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The perils of the Hype Train…
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Posted on 03/09/15
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Interview: Gameforge VP Tim Campbell on Sigils: Battle for Raios

Posted on Friday, April 4 @ 12:45:00 Eastern by

Defense of the couch potatoes

League of Legends and Dota 2 are massive games and the market will only grow more crowded as time marches on. Warner Bros will unleash their DC Comics-themed Infinite Crisis and Blizzard has their own Defense of the Ancients game. To compete in the multiplayer online battle arena, new brands need a hook and Sigils: Battle for Raios accomplishes that by sticking firmly to Apple’s iPad. We got a chance to speak with Gameforge Vice President of third-party development, Tim Campbell to find out more.

Sigils gives players champions to do battle with in an effort to save Raios, but after the match they’ll level up skills and purchase items with gold. Ultimately, the player vs player experience will give you a chance to bring the burgeoning genre with you on your Apple tablet.

“At the time we started this project, roughly 2.5 years ago, mobile was really beginning to heat up,” Campbell said. “The fast adoption rate of devices like the iPad allowed us to reach a very broad audience of gamers worldwide.” While MOBA games have taken off among the PC crowd, they’ve failed to latch on with console or mobile players because of the hardcore nature in online competition. While Sigils is shaping up as it nears release, matchmaking systems are much easier to implement on PC compared to mobile.

“While we are excited about the design behind our matchmaking system and what it will offer our players, until we enter our soft launch phase, we really won’t know if it is going to work as seamlessly as we hope that it will,” Campbell said. Consider that PCs have been connecting with multiplayer servers for decades. MOBA games require low latency to keep hardcore players engaged with balanced and fair play, but as Campbell said of nearing launch “we are incredibly excited to finally be on the brink of starting [testing], but it’s also just a bit frightening at the same time.” Regardless of the nerves surrounding connecting players, Sigils' RPG mechanics will give even casual players a sense of progression.

“Champions abilities will essentially “grow” in strength and power over time as they level,” Campbell explained. “As the player’s avatar, The Traveller, levels slots in their Spectrum will open up which will allow them to apply powerful items to their Champions. [They] will be able to substantially influence the overall effectiveness of a champion’s abilities to fit a desired play style.” Torak the Relentless, for example, wields a large harpoon on a chain and tanks through enemies with heavy physical damage, but players can buy armor and add to his hit points to create a “pure tank.” Going for cool-down reduction or higher damage allows Torak to devastate enemies before escaping to recover.

“We have put a tremendous amount of effort into making sure that all of our champions feel very distinct and unique,” Campbell said. “Every champion has their own custom abilities that can be used in exciting combinations. The champions are truly the ‘stars’ of our game and, as such, a large portion of our content development time was invested into them.” Tarkin the Ram and Lysander the Salamander represent the kind of variation you can expect among 20 different champions, but “producing new champions after launch was always part of the plan,” Campbell explained. “It will be up to the community to tell us what they want to see more of and we’ll endeavor to meet their needs to the best of our ability.”

Campbell told us that iPhone or iPod Touch support could wait somewhere down the line, but the MOBA interface requires a certain amount of real estate on a touch screen. “We felt that the right thing to do for now was to focus on the iPad to establish Sigils in the best way possible.” An Android port also wasn’t completely out of the question, but Gameforge and Sproing are dedicated to shipping a balanced, expandable product on iPad first.

Gameforge has always been a free-to-play company and Sigils: Battle for Raios is no different. “We believe very strongly in the business model as a way to reach the broadest possible audience of players,” Campbell explained. “It is our goal to make Sigils as easy as possible for players to download, learn the basic mechanics and enter the game world. Players can progress in Sigils through PvE, PvP, or both, in groups or by themselves. We hope that by offering this wide range of options and the freedom for players to choose what they like to do most, we can attract a large vibrant community of gamers throughout the world.”

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