Dogs of War Online developer interview

Dogs of War
Dogs of War

Dogs of War Online was recently announced by Cyanide Studios in a press release last week. The game is a turn-based, tactical arena game that draws heavily on an old table-top RPG game called Confrontation. We had the opportunity to speak with Pierre Gilbert, the Lead Game Designer of Dogs of War Online about the game and what we can expect in the future.

MMO Attack: Let's begin by telling us a little about the game?

Pierre Gilbert, Lead Game Designer: The game is an online multiplayer F2P set in Aarklash (the main continent of Confrontation). It is a turn-based game where you lead mercenary companies, inspired from the tabletop game, that mainly aims to keep the same spirit. Fans of the game might recognize the influence of Confrontation's first expansion book ("Dogs of War"), which focused heavily on adding RPG and Management elements to the mix.

Can you talk a bit about how the game came to be? (i.e. where the idea came from, who was involved, how did you get started)

Cyanide holds the rights for Confrontation for quite some time now, and when the first Confrontation game was released, many players expressed the wish to have a multiplayer part closer to the tabletop feeling, with turn-based action. I shared that feeling; as a kid, I craved to see a good tabletop game made for PC. When Cyanide came up with Chaos League and then Blood Bowl, I felt that we were on the same page, though I wasn't working for them at the time.

Few years later, I felt it was natural for me to apply for the company. After some time in, I went to see Patrick [Pligersdorffer, our CEO] to discuss the potential of a persistent turn-based game set in the Confrontation universe, closer to its core experience. We quickly came to an agreement and launched Dogs of War online with a small team.

What is the challenge for bringing the table-top experience to an online game?

There are so many! First and foremost, the worst thing for us was to get an intuitive game while following a 200-pages rule-book It was a bit of a nightmare at first, as we had to "translate" every feature of the book into something that was close to the spirit of the game but accessible for PC players. The sheer number of rules can be really hard to assimilate for new players, so we had to make sure that the complexity would be gradually tackled by players, assuring intuitive inputs and feedback.

Then, you've got the pace. A typical Confrontation tabletop match varies between 1 and 3 hours long (if you're lucky), which we felt was way too much for PC gamers.
We aimed for 20 to 40 minutes games, mostly depending of your squad size. Luckily, the computer was an advantage here; because it can obviously do all the underlying work, leaving players only with the pleasant input (tactical choices).

There is also the random factor. Most of the tabletop games heavily rely on dices, adding a lot of unpredictability in the game. While we felt it was an important side of the experience, it did not translate that well on PC. First tries proved to be a bit frustrating, so we had to reduce randomness to an acceptable level and help the player to control possible risks, to make sure the experience was enjoyable at all levels.

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