It allows us to focus more on making the game. GamesBeat: When did Counterplay get started?
We’d actually have to drive a dev kit to another person’s home and make sure it’s secure. Above: Concept art for Grayhawk in Godfall.
The worlds are going to get bigger.
People just had to have it in their hands. Lee: That’s right. We spent a lot of time thinking about how we could put as much of our resources and time into more cranks on the wheel for design and iteration.
It’s been fantastic for us.
They’re going to get more complex and dense. That’s part of why we skewed toward something less violent. We built everything from there.
And for that, you can thank Keith Lee and his team at Counterplay Games. What’s interesting is that we started working on our first game, Duelyst, which was Kickstarted.
For our team, working on next-gen and PC helps us to — it fulfills the team itself. It was much more chaotic.
Of course, they had tons of experience building out action-RPGs with Borderlands. People don’t know the names of the makers.
With Godfall, it’s based on Unreal Engine 4. We have more cranks on the wheel to iterate. Making sure that all the leaders of the team not only earn their peers’ respect, but they want to follow the leader, and they’re inspired by each of the leads. It became very complicated. Lee: The area that was our deepest ambition, but also the greatest challenge, was the thesis of whether we could make an action combat game that had a very good blend of skill-based mechanics, mechanical execution, but also had gear-driven, stats-driven RPG aspects. GamesBeat: As a developer, that sounds like it would be intimidating, to think of all the things the next generation can do.
We jumped closer to 60, and now — as you know, we have an immovable deadline. We have to ship this on November 12. I can feel the ring of my sword. Lee: From a learning perspective, the ability for us to use Unreal has been tremendously helpful for us to be able to launch on both platforms effectively. It tends to be primarily one direction or the other. Our game isn’t a 1-on-1 game, where you can just target lock an enemy the way you would do in Souls. It’s pretty impressive.
Again, the hypothesis was to combine those two in some fashion. Lee: From a learning perspective, the ability for us to use Unreal has been tremendously helpful for us to be able to launch on both platforms effectively.
We felt that building a game like Godfall, where it combined third-person action combat with loot-driven action-RPG elements, plus the capability to play with your friends in multiplayer, was a compelling combination. We had only five people when we kickstarted Duelyst. GamesBeat: It seems like that’s hard for people to understand, the advantages of using a haptic device when nobody knows what it feels like yet. In a lot of ways, it’s just higher operating expenses. GamesBeat: Did you use a particular game engine for this? GODFALL is one of the biggest PS5 launch games on the horizon, with the loot-slasher launching in just a matter of weeks time.
Lee: We do.
I’m a big RTS player. The procedural animation systems, the procedural worlds, the fact that living, open worlds can now react to you. Our source control, how to do weeklies, thinking about how to provision our software, things like that.
VR was very hard to demo at first.
GamesBeat: It seems like that’s hard for people to understand, the advantages of using a haptic device when nobody knows what it feels like yet. Perforce requires you to have a whitelisted LAN that operates within a studio to protect and secure your code. That was all the result of talking to Gearbox and working out different algorithms. On the controller side, a lot of people are going to discover new ways to use the haptics. That changed our perspective on how we could develop triple-A quality games, even outside of being in an area physically. But none of us have been using it for a long time. Keith Lee: I transitioned out in 2011-ish. For that, you can thank Keith Lee and his team at Counterplay Games. GamesBeat: What inspired that milieu? That was our goal. The long-term goal for Counterplay is to be self-sufficient and be here for a long time.
By 2015 we started an office in Emeryville. Some of us have gone to Riot. We synthesized a lot of their reports. GamesBeat: What are your hopes or expectations for the launch? Of course, they had tons of experience building out action-RPGs with Borderlands. But for us, PC and next-gen gaming was more our core.
The company then moved on to Godfall, working with the Unreal game engine. That one is still free-to-play, so it’s much more mobile-like. A good comparison to our game would be something like Monster Hunter World. People just had to have it in their hands. We still have to pick our battles. But we want people to acknowledge and recognize the final quality of the games. It isn’t just a fast-follow game.
Finally, I think that the next-gen design is going to be more about believable worlds, where you’re really immersed. This isn’t Lee’s first time in the spotlight. I’ve used it. Perforce requires you to have a whitelisted LAN that operates within a studio to protect and secure your code. We made some Facebook games. GamesBeat: How many people do you have now? We wanted to make that as intuitive as possible. Haptics is just one aspect of that.
We didn’t deviate too much in terms of our top-level strategy. We’re all ready and bracing to deal with any sort of player-related feedback and issues, focusing 100 percent on that stuff. Here’s an edited transcript of our interview. We love games like Diablo and Path of Exile, but we also love Monster Hunter World.
We met at a tournament. It’ll be about three years by launch. GamesBeat: When did Booyah come to its end? We’ve grown to around 85 people, and we’re definitely growing more.
We’ve had a 36-month development cycle.
We started building in GitHub and using a lot of technologies from outside of gaming, things that larger tech companies use. That’s part of why we skewed toward something less violent.
Not programming and animation and design, which requires a lot more day-to-day iteration. Not programming and animation and design, which requires a lot more day-to-day iteration. We wanted to have something that felt modern, that felt luxurious and high fantasy, almost Marvel-esque. There’s a lot you can do with that. What are ways we can procedurally generate systems, in the same way that Guerrilla did procedural placement of trees and foliage?
What are ways we can procedurally generate systems, in the same way that Guerrilla did procedural placement of trees and foliage? A lot of different people separated from Booyah. We’re on PC through the Epic Games Store and PS5 right now, but it goes without saying that we plan to expand on how it’s distributed, as well as to the other next-gen consoles in the future. Lee: Unreal Engine is still pretty — it was never designed to work remotely.
But the good thing is we aren’t as constrained by performance, by technology, by other things holding us back. Then, in the last nine months, from January of this year, we’ve been steadily growing. It isn’t just a fast-follow game. We’re half-a-block away from Pixar, in that area of Emeryville.
After that, we started just working remotely, in 2016.
You can join activities using their social system, what you’ve seen in their UI. The final controllers, or even the sample controllers, are very limited, very secret.
A lot of these things add up to more of an invisible experience. But then as we grew that team, we did well, and we reinvested the money back into Godfall. GamesBeat: It must have been pretty interesting to transition through those different games, all the way from mobile games at Booyah and back into triple-A.
Also, a fantasy action combat title is a solid audience market. It was a simple game, and it definitely wasn’t triple-A, but it worked in the fledgling days of apps.
We’re more like Nintendo in the sense that we like to do a lot of R&D.
What Ever Happened to Netscape Navigator? In contrast, now, all that stuff is a lot easier. Also, we spent more time focusing on exceptionalism. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to play as one of the last of the Valorian Knights, the heroes of the looter-slasher, action-role-playing game Godfall.
I talked with Lee about his journey and how the company developed Godfall. And even the 3D audio — I’m sure you’ve tried the 3D audio demo that Sony has produced.
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