Robot Entertainment: Orcs Must Die! 2 Interview

We recently spoke with Robot Entertainment community manager and internet icon Justin Korthof about their latest project, Orcs Must Die! 2.  Of course, he had excellent answers to all of our burning questions.

SK: Does it have to be played co-op or will it scale for a single player?

JK: The campaign can be played either in single-player or Co-Op. The story is about the two central characters, but we tried not to over-complicate things. If you’re playing as either character in single-player, you’ll still hear all relevant story dialogue as a VO, but there won’t be an AI character running around. We’re still working on balance to ensure that the single player and co-op experiences are both satisfying and that neither is too difficult, or too much of a cake-walk.

SK: Will there be a difficulty setting that’s more challenging than “Normal” but not the insanity that was “Hard” mode?

JK: We’re sticking with the Apprentice, War Mage, and Nightmare difficulties this time around, but we’re doing a lot of tuning to make sure that the experiences feel right. Apprentice is actually getting the most changes. Since we’re still actively balancing the game, we don’t quite know where things are going to end up, but ideally the ramp between War Mage and Nightmare would feel like a natural progression in difficulty.

SK: Co-op capabilities: Online and Offline? Drop-in and out for both? Will player 2 get achievements and progress for their game/character?

JK: Because of the way the levels are designed, and the fact that you aren’t generally in one for terribly long, we’re not supporting drop-in/out co-op. As for the rest, we’re focused on building a solid online co-op experience. There are a number of reasons, not the least of which being that we are using several of Steam’s online features in the game. While you’re playing with a friend, you’ll both get any earned achievements as appropriate as well as the appropriate skull rewards for completing a level. You’ll actually be able to co-op with a buddy who’s ahead of you in the campaign, as well. You can jump into a level with a friend that you haven’t gotten to yet. You’ll still have to unlock your way there to access it from your campaign menu, though, and only the player who’s actually progressed that far will earn the unlockable prize at the end of the level.

SK :What’s your favorite new trap?

JK: Personally, I’m in love with the physics traps – new and old alike. We rebuilt some of the ragdoll systems from the first game. Initially, getting a few physics traps to work together was a little bit hit-and-miss. With the new system, traps can be triggered by ragdolled orcs. This means that your dreams of setting up intricate mousetrap systems that fling enemies across a level on a system of spring traps and push traps is far more possible than before. With several of the new open areas featured in our Dwarven Mines maps, it’s a lot of fun to push orcs around the map and ultimately hurl them off a cliff edge to their doom.

SK: What were some inspirations for the new character designs?

Justin – Since most of the monster designs start in our art department, I went to Art Director David Kubalak for this one -

DK: There is no shortage of ideas when it comes to creating more opposition for players in Orcs Must Die! 2. We start by getting some directions from design on the behaviors we need from gameplay: The enemy needs the ability to regenerate, or needs to fly, or we need a fast moving enemy that can throw bombs from long range… and then we start exploring some ideas. We want to make sure the enemies feel like they would fit in with the orcs and Mob characters from Orcs Must Die!, so we trend towards the ideas of more traditional races like trolls, gnolls, goblins, and orcs but create it within the style of the Orcs Must Die universe.  We have a lot of fun exploring the personalities and details of all of these different characters, It’s always a little more fun to explore the ‘supporting characters’ or ‘bad guys’, because you can really push their personalities and character to the limits. There are so many of them that they can have strong features or personalities in one direction, for instance, a troll can be super tall and imposing, to imply that he’s going to take a lot of damage to bring down.


JK: Well, no is a strong word. You’ll recall that in the first game we were able to build a system after release on PC that allowed industrious players to create their own XML files to customize the onslaught waves in existing maps. We’d love to do something like that again for OMD2, but we are still a ways out from deciding on that yet. We have changed how some of the systems work, so the old solution isn’t a simple “it just works” scenario. But we’d love to do it if we can. We also really recognize that several players want a full-on map editor. The biggest concern around a map editor and the various accompanying tools is that it would mean taking people from our small game development teams and putting them to work developing consumer-friendly tools rather than games. Since our core business is making games, we have to consider extras like map tools very carefully.

Thanks to Justin Korthof, David Kubalak, and everyone at Robot Entertainment for taking time to talk to us.

About Ben Daniels

Ben Daniels is Community Manager for Splitkick and co-host of the Rocket Jump podcast. He frequently disseminates misinformation.
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