Enter the brutal fantasy pavilion once more on the current generation of consoles.
Cyanide Studios has a rather intriguing title coming up in the next month amid all the AAA releases that usually dictate the end of the year. As a fusion of hardcore, futuristic sports and strategic turn-based action, Blood Bowl 2 will return with a myriad of teams and a deeply involving story for fans of the original to sink their teeth into. The difference this time around is that Cyanide will be developing solely on the current gen consoles. What high definition shenanigans will this result in on the field?
Speaking to GamingBolt, Sylvain Séchi of Focus Home Interactive – which is publishing Blood Bowl 2 – told us about the various new features including the new Cyatech engine, how the story mode will work out and much, much more.
"Our main art direction was to mimic the TV sport channel branding. We actually had to mix their modern design with our fantasy and magical setting. This whole idea has been applied to the match, to the interface and to the studio too! We actually see Jim & Bob, the commentators, in their booth."
Rashid K. Sayed: What drove the desire for turn-based gameplay compared to the original’s real-time nature? How will the emphasis on strategy and 3D dice rolls appeal to those accustomed to the first game’s instant action?
Sylvain Séchi: The original game featured two different modes: real-time and turn-based. This was practically two different game designs in the same game. We are still quite proud of both of them but it was also a community splitter. When looking for an opponent online, you won’t match with someone who doesn’t play the same mode as you. For Blood Bowl 2, we decided to focus entirely on the turn based mode, which was the most popular one.
Rashid K. Sayed: What benefits does the new engine for Blood Bowl 2 provide over the original?
Sylvain Séchi: BB2 is our first game running on “Cyatech”, the new engine and production pipeline developed by our R&D team.
The graphics engine was completely rewritten and optimized for modern multi-core CPUs and APUs (Accelerated Processing Unit) on consoles. The game benefits from several features we were able to develop:
Rashid K. Sayed: What steps were taken to improve the overall presentation of the game, from animations to commentary, in order to bring it closer in line to an actual sports broadcast?
Sylvain Séchi: Our main art direction was to mimic the TV sport channel branding. We actually had to mix their modern design with our fantasy and magical setting. This whole idea has been applied to the match, to the interface and to the studio too! We actually see Jim & Bob, the commentators, in their booth.
About the match commentaries, we reworked the balance between common and rare commentaries. The system also uses an excitement gauge to play frantic commentary when there is nonstop action and calmer commentary when nothing much is happening.
"You are sent here to save the situation (and the world). Every match features specific events which have a real impact on the match itself and most of them will be introduced through exclusive cutscenes."
Rashid K. Sayed: With a name like Blood Bowl, what efforts have been made to make the game even more brutal and bloody than the original?
Sylvain Séchi: During a match, you are going to experience some great cutscenes to make you feel the action from inside. They are short and visceral and only play when you deserve it the most. We worked a lot on the global pace, showing cutscenes when we feel it’s a good thing, and staying in this coach overall view otherwise. As you said, Blood Bowl is a brutal sport and the majority of these cutscenes feature violent attacks. Our cinematic designer is a real fan of sport broadcast and he watched a lot of sport footage (and Asian action movies too) before doing his work.
Rashid K. Sayed: With the varied races in Blood Bowl 2, will we see some kind of story mode play out? Will the Reikland Reavers have their own cinematic saga of glory?
Sylvain Séchi: We absolutely have a story driven campaign in Blood Bowl 2. This mode should about 30 hours long and it’s the perfect place to discover everything about the game from the universe to the rules themselves. You are the newly appointed coach of the Reikland Reavers, the most famous team in this world. They are in a terrible situation, players have grown old, and some of the younger ones are completely untalented.
You are sent here to save the situation (and the world). Every match features specific events which have a real impact on the match itself and most of them will be introduced through exclusive cutscenes. As an example, one match will start with a crash of a cabalcopter. This wooden machine piloted with a goblin has been sabotaged and you will have to play the match with burning wreckage lying in the middle of the pitch.
Rashid K. Sayed: Blood Bowl 2 will mark the first time the franchise has come to the Xbox One and PS4. What has the development process been like compared to the Xbox 360 and how did the new consoles improve on the game’s core mechanics?
Sylvain Séchi: Thanks to the new generation of consoles, we succeed to retransmit the feelings of very special atmosphere of the Blood bowl stadiums: supercharged and bigger than ever.
"On top of this, we added race specific behaviors. In the Blood Bowl universe, Dark Elves are completely psychotic and that’s something we wanted to make you feel on the pitch. "
The cheering of the ravenous fans filling the huge stadiums to the brink, the dynamic cameras enhancing the brutal atmosphere of the matches…everything will be there! The Xbox One and PS4 also provide a lot of multiplayer tools available which is very useful for games like Blood bowl with a large community and an important multiplayer mode.
Rashid K. Sayed: A lot of work has gone into overhauling the AI from scratch. We’re interested in how each race will have its own distinctive AI. Will this lead to them falling into the same patterns or being afraid to try different strategies against skilled players?
Sylvain Séchi: We have a huge part of the AI process which is common to all races. How do I defend? How do I attack? What are my possibilities? However, every team has its own characteristics and they are going to change all the choice of this common decision tree. Should I pass my ball or run with it? If I am an elf with a high agility, the answer will be a pass.
On top of this, we added race specific behaviors. In the Blood Bowl universe, Dark Elves are completely psychotic and that’s something we wanted to make you feel on the pitch. While most of team only uses the foul action when needed, the dark elf will have a natural fondness for it.
Rashid K. Sayed: Will the toolbox used to create the new AI scripting eventually make its way to the community?
Sylvain Séchi: This is something we do not know yet, we need to think about it. We’ll be able to confirm or inform at a later date, if distributing the tool is a possibility!
Rashid K. Sayed: What can you tell us about some of the new teams in Blood Bowl 2 (or at least details about how some, like the Bretonnian Knights, will play compared to the rest)?
Sylvain Séchi: Bretonnians are a “second human race” but they live in an Arthurian feudal country.
Rich people are very rich and poor people are… very poor. This diversity can be felt through the team roster. You have some of the best players in Blood Bowl, they are the Grail knight (Blitzer), running, hitting and playing the ball. But you don’t have a lot of them on the pitch. At the opposite side, you have the peasants (Lineman) who are clumsy, coward and ugly. They are great as a meat shield. But you will have to use all you team asset to be a good Bretonnian team coach.
"The graphics API panel is certainly evolving at a very quick pace these last few years, and it’s going to keep evolving quickly (DirectX12 iterations, Vulcan…). However, the PC hardware is still very different from the consoles as it’s much more diverse."
Rashid K. Sayed: What is currently the post-launch plan for Blood Bowl 2 content? Will you go ahead with selling different playable races separately?
Sylvain Séchi: Sadly, we are unable to give more info about that, as we’re still debating how and when we will develop and distribute the new races.
Rashid K. Sayed: Will Blood Bowl 2 run at 1080p and 60fps on both the PS4 and Xbox One?
Sylvain Séchi: The game will run at 1080p@30Fps on Playsation4 and 900p@30Fps (with 1080p user interface) on XboxOne with anti-aliasing.
Rashid K. Sayed: Console development trends do have an impact on PC gaming. If you were building a mainstream gaming PC now with the future in mind, what choices would you make? Mantle, DirectX 12 – things are changing radically in the PC space. Are we essentially looking at PC finally catching up with innovations in the console space? Can PC sustain two, three APIs?
Sylvain Séchi: The graphics API panel is certainly evolving at a very quick pace these last few years, and it’s going to keep evolving quickly (DirectX12 iterations, Vulcan…). However, the PC hardware is still very different from the consoles as it’s much more diverse. Therefore, low level APis like those available on consoles will still suffer from this diversity and optimization will depend on how specific the code will be.
Rashid K. Sayed: Is there anything else you want to tell us before we let you go?
Sylvain Séchi: Blood Bowl 2 features a host of all-new features and developments over the original Blood Bowl Chaos Edition. Prepare your team to enter in a brand new experience… and may Nuffle bless your dice!