Kiz Studios, the developer behind the MOBA SmashMuck Champions, takes community feedback to another level. Their newest champion is Platimus the Platicorn – a part-platypus, part-unicorn champion that charges into battle with a swarm of his vicious Puggle offspring. What makes Platimus special is that he was created and designed by the SmashMuck Champions community during a panel at PAX East.
We were able to ask Ben Rodgers (Lead Designer) and Allen White (Art Director) of Kiz Studios about Platimus the Platicorn, what makes him tick, his strengths and weaknesses, and the challenge that comes with creating a community-driven champion.
GameZone: Platimus the Platicorn is a Platypus/Unicorn champion with eggs and children – basically, there's a lot going on. Can you simplify the main idea behind Platimus?
Kiz Studios: Beyond all the glitz, Platimus is a Melee Support champion that focuses on creating egg structures to buff himself and his teammates.
GZ: The skills that have been mentioned in your developer roundtable are: plant an egg, healing nest, and platipult. With these skills, how do you see them synergizing, and what role do you see Platimus being played as?
Kiz Studios: While we're still testing, all things are subject to change, so all of this might be out of date as of today. Here are some neat things we've discovered so far:
The eggs are useful as energy restoring stations with some area denial. Placing several of these further back in the battle will help your team's energy. Throwing eggs into a fight, however, will cause allies nearby to gain a bonus to Attack Speed and reflect damage back to enemies. This gives the player a lot of choice about whether they want a big payoff later or some solid buffs early.
Once an egg has matured, Platimus can crack it with his Basic Attack and gain a Puggle and carry buffs around with him. These buffs currently increase his resistances and Attack Damage, allowing him to be a more capable Melee combatant. These bonuses synergize within proximity of an egg, allowing him to reflect more damage and hit harder and faster.
GZ: Balancing is always important in multiplayer arena combat games. What are you planning as the strengths and weaknesses of Platimus?
Kiz Studios: When we create champions, we have a baseline point system to get the numbers into a workable range for the champion's survivability, mobility, and damage output. That's the easy part, but it gets the champion playable quickly within the strengths and weakness ranges we are targeting. Skills and traits also have upper and lower bounds, looking at costs, intensity/speed of damage/healing.
Platimus is fairly weak for a melee combatant, but improves greatly when puggles are active. With proper setup time, he can apply both powerful buffs to allies and devastating hexes to enemies. His structures are very strong, allowing them to survive longer than other summoned entities.
Platimus is our first champion with two active healing skills. This means that he may be the most effective healer for burst damage we've seen so far.
Currently, the biggest weakness we've found is setup time. In SmashMuck, time is a huge factor given the pace of our games, and he's sort of slow to get all of his skills into place. This is something we're working to balance out so it's not crippling or frustrating.
GZ: The concept art (which for some strange reason reminds me of Howard the Duck) is unique, strange, and exciting all rolled into one. That said, what are some extra ideas for skins that you guys have been tossing around?
Kiz Studios: There are a few ideas that have been tossed around. Several players requested a Russian Variant named Vladimus; an ushanka with tiny bearcubs babies. One of our animators doodled one that looks like a Giger monster, face-huggers and all. I've also seen another sketch of a narwhal admiral.
Like my Photoshop skills? I'm available for hire, Kiz Studios.
GZ: What are the challenges that go into bringing a community-created character to life? And do you have more fun creating champions from your ideas, or ones from the community?
Kiz Studios: The biggest challenge we face when taking community suggestions is creating a cohesive and fun concept out of the myriad of ideas thrown our way. I personally like to see all the ideas and figure out how it could work in the context of our overall design goals.
GZ: SmashMuck Champions has thus far done a great job of involving the community in the creation of champions. Moving forward, how often are you going to seek ideas from the community?
Kiz Studios: We're always using fan feedback. Just this week, we've completely changed a champion's Trait (Passive Ability) from suggestions on the forum, creating a more engaging experience for our champion Mainframe. We've also used player-created skills, skins, and very specific menu changes based on feedback. We love tackling the champion designs the community comes up with at our PAX panels and that's something we will be continuing at PAX Prime this year.
GZ: Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions, and we look forward to trying out Platimus the Platicorn when he releases.