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Interview

Bloodline Champions Interview with Stunlock Studios CEO Tau Petersson

IncGamers caught up with Stunlock Studios’ CEO Tau Petersson to find out more about their upcoming PvP arena title Bloodline Champions which is currently in Beta testing.
How did Funcom get involved with Stunlock Studios prior to the publishing agreement on Bloodline Champions?
Our lead designer and I went to Game Connection in San Fransisco earlier this year. The company wasn’t officially created yet and we got the opportunity to go by winning Game Connections “level up!” program, which gave us a free booth and access to the meeting system for Game Connection. At Game Connection our last meeting was with Funcom, we almost missed it but managed to get a meeting in the last minute, and I’m very happy we did. He really liked what he saw and after that the discussions started. It all moved pretty fast from there and by the end of May everything was as good as settled.
What was it about the game that made you realise this was one title you wanted to bring into the Funcom fold.
Lawrence Poe, Design Director at Funcom and the first from the company to spot the game commented  I was initially drawn in by the graphics and the game concept, but as soon as I played it I knew it was the right game to bring into Funcom. It’s the perfect example of easy to get into, challenging to master. The combat is superb and the assortment of bloodlines keeps the game always feeling fresh.
As a new developer, it could be perceived as being a little risky bringing a PvP only free to play online game to market as a first title. Has the game been costly to develop and what made you decide this game was going to be a solid title to release as a first game?
It all started as a student project where the concept of the game was first developed. After that people who tried it seemed to like it so much so we thought we’d see if we could take it one step further. We probably didn’t expect the step to be as big as it has gotten when we first had the idea. We’ve worked on the game since 2008 and during most of that time we’ve financed the project with student loans and been studying at the same time as developing the game. So I guess technically the game has not been that expensive to develop, but then again we’ve spent a crazy amount of overtime work hours and living on student loans. We can say that we have not had that much free time the last couple of years, which I guess has resulted in the team being like a big family. It’s been hard work but the good thing about working in the game industry is that we get do work with things we love.
Now that the Beta is underway, what kind of feedback are you receiving and how is it influencing any changes before launch. Have you got any examples?
We read a lot of feedback on our forums and listen to our players. Their feedback helps a lot when it comes to balancing the game. We’re only 15 people at the office and we have a lot of work to do, so to balance the game we’ve have a lot of help from the beta testers. Balance is vital to the game so we’re putting a lot of time into getting it right. We’ve also received feedback on the interface that has resulted in changes, one example are the small dots that tells how many players that is still alive in the teams came as a suggestion from one of our first and very dedicated beta testers.
Bloodline Champions is different from most PvP titles as it’s quick to play and has a jump in jump out feel to the game. What made you decide this was the way to go instead of longer drawn out games?
While developing the concept for Bloodline Champions we realized that the gameplay we have now was what suited best. There’s not a lot of other games doing it this way and we think that might be a good thing, we offer something different that some people might have been looking for. We also wanted to make sure the game would be suitable for tournaments, and by restricting the match times we’ve made it pretty easy to predict match length and how much time that will be needed to plan a tournament.
Bloodline is obviously going to be ideal for the eSports crowd, how are the development approaching this. Especially when it comes to exploits.
The game is played server-side and the servers keep track of a lot of factors to prevent cheating and exploits. Creating a level playing field is one of our core concerns and something we will continue work on with Bloodline Champions.
Will you be allowing friends to play as a team together so they can join games together and stay connecting as team while playing?
If you play ladder games you can create a premade teams with a set of friends, you’ll get a ranking as a team and will be matched against other premade teams of a similar skill level. You can of course also create games with people on your handy friends list.
Are Stunlock or Funcom planning on prize funds and league seasons or are you expecting the community to embrace the game and create their own leagues.
We will host events and tournaments but they will ilkely not be pure cash prizes. On top of that we are talking to other organizers for leagues and tournaments to see what interest there is to host for Bloodline champions. We’re also planning to work with sponsors to host tournaments for them in our game.
How difficult has it been to balance the different Bloodlines and also balance new Bloodlines that are currently in the works for the future.
It’s tricky business; it takes a lot of time and playing to balance bloodlines. Being only 15 people at the office means we rely heavily on our beta testers and core players to give us feedback. The beta testers are great at helping out on that. When it comes to new bloodlines we’ll of course need to balance them as much as possible before release, but when we feel like we’ve gotten as far as we can with that, we’ll use some of the best players that we have and get their help with the balancing-act. The more bloodlines we make, the harder it gets to balance them and the more work we’ll put into it to make sure it gets right. It’s crucial for our game that it is balanced properly.
It’s going to be really important to keep the game fresh for players, so how far ahead have you got a road-map planned and how often do you think new content, whether it be new maps or Bloodlines, will be added to the game.
We have a rough plan about upcoming releases for the game, as well as a more detailed plan for the near future. We always listen to the community and see what they want and depending on what we can do, we’ll work from that.
Monetising a free to play title can be tough so what are you going to be doing to make sure the game stays alive and well as far as micro-transactions are concerned.
We’ll make sure to keep adding new interesting content and be sure to listen to what people would like to see in the shop.
What has been the major influences of the development team to bring this game together?
Making bloodline Champions the game it is today is very connected to the type of game most of us like to play. It’s PvP and its action-filled. We all had a vision of wanting to make our own game, even though everyone have had their own vision of what they wanted out of it. But all these visions just came together and everyone is happy about their work and the complete product it became. It’s been a journey for all of us and we’re very happy we made it together and that the result is something we’re all very proud of that we’ve worked on.

Can you tell us anything new cool or exclusive that we don’t already know? Go on, you know it makes sense!
You’re right, it makes perfect sense. You might not know that the word “Checkmate” in chess comes from the Persian phrase “Shah Mat”, which means “the king is dead”. For Bloodline Chamipons I can tell you that there will be something added at some time that wasn’t there before. DUN DUN DUUUUNNNNN!
Thanks to Tau for her time and you can grab a Beta key now and get started playing from us here at IncGamers.

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