Angry Mob Games CEO enlightens us on the current state of Brawlout and what to expect in the coming days.
Angry Mob Games’ Brawlout has been in Steam Early Access since April 2017 which is quite a long time. Though initially appearing to be a fighting title like, say, Super Smash Bros., Brawlout occupies its own interesting niche. With constant updates and balance changes, characters like the Drifter from Hyper Light Drifter joining the fray for the Nintendo Switch version and much more, it seemed like a good time to revisit Brawlout and see where it was going.
To that end, GamingBolt spoke to Angry Mob Games CEO Bogdan Iliesiu about the state of the game, how the response has been and what players can expect in the future.
"Ever since we launched, we did weekly or bi-weekly balance updates. The aim is to get it to a really fun and balanced experience, and slow down on tweaking too many balance figures after the console launch."
Brawlout has come a long way since its days in early access. How has the journey been thus far?
So much has changed since we first launched in Early Access, earlier this year. And it’s all thanks to our amazing community. It’s really time consuming to balance a fighting game, that’s why most really successful ones are iterations on decades-old franchises.
That’s one of the best parts of Brawlout, and platform fighters in general: you don’t need to stick to the traditional fighting game mechanics. They really shine when you get crazy with the moves design, and give each playable character distinct advantages. We’ve added tons of requested gameplay features, like ledge grabs, and made the top level play even more technical. In October, we’ll launch the next major update, with a huge progression system, where players could unlock tons of amazing stuff, including 18 new character variations.
When we first saw Brawlout, it mixed platforming with fighting game mechanics and unique characters. What was the feedback from your player base on this formula?
That’s what they love about Brawlout. You really feel like you’re in a fighting game, and you feel the weight of every punch and kick.
The players love how fast and fluent everything feels. Because we tweaked the rock-paper-scissor formula (for attack-block-grab – by removing the blocks and grabs), the game got a lot more fast paced, and now your main focus is the trajectory of your fighters, and anticipating your opponent’s position – as opposed to the slower defensive play in other games, where you actually have to read your opponent’s every move and counter it.
Fighting games usually see numerous balance changes throughout their life cycles. Was Brawlout in a similar situation at times and how did you address it?
Ever since we launched, we did weekly or bi-weekly balance updates. The aim is to get it to a really fun and balanced experience, and slow down on tweaking too many balance figures after the console launch. This way top players could perfect their skills, and we wouldn’t be breaking their strategies or combo games with new updates.
Which character is your favourite currently? Can you tell us about the overall character design process?
Personally I like both Sephi’ra and the Drifter, from Hyper Light Drifter, because they both give you so many movement options, both on ground and in air. That means you can easily follow up on your attacks and chain some amazing combos.
The character design is by far the most fun part in developing a fighting game. All our characters start from their attack moves design, based on a specific play style. The play style is either an ‘archetype’ seen in other fighting games (like Paco, who is a grappler), or it’s based on great game mechanics from other action games (like King Apu, whose chain attacks are inspired from games like Castlevania).
After we come up with the overall ideas for their basic attacks and special moves, we concept out the character art. All our original characters (except the guest characters) are based on different world cultures and civilizations, so that also helps to give them a common theme and a strong personality. Next up comes the actual art production, animations, sounds, backstory and of course the final balancing, for which we work closely with our top players.
"The online play improved greatly since the first Early Access launch. You can now play 4 player online matches with no issues, super smoothly. Of course that depends on each player’s network connection, but it’s way faster now."
What new content has been added to the game since launch? Have there been new modes or characters added?
We tried to keep the Early Access version focused on competitive play, and so we kept the main game modes to straight up fights, either locally or online, with casual or ranked matches.
In October, we’re rolling out a major update, with a lot more single player content, like an Arcade Mode, a much requested Tutorial mode, and tons of unlocks and character progression. The current Steam version features 7 characters, and it will go up to 26 this year. That includes another really famous guest character.
Post-launch, how has the network code for Brawlout been holding up? With lower player counts and other factors like balancing between skill and connection quality, how do you feel Brawlout‘s online play has shaped up?
The online play improved greatly since the first Early Access launch. You can now play 4 player online matches with no issues, super smoothly. Of course that depends on each player’s network connection, but it’s way faster now.
We’ve given pro players some extra options for choosing their matchmaking regions, connection quality and lag settings. Last weekend, our top players from Europe and North America were able to compete in a single tournament, so the connections are super smooth now.
How has the competitive side for the game panned out since release?
Initially we had tons of players battling it out for top spots, but slowly, some very high skilled players coming from other fighting games started picking up the game, and they’ve been holding on to the top spots in the ranked leaderboards and some of the online tournaments. But there’s always room for new players to make their mark, and Brawlout is really easy to get into.
We’ve been running weekly tournaments through ESL and Smash.gg. The community also does smaller 4-5 weekly tournaments, so feel free to join anytime, on Discord.
What are some of the challenges you face with a fighting game after launch, especially with so many different competitors bringing out games every other month?
It’s important to release new content often, to keep the players engaged, as with any other genre. With fighting games, it’s way harder to come up with new characters every month, as one single character takes around 6 months of development time. After the console launch we’ll ramp up our e-sports efforts, and hold larger tournaments, with bigger prize pools, both online and offline (in person).
"Many developers feel like they’re much more welcoming to smaller and indie developers, than Microsoft and Sony."
Brawlout will also be coming to the Nintendo Switch in Q4 2017. What has it been like working with Nintendo and what differences did you notice in their handling of third parties compared to Microsoft and Sony?
Nintendo is amazing. Many developers feel like they’re much more welcoming to smaller and indie developers, than Microsoft and Sony. Not only for their third party support, but also because it’s not such a crowded space, and it’s much easier to stand out with an amazing game.
What does the future hold for Brawlout? Can we expect a sequel or significant expansion any time soon?
We plan to support the game post launch with lots more game modes, and new characters every couple of months. And of course we’ll try to grow the e-sports scene, with the help of our community.
The game will be receiving Xbox One X support. Is native 4K and 60 frames per second on the cards?
Yes, it is.
What is your target resolution for the PS4 Pro version?
We plan to get to 4K, but we’ll have to see what kind of optimizations would be required.
What is the resolution and frame rate of the base PS4 and Xbox One version?
We’ve been focusing on the Nintendo Switch version, for which it runs perfectly smooth at 60FPS, in both Handheld and TV modes. Once we’ll get to the PS4 and Xbox One final optimizations, we’ll have more to share on that.
Is anything else you want to tell us about the game?
Thanks so much for your questions! Keep following us to see when the next major update hits!