Senior Game Designer, Maya Georgieva on how Arena of Fate is a serious contender in the MOBA genre.
Arena of Fate is an upcoming free-to-play multiplayer online battle arena that is under development at Crytek Black Sea. The game features 5 vs 5 battles with popular heroes from fantasy. With Arena of Fate, Crytek aims to bring in players who are not well versed with the MOBA genre, making it highly accessible in the process.
GamingBolt recently got in touch with Maya Georgieva, who is the senior designer of the game to know how the game is shaping up and whether the game will eventually make its way to PS4/Xbox One and eSports.
Rashid Sayed: Can you please introduce yourself?
I am Maya Georgieva, Senior Game Designer for Arena of Fate. I have been with Crytek Black Sea for five years now.
Rashid Sayed: What was the inspiration behind jumping into multiplayer online battle arena genre as opposed to what you are known for doing i.e. first person shooters?
Maya Georgieva: Crytek is a family of many game studios, each contributing their unique expertise. Arena of Fate is developed by Crytek Black Sea in Sofia – a studio with a history in creating strategy games.
In addition to the team’s expertise, we are also avid players and fans of the genre. So naturally we would like to bring more players to it, but the MOBA genre is notoriously hostile to newcomers, so we felt this is something that needs to be addressed.
Along the same lines, while playing the existing MOBA titles and enjoying them, from a developer perspective we can’t help but ask ourselves what works and what doesn’t, what contributes to the fun and what is a redundant legacy and needs to be changed, improved or removed entirely.
When a critical mass of those ideas accumulated, we had no other option but to step in and create the game we would like to play!
"So are we going with Pay to Win? Definitely not! But we are not yet ready to go into detail about the game’s monetization."
Rashid Sayed: The game is in currently in closed beta. What is the update on the release date?
Maya Georgieva: Actually the game is in a Technical Beta and we’re looking forward to going into an Early Access Closed Beta. Moving forward our plan is to gradually expand with waves of new players being admitted into a full Closed Beta and then Open Beta. We believe the core of these games lies in community, so we want to take our time and get as much feedback as possible and react to it, instead of rushing in to release.
Rashid Sayed: AoF is free to play. How are you handling the micro-transactions? Are you going down the path of pay to win?
Maya Georgieva: As I mentioned above – we’re making a game that we ourselves would like to play. So are we going with Pay to Win? Definitely not! But we are not yet ready to go into detail about the game’s monetization.
The longer answer is that we’re now focusing on what we think is most important – making a great game that is fun to play by the second, by the minute, session for session and day for day.
Some staples of the free-to-play model can be expected, such as customization options and skins for the heroes. Others are easily deduced – for a game that is competitive by nature, breaking the balance by selling power is unacceptable. For the rest, we want to see what makes sense for this game in particular, what adds value for the players and offer it accordingly. You can expect more details in the future.
"The Traits system that replaces the traditional items system is another example. Instead of having hundreds upon hundreds of items with names and prices one has to memorize, in AoF players are receiving power-ups with significant and interesting effects on each level up."
Rashid Sayed: You are entering a highly competitive market which already has several competitors like Turbine, Deep Silver and of course, Blizzard. How will Arena of Fate position Crytek in the MOBA genre?
Maya Georgieva: It’s true that the MOBA genre is very popular and therefore many developers hurry to try their hand at it. That being said, we wouldn’t have entered the genre, if we didn’t feel that we have something valuable to contribute to it.
A couple of years ago, when we started the development of Arena of Fate, we were big fans of the titles that defined the genre. But we felt that there’s a lot more to be desired and much of the improvement cannot be done without going back to the drawing board and starting from scratch with a whole new game, instead of contributing to the existing ones.
Now we have a game that we’re proud to present and we’re confident that it expands and improves on the existing titles, offering more choice to the growing number of MOBA players out there. Arena of Fate is the kind of game we’d like to play and we’re excited to welcome like-minded players to play it soon.
Rashid Sayed: Arena of Fate has been described as a game for frustrated MOBA players. So how are you making this game highly approachable?
Maya Georgieva: That reminds me of the phrase “It’s a small world, but I wouldn’t want to paint it”. We’ve done a lot of things – big and small – that contribute to this effect. I can’t list them all here, but I’ll give you a few examples.
Starting with the introduction of the 20 min time limit for the session, we’ve made the game much more convenient both for playing and for watching. Gone are the times when your game could drag on for 40 minutes to more than an hour.
The Traits system that replaces the traditional items system is another example. Instead of having hundreds upon hundreds of items with names and prices one has to memorize, in AoF players are receiving power-ups with significant and interesting effects on each level up. In the end it serves the same purpose of providing creative ways to customize your character, but in a cleaner, clearer, straight-to-the point manner.
This transparent, direct way of presenting things is one of our core design philosophies that manifests throughout the game – from the layout and clean visuals of the map, where tower ranges are marked clearly for anyone to see, to the clear announcement and display of each important event, the team scoring system, and the clear labeling of the Traits where you get health by picking up “Health” instead of some abstract “Grand Mysterious Blessing of the Earth Mother”.
Everything in Arena of Fate is straight-to-the-point and straight-to-the-fun with minimal friction between the player and the action.
"We’re looking into ways to transfer the dynamic and complexity of the game on PC to the consoles. It’s not a simple task, so it’ll take some time to do properly."
Rashid Sayed: Design wise, what is different in AoF compared to other MOBAs out there?
Maya Georgieva: From a design perspective MOBAs are a “wild growth” type of game. Historically their design derives from the community, accumulating a lot of things that work over time, but also a lot of baggage that’s unnecessary and even detrimental.
With Arena of Fate we’ve looked closely and reevaluated everything in the existing designs, aiming to separate the essence of the game that actually makes it fun, from the parts that are just legacy. We try to come closer to a perfect form by cutting the rough edges.
Alongside this, we’ve introduced the concept of time limit, from which a lot of interesting effects emerge. In fact it totally changes the way you perceive the game! When you have to fight against the clock as well as against your opponents, every second counts. Combined with the team scoring, this draws Arena of Fate closer to traditional sports like basketball and football, where a dramatic turnaround can be achieved in the last seconds of a match.
Rashid Sayed: Are there plans to add more characters other than the 30 we already know?
Maya Georgieva: Of course! We already have a lot of new characters in development, so you can be sure that a steady stream of new heroes are about to enter the Arena in the future.
Rashid Sayed: What is your favorite hero and why?
Maya Georgieva: It’s hard to pick just one – I like Fenrir for his feral looks and the mayhem he brings with his fiery skills. He’s a very strong hero with a lot of team utility. I also like Arachne who is a very strong area-of-effect character that is almost unmatched in a solo lane. And then there’s Musashi with his two swords for the times you just want to cut through the enemy team like a knife through butter.
Rashid Sayed: Are there any plans to bring the game to the PS4 and Xbox One?
Maya Georgieva: We’re looking into ways to transfer the dynamic and complexity of the game on PC to the consoles. It’s not a simple task, so it’ll take some time to do properly.
Rashid Sayed: Do you have ideas for integration e-Sports with AoF?
Maya Georgieva: AoF is a competitive game and sport is in its DNA – from the time limit and the scoring system, to the completely symmetrical map, and the more subtle design choices that favor teamwork over superficial solo mechanics.
We believe that interest in AoF as an e-sports title must arise naturally from the community and we’re ready to support it.
Rashid Sayed: Is there anything else you want to tell our readers about the game?
Maya Georgieva: If you’re not a MOBA player already – Arena of Fate is probably your best chance to get into a genre that is massively popular and fun. If you are already enjoying these types of games, the best way to feel the difference is by trying AoF yourself. And when it comes to this – where else can you see whether Nicola Tesla can take down Achilles in a fight?