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We’ve talked with Stunlock Studios about the production of their awesome upcoming game Battlerite, which aims to become the next great indie MOBA. Created with the help of Unity 5.
Hi! I’m, Johan Ilves, Marketing Director and Composer at Stunlock Studios. We are located in Skövde, a small city in Sweden. The studio was founded back in 2010 by students from the University Of Skövde and our first game was Bloodline Champions, published by Funcom. Our second game was the zombie massacre Dead Island: Epidemic, published by Deep Silver. We started as 15 developers and now we are 25.
Bloodline Champions was one of the first MOBAs and I would dare to say it was ahead of its time. Our goal is the same today, as it was six years ago. We want to create the best fast-paced top-down battle arena in the world and we believe we are doing that with Battlerite. We are in cooperation with Coffee Stain, the studio behind the wildly successful Goat Simulator . Both studios are co-investors, while Stunlock Studios are in full control of development of Battlerite.
Imagine a mix between Super Smash Bros and World Of Warcraft Arena. Intense round-based fighting in gladiatorial settings. Battlerite is a game for anyone who are into competitive gaming and I believe it could become the action-game alternative to Hearthstone. A game you can pick up anytime, quick 5-10 minutes matches, rewarding and instant fun. Easy to get into, still with a high skill ceiling.
Battlerite is set in the same world as Bloodline Champions, hundreds of years later and the tribes have now become civilizations. The gameplay basics of the two games are similar, both are based on skill-shots, timing and reaction. With that said, it’s good to know that Battlerite is essentially a new game. The game mechanics, art and sound are all built from scratch. All characters are played in a different way and we put a lot of work to make each and everyone of them feel unique.
It’s a top-down action game where you don’t need to schedule a game session. We stripped it down to get as much fighting between characters as possible. We call it “TAB”, Team Arena Brawler.
We do not place it in the MOBA genre for a good reason: it’s not played like a MOBA. There are no lanes, no creeps or towers. This game is more like a fighting-game played with mouse and keyboard. Responsive W+A+S+D movement and mouse-aim controls, where every ability requires skills. You don’t need to have any specific gaming background to enjoy this game.
Our inspiration comes from both classic console games, arcades and as mentioned PC arena games like WoW arena. We come up with this play-style back in 2009, working on Bloodline Champions and now improving it in all aspects.
The first and foremost thing has been to support and visually explain the gameplay. It’s an intense game with lots of action, so it’s vital for both players and spectators to see what’s going on. Balancing the visual clarity has also been a high priority. The environment design follows the same reasoning. It’s a game where players fight each other for fame and glory while spectators watching and cheering – Colosseum-style arenas with roaring crowds!
When it comes to the Champions, we try to emphasize the details that make each character stand apart from the rest. You should know what kind of character you will be playing, just by looking at it.
We started working with Unity in 2011, with what I believe was the 3.5 beta. We were impressed by the extensibility of the editor and rendering pipeline which accelerated development, while at the same time enabling our own touch in terms of art style. Familiarity with the scripting language was also a big plus. Unity has come far since the 3.5 Beta. I’m glad to say we’ve stuck with it and we’re currently using the 5.x series. With our five years of experience using the engine, we’re delivering a beautiful and very smooth experience on a wide range of hardware.
Tips and Tricks
Game developing is complex in all aspects and mistakes will happen, even if you try hard to avoid them. As a small studio you will have a lot of obstacles and it’s crucial that you keep the belief in what you are doing. There will always be no-sayers and doubters, but you can’t let them come in the way of your vision. We are very grateful to get the chance to work and grow as a studio with big publishers such as Funcom and Deep Silver. The economic back-up and learning process of working with big publishers has been an important factor for us to evolve as a studio. We learned a lot from our previous projects and feel we are ready to take the next big step. Battlerite will be the first game we both are developing and publishing, were we as a studio are in full control.