Blood Bowl 2 got its first match footage this week, showing off the title’s shiny new visuals and gameplay. Looking for more information on the title, Game Debate got in touch with developer Cyanide Studios to discuss Blood Bowl 2's development.
We asked Blood Bowl 2 Lead Game Designer Gauthier Brunet to fill us in on the latest developments of Blood Bowl 2, including how the game was coming along, changes that have been made since the first game and whether the new engine would make Blood Bowl 2 much more demanding than its predecessor...
Felix was a big fan of the first Blood Bowl game, so we began our Q and A session by addressing whether Blood Bowl 2 would include all the same features as its predecessor, what had changed, and how Cyanide were planning to give Blood Bowl 2 an appeal beyond merely those fans of the first game or original board game.
GD - In the last Blood Bowl game, players could choose between real-time and turn-based mode. Are both still options in Blood Bowl 2, or is the focus purely on turn-based?
Gauthier Brunet - Blood Bowl II will not feature a real-time mode. We have made this choice to focus on the turn-based gameplay as much as possible and bring a polished and updated version of it.
Going in this direction also keeps the community tied together. When you play an online match, you know that all of the Blood Bowl players will be available and can be played against. More players for more fun.
GD - Are you considering adding co-operative gameplay for those of us who like to take on AI with a friend? If so, how would it work?
GB - Some people are asking us for co-operative gameplay, but the core DNA of the original Blood Bowl is the confrontation between teams, with each of them controlled by one coach (AI or not). On top of that, Blood Bowl 2 uses a tactical turn-based gameplay. This genre is already enjoyable with more than one player. You have a situation and you have to make choice, trying to find the best solution to win your match.
GD - What are you doing to ensure Blood Bowl 2 is accessible for those unfamiliar with the Blood Bowl franchise?
GB - From both gameplay and lore perspective, the Campaign mode is designed to be accessible for new players. Our Campaign Scenario is a good introduction to the Blood Bowl universe. All famous teams, players and situations are presented one by one.
The tutorial is split into two parts :
- We've merged the first part with the first segment of our Campaign. You start your first Campaign match with very simple gameplay. All of the complex rules are not introduced yet, with new features added match after match, so you can learn each layer of the Blood Bowl gameplay at your own pace.
- The second part is a hint system. A retired coach will be here to help you with every new situation. First time you pick up the ball? He has something to say to you. Contrary to the layered rule, this hint system is available anywhere in the game – during a simple Custom Match against the AI for example. Of course, you can deactivate it easily if you already are an experienced coach.
With e-sports and game streaming now more popular than ever before, we wanted to ask Cyanide about their aims in this regard, particularly respecting e-sport ambitions for Blood Bowl 2 and the game’s online spectator mode.
GD - You’ve spoken of your ambitions to push Blood Bowl 2 forwards as an e-Sport. Only a handful of titles have made it to this level, how do you intend it become a success on the eSports stage?
GB - We first want Blood Bowl 2 to be a great game by itself. This is the first and most important step. However, the first game is still played a lot by a huge community of players, and many replays can be watched online, with the game’s global balance proved by years of gameplay.
The game by itself seems to be a good eSports candidate for us. Even with a random input in the rules, the game is globally determinist. You can really bend the game with your tactical skills and long term statistics show this. However, Blood Bowl can also be improved to make it even more fit to this kind of use. Here’s are what we have been working on :
- Giving multiple tools for watching the game.
- Blood Bowl II spectator view will be much more complete. You are going to see the coach decision instead of only the resolution of each action.
- Powerful management tools to create and manage your own competitions. People will be able to fix many different situations (missing coach, cheat, etc) – they can adapt their competition much more in Blood Bowl II.
- Finally, we are working on making the game more dynamic and fluid. Our objective here is to make the average game of Blood Bowl 30% shorter using simple design decisions without losing anything of the game depth.
GD - We’ve heard a bit about Blood Bowl II’s online spectator mode. Could you tell us a little more about it? How will this compare to current popular streaming services like Twitch.tv?
GB - This is an in-game viewer. You are using the same program as when you are playing the game. As a consequence you have the full interactive options of a real match (selecting player, using community tools, etc). The viewer will also be able to compact a Blood Bowl match. All reflexion times and pause are removed to keep only action and decisions. Finally, the game viewer is entirely tied to the gameplay. Your timeline shows match events and you can easily jump to one specific action (it’s not time orientated like Twitch.tv).
On top of that, Cyanide is currently looking at the Twitch SDK and working on a potential integration for Blood Bowl II.
GD - A lot of multiplayer games and e-Sports are opting for Free-2-Play models for their games. Is this something you have considered for Blood Bowl II?
GB - I can't answer to this question.
Moving onto gameplay, the issues of races and teams is a crucial one in the Blood Bowl franchise, and we wanted to see whether Blood Bowl 2 would be getting any new races or teams and how Cyanide were balancing, adding and perfecting those.
GD - Blood Bowl had eight playable races on release. Can we expect a similar number for Blood Bowl 2?
GB - Blood Bowl 2 will feature eight different races at release: Human, Orc, Skaven, Dwarf, High Elf, Dark Elf, Chaos and Bretonnian. The Bretonnian roster is entirely exclusive to Blood Bowl II. Of course, more races will join the initial eight after release.
GD - Will we see any other new races in the game?
GB - As I said before, Blood Bowl II is bringing one new race to the game, the Bretonnians. We have great expectations for this game and we really would like to bring new races to the game. Of course, we also have to bring all the original ones back (and that's a lot). There are also some semi official teams that are very popular that we looking at at the moment.
GD - How will race affect play style in the game? Will this have an impact on the balance of the game in multiplayer mode?
GB - The race you choose has a huge impact on the play style of the game. The High Elf is extremely agile and efficient with pass play. You'll mostly focus your team gameplay on evading the opponent, infiltrating their defence and performing long passes. The Dwarf team on the other hand is entirely focused on brawling and fighting the opponent. They are not good at all when using the ball, but they are extremely resilient and they can crush the opponent, slowly but surely.
Blood Bowl teams are overall quite well balanced. This game has been played and balanced by a huge community for many years now and there is an official tier list which is broadly accepted among the community. Only one low tier is clearly inferior to all other teams (Goblin, Halfling and Ogres). We are not bringing these teams in our first package.
Additionally, Blood Bowl has one basic rule called the Inducements which is here to balance each match between two teams with a different value. When a poor and inexperienced team plays against an old and rich team full of veterans, the Inducements rule will provide the weak team some bonuses for this match only in order to balance the match.
GD - Is DLC a strategy you’re considering, or can we expect everything to come in the original package?
GB - Blood Bowl II will ship with eight different teams. We have much more content to add to the game and we are really thinking about those 15 other teams. We still don't know how they're going to get that into the game, whether it's DLC, expansions or an in-game store... we'll speak more about this when the decision has been made.
Felix and Squee have always been big fans of the Blood Bowl board game, and were keen to get more information about how Blood Bowl 2 was staying true to its roots whilst still adapting and expanding.
GD - How much time have you spent working with the original designers of the board game, such as Jervis Johnson?
GB - We have some direct contact at Games Workshop helping us to take care of their license. They are providing us with frequent feedback on all of our created assets, but we have more freedom on the design of the game itself. They look at it and give us their opinion, but they also know that we are creating a videogame, a media completely different than the original material they created.
GD - Can we expect to see expanded rules for illegal equipment, magic items, chainsaws, pogo sticks, deathrollers, cheerleaders, and spells? Are there any other new ideas you’re introducing to the game that we might not have ever seen in the board game?
GB - Blood Bowl is already a huge and complex game, with many options and a lot to do for this new edition. Globally, our decision for Blood Bowl II’s gameplay was quite simple. The match system itself works really well, and we want to keep the current balance and the amount of gameplay features. We are mostly working on how to implement them, how you interact with them as a coach, but we are not adding anything new.
The management part, however, has been our playground. We have experience making management games here at Cyanide, so want to bring our unique touch to the game. One example is the Player Marketplace. All coaches, from all over the world, will be able to participate in the Marketplace system, selling and buying players. Instead of buying and firing generic players on your own, you can join this huge Marketplace and become rich by selling your batch of young promising players or spending all of your team treasury on the star player of your dreams.
We’d heard that Cyanide was using a new engine in the development of Blood Bowl 2. With many games announced this year requiring pretty demanding rigs, we asked whether the average gamer would struggle to get the title looking slick on their rigs.
GD - How do you expect the new engine you’re using for Blood Bowl II to affect performance on PCs? Will it be a much more demanding experience than the original?
GB - We have a brand new in-house engine coming for Blood Bowl II. The game looks great using it and we can play it on relatively old computers, but the hardware requirements will be higher than the original Blood Bowl game if you want to benefit from the new graphics. We will work hard to provide low options for the lower end PCs.
GD - After the success of Blood Bowl how has your team expanded? Has it allowed you to broaden what you can achieve with the series?
GB - Yes! There are more people working on Blood Bowl II. Cyanide and all our partners on this project (Focus, Games Workshop) are all very enthusiastic about the game, and we really want to make something great for both our old fans and new players.
GD - For those of us looking for some expert tips, what team do you personally like to play as and why?
GB - As a coach, I love the Halfling team. These small creatures are funny, smart and nimble. They're also are one of the most powerful rosters in the game. At least in Blood Bowl II. What? Halflings have not made it in? But who makes the decisions here?
GD - Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers regarding the upcoming Blood Bowl 2 fantasy football title?
GB - More surprises are incoming. We really are working a lot on how you handle the game, making it as fluid, dynamic and interactive as possible. We hope our design choices will surprise you in a good way.
A big thanks to Gauthier and the team for taking the time with us, good luck guys.
Over to you, GDers! What's your thoughts on BB2 and how its shaping up? Have you got your own questions on any of this?