The guys from Wolcen - Lords of Mayhem did release their new update 0.3.0 last week with great success and a bunch of new features for their game. We figured it was time to ask them some questions about their early-access alpha build and how the game is progressing. Spoiler alert: It's just that pretty - and fun as well!
It has been a while since we last talked to you guys and apparently, you have been doing great with Wolcen – Lords of Mayhem. You just released an update, 0.3.0 which delivered another bunch of amazing features like new Passive Skill Trees, Housing, 14 more rooms for procedurally generated dungeons and Melee dashing. Can you elaborate a bit about these core features and how they change the game for players right now?
The layout of the new passive skills tree took weeks of planning, and many more went into the implementation of skills. We really wanted a system that could allow deep character and play-style customization without overwhelming the player. By presenting it in layers and rotating the rings, players instinctively understand the layout of the tree and how sections interacts between each other. Each section is based on a fantasy class (thief, warrior, elementalist, berserker, …) and the mechanics of the passive skills are based on these categories.
The rest of our gameplay features follow the same principle: making a fun game at its core, with a deeper layer of customization and player freedom of choice. Housing, for instance won’t just be a way to personalize your experience, but may grant gameplay benefits should you pursue improving your house, like your own crafting tables.
Dashing was implemented as a way to improve fluidity of the combat dynamic. Combined with dodge rolling, it is possible to get a really fast-paced and compelling core combat-experience. And for those who really like the feature, we made many passive skills that can enhance its usefulness and make it a vital part of your build.
You guys work closely with your community from all I have been seeing. How would you describe the feedback process for harnessing input from your crowd? Did you already change things based on respective community demands?
We gather feedback mostly from the steam forums. We also set up a roadmap on Trello , where we put suggestions from the community. We’ve already made a few changes based on player’s feedback. We try to answer questions and address concerns directly when we can. The last bit is very important. Our players really feel we are close to them when we directly communicate with them. They feel their voices are being heard, and that is key for growing a solid community.
Of course, we also have to thank some of our most dedicated community members, like CoTTo, Evarsor or Book of Joshua. They answer questions and offer help when we can’t, and even contribute to the community translations. Some of them already have more than a hundred hours of play time as avid hack and slash enthusiasts, and I often chat with them to gather precise feedback. We do not have a telemetry system yet, so the information they give us is invaluable when it comes to balancing.
Wolcen looks breathtakingly beautiful. From the various options to create & personalize your characters over the colorful particle effects during combat to the lush detail of housing assets – this game looks so good it really stands out. Who’s the team behind the visual design of Wolcen and what are the features & design choices that make it so great?
The team behind the visual design is composed of very talented individuals. First, Alexandre , our concept artist is responsible for the overall look and feel of the game. His designs are the foundation behind every character and environment that you see. Simon , our lighting and environment artist, makes the 2D designs become reality with his deep knowledge of lighting and materials properties. His experience in the cinema industry ensures the final image always looks beautiful and physically correct. Hadrien is our rendering programmer, and is responsible for the addition of special effect like the attack trails that you see on weapons. Then we have Patrick , Benjamin and Jerôme, our 3D artists. They are sculpting every character and prop you see on screen with a high level of detail, adding tangibility to the world of Wolcen.
Using CRYENGINE ensures their work is always displayed beautifully, at the highest degree of fidelity. We use every state of the art techniques available to us like physically based rendering, volumetric lighting, dynamic vegetation and Crytek’s real time global illumination feature. We use Quixel Megascans for our environment materials, which uses a technique called photogrammetry to display photo-realistic textures in all lighting conditions.
I picked up Wolcen in the recent Steam Sale and am eager to find the time to really get my hands on it. Aside from the impressive gaming experience it offers already, I am very interested in the Crafting Mini-Game, the Co-Op mode and of course, the Dungeon Challenge. How far along are these features and how much will they change the current state of the game?
The crafting minigame is something that has to go through a rigorous design phase to match our new expectations of a fun yet deep gameplay experience. We are considering many options, depending on how deep and engaging we want it to be. Co-op will probably be our biggest milestone, as it is a feature that many people are waiting for. Our goal is to make co-op as fun as we possibly can. Connecting and joining with your friends should be easy and quick, so this is something that we want to polish. We want to push coop as much as possible, by providing challenging content, and interactions and combos between spells, like being able to detonate other players projectiles, or reflecting them with your shield. Same goes for the Dungeon Challenge mode. This development of this mode depends on both Housing and multiplayer components. Housing is already implemented in the game, so we now have to implement a solid multiplayer backend. I am confident that once multiplayer is implemented, Wolcen will be a truly awesome game.
I really want to use this slot to nudge you a bit more about the Apocalyptic Form. How far will this shape-shifting go and how much will it matter, gameplay-wise? Will you be able to fully customize your Apocalyptic form, too?
Apocalyptic Forms are composed of several body mutations like horns, wings or a fire body. Each mutation will grant you power, like being able to leap across the screen or charge into the enemies. You’ll able to customize your Apocalyptic Form (AF) by choosing various mutations.These mutations might even dictate how your AF is unleashed. For example, we’re thinking of having a Reaper Form that is only unleashed when your health reaches zero, and gives you the opportunity to be resurrected if you reap enough souls while the form lasts.The idea is that players should enter AF when in trouble or when facing really strong enemies, but this is not something that you’ll be able to do too often. Not by default, at least. ;)
The overall spirit of Wolcen seems to be: Freedom of Choice. With its open world and the many ways of character customization from creation to gear choices and no class restrictions, this game really encourages people to play however they want. What challenges does this put on you, the developers, in terms of balancing and game design and how do you plan to overcome them?
Designing and balancing a game like Wolcen is a delicate process, there are many moving parts that interact with each other. Thankfully we have the help of our community members who give us invaluable feedback. But as this stage of development, we are not worried about balance. On the contrary, we want to make the game as open as possible, and give a lot of options to our players. Let them break the game, so we understand the limits of our systems, and see what needs to be changed for balance purposes.
I think giving players freedom and tools to express themselves through gameplay is far more beneficial in the long run that restricting everything for fear of unbalance.
Thanks for the time, guys, now go forth and keep developing this great addition to the Hack & Slash genre for us all to enjoy.
And if you, dear reader, would like to pick up Wolcen, you can do so on Steam or GOG and not just score a great game for a good price but also support the dedicated team of Indie Devs behind it with your feedback and well spent funds. Don't forget to spread the love and leave a review for the game if you do so.