The Transformers: Earth Wars team from Space Ape Games graciously treated us to an interview at HASCON on the occasion of their reveal of the upcoming Dinobot combiner Volcanicus. We came back with insights into the development process and hints at still more future characters to appear in the game.
The Big Guns
Made up of the existing Grimlock, Snarl, Sludge, Slug, and Swoop characters, Volcanicus hits Transformers: Earth Wars on Sept. 21, closely tracking behind the reveal of Volcanicus’ toy at HASCON on Sept. 8. He will rival Predaking, tracking neatly against the Titan-class Power of the Primes Predaking slated to be revealed in October.
Adam Kramarzewski, game designer, explained that while the team had known “for some time” about the upcoming toy reveals, they didn’t start there: they had planned to pitch a Dinobot combiner to Hasbro and weren’t sure if it would be approved. “And they were like, wait a minute, we actually have a Dinobot combiner, this is it!”
Volcanicus was developed alongside Predaking to work as a rival pair – “bestial” combiners with big swords, all about the “fire and fury”, they needed to move and fight similarly to play off of one another and look good together in a battle.
In addition to Volcanicus and Predaking, other new combiners will be in the pipeline soon. Victorion is “definitely [coming] at some point, we need to digest that,” for instance, and Menasor is “only a matter of time.”
Combiners are a special challenge for the team and very labor intensive, even in cases like Predaking – and unlike the Dinobots – where the team knew in advance that the individual characters would combine. We asked about the chances of a Combiner Wars or Scramble City inspired combination scheme allowing players to build their own combiners, but were told there aren’t any plans for that. “In theory, we could do it, if we could make the model and make the whole transformation,” Kramarzewski said, but “combiners are more than just the bots. There is a gameplay side, and there is the art side, and the animation, we don’t take any shortcuts.”
Combiners open potential possibilities, too, however, particularly through the Combiner Labs feature. “We are thinking about what we can do with the technology,” Kramarzewski said, suggesting that multiplayer duels for combiners might be a possible avenue in the future. Another example was Power of the Primes Blackwing and Dreadwind, an unconventional combiner with a combined alternate mode rather than a combined robot form. The precedent of existing characters like Laserbeak and of Reflector’s AI-driven posse in the game also means that unconventional transformations that involve splitting into separate characters or vehicles are definitely possible for other additions in the future.
Space Ape is looking for ways to incorporate Titans into the game, just as the gameplay side of combiners takes special consideration in that they need to feel “epic”, but also be limited in such a way that doesn’t allow them to break the balance of the game. For example, a combiner is limited to a total of fifteen minutes of gameplay in a day, that’s something for players to look forward to that doesn’t undercut the rest of the experience.
New Eras, New Challengers
Another upcoming pair of rivals is the Beast Warriors Cheetor and Blackarachnia. We got a peek at Cheetor’s and Blackarachnia’s “Beast of Fury” mode in a demo, “where once you’re in that mode, you’ll attack things and mark them. If that target goes down – and that could be anything, an enemy bot, an enemy building,” Cheetor and Blackarachnia receive a boost to movement and attack speed, “and that buff lasts for ninety seconds and stacks up to five times,” building to a “tornado” of high-speed action.
We asked about other upcoming characters and especially whether the Earth Wars purview might expand to other times and universes. The team noted that the game already includes Laser Prime and Armada Megatron through time travel and universe-hopping, but added that “obviously we want to tap into the best bots that we can,” and will consider characters from across the franchise in the future – with the sole exception of the separately licensed Movie universe. While Hasbro’s priorities for characters to include from Power of the Primes, as well as the fan vote characters, will have to come first, the team will likely be looking more broadly at other Transformers universes for future additions.
The team has also been thinking about Triplechangers, two of whom are already in the works. We pressed the issue and suggested Blitzwing and Springer as likely suspects, to some laughter and acknowledgement that they are certainly “possibilities” – but no official confirmation on those two just yet. Another character being considered for the future was Astrotrain; whoever these mystery first Triplechangers will be, there will be others to follow.
Under the Hood
The team also shared some work they’ve been doing regarding the overall gameplay of Transformers: Earth Wars, beyond the character inclusions and reveals.
One of the team’s development goals at the moment is enhancing player choice through equipment and customization in the form of Power Cores. Players should have more choices and opportunities to modify their bots and strategies in the near future. After that initiative, the developers hope to shift their attention to development of game modes.
We asked about alliances and whether sharing resources would be a possibility in the future, especially concerning frustrating duplicate crystals that don’t have any value to players. “Sharing can […] have really unexpected effects on the economy, no matter how we do it,” we were told. “So the only sharing we’re thinking of is like lending bots to one each other.” For example, “I’m going to lend you my Megatron so you can take him out into battle.” Resource sharing upsets too much of the progression, since an item may not have the same value to a beginning player that it does to an advanced one and vice versa.
But duplicates of unique items are a separate problem the team had already been looking to address, “so, actually, when the Power Cores [feature] come out, you won’t actually mind getting duplicates.” As players will be able to use their Power Cores to power up, upgrade, and customize their bots and defenses.
We still have a few days to wait and see all of this new content and other changes hit on Sept. 21, but for now, enjoy an epic combiner wallpaper courtesy of Space Ape Games.
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TRANSFORMERS: EARTHWARS is a real-time combat strategy game that surpassed 10 million downloads within its first year. The game pairs authentic Transformers storytelling with fast-paced gameplay, beautiful 3D animation and hundreds of iconic characters with diverse strengths and abilities. Download TRANSFORMERS: EARTHWARS for free on the App Store for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, and on Google Play for Android devices. For more information, visit www.TransformersEarthWars.com.
Steve has been a member of the Allspark community since 2003. Spending part of his childhood abroad, he grew up watching a crazy combination of old and new cartoons like Beast Wars/Machines, Saint Seiya, various Gundam anime, Gargoyles, Dragon Ball Z, ThunderCats, Japan's Generation 1, Doug, and Batman Beyond to name a few.