Gordon Van Dyke details War of the Vikings’ setting and gameplay mechanics.
War of the Vikings is an action game developed at Fatshark and published by Paradox Interactive. The game is developed on the same Close Quarter Combat technology as War of the Roses. GamingBolt caught up with Gordon Van Dyke who is the Executive Producer of the game to know more about the title. Check out his response below.
Ravi Sinha: Despite being part of the same franchise, War of the Vikings is a pretty big deviation from War of the Roses. What prompted you to opt for this especially given the good reception to Roses?
Gordon Van Dyke: Our focus was, and is, to make a game that complimented Roses and gave players their own unique experiences but shared a common thread in the core mechanics.
Ravi Sinha: Tell us about the combat and what makes it so intuitive. How much work went into accurately recreating the weapons and armour used in-game?
Gordon Van Dyke: There’s a sweet simplicity to a sword and board (shield) that seems to resonate with players how enjoy a setting like ours. So our goal, and challenge, has always been trying to ensure the successful and failures of your combat made sense and felt logical. With that, the world and environment needed to match to support those expectations. So, Viking Age equipment and the worlds you fight in all had to gel.
Ravi Sinha: So, what all have you retained from the first game, mechanically speaking?
Gordon Van Dyke: Mainly the combat, physics system, and a lot of support systems. But as many notice the combat flows vastly different from Roses to Vikings.
"You always hope to learn from your previous games, and a key thing we learned was we needed to stick to a more focused experience that was either aggressive or about finesse."
Ravi Sinha: What is the kind of research that goes into making a game like War of the Vikings? Obviously, you strive for maximum historical authenticity and accuracy…
Gordon Van Dyke: We met with the archeologist who led the largest archaeological dig that’s still active on top of a lot of individual research. But sadly this is a vague time period compared to the 15th century when War of the Roses took place, so we often filled in blanks with our own interpretations of articles and evidence.
Ravi Sinha: So, in addition to the three classes that we already do have, are you planning on adding any more? How did you work on balancing all three classes?
Gordon Van Dyke: We’re adding more and will make minor fine tuning to the base three, which are always intended to be more similar to create a core system to build around that reduces risk of creating a new class that would destroy all the game’s balance. This is best shown with the new class “Shieldmaiden” that we recently introduced.
Ravi Sinha: So, tell us about the arena mode. This sounds like it will be chaotic and dense. What prompted you to include it?
Gordon Van Dyke: We wanted something for smaller servers that eSports could more easily grab onto. Arena was designed to support a max of 8 vs. 8 and be a fast session over several rounds to complete a match.
Ravi Sinha: As with Roses, War of the Vikings is a multiplayer game. What lessons were learned from developing Roses that went into improving the experience? How far have the visuals progressed since then?
Gordon Van Dyke: You always hope to learn from your previous games, and a key thing we learned was we needed to stick to a more focused experience that was either aggressive or about finesse. For the visual we used a newer version of the Bitsquid engine that allowed us to move the visuals up a notch and improve shaders and add better blood effects.
Ravi Sinha: As a multiplayer game, what is the overarching story for War of the Vikings? What are the benefits of playing as a Viking versus playing as a Saxon?
Gordon Van Dyke: The setting is focused on the conflict between the Saxons and the Vikings. This conflict was heavily about stopping the settlement of the Vikings than the overly dramatized Monastery raids popular media tends to portray. But playing either Faction gives no benefit outside personal preference.
"The depth of the combat is really what separates us and one of the few games that you can see the skill level of your opponent by how the move and not only the Scoreboard."
Ravi Sinha: There have been a fair number of hack and slash games, particularly MOBA titles, which have captured the hearts and minds of gamers. Many more are still to come such as Heroes of the Storm from Blizzard. What are your thoughts on the competition and how does War of the Vikings stand out from your typical hack and slash multiplayer title?
Gordon Van Dyke: The depth of the combat is really what separates us and one of the few games that you can see the skill level of your opponent by how the move and not only the Scoreboard.
Ravi Sinha: War of the Vikings incorporates a fairly large Arena mode where 64 players can hack each other to pieces. How hard was it to develop this mode, especially when large developers like DICE are having trouble managing 64 players in Battlefield 4?
Gordon Van Dyke: We have different game modes for different players sizes, but also struggle from a hardware stance. Our game requires much more power to handle CQC. Currently we recommend a max player count of 32 (16 vs. 16) which is what we run our official servers at.
Ravi Sinha: War of the Vikings is currently only available for PC. Will it be making its way to consoles at any point? Also, what are your thoughts on next gen consoles like the PS4 and Xbox One? Is there any potential interest in developing for them?
Gordon Van Dyke: We’d love to bring it to console, but our first focus is perfecting it on PC before we venture into waters that for us are uncharted.
Ravi Sinha: What are your thoughts on the recently revealed DirectX 12 API? Are there any interesting features that spark interest when it comes to development?
Gordon Van Dyke: Not being an AAA developer that is far off our radar for now. DirectX 11 and Shader 4.0 is only now being showing up as the minimum required. DirectX 12 is something AAA Studio’s have the muscle to push, and being a smaller AA Studio we need to focus on the current tech.
Ravi Sinha: How frequently will War of the Vikings see additional content and updates? Can we look forward to new modes or classes in the coming days?
Gordon Van Dyke: We released our first update a month after release and have another planned around the same timeframe after that, but only time will tell. If the demand is there we have a plan to support it.
"So far people have been pleased, we have a lot of free content that keeps things fair for all and DLC for those that want to expand their experience."
Ravi Sinha: What can you tell us about the update planned for mid-May, especially with regards to the new maps, Shieldmaiden class, etc?
Gordon Van Dyke: This update adds a lot of free content with a larger scale map in a frigid setting and a medium scale map that is in a more livable Oceanside town. The Shieldmaiden class brings a stronger defensive Class that helps against ranged weapons and Two-Handed Axe wielders.
Ravi Sinha: How will the Shieldmaiden affect the dynamics of the game with regards to other classes?
Gordon Van Dyke: They build a new layer on the core combat; the biggest is the very unique special move that allows am offensive choice or defensive. The compliment to the existing classes exceeded our expectations and when players say it should have been there from the start you know you nailed it.
Ravi Sinha: We normally see high profile games that launch with much fanfare but somewhat falter when it comes to post launch content. How has the after-launch reception been to War of the Vikings?
Gordon Van Dyke: So far people have been pleased, we have a lot of free content that keeps things fair for all and DLC for those that want to expand their experience.
Ravi Sinha: What future content can we look forward to that further expands on the game?
Gordon Van Dyke: We plan to add at least one new gamemode and a class, from there we’ll see what our players want and build from there.