Friendly Fire: Jerome Jones Interview - Orcs Must Die! 2
[Continued] Page 3
Means: Tower defense games have a history of increasing difficulty.
Jones: I think, for Tower Defense games, players expect the knob to go to eleven, but its not the case for every game type.
Means: As a player, what irritates you in a bad co-op experience
Jones: As a developer that’s easy, but its hard as a player. As a player it's probably going to relate to the challenge and what I expect from co-op difficulty-wise. As long as I’m getting what I expect in challenge; if I expect to just be easier in co-op, I want it to feel easier. If I expect it to be more challenging, and I still have the experience and security of playing with another player, as long as I’ve got that feeling, that’s great.
From a developer’s standpoint I think completely differently. I worry a lot more about the feedback the game gives the players when they’re connecting or when they’re doing different things at different times. Its easier if you’re talking in a chat system and you say “Dude, what are you doing? I’m ready to go.” and he’s going “Oh, I’m in the spellbook.” so you’re like “Oh, ok, I’m going to the kitchen to get a soda. Take your time.” When you’re not talking and you have to type all those things out, from a developer’s standpoint you want to make those things as seamless as possible. Its a hard problem to solve.
The other thing is the depth of co-op. As we play [Orcs Must Die 2] more, we find things we didn't know or didn’t expect ... or design, frankly. Just happy accidents, cooperative things that happen, I think Orcs Must Die 2 is more cooperative than most games with [its] combo system and things like that. All that depth that you might not see on the surface. We limit the amount of traps each player can have in co-op, so they have to go:
“Okay, I’m going to take the flip-trap”
“Are you sure you want to take the flip-trap?”
“Yeah, I do want to take my flip-trap. I have different upgrades and I think the upgrades will compliment each other”
“Aww, maybe I shouldn’t take the flip-trap”
Those are the things I worry about as a developer, as a player I just worry about if it's freakin’ cool.
Means: What have you implemented with Orcs Must Die 2 to increase communication between players?
Jones: We’re putting things in that let you know what the other player is doing, “Player 2 is in the spellbook...” he doesn't tell you that the game tells you that.
At first I was against that. “What game does that? The game never tells you that the other player is making a sandwich, or the other player is at this menu or that menu.” I’m used to the old fashioned way of:
“Dude what are you doing?”
“Oh I’m respeccing.” (the reassignment of skills or talents, popular in online roleplaying games)
“You should’ve told me that, it takes like ten minutes ... I’m gonna to go make a pizza.”
I think it will become a feature all developers are going to have to deal with. We were watching the Microsoft feed of E3, and they were talking about it like co-op just became a feature they had to start adding to games because one person did it and then the next guy. Look we didn’t do it in Orcs Must Die and we ... I don’t know if “suffered” is the right word, but we obviously think it will do better in co-op than non-co-op.
Means: There have been a number of lukewarm attempts to add co-op to the tower defense genre. What do you think it is about the genre that lends itself to co-op?
Jones: I think the genre has to change to more like what we’re doing. I think they’re great for that, because once you’re down in the space, you can control the distances that were apart. You rely more and more on the other player. We can make it where we visually see how “I would have died if you hadn’t been with me.” Sitting here shooting 100 orcs with a crossbow and thinking “God, if its like this over here ... I hope Tim is over there fighting it out on the other part of the level or this is going to all over.” I think it’s great for that, maybe better than any other kind of game.
I had a chance to play a round of Orcs Must Die 2 while at Robot Entertainment, and as a fan of the original, I can give it the best compliment I know: It was exactly like what I thought it should be. Like the original, but with more of everything we loved plus another player. Of course, no one can put it better than the man himself ...
“It's more fun than I thought it would be.”