Motiga’s James Phinney discusses the importance of straightforward gameplay mechanics and not overwhelming players.

Independent developer Motiga’s recently announced free-to-play PC game Gigantic may be reminiscent of a MOBA game, but the studio has described it as otherwise. To gain a better insight into how this new IP differentiates itself from MOBAs, we spoke to James Phinney, vice president of product development at Motiga. Prior to working on Gigantic, Phinney was the lead designer on Guild Wars and StarCraft.

What genre does Gigantic fit into?

When asked how Gigantic would differentiate itself from other MOBAs, Phinney explained that he did not categorize the game as such. “It’s not really a MOBA,” he said. “I think when people talk about MOBAs there is a very specific DOTA lineage that they are talking about.”

Based on gameplay footage revealed thus far, Gigantic places players in the role of a single character with a third-person camera angled behind them in the style of Gears of War. Gameplay features verticality, there is no tab targeting or lock targeting, and the map does not have lanes. Phinney described the use of physics-based elements in various skills and abilities and how they lent to the game “more diverse and dynamic play.”

“What we’re making is a game that’s a cross between a third-person shooter and an action RPG. It’s an attempt to take characters and mechanics from many genres and bring them together in an all-star battle royale,” Phinney explained.

“You’ve got a character that clearly takes its lineage from fighting games, or one that takes more of its mechanics from new wave, more recent action-MMO combat, or a character that’s just a straight-up sniper from a shooter. And we bring them all together into a strategic battle. So playing the game, the actual experience of it, is actually not at all like a MOBA.”

Why does Gigantic mix genres?

“Some of my favorite games going back are just competitive shooters and action RPGs on console and PC. Trying to bring in some of those elements was really the origin of it to me,” Phinney said. He cites “the days of the original Quake and the original Team Fortress mod” as inspirations for class-based competitive multiplayer games.

“I wanted to create something here that [has] real potential for strategic depth,” Phinney said, but he also wanted the game to be accessible, where “really serious competitive players could geek out on the possibilities.”

Part of that accessibility is the ability for players to make a comeback in the game even when losing. “When you’re designing games with a strategic flow to [them] where your decisions matter, there’s always a balancing act between rewarding people for doing well and that causing a snowball, and having there be some way so that the fate of the game still hangs in the balance. It’s important to make sure that there are ways to come back, and that they are not random,” Phinney said. To that end, Gigantic allows players to incorporate use of a focus ability, which Phinney described as “sort of blatantly ripped off of fighting games.”

A player’s focus ability can be built up by dealing damage, but also by taking damage, eventually granting the opportunity to make a dramatic comeback. According to Phinney, the feature does not act as a way to make a player overly powerful, but offers an increased opportunity to do something that’s going to turn things their way. “They still have to use it, they still have to land it, and they still have to choose the right time to turn things around,” he said.

Why is it called Gigantic?

In Gigantic, players fight with the goal of downing the opposing team’s Guardian, which Phinney likens to “a giant creature that plays off console boss monster mechanics, in terms of working it into a state of vulnerability, dodging a certain pattern of attacks.”

While players won’t have direct control of the creature, the Guardian will respond and move forward based on opportunities presented in the game. If players have secured enough power for the Guardian to go ahead, it will move to attack the enemy’s Guardian. In addition to this, the Guardian will move forward to destroy features on the map in a way that assists its team.

Each Guardian sports a health bar divided into three “wounds”. When in a state of vulnerability, players will have a small window of opportunity to wound the Guardian. “That degree to which a single hit point can make the difference between a couple of minutes of working to get the Guardian vulnerable or diving in front of a single shot to save that last hit point can make a huge difference in terms of how the game swings.” Phinney said.

Who would like this game?

“The game is PVP, we’re expecting people who are interested in a competitive experience.” Phinney said. However, he reflects on the importance of balancing accessibility with making a game that contains depth.

“It’s easy to pile on features and details, but to try to take a number of controlled elements and elegantly simple design is kind of a challenge. I personally don’t have the patience to go in and memorize waves and waves of information to learn how to play a game. We’re trying to start with something where all the fundamentals are just there, and they’re straightforward and easy to pick up.” he said.

According to Phinney, this approach stemmed from the studio’s “let’s make PC games like how we used to make console games” philosophy.

“The game shouldn’t overwhelm with making sure that you need to learn,” he said, referring to Gigantic’s use of conventional PC shooter bindings like using WASD to move, the space bar to jump, and the shift key to spring.

“These sorts of things just make it so that that’s not the learning curve, that’s not the challenge. Learning to be really tactical, learning to do specific twitch maneuvers, depending on what kind of character you are playing… that’s where the challenge should be.”

Gigantic will launch for PC as a free-to-play game in 2015.

Source: Original StarCraft’s Lead Designer Making New Competitive PC Game Called Gigantic


Mobile Hit Flappy Bird Now Playable in 60 FPS on an Apple PC From the ’70s

July 16, 2014

Flappy Bird, released in May 2013, had a meteoric rise to success. The game, in which you try to avoid pipes by tapping to increase your bird’s height, was seemingly everywhere. It’s spawned countless clones on almost every platform imaginable

Read the full article →

Gears of War Creator Cliff Bleszinski Releases Concept Art for Next Game

July 10, 2014

Gears of War creator Cliff Bleszinski has already talked at length about his upcoming free-to-play PC shooter currently titled Project BlueStreak, but when will we get to see it? While we wait for gameplay footage, a piece of concept art released last night will have to do. The art shows a sprawling city being ravaged by a mighty storm of rain and fierce lightning

Read the full article →

Cliff Bleszinski Discusses Project BlueStreak, Opting for Free-to-Play, and Martin Lawrence

July 9, 2014

Cliff Bleszinski unveiled his newest game, Project BlueStreak, yesterday, but very little about it was announced beyond the very basics: It’s a free-to-play sci-fi arena shooter for PC. We’ve yet to see screenshots or video from it, but Bleszinski is answering questions about it and his new studio, Boss Key Productions, as part of a Reddit Ask Me Anything right now. As a free-to-play game, one of the most immediate questions about BlueStreak is how Boss Key will make money off of it.

Read the full article →

Bleszinski Promises "Transparent" Development for New PC Shooter Project BlueStreak

July 9, 2014

Veteran Gears of War designer Cliff Bleszinski’s new shooter Project BlueStreak will be developed not behind closed doors, but rather out in the open. Bleszinski wrote on Twitter that fans should follow the game’s Twitter account to see developer Boss Key Productions make the game in “real time.” “Transparent development era FTW,” Bleszinski wrote.

Read the full article →

Fortnite: Epic’s Weird, Wonderful Creative Departure

July 8, 2014

Fortnite may not have an official mascot, but it certainly has an unofficial one. You just have to do some searching to find it. It’s not any one of the game’s playable classes, heroes whose stylized appearances owe a clear debt of gratitude to Team Fortress 2.

Read the full article →

Cliff Bleszinski’s New Game Not a Jazz Jackrabbit Reboot, It’s a New IP

July 7, 2014

The upcoming game from veteran Gears of War developer Cliff Bleszinski and his studio BossKey Productions is not going to be a new entry in Bleszinski’s 1990s side-scroller Jazz Jackrabbit series. Asked by a fan on Twitter if it would be, Bleszinski said, “Dude, [Epic Games] owns that

Read the full article →

Cole Train Actor Says He’ll Reprise His Role in Next Gears of War

July 5, 2014

Lester Speight, the actor who voiced Augustus “Cole Train” Cole in the previous Gears of War games, has said that he’s been approached to reprise his role. Speight made the announcement in response to a question from a fan on Twitter.

Read the full article →

Gears of War Veteran Developer Cliff Bleszinski "Coming Out Of Retirement"

July 3, 2014

Update: Bleszinski has shared a link to a countdown clock on Twitter, presumably teasing when we’ll be hearing about his new project. The countdown comes to an end at 9AM Pacific on Tuesday, July 8

Read the full article →

Former Xbox Live “Head Banhammer” Joins Microsoft’s Gears of War Team

June 29, 2014

Stephen “Stepto” Toulouse, the former Director of Policy and Enforcement for Microsoft’s Xbox Live service, is rejoining the company as the Director of Community Engagement at Black Tusk Studios, the Microsoft-owned studio currently working on the next Gears of War project. Jockingly known as the the “Head Banhammer,” as Director of Policy and Enforcement Toulouse was in charge developing and implementing policy for Xbox Live, as well as working with developers, press, and customers. Toulouse explained that his new role will be key in coordinating gamer feedback into future titles as well as keeping things fun and exciting with existing games.

Read the full article →

Killzone: Shadow Fall Intercept Review

June 26, 2014

What’s your favorite kind of co-op shooter? The ultra-competitive, team-based thrills of a Battlefield Domination match? The wave-based panic of Gears of War’s Horde mode?

Read the full article →

E3 Press Conferences, What Does Microsoft Need to Do?

June 6, 2014

Microsoft’s E3 press conference last year was overshadowed by Sony’s direct response to the Xbox One’s online requirements and used game restrictions. But Microsoft has had a strong year, and the company is making every effort to ensure it isn’t an easy target for attack at next week’s E3.

Read the full article →

What We’d Like To See at E3 From Microsoft

June 4, 2014

Rumors have been circulating for a while around a Master Chief Halo collection at E3, but beyond that, Microsoft has guarded its secrets well.

Read the full article →

Obama Mentions "The Witcher" During Trip to Poland

June 3, 2014

In 2011, Poland’s prime minister Donald Tusk gave United States president Barack Obama a copy of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings.

Read the full article →

Bulletstorm Reappears on Steam Without Explanation

May 31, 2014

Epic Games’ 2011 first-person shooter Bulletstorm is available to purchase from Steam again after vanishing from Valve’s PC marketplace without warning back in March. You can buy Bulletstorm for $20, but as the Online Disclaimer on its Steam page explains, you’ll need a Games For Windows Live client and account in order to install it and access its online features. Back in August, an update posted to the Age of Empires Online support site indicated that Microsoft intended to axe the Games for Windows Live Service completely on July 1, 2014

Read the full article →

Gears of War boss talks about "managing betrayal" with a sequel

May 27, 2014

Gears of War: Judgment for Xbox 360 When making a sequel to any video game, part of the developer’s job is to deliver something new and different, but not completely alien–a task that could be described as “managing betrayal,” according to the boss of Gears of War Xbox One developer Black Tusk Studios. “It’s the same thing with all sequels,” Black Tusk studio manager Rod Fergusson said in an interview with Official Xbox Magazine. “This isn’t a great way of phrasing it but I always talk about shipping a sequel to customers as ‘managing betrayal’

Read the full article →

Gears of War can "do a lot more" now that Microsoft owns it

May 16, 2014

During a special Twitch stream last night, Black Tusk producer Rod Fergusson, who is leading development on the new Gears of War game for Xbox One, discussed the project and even showed off a piece of concept art, though it’s quite blurry. Check it out below. “It’s only been 100 days, so I can’t go into a lot of depth about a lot of things,” Fergusson said about the new Gears of War.

Read the full article →

The guy with 1 million Gamerscore isn’t stopping anytime soon

May 2, 2014

Image credit: Xbox Wire What’s next for the guy who reached 1 million Gamerscore earlier this year? He’s not going into retirement; quite the opposite. Speaking with the Xbox Wire, Raymond “Stallion83″ Cox says his next goal is not to get two million Gamerscore, but rather to collect every available Xbox One achievement

Read the full article →

Have questions about Xbox One Gears of War? Now’s your chance to be heard

April 29, 2014

Daylight – Video Review GS News – Destiny Skipping PC; Xbox One and 360 Get Original TV! Child of Light – Video Review The Point: Will Fallout 4 be at E3?

Read the full article →