Kabam on Edgeworld's release and what battles lie ahead [Interview]

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Edgeworld
Even at first glance of its war-torn landscape filled with futuristic buildings blasted to bits by the laser weapons of alien and mechanized armies, it's clear that Edgeworld is San Francisco-based developer Kabam's most ambitious project yet. Formerly known as Watercooler, the studio and publisher is filled with fans of traditional strategy PC games. Even CEO Kevin Chou was a world-ranked StarCraft player back in the day.

Inspired by sci-fi staples like Star Wars, Star Trek and even the Halo series of shooter games, Edgeworld is the culmination of Kabam's ongoing mission to bring a true 4X (explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate) game experience to Facebook. Since the game's "open beta" release in August, the team is hard at work to make that vision a reality as it claims to have in previous games. (As of this writing, the game enjoys over 858,000 monthly players, according to AppData.)

We sat down with Edgeworld Producer James Holloway recently to hear his thoughts on the game post-release, and what plans he and the rest of the Kabam team have for the strategy game in the future.
Edgeworld in action
Now that Edgeworld has released, what are your knee-jerk reactions? What do you love about the game at release, and what would you like to fix most?

We're really pleased with the release so far. We're seeing a lot of people come back to play the game--it has a really high retention. A lot of people are joining Alliances and engaging with each other. In every sector, I see chat is very active. But this is just the beginning.

The biggest thing that I think we're missing is that our Alliance feature is pretty lean right now. The thing that we would like to emphasize more is a cooperative play of the game. I think we have just the basics right now. The new Maps feature is going to integrate very tightly with alliances--you work together [with Alliances] to conquer territory.

We have about four unique turrets and nine units, and that's just the beginning. We're working on a new unit and a new turret that we're really excited about, and those are going to launch in the next month. We'll be introducing higher levels of our buildings. So, there's a lot more content that we need to create, and we're just getting started.

What's the most interesting thing you've seen players do in the game since release--something that never happened during testing?

One thing that we sort of didn't anticipate was that some Alliances and players are attacking each other for resources. At one point we didn't have inter-Alliance resource sharing, so right now you can actually send resources to other players to help them out. So, we didn't have that feature [originally].

But what people were doing was working around that by setting up their Command Centers, which are what contain your resources, outside the perimeter of their turrets. [Players would then] leave their Alliance, cook it, and then attack them and take their resources. So, they were doing resource transfers before the feature was even allowed.

Do you have any interesting or helpful gameplay tips for the players to get ahead in Edgeworld?

Certainly! If you're just starting out, we give every player two days of starter protection wherein no other player can attack you. That's a free few days of protection, and use that time wisely to build up your base and experiment with different configurations. Allow the Factions to attack your base. There's a lot of experimentation with the units.

Players are posting on the forums, talking with each other and also within their Alliances about the best combinations of units to deploy when attacking a base. There are a lot of combinations of tanks and DPS [damage per second] units you can deploy. Rhinos, or other types that have a lot of hit points, can take a lot of fire, and then you can deploy units with longer range or higher DPS behind them.
Edgeworld blast
Depending on what your goals are--like, you might want as many resources as possible--you might want to deploy the Raiders. The Rhinos draw fire from the turrets, while the Spectres sit outside and fire away at the turrets. You really want to upgrade your Spectres to give them a longer range.

We have two different types of units in the game right now: infantry units and mechanized units. It's not necessarily that the mechs are more powerful than the infantry--we're still constantly balancing the game to make sure every unit has its role.

Another thing is that the Warp Gates are really important as far as attacking goes. As you upgrade those, you increase their capacity so that you can actually deploy more units on the ground [at once]. As you unlock more units, the more powerful units will start to consume more of the [Warp Gates'] bandwidth, so you want to upgrade those to deploy the biggest army that you can.

Thanks for talking with us (and for the tips), James.

Territories Could Blow Alliance Play Wide Open


During our chat, Holloway had something brand new to show coming soon to Edgeworld. (Though, it's still in the concept phase, so weren't provided images.) It's a feature tentatively known as "Territories," and the game's producer hopes that it will expand Alliance play into something even more meaningful.

"We haven't seen a past feature like this that I can think of, and we all play a lot of games," Holloway gushes about what he's about to show me. "We're trying to make this a deeper, more robust 4X or empires building game."

As it relates to the game's story, many of the Galactic Union's outposts have been abandoned during the war for Cerulea IV, and they're ripe for the taking. The Territories feature will provide you with a map of the entire planet Cerulea IV, with your home base appearing in the center as a star. Your home base will be surrounded by either hostile, Alliance or neutral territories marked in red, green or simply displayed as abandoned outposts, respectively.
Edgeworld concept art
It's up to you to work with your Alliance to invade either hostile (controlled by enemy Alliances) or neutral outposts, and keep them under your control for as long as possible to reap their benefits, which weren't revealed to us. (Our best guess is additional resources to keep your home bases going.) Players will individually attack outposts just as they would enemy bases, and can call on their Alliance for help asynchronously.

However, players cannot build on these outposts, only bolster their existing defense turrets with their own resources to maintain control of the benefits they provide. This will make it more difficult for enemies to invade. Speaking of invading, players can only enter outposts that are adjacent to their own base or controlled outposts. Eventually, we see the Territories feature becoming a constant struggle between opposing Alliances, and hopefully something for us to work toward.

"This is very different from our other strategy games," Holloway says. "In most cases you individually own tiles on the map, but in this case you kind of need an Alliance to own territory. This is something we're really excited about. We're still working on it and prototyping it, but hopefully we'll have something out in the next four weeks."

[Image Credit: Kabam]

What are you impressions of Edgeworld so far? Are you excited about the upcoming Territories feature coming to the game, and what else do you hope to see from developers like Kabam? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.
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