World War Toons Studio Roqovan Interview – Being the Mario Kart FPS & PSVR
PlayStation VR launches next week (check out our review!), and plenty of developers are launching new games to coincide with it. One of these titles is a free-to-play first-person shooter called World War Toons. While readers might not know the game, they know some of the employee’s past work, as it’s made by a team that features several former Infinity Ward staffers (yes, the studio behind Call of Duty).
In order to learn more about World War Toons, we talked to Studio Roqovan CEO James Chung. We asked him about the game’s free-to-play model, finally getting to work on something that isn’t Call of Duty, and what virtual reality offers.
PlayStation LifeStyle: A lot of Roqovan, including yourself, come from Infinity Ward. How refreshing is it to have more creative freedom and create what you want, rather than being forced to make yet another Call of Duty game?
James Chung: It’s extremely freeing. We are essentially doing everything we couldn’t do because we were making realistic games before. It’s amazing to be asking “how can we make our game even crazier?”
PSLS: Roqovan has some incredible artists and animators on staff, including Annie Award winner Nik Ranieri. How has it been getting to work with so many talented individuals, and how important is high-quality animation to World War Toons?
Chung: Nik in particular has been amazing addition to the team. Although we were set on making a cartoony game, no one had cartoon world background like Nik. He adds so much to the humor of the cartoony visual and animation aspect of World War Toons. On the flip side, we have someone like Yongwoo, our Lead Artist, who comes from making numbers of games for Pixar and THQ. And not only does he bring in incredible art for building the environment, he brings in tremendous amount of discipline in actually making everything we design to run well in the game. It’s just amazing to have all these guys put things together.
PSLS: The first-person shooter space is insanely competitive right now. We’ve got Battlefield 1, Titanfall 2, Call of Duty, and Overwatch all battling for people’s playtime. What sets World War Toons apart from the rest?
Chung: The way we see it, the FPS genre IS super competitive because everyone is trying to make the “Gran Turismo” or “Forza” of FPS. What we want to do is to make the “Mario Kart” of the FPS genre. Something both kids and adults can jump into and simply have fun and walk away laughing. We believe there is a huge room for that market.
PSLS: How does virtual reality make World War Toons a better game? Are there any worries that players on one format will have an edge on other players?
Chung: It’s actually very interesting because the first control scheme we are pushing is easier and more precise than using right thumstick to aim. It actually shortens the gap between the console players and mouse/keyboard players.
VR definitely pushes the immersive level to next level because you are no longer playing the game through a “window”, but you are actually in it. You’ll be able to feel simple things such as the height changes between classes which increases the immersion factor.
PSLS: After developing a game for virtual reality, how excited are you for this new format? Do you think that this will be a potential game changer for the industry?
Chung: We are a firm believer in VR. As you might have heard by now, we are making content on multiple different front ranging from education to narrative side of VR content. Every project we work on, we are just amazed by the level of immersion and unique experiences that VR provides for the users. VR is not a potential game changer VR IS a game changer for the industry.
PSLS: How difficult was it to work on a game that is compatible with VR, while also being playable without? Did this cause any issues during development, and would you want your next game to support both as well?
Chung: It was a fine balance to manage for sure. We had to look at the history of how gamers react when adapting to a new interface as well as current state of how users interact with content on both console and the PC front. For example, we had to make a conscious decision on at what point it makes sense to release motion control support as opposed to focusing on the traditional input method for VR.
PSLS: World War Toons is free-to-play, but I haven’t seen this system really outlined. How will players be able to spend money in-game, and what will they be able to purchase?
Chung: No Pay to Win. Let’s get that out first. Specifically speaking, because we are launching as a beta version with limited content, we will initially utilize the crate system. As the content library grows, we will open up the store to have individual downloadable items. Special events and items you have to win to acquire will be available as well. It might sound a bit standard, but we also have some surprise plans that we will be announcing too. We just can’t share that yet, but it will be super exciting news for gamers.
PSLS: There is a certain stigma that still impacts free-to-play games despite notable successes like Killer Instinct. How are you planning to change the minds of gamers that tend to scoff at a game being free and write it off before checking it out?
Chung: The core gaming market as well as traditional publishers are still getting used to the F2P market. But it’s rapidly changing because we have a whole new generation of users growing up with that model on the mobile platform. If anything, it’s an exciting opportunity because it opens up whole new level of market as well as being able to reach out to foreign markets that only deals with F2P games such as China.
PSLS: How difficult is it to tune a free-to-play title? Obviously, you want players to put money into the game, but if it becomes “pay-to-win” then it turns players off. It seems like a really difficult balance to strike.
Chung: It is extremely difficult. It’s a commitment you have to make early on and carefully plan for. Launching a game is only the beginning in the land of F2P games, so you really have to plan to run this marathon. That’s why typically when you see games that switch from “pay to play” to “free to play” in haste they don’t fare so well. We were also very blessed to have someone like our strategist who was able to plan out our F2P model very carefully and also give specific suggestions on which path we should take.
PSLS: Tell our readers why they should take the time to play World War Toons come October 13!
Chung: World War Toons was conceived because we know how much gamers care about content they can invest their lives into. We don’t take this lightly and wanted to make sure we would be one of the first to come up with VR content that can be called a “real game.” We know there are tons of things to polish and fix after our beta launch, but our goal was to always grow World War Toons with our fans. So we encourage fans of FPS to download our game for free on Oct 13th and help us to make the game better. It’s also part of the reason why we make crucial news such as new character reveals to the users through our social networking channels directly. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and our YouTube channel for all the news and to communicate with us. We need to hear from our fans.
We’d like to thank James Chung and Studio Roqovan for taking the time out to answer our questions. World War Toons will be out on October 13, and is free-to-play.