Chloe Skew from Turtle Rock Studios on what makes Evolve a unique experience.
GamingBolt’s Kurtis Simpson recently got in touch with Chloe Skew from Turtle Rock Studios to talk about Evolve, an upcoming asymmetrical, cooperative, competitive shooter video game due next week. In this interview Kurtis was able to touch upon some important points such as the paid DLC that recently caused backlash from fans, console parity, level design and whether players can expect more classes in the future.
Kurtis Simpson: Recently you guys announced that there will be free DLC right from the start.
Chloe Skew: All Maps, all maps will be free.
Kurtis Simpson: Do you see this to be growing trend among game developers of releasing free DLC at the start, rather than paid content?
Chloe Skew: I’m not really aware of the approach of other games but it’s definitely a high priority for us, because we don’t want to split the community. So we want people to be able to play with their friends on whatever map they want, it’s going to be open.
"[On paid DLC] You know, you don't have to buy it unless you want to play as them. So I think that people are making a big deal out of it and getting upset and I do understand that but you know, we really are trying to make good content and afford to be able to make that good content."
Kurtis Simpson: So no paid content at the start of launch?
Chloe Skew: No not for maps. All modes actually.
Kurtis Simpson: There was a lot of reaction regarding DLC pricing for four new Hunter characters and three new Monster skins. Since you are giving away the maps for free, what was the decision behind keeping characters and monster skins behind a pay wall?
Chloe Skew: I don’t…love the word pay wall.
Kurtis Simpson: Neither do I…
Chloe Skew: I think it’s over simplifying it and I think that a lot of people are sort of having a knee-jerk reaction to the phrase DLC at all. So I think it’s like, you say DLC and you put a number with it and it doesn’t really matter what the number is and people just go “Arghh rah rah”. And I understand that as a gamer myself. I do get where they’re coming from and you do need to look at the fact that, you can play against DLC Hunters that you don’t buy. So say you’re doing solo mode and I’m playing Wraith I can play against DLC Hunters even if I don’t own them.
So you get to experience them, your game is enriched by the fact we’ve put this out. You know, you don’t have to buy it unless you want to play as them. So I think that people are making a big deal out of it and getting upset and I do understand that but you know, we really are trying to make good content and afford to be able to make that good content. But also you know trying to give it as much as we can and keep the community together.
Kurtis Simpson: So with Evolve there’s a lot of emphasis with character classes and weapons and such, like the variety of monsters and what they’re able to do. Did you ever consider a create-a-character option?
Chloe Skew: So earlier on in the development of Evolve they didn’t have classes it was like Left4Dead, but you just had characters and you picked up whatever weapon you wanted. And they found out that you could lose just based on the items that your team picked, they didn’t want to allow that to happen they wanted everybody to have a fighting chance. So they where like you know, we’re already moving towards gravitating roles within this open “pool” but let’s narrow it down, simplify it a bit and remove the possibility for losing before it even starts.
So based on that we’ve balanced the game. So 4V1 is quite a touch match to balance, especially when you’ve got twelve Hunters and three Monsters, and possibly more in the pipeline of what’s coming later. So having an additional class is just like (Laughter) makes me really sad as a thought because I’ve just trying to think about the amount of work that would go in to making it happen, I just don’t know if it’s on the cards.
"Well Daisy is actually a species that's native to Shear, so that you'll encounter other Trapjaws that's on the planet. They usually travel in packs and they will do a lot of damage to you unless you kill them."
Kurtis Simpson: This is very interesting, I recall my time with the game at an early preview and it crossed my mind of how cool it would be if make my own class. I mean it’s similar to Left4Dead but in regards to character classes they actually serve a purpose in the game such as helping each other.
Chloe Skew: Yeah I mean we’ve got chains of threads on the forums where people are like “We’re creating a monster! And what if it did this and what if it did that!” So if you want to talk about making your Hunter you can check out our forums, there’s lots of other people who would like to do that aswell. It may not make it into the game but you can kind of just put it out there and…
Kurtis Simpson: Dream…
Chloe Skew: Yeah! Let your creativity run free.
Kurtis Simpson: So in the last year or so there’s been quite a lot of broken releases in terms of Triple-A games. What are you guy’s doing to make sure Evolve has a smooth launch in regards to online functionality?
Chloe Skew: Well we did the big ALPHA and we just finished up our BETA. So that was done targeting towards making sure our servers work, making sure our matchmaking works. Making sure people can play online, people can play online and it’s going to be smooth. You know, we’ve been doing as much testing as we feasibly can given the manpower that we have and the time that we have. So you know all we can do is just test, and there’s certain issues that won’t arise until you hit a certain volume of players.
So you can prepare for that as much as you want and hope that everything goes smoothly, but you know there’s just certain things you cannot prepare for. So we’re doing everything we can and just keeping our fingers crossed but you know, we’re not unrealistic about the fact that it can be difficult to come out with something that’s just smooth from the start.
Kurtis Simpson: So the main focus once you go in is four Hunters one Monster, but the Hunters have their own Monster, Daisy. So apart from tracking will Daisy have any perks of evolutions of her own?
Chloe Skew: Well Daisy is actually a species that’s native to Shear, so that you’ll encounter other Trapjaws that’s on the planet. They usually travel in packs and they will do a lot of damage to you unless you kill them. So Daisy is actually like a normal creature we compare her to a Dog sometimes, but she’s more like a “Wolf-Dog”.
"I think the classes are pretty good the way that they are and I can't really think of anything that's missing. They seem like a complete equation."
Kurtis Simpson: Yeah, she looks that creature from Ghostbusters.
Chloe Skew: (Laughter) Yeah she does a bit. So the Monsters on the other hand are not native to Shear, they’re also an invading species they’re not related. The Monsters are something else, they’re something that these “Seasoned planet tamers” haven’t seen before.
You know Daisy is kind of like a fifth Hunter character, she kind revive people ad she’s good at sniffing out the Monster. She’s actually great on the Rescue map as she’ll revive survivors. She’s very useful and people tend to feel quite strongly about her in one way or another, so yeah she’s good fun.
Kurtis Simpson: I have the feeling that I’m going to get bonded to this Dog when I’m playing it.
Chloe Skew: Yeah you do start to feel that way, like your incapacitated and you’re like “Daisy! Yes thank you!” And she revives you and you’re like “Oh yes! Good Dog!” (Laughter)
Kurtis Simpson: I’m going to be playing it and it’s going to be a case of “Oh sh** I need to protect Daisy!” That’s the way I see things going when I’m playing the game. (Laughter)
Chloe Skew: Hey, when Daisy gets incapped I’m always right there reviving her because sometimes she’s the factor between winning and losing. She’s the “Clutch”
Kurtis Simpson: So with the character classes that what seems to be a standout point about Evolve. There’s a lot of emphasis on it that it makes it standout against other first-person shooters. Will there be any additional classes going forward, say a few months after launch?
Chloe Skew: Yeah I think the classes are pretty good the way that they are and I can’t really think of anything that’s missing. They seem like a complete equation, so I think that for the sake of balance, for the sake of keeping everything relatively simplified I think we’ll probably just be sticking with the four.
"You'll see a lot of difference in our maps there's some that have a lot of height variation, elevation changes. There's the Acid map so that's got acid pools which is completely different to the Desert map where you've got Dune Beetles you have to watch out for."
Kurtis Simpson: So with the Playstation and Xbox one hardware, that’s what everyone seems to be “Amazed” by these days, it was said that Evolve will maintain graphical parity with the Playstation 4 and Xbox One versions. What was the decision behind that rather than taking more advantage of the Playstation 4 hardware? As it’s a bit more powerful than the Xbox One.
Chloe Skew: Well…I could find a lot of people that would disagree with you (Laughter) But we want it to be an equivalent experience…console wars are so tedious. It’s like if you like that controller better, if you feel like that’s stronger than do what you want to do but we want to provide an equal experience for everyone.
Kurtis Simpson: The core experience right…
Chloe Skew: Yeah and I think that getting into adapting things for different systems, you know PC is always going to win.
Kurtis Simpson: Exactly…
Chloe Skew: But you know we do have parity between all three and I think that’s really helpful. You know it kind of silences that “Oh such and such is better”
Kurtis Simpson: Twitter wars…
Chloe Skew: Yeah nobody needs that it’s better to talk about which characters you like more.
Kurtis Simpson: So we know what everybody is going to be asking about later on Twitter. Will the game be running at full HD? Sixty frames per-second? Thirty frames per-second? 900p? What’s the resolution for the two console versions?
Chloe Skew: I know that we’re aiming for sixty at 1080p so hopefully we’ll be able to have that at some point in the future if not at launch.
Kurtis Simpson: So a big focus on Evolve is the multiplayer but what can you tell us on the singleplayer? Is it going to have any involvement with the multiplayer?
Chloe Skew: Well as you progress in solo mode you can unlock things that you’ll be able to play with in multiplayer.
Kurtis Simpson: So it can passover.
Chloe Skew: Yeah that’s right. But yeah the solo experience is actually really fun, I’ve seen people who are descent gamers that really get a run for their money with our A.I. Yeah it’s a good experience.
Kurtis Simpson: In terms of level design It’s really fast-paced, the Hunters are jet-packing and the Monsters are quite large in scale. How was the design towards the levels and maps within the game approached?
Chloe Skew: You’ll see a lot of difference in our maps there’s some that have a lot of height variation, elevation changes. There’s the Acid map so that’s got acid pools which is completely different to the Desert map where you’ve got Dune Beetles you have to watch out for. So the environmental hazards that you get with each map are really important. You know we made our maps to accommodate the Monsters, so Behemoth is our largest, that’s the largest we’re ever going to make because that’s the largest that’s actually going to fit on our maps.
So that’s kind of fun and you know we’ll be looking at community feedback as we make more DLC maps. The elevation change will be really interesting also the Monsters traverse differently, so it will be interesting to see how different Monsters traverse on different maps. We try to keep all of that in mind as we design them.
"You know you feel for King Kong, there's kind of a sympathy with him as a character. We wanted to get some of that so you feel like your fighting an intelligent creature, they drew on existing archetypes for that, Goliath has those two."
Kurtis Simpson: Okay so when I first saw Evolve I saw Pacific Rim and Power Rangers, that’s what I saw. What was the inspiration behind the design of the monsters?
Chloe Skew: I mean we needed them to be relatable because you’re playing that Monster right. So there needed to be some sort of connection and empathy you can have. So we couldn’t make them too weird, so we looked at pop-culture Monsters like King Kong. You know those where two that went into Goliath very heavily.
You know you feel for King Kong, there’s kind of a sympathy with him as a character. We wanted to get some of that so you feel like your fighting an intelligent creature, they drew on existing archetypes for that, Goliath has those two.
We designed Kraken as kind of a “Flying cthulhu wizard” Which is no joke that’s their actual inspiration. So Wraith is our sort of rogue, stealth “Back-stabby” sort of character. They definitely wanted to hit the bases of all the typical roles that you find in games, and I think that they’re going to continue that.
Kurtis Simpson: I like the Wraith. Sounds pretty cool! It was great talking with you.
Chloe Skew: Great talking with you, thanks!