Battle Fleet 2 Developer Interview
I recently got to have a chat with Jedrzej Jonasz, the developer for the upcoming Battle Fleet 2 and you may have seen the preview of the game we were lucky enough to get our hands on. You can read the full preview here. On Steam Jedrzej describes Battle Fleet 2 as,
” the radically improved sequel to the original and has kept the “Worms” / “Scorched Earth” style angle+power mechanic, but now features full 3D modeling of terrain, ships, and ship hit locations. Hit the the engines and cripple cripple the enemy’s maneuverability, or aim for the command center and disable the ship for an entire turn. Ships are more realistic in which weapon compliments they can carry, and aiming/firing, as well as moving, is more intuitive. Battle Fleet 2 also now features Fog of War, allowing for stealth tactics and surprise attacks to be a viable strategy as well as adding the importance of using ships and aircraft for recon as well as attacks. With a full featured campaign and a variety of single play scenarios, Battle Fleet 2 will keep even the saltiest of sea-dogs satisfied.”
I spoke with Jedrzej and had the chance to ask him a few questions about himself, his experience and Battle Fleet. So without further ado here is Jedrzej’s interview.
My background is in film production, I’ve worked on movies and tv since graduating from film school, so I’ve always been involved in creative productions and find that there are many parallels between making games and films. In school I had made a pen & paper version of Battle Fleet, so I always wanted to make something of it but didn’t have any experience in game development or programming. When the iOS app store opened up I started thinking again about turning Battle Fleet into a video game, so I looked for developers to partner up with but didn’t have much of a budget to get anything serious going, so I shelved it for the time being.
When the iPad came out I got my hands on one and right away knew it would be perfect for a game of this sort, plus there wasn’t much in terms of strategy for iPad at the time and I figured this game would fill that void. I started to look around for ways to get the game made, seeing if I could teach myself one of the development tools out there. I found Unity3D and after a few months of online tutorials and game design books I was able to get a working prototype. Seeing that the game was taking shape and that programming was not such a dark art (as I had previously assumed), I focused on getting the game made and after another few months released Battle Fleet 1 on iPad. The game did well enough that I could see game development as a viable business and over the next few years started to transition from film production into full-time game development.
Well, I haven’t really worked with Steam so to speak, my only experience there is submitting to Greenlight, which is pretty easy to do but hard to get enough traction to get greenlit.
I would say that there were three big challenges, one was balancing new features and game mechanics while staying true to what was great about the original game and what the fans wanted to see. It’s very tempting to try to change things around a lot, to experiment or go in a new direction but I didn’t want to end up with a game that would stray too far from the original. The second challenge was improving the graphics drastically while still maintaining compatibility with older mobile devices like the iPad 2. There are many compromises you have to make to have something that will look good on multiple platforms (from mobile to PC) and work equally well on all of them. The third was the campaign system, which is completely new to the series. The original game had a linear storyline based campaign, and although it was exciting in it’s own way, it didn’t leave much room for replay-ability and had no overall strategic component. Creating an open-ended campaign has been a lot of work, but I think not only will it lead to more interesting strategic gameplay but also leave room for a lot more variation in future updates where players could play out alternate history scenarios based on the same open ended map.
Well, it was my first game ever so, pretty much everything One of the most important things was proper testing and getting the game in the hands of potential players before it was finished. I learned a lot about how players interact with games and what makes an intuitive user-interface. The original game’s interface leaves much to be desired and although it worked well once you learned it, that initial period of getting used to the controls was too difficult and frustrated many gamers that could have become fans if it was easier to learn.
Some of the films I directed were WW2 historical documentaries, so you could say I’ve always had an interested in history and have drawn on historical games, documentaries and movies for my inspiration. In terms of specific games, I’m definitely more into strategy games than most other genres, so Civ, the Total War series, Close Combat and Dune 2 (back in the day) were some of the core games I gravitated to. Although Battle Fleet draws on the aiming/firing mechanics of games like Worms/Scorched Earth, I wouldn’t say those games influenced it as much as more strategic games like Axis & Allies or tabletop war-games.
Civ is a big one, but more recently I’ve been drawn to Minecraft, FTL and World of Tanks… to mix things up and not just stick with strategy
I’ve always had some interest in the subject matter, but my brother is actually more of an expert in the field of military history, so I was able to get a lot of help from him on what did and didn’t make sense in the game. That said, this is another one of those delicate balances between historical accuracy and fun. For example, the territories that you can battle over in the game are based on satellite imagery of real world locations (Iwo Jima, Midway, etc.) but in some cases using a 1:1 scale would make the islands enormous and completely useless tactically speaking, so some things have to be fudged as the #1 goal is a fun and compelling experience. I like to say that the game is ‘inspired by history’
If you could make any game with no restrictions on budget or manpower what kind of game would you make?
I would probably not put that all into one game but develop a series of smaller games. I think that betting too much on one game is not only risky but can get creatively stiffing as the game development eventually forms its own boundaries and you start to become limited in what you can experiment with or add. I would much rather try out a few different directions, both with expanding established properties like the Battle Fleet series, and experimenting with genres and games that make indie game development so exciting.
Release Battle Fleet 2. That’s pretty much the only thing on my mind at this stage, making the game the best it can be and getting it out there to the audiences that love this sort of thing. In terms of long-term plans, I plan to expand on BF2 with new content and scenarios and grow the game guided by the feedback I receive from the players. For example, a top-secret plan for a future update includes not only Submarines but also Submarine Aircraft Carriers.. yes there was such a thing developed by the Empire of Japan.
There you have it guys, Battle Fleet 2 is currently in the Steam Greenlight project and for those of you who are strategy game fans. You can check out all it has to offer here, on the Steam page, and here for the official website. We would also like to thank Jedrzej Jonasz for talking to us, and sharing his thoughts. Battle Fleet 2 is a solid game that is only going to improve due to the passion of the developer, we suggest that you give it a try.