Firefly Studios ontwikkelt computergames en werd in 1999 opgericht door Simon Bradbury, Eric Ouellette en David Lester. Het succes van Firefly is mede tot stand gekomen door de strategie spellen van de Stronghold serie.
- Stronghold (2001)
- Stronghold: Crusader (2002)
- Space Colony (2003)
- Stronghold 2 (2005)
- CivCity: Rome (2006)
- Stronghold Legends (2006)
- Stronghold: Crusader Extreme (2008)
- Stronghold Kingdoms (2011)
- Stronghold 3 (2011)
- Dungeon Hero (2011)
- Stronghold Crusader 2 (2014)
Firefly Studios werkt momenteel aan het langverwachte Stronghold Crusader 2. Bijzonder is dat Firefly Studios crowd funding heeft ingezet voor de ontwikkeling van deze nieuwe strategie game. Nick Tannahill, marketing manager van Firefly, vertelt in gesprek met 365Gaming meer over de opvallende aanpak en over de game zelf.
Stronghold Crusader 2 will be released in March 2014. Exciting news! In what way does the game differ from previous Stronghold games?
It is! Although that’s only our estimate. We will be releasing the game ‘When it’s done’ which means once it is fun to play, polished and as bug-free as possible.
In terms of how the game will differ from previous titles we aren’t planning on changing the core Crusader gameplay, which is something we want to keep intact. Players still enjoy that game today, both in its original form and the HD re-release that came out last year. The gameplay has held up really well over the years so things like the grid-based castle construction, fast pace and game balance will remain the same.
What will differ is the new content that will be included in the game at launch. Of course we will bring back some old characters and units but there will be plenty of new ones in there too, so it won’t be a pure nostalgia trip for players. There is also the fact that we will be adding a third single-player campaign in the form of the recently announced Arabic campaign. This will follow on from the short tutorial campaign and Crusader campaign and allow players to take revenge on Richard the Lionheart as the Arabic freedom fighters. This is a first for the series and should be pleasing for fans of the first game who prefer taking the Arabic units into battle.
You’ve wanted to make Stronghold Crusader 2 for more than 10 years. Could you tell our readers a bit more about the game’s new features and units?
Many of the game’s new features were actually part of the initial plan for Stronghold Crusader back in 2002. Special abilities are being introduced for more than half of the game’s troops. While only a handful of troops had these skills in the original Crusader, you could see scope for many more and that’s what we have tried to do in Crusader 2. The Crusader Sergeant can boost the armour of nearby troops, the Slave Driver “motivates” Slave units close to him and the mounted Sassanid Knight can activate a Charge to spearhead an attack or catch up to fast units like the Horse Archer. Many of the game’s units have these abilities and they will be able to counter other troop types, so players will have to figure out who to send into battle for each fight.
What new features are you most excited about?
The AI characters are definitely the most exciting part of the game for us. The brutal Caliph, Richard the Lionheart, the Shah and the other five characters that the game will launch with next year will all be unique in how they look and how they fight. Richard will be quite direct and ‘noble’, he probably won’t try any dirty tricks, while the Caliph will lure you in before setting your forces alight with fiery pitch traps.
The point is that they will all play similarly to real human opponents, with varying levels of aggressiveness and preferences for certain units over others. The Slave King for instance might rush in early with hordes or torch-wielding Slaves, while the Shah will ‘turtle’ building up his fortress and economy and most likely wait for you to make the first move. The idea behind all this for each character, who will all be playable, to have ether own strengths, weaknesses and unique castle designs when playing against them as AI opponents.
Are there any mentionable adjustments made to the gameplay?
One thing we are removing is the magical powers from Stronghold Crusader Extreme. The Stronghold series has an identity for being fairly historically accurate and having arrow showers and other things appearing out of the sky wasn’t really in the spirit of the games. So we have removed these things and replaced them with gameplay elements that make sense for the setting. None of the unit abilities are magical and if you hurl a wave of arrows at your opponents it will come from a piece of siege equipment, not out of thin air.
We are excited to see a Co-Op mode will be available in the game. How does that work?
So this is introducing co-op to Stronghold for the first time, which should make for some interesting siege tactics! Our co-op mode is unique in that it allows two players to join forces and effectively work as one. They will share troops, gold, resources and the same castle, what this means is that if I order troops out to attack and you see the enemy trying to flank us you can cancel the order and save them. Similarly if I place a stone building or stretch of wall it will eat into our shared supply of stone, nothing is separated. We are implementing Steam features like voice chat and support for friend lists and game invites to make playing co-op as easy and natural as possible. It’s very much something that we will put out there and see what the players can do with it, but already in test matches some interesting co-op tactics are starting to emerge.
Firefly chose to raise funds through Gambitious for the development of Stronghold Crusader 2. Which motives made Firefly decide to use crowd funding and what opportunities does the crowd funding bring towards the development of the game?
We decided to appeal directly to the community through Gambitious to connect with them in a way that simply wasn’t possible 5 or 10 years ago. Firefly is lucky enough to be self-publishing our own games now, but only because we have opportunities like crowd funding to connect directly with the people that play our games. It really opens the dialogue between players and the developers and makes everyone, not just the most active fans on Twitter or in the forums, that we are working with the community to make this game. We chose Gambitious specifically because we thought it was a great platform and one squarely focussed on Europe, where so many Stronghold players are from.
To what extend does the crowd funding reach its goals at the moment and how far along is the development of the game?
Crusader 2 is about 7 months from release at the moment, but it will only be released “When it’s ready”. We are currently pre-alpha and hoping to go into beta at the start of next year, primarily to allow us a 3-6 month play testing process where we can balance the game and squash as many bugs as possible. Development is going great however and after making Stronghold games for more than 10 years we can already see that we are in an even better position than usual at this point in the dev cycle.
What rewards are offered for fans that participate in the crowd funding?
There’s a whole host of rewards like HD versions of our old titles, beta access and even a limited edition signed copy of the game. We really wanted to put in rewards that Stronghold fans would see the value of, like a bespoke painting. It’s obviously more work for us but if we were to successfully fund we would be thrilled to do that for the fans.
Can fans give feedback on the course Firefly plotted? In other words, do they have a say in the direction the game is headed?
Absolutely! The game was announced last year and we have already implemented a whole bunch of community suggestions, something we have actually been doing for Stronghold Kingdoms for months now. We ran community polls on what sword the Crusader Swordsman should wield and even implemented the Crusader 1 grid-based castle building system after we saw it suggested in the forums. This was quite a bit more work for us but we are trying to make the ultimate Stronghold game here, the one to replace Crusader 1 and the original Stronghold as the castle game of choice. To that end we need to work with the community, they know the games best and can provide excellent input at most stages of development. This is one of the reasons we are so keen to run a beta with them early next year.
365Gaming bedankt Firefly Studios en in het bijzonder Nick Tannahill voor dit interview. Houd 365Gaming in de gaten voor meer nieuws omtrent de vorderingen en de release van Stronghold Crusader 2.