Friendly Fire: Jerome Jones Interview - Orcs Must Die! 2
[Continued] Page 2
After the success of Orcs Must Die, Robot Entertainment had the perfect opportunity to create a sequel that did more than just add content. They could change gameplay completely by adding a second player.
Jones: Games are a little bit like haunted houses, right? They're a little frightening, and I think its always better to go through a haunted house with a friend. That experience only heightens when you have vocal contact with each other. It only gets better and better. Text is great but you can’t hear the other guy laugh...
Means: Or scream...
Jones: Or scream. The whole experience is heightened from inception with co-op.
Means: Good point.
Jones: I think I said something pretty genius there about the haunted house.
Means: I was going to let you finish, but yes, I hadn’t considered that.
Jones: I didn’t either until I just said it.
Co-op is defined not only by how players interact, but by their awareness of each other. While the relationship between players can be the kryptonite of good cooperative gameplay, successful teams will need to communicate effectively. Recent developers break communication between players down to direct communication (voice and chat systems) and passive communication (information the game provides automatically).
I play a lot of World of Tanks and I think it gets better the more you play with the same people. One of the producers here [Lance Hoke], we play World of Tanks together and I know what he’s going to do now when we play. When I play Orcs Must Die 2 with Tim (Tim Deen, Designer), and we’re playing one of the harder levels in co-op, I’m fighting in this long hallway, and I know that the level is symmetrical, I know whatever I’m doing, he’s doing on the other side of the level. At least I trust that what I’m doing he’s doing or otherwise we’re going to lose. Once you have a good relationship with a player in co-op, you start to learn how the other person plays. In Orcs Must Die 2 you can have 6 doors open at once and if you’re both watching the same door, both players will look at each other and think “who’s watching the other doors?”
Means: What’s your philosophy on co-op?
Jones: My philosophy in co-op … you have to decide if playing with a friend is just easier. You’re not going to ramp up co-op [difficulty] because two people are playing. When we used to design Age of Empires, playing with a friend was just easier. We didn’t make it harder because you were playing with a friend. It was a secure, safe place to go when you couldn’t beat something, or you wanted it to be easier or experience to be easier. We didn’t make it harder for you.
Do we make it harder in co-op so the challenge ramps up? I think Orcs Must Die 2 asks for that. I think you want more of a challenge. You want more orcs. You want bigger enemies. You want more bigger enemies. We’ve done both.
Means: How do you choose?
Jones: Sometimes schedule dictates what you choose, but sometimes straight philosophy decides what you choose. Some people don’t want it to get harder, they just want it to get easier and another player makes it easier. You have to choose that from the beginning, one takes longer than the other from a development standpoint.