying?

    • Guest

      I got serious issues? You’re the one getting all upset over it. And im delusional for stating facts, while you’re not for stating your pathetic opinions? GTFO here. You’re a clown kid. You got issues.

    • d0x360

      which facts are you stating? Please be clear here i don’t want to miss a thing.


 

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