Van Helsing - Interview @ SegmentNext
Segment Next interviewed Orsolya Toth the Community Manager for Neocore games about the development of The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing, and it's sequel.
Van Helsing is a slight break from the real-time strategy games (RTS) like King Arthur you’ve previously worked on. What are the things you could take from that into the new project and what elements were surprising or unforeseen challenges that you didn’t anticipate, going into Van Helsing?
Orsolya: Although our previous strategy titles had some RPG elements too, they were quite different in terms of gameplay and development, so the biggest challenge was definitely the new genre.
Developing levels for a game with isometric top down view was a bit strange for us at first as we were not used to it, so we had to design the game maps in a different way to present the environment.
Creating the animations was tricky too: we used to rely a lot more on motion capturing for our strategy games but now with the rather willingly exaggerated movements in Van Helsing we had to use more hand-drawn animations for the game – although we could rework some mocap basics for the main character, for the running animations or a few fighting moves.
Another big challenge was the enemy [artificial intelligence] AI.
With our strong ties to the RTS genre, at first we tried to force an advanced enemy AI into Van Helsing and create monsters that used tactics, evaded attacks with good dynamics, stepped out of the range of [area of effect] AoE spells or went around the zone of damage. It was simply not fun that way, so we had to reorganize our thoughts and remind ourselves that this is a different genre with different fun factors.
We decided to stick to the traditional monster groups of the genre for now but I must admit that we did not give up entirely on the thought yet: in the sequel we’d rather think of the AI as an advanced unit ability.
We plan to add some monster groups who will have the special “ability” of being cleverer than others – combining their skills, for example. In the first game we only used this for some boss fights but in the sequel we’ll see this more often.
When it launched, how was criticism for Van Helsing? What parts did you feel were its strongest selling points and how did that work for critics?
Orsolya: The most praised features were definitely Lady Katarina, the game’s witty humour and unique setting, the Rage and PowerUp system, the graphics, all the pop-cultural references, the monster design and the tower defense sequences of the game.
Most critics spoke very highly of these features and they really enjoyed the game, although we got some remarks about the multiplayer issues after release and the lack of replayability and no endgame content.
Now the game has a new netcode so finally we could expand the multiplayer features and add [player versus player] PvP mode beside the co-op and we added monster respawn, 30+ level scenarios and the Never-ending Story to fulfill the need for the endgame content.
Information aboutVan Helsing
SP/MP: Single + MP
Genre: Hack & Slash