Kiz Studios talks about its new(ish) MOBA and the power of the PS4.
The massive online battle arena genre has attracted its fair share of new titles but none quite like Trans-Galactic Tournament from Kiz Studios. Despite its trappings, Trans-Galactic Tournament looks to be more of a fast-paced experienced that takes inspiration from shooters and sports titles, fitting more into a brawler of sorts in the process. There’s obviously a lot to learn about the game, especially since it used to be on PC in beta form and called Smashmuck Champions before heading to the PS4 as Trans-Galactic Tournament.
Kiz Studios’ Drew Allen spoke to GamingBolt about the MOBA, including its current exclusivity to PS4, the issues that arose with Smashmuck Champions and much more.
"Almost all items in TGT can be unlocked for free with enough hard work and in-game currency. The extensive, character stat-altering workouts and badges can only be purchased with currency earned in game."
Rashid K. Sayed: Trans-Galactic Tournament is a new MOBA but it promises different things from the crowd. But what motivated you to create a MOBA in the first place, especially given the crowded market?
Drew Allen: When we started thinking about a new project, a lot of our devs were playing League and DOTA. While those games are great, we saw an opportunity to create a faster-paced MOBA with quick matches that wouldn’t require a huge time commitment. TGT still gets labeled as a MOBA, but it’s also heavily influenced by FPS and sports games. That’s why we like to refer to the game as a battler, or more specifically a “class-based battler”, along the lines of Monday Night Combat or maybe Heroes of the Storm.
Rashid K. Sayed: As with every MOBA, there is a starting line-up of champions for players, with a weekly rotation of free heroes. However, Trans-Galactic Tournament allows players to earn every Champion and item through in-game play. What elements will be available through micro-transactions, if any at all?
Drew Allen: Almost all items in TGT can be unlocked for free with enough hard work and in-game currency. The extensive, character stat-altering workouts and badges can only be purchased with currency earned in game. As you mentioned, we have a champion rotation that lets players try out two Champs each week for free. Players can also use hard currency to purchase Champions, weapons, emotes, skins, and time-saving boosts. All these purchases are completely optional, meaning that it’s each player’s choice if and when they want to invest in our game.
Rashid K. Sayed: Could you give us some examples of customizing one’s hero to fit their own play-style as opposed to simply making them stronger with each level increase?
Drew Allen: Sure! Weapons are a great way to illustrate that. Each Champion has an array of weapons they can equip—and those weapons all pretty significantly affect the Champion’s stats. There isn’t one weapon inherently better than another, but there are weapons designed for defensive play styles, offensive play styles, for lone wolves, and team players.
If you look at Brutus, for example, his base weapon gives him his default stats—pretty good all around, and a little faster and stronger than average. If you equip the Samurai Slicer, however, his speed skyrockets, but his defense drops alongside it. The Mace is the reverse—you’re a lot slower but much better defended and a little stronger too.
"Smashmuck had a very dedicated community, but it was hard for it to stand out in the crowded PC MOBA market."
We also have a Training System where players can augment a Champ’s stats. You can make a character faster, stronger, healthier, or even re-spawn faster—and you can choose whether that means covering up a statistical weak point in your Champion build or min-maxing their strongest suit.
Rashid K. Sayed: What kind of post-launch support will Trans-Galactic Tournament have? How frequent will content updates be?
Drew Allen: We’re going to be pretty aggressive with content updates after launch. We have quite a few champions pretty much ready to go, so the roster will grow quickly. Long-term we are looking at a couple of new game modes, but those will probably be later this year.
Rashid K. Sayed: Tell us more about the power-ups in-game and how they play into various strategies.
Drew Allen: We have five power-ups: a damage booster, a defense booster, a speed booster, and health and energy restorers. A lot of strategy in the game actually plays into when and when not to use a power-up. Power-up locations are fixed, so if you memorize their positions you can predict enemy movements—he’s grabbed the PB; now he’s going to head for the top lane to try and grab the speed boost and make a break for it, so I’ll cut him off and force him to go the long way.
Rashid K. Sayed: There are concerns that Trans-Galactic Tournament, which used to be Smashmuck Champions when it released last year as a beta on PC before going offline, will eventually end up like its PC iteration. How are your addressing concerns of this?
Drew Allen: Smashmuck had a very dedicated community, but it was hard for it to stand out in the crowded PC MOBA market. We always thought that the fast gameplay and wacky art style would work well on console, and that’s why we decided to bring TGT to PS4. For this release we’ve tried to streamline a lot of the systems while maintaining the same level of depth and customization.
We removed a lot of clutter from the game to ensure that players can easily get in, get a game and start battling. TGT is a cleaner, more refined version of Smashmuck, and we think that PS4 players will really enjoy having a high-quality multiplayer battle experience on console.
"Exclusivity with Sony helps us focus our efforts, and we are able to work directly with Sony when it comes to promotion."
Rashid K. Sayed: How much improvement has been made on the previous PC version, especially with comments about the exact same gameplay being reused?
Drew Allen: With the power of the PlayStation 4 we’ve been able to update Champion shaders while adding brand-new dynamic lighting, vibrant full-screen effects, updated textures, and a completely new UI. We’ve adjusted progression and improved training, workouts, and badges so every player can truly customize their Champions. We think that the game has always been a lot of fun so most of the changes are refinements that help players focus on creating a really fun, really intense multiplayer battle experience.
Rashid K. Sayed: Why did you opt to release Trans-Galactic Tournament on the PS4 alone? What about the technology and Sony’s approach appealed to you?
Drew Allen: As a fairly small studio we need all the help we can get when it comes to marketing. Exclusivity with Sony helps us focus our efforts, and we are able to work directly with Sony when it comes to promotion. Hopefully that will translate into more people getting into the game and having a great experience.
Rashid K. Sayed: Is there a specific reason why the game will not launch on Xbox One?
Drew Allen: After our exclusivity with PS4 is over, we will definitely be looking at Xbox One.
Rashid K. Sayed: Will the game run at 1080p and 60fps on PS4?
Drew Allen: The game runs in 1080p on PS4, but we’re not fully 60fps. We have many instances where we run at 60fps, but the frame-rate isn’t locked.
"PS4, just like the Xbox One, are at still in their infancy from a development cycle point of view. All their raw hardware power will be fully exploited in the upcoming years."
Rashid K. Sayed: What is your take on the PS4’s API? Do you think that Sony will improve in the future so that it remains competitive against the likes of DX12?
Drew Allen: PS4, just like the Xbox One, are at still in their infancy from a development cycle point of view. All their raw hardware power will be fully exploited in the upcoming years. From a developer point of view the future is very exciting.
Rashid K. Sayed: Developers tell us that they love the GDDR5 in the PS4, they love the bandwidth but there are questions on latency. Do you think GDDR5 adds latency?
Drew Allen: We don’t feel particularly impacted by the latency of the GDDR5 on this project. So for us it’s a negligible issue.
Rashid K. Sayed: Could Trans-Galactic Tournament ever head to PC at any point?
Drew Allen: If things go well with our PS4 launch, then we plan to bring TGT to PC.
Rashid K. Sayed: What are your thoughts on the rise of free to play games on consoles?
Drew Allen: With so few free-to-play titles, it is really wide open. We’re excited to be one of the few free-to-play games on PS4, especially coming from the mobile/PC space where it’s increasingly hard to get noticed with all the noise.
Rashid K. Sayed: Is there anything else you want to tell us before we let you go?
Drew Allen: We’re really looking forward launching TGT on PS4, and we can’t wait to see everyone in the arena!