The Rock of Ages games have been delivering a unique and enjoyable take on the tower defense genre for a while now, and the upcoming Rock of Ages 3: Make and Break is looking to take that further than ever. On top of delivering a more refined version of the experience its predecessors delivered, Rock of Ages 3 is also going to feature what is looking like a pretty robust level editor, and with its competitive multiplayer offerings added on top, it definitely seems like it won’t be lacking in content. To learn more about the game and how it is building upon its predecessors, we recently some of our questions about what players can expect from it. You can read our interview with ACE Team co-founder and game designer Andres Bordeu below.
"The level editor is robust enough that the complete single-player campaign was developed with this tool."
Can you talk about how extensive the creation tools in Rock of Ages 3’s level editor are going to be?
The level editor is robust enough that the complete single-player campaign was developed with this tool, so it will support creation of many different game modes in a variety of themes. In the previous installments all the levels had been crafted through traditional means, so achieving this through a specially designed tool was quite an undertaking.
How much variety can players expect from the designs of the levels that will be found in the game’s arcade modes?
Because the game features more different game modes, this is surely the most varied Rock of Ages game yet. All the previous game types are returning and the flexibility of the level editor allowed us to produce and iterate levels much faster than in the previous titles, so the campaign is also pretty longer than the campaign in Rock of Ages 1 & 2. In the previous games all the game modes were played in the same level layouts that needed to be compatible with these modes. In this case we have made levels that are specifically tailored for each game mode, so we think this will keep things fresh.
The idea of altered objectives acting as modifiers sounds like an interesting one, and seems to have the potential to introduce variety in the moment-to-moment action. Can you talk about these a bit more and how exactly they will function during gameplay?
This was also true in the previous games, only that there was too little of it. For the most part when you were going through the story campaign in Rock of Ages 1 & 2 you were mostly playing ‘War’, which has been the game’s signature mode. In this game we wanted to make sure the player was constantly changing how to face challenges, so we balanced out the world so that there is a more even distribution of game modes you need to overcome. Every sub-period still culminates in a War match, but in between we’ve mixed things quite a bit.
"In this game we wanted to make sure the player was constantly changing how to face challenges, so we balanced out the world so that there is a more even distribution of game modes you need to overcome."
Have there been any pieces of feedback for Rock of Ages 2 that you’ve looked at in particular for the purposes of Rock of Ages 3’s development?
Yes, absolutely. There were things that never left the drawing board in Rock of Ages 2 and are finally here. The biggest thing was the level editor. We actually had considered making a much lighter level editor for Rock of Ages 2, but realized it was huge undertaking. This was one of the main reasons we decided to make Rock of Ages 3.
What are your plans for Rock of Ages 3’s post-launch support, by way of updates or new content?
We’ve always supported all our titles with new content and of course a lot of post-launch stuff. I don’t think it will be any different when we release this game. Just as an example in Rock of Ages 2 Skee-Boulder was added as a bonus after launch. We’re still not sure what we’ll be doing after Make & Break is out (we’re mostly focused now on finishing the game), but we do have a lot of cool ideas that could eventually make it in to the game.
With Rock of Ages also launching on Stadia, what are your thoughts on how the state of the service, in terms of how it’s proceeded since launch and what Google are promising for the future?
The Stadia version of the game is being developed by our partner studio Giant Monkey Robot, who also worked alongside ACE Team to make this game. We have not really been involved in the Stadia efforts so I could not share any significant information about this system at this moment.
Roughly how long will an average playthrough of Rock of Ages 3 be?
It really depends what you are expecting from the game. Many people get Rock of Ages for the story campaign, others for the online multiplayer, and this time around we hope we will have players that delve in to creating community levels. So, it is really hard to say how much hours you can squeeze from the game. If you are a creator, the sky is the limit. The campaign alone should take twice or three times the length of the campaign in Rock of Ages 2, because of amount of levels in this game.
"There were things that never left the drawing board in Rock of Ages 2 and are finally here. The biggest thing was the level editor."
Will the game will feature Xbox One X and PS4 Pro-specific enhancements? Is 4K/60 FPS on the cards?
Nothing specific for those systems, though we are looking to add RTX support on PC, but only after launch.
How is the game running on the original Xbox One and PS4, in terms of frame rate and resolution?
I would say it is pretty comparable to Rock of Ages 2. We are still working on optimizations so there is still room for improvements.
What are the docked and undocked resolution and frame rate of the Switch version?
It’s 720p on both setups. The game makes significant use of physics with a lot of particle simulations, split screen couch play and dozens of units on screen. In addition, we really cannot anticipate how complex the custom community levels can get, so we needed to make sure the game could perform with all these factors taken in to account.
With next gen approaching, have you given any thought to releasing Rock of Ages 3 for the PS5 and Xbox Series X as well?
I think that will mostly depend on what happens after the release. This game is already coming out on so many systems that just thinking of adding two more platforms is a little overwhelming right now. When we’ve had a moment to take a breather, I guess we could consider it.
Since the reveal of the PS5 and Xbox Series X’s specs, a lot of comparisons have been made between the GPU speeds of the two consoles’ GPUs, with the PS5 at 10.28 TFLOPS and the Xbox Series X at 12 TFLOPS- but how much of an impact on development do you think that difference will have?
It is hard to tell without having actually worked on those systems yet. Extra horsepower is always obviously welcome, but it is fairly easy to gobble up all the CPU/GPU on any system if you don’t design and implement your title with performance in mind. In my experience the amount of work you invest in optimizations and the competences of your team are much more important factors than raw power when it comes to achieving great results. You can look back at games that really looked as if they were not meant to exist on certain platforms, like when Resident Evil 4 debuted on the Nintendo Gamecube. The quality of that game had everything to do with how the devs at Capcom made smart decisions to maximize the limited resources.
"If you are a creator, the sky is the limit. The campaign alone should take twice or three times the length of the campaign in Rock of Ages 2, because of amount of levels in this game."
The PS5 features an incredibly fast SSD with 5.5GB/s read bandwidth. This is faster than anything that is available out there. How can developers can take advantage of this and what will it result in, and how does this compare to Series X’s 2.4GB/s read bandwidth?
I couldn’t say how the hardware will compare without having worked on those systems, but getting rid of virtually all loading times can be a very important tool when developing a title, so it is surely something that we will need to take in to account when designing our next games.
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