We at Rectify Gaming have gotten the chance to do a written interview with the one and only Stewart Chisam who is the president of HiRez Studios. Here is the Rectify Gaming interview with Stewart Chisam:
Tyboy- if you can, give us a small description of HiRez Studios.
Hi-Rez Studios is an independent game developer based out of Atlanta, Georgia (USA). We were founded in 2005 by our CEO Erez Goren, a successful Atlanta entrepreneur with a huge passion for games.. We are the creators of SMITE, Tribes: Ascend and Global Agenda and we really love making high-quality free-to-play multiplayer action games. Paladins is our next title in that vein.
Tyboy- Can you tell the people out there what is paladins all about?
Paladins is a free-to-play team-based first-person shooter in what we call a “Science Fiction Fantasy” world. In addition to the core shooter experience, Paladins also offers deep strategy and in-match character progression through decks of collectible cards. These cards amplify and augment a character’s core set of abilities in many interesting ways.
Tyboy- What makes Paladins unique?
In Paladins, players collect and build decks of cards which they get to draw from whenever they level up during a match.
Cards affect the core shooter gameplay in many interesting ways, such as adding freezing effects to your ammunition, or granting a regeneration buff when you’re near a gameplay objective. We believe this card system will create a lot of interesting deck-building strategies, especially at the team level. It will also allow players to adapt their champion to a variety of playstyles. For example, you can play Cassie the archer as a long range sniper, a mid-range control specialist, or a short range capper, all depending on your card combinations.
Overall, we hope this system will add a lot of depth to the “meta” of core shooter experience, since every match will play out with different card combinations.
Outside of the deck-building mechanic, the core shooter gameplay of Paladins is unique in that it typically plays out in open battlefields (versus narrow corridors), and there is a slower time to kill than many comparable shooters. This leads to some interesting team-based strategies and synergies between different characters.
- How did you come up with the idea for Paladins as a first person shooter augmented by a collectible card game? It’s a new take and definitely sounds intriguing.
Our very first game was a Shooter MMO called Global Agenda, which had a really fun and unique team-based PvP experience.
We always loved the core team-based PvP gameplay in Global Agenda, and we honestly started the project that became Paladins in an attempt to create the “spiritual successor” of that gameplay — but fixing some of the issues we saw in Global Agenda that had limited its success.
The deck building mechanic came only after we had established the core gameplay mechanics of Paladins — and evolved from our attempts to have some sort of in-match progression system that was a little more fresh and interesting.
We experimented with a lot of ways to handle that and it was Erez, our CEO and Lead Designer, who is also a big Hearthstone player, that had the aha moment about incorporating a deck building mechanic.
- The initial description reads we will enter the battle with a mount to carry us from one fight to the next. Being a first person game, how does this work as you generally can’t see a mount from that point of view?
While mounted, you switch to a 3rd person perspective. It’s really fun and works great inside of the gameplay, and allows us to have much larger and open maps.
- Most fps matches simply end and go back to matchmaking screen after the round. How will Paladins battles be situated if mounts take us to the next portion of the battle?
Just to clear up any confusion — Paladins is an instance-based shooter, and after a match is over you do go back to a matchmaking screen, just as you are familiar. Typical matches last between 15 and 25 minutes.
The mounts are used inside of a single match to get you across the map quickly so you can re-engage in a fight swiftly after a respawn, or scurry to help out a teammate in need.
- There are currently 7 characters listed which have a good mix between fighting types. Fernando and Grohk are up close melee with Pip having a little bit of Rocket Raccoon in him. Personally, I’ll probably play as Cassie as I’m generally more of a wizard/fight from afar ranged fighter so the bow and arrow sealed the deal for me. How many fighters do you plan on having in the game on launch and as you progress on? Also, on a personal note, please tell me I’m going to be able to use Zigs with Cassie as a weapon of some sort
The initial Closed Alpha will start with 7 character classes, and we already have another 4 classes in development. We will likely add new classes to the game on a somewhat frequent basis, but we haven’t settled on the exact amount yet.
- When do you plan to have the beta go live for Paladins and will it be on PC only or consoles as well?
With all our games, we believe in running pretty lengthy and open betas that are very open and transparent in their development process. We did that with SMITE, and we find that iterating rapidly from community feedback really helps us fine tune and improve a game.
Right now, we plan to start a Closed Alpha on PC only early this Fall. We’re not ready to announce our specific plans regarding consoles yet, but Alpha players will quickly notice that the game already works quite well with a console controller.
- Will the release date of early 2016 be simultaneous across all consoles or separate?
We’re not ready to announce our exact plans in that regard yet. We like to iterate and learn a lot once we start public testing of a game — so we generally like to keep our options open in regards to exactly how the game will evolve and when we will officially launch. As I mentioned earlier, though, the game has been designed from Day 1 to work well with a console controller and I think the gameplay will work really great with a console audience.
- How many cards will we be able to carry in total as well as into a match and are they limited to one use per match? Can you give us some examples of some of the cards we may see in game?
We’re still fine tuning the mechanic. In the current version, you build a deck of 12 cards. Each time you level up, three of the cards are presented to you randomly. You pick one of them. A card picked at Level 2 will be stronger than a card picked at Level 1, and so on — so there’s a good deal of strategy around when to pick what cards and how to build your decks.
The variety of the cards is quite stunning and grows every day as our designers keep going nuts. They vary from the more expected — such as boosting certain damage types or stats, to the more intriguing, such as changing the way a certain weapon actually works.
- What will be the match size, how many players vs players will it entail?
In our current version, matches are 5v5.
- Will upgrade progression be character or item specific? For example, will Cassie’s bow be upgraded only if she gets enough hits with it similar to a Call of Duty type upgrade or will you be able to choose upgrade you want when you earn enough experience?
A lot of the “upgrades” from a stat perspective will actually occur through the card system, and you will be able to collect new cards as you progress in the game.
We’ll have more to share around our progression systems soon.
- Who’s your favorite character so far?
I like them all, of course (I’m biased!). But my favorite is probably Barik, who is our “Engineer” character that carries a Turret and a shotgun. I’m always a sucker for that type of character.
- Will it only be online multiplayer or will there also be a single player type of campaign and how will it be set up?
There will be a “Versus Bots” experience that helps you learn the game mechanics in a safe place, but it’s not really a “campaign” in the sense that you have in Call of Duty for example. The main focus of the game is definitely competitive multiplayer PvP.
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