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Exclusive Transformers Universe interview with Steven Huckle!

by on October 20, 2011
 

If you love anything Transformers, you’ll love this. If not, continue anyway and prepare to be amazed! Not much has been revealed yet about Transformers Universe, an upcoming MMO, but we’ve got you covered! We’ve spoken with Steven Huckle, Art Director at JAGEX Games Studio, and learned some pretty interesting things. From gameplay characteristics and accessibility, to character customization features, environments and more. Want to know which characters will be in the game or if we’ll encounter any humans? Continue reading to find out…

Could you tell us something about the studio you’re working at? What’s JAGEX like?

JAGEX has been around for 10 years now. It is famous for Runescape, which was the world’s biggest free-to-play game. It has been running for all those 10 years and still going very strong thanks to the massive fan base it has. We’re based in Cambridge and our team is pretty big :)

 

Let’s talk about Transformers Universe. In terms of gameplay style, what can players expect?

It’s more combat focused, but there is a broad range of different gameplay styles since there’s such a wide range of audience. We did not wanted to say we are doing only this and fence ourselves in. Lots of people like Transformers, so let’s give everybody the chance to play the game if they want to play it.

Will the game be accessable to players who don’t play MMO’s very often?

This is one of our main focus. Being browser based helps us alot. They can get straight on, log into the game and they’re there. It’s really easy for people who aren’t familiar with playing games to jump in straight away.

That’s convenient.

Yeah, it’s brilliant. It’s not a boxed product. We can make it so easy for people to get into, because there is no real barrier. People know the internet, logging into a web page is second nature to most people now-a-days. It’s also kind of a new thing. People have been talking alot about cloud gaming recently, but it’s really just a new term. JAGEX have been basically doing cloud gaming for almost 10 years and we’ve learned alot of lessons from it.

I understand character customization is a key feature of the game. Could you elaborate on that in terms of what can we expect?

One of the things we’ve realized when we started working on this project and talked to Hasbro is that everybody wants to make their own Transformer. We wanted to give the players a bit more than that, so we’ve decided on this character customization system where you can choose your character/vehicle and make it look who you want it to look in the game and then play as that character throughout.

Will that somehow affect the gameplay?

Yes, the character you choose will have an impact on how you play the game.

If the players can customize their character, does that mean we won’t encounter any of the original Transformers or will they be present in the game as well?

Oh yes, you can’t have a Transformers game without Optimus and Megatron, but at the same time we also have more fan-based characters. There are over 11,000 Transformers so far, so there’s alot to choose from. It’s a massive number, so we’ve gone with the ones everyone knows – the famous ones, but at the same time we want to give the real Transformers fans an opportunity to have the ones they really like in as well. We’ve got a few surprise characters coming too.

Can you confirm one of my favourite characters… Soundwave?

(laughs) I can’t confirm or deny that at the moment.

Ok. Ok… Since the players will be able to customize their characters, will they be able to share them with each other somehow?

For the initial launch character customization will be very personal. I imagine in the future, as the feature goes on and the game grows, it might be possible, but that’s something that’s still being talked about.

Some of the Transformers shows, namely Animated and Cybertron, also include humans in the them. Will we possibly meet any of those, or humans in general?

I can’t comment on that, but the game is set in a human environment…

What will the camera angle in the game be like?

That’s still being worked on. We’ve got a lot of freedom, since we’ve got a new camera system. It should give the player more control, but we will see how it works. The engine, graphically, is build from the ground up.

In terms of locations, should we expect some of the famous ones?

The game is set in the Transformers universe and is in line with the Prime continuity – the new TV show on The Hub. We’ve also got hundreds, if not thousands, of planets and locations we can go to with it as well, so those are things for the future. We do want to keep the accessibility and familiarity though, so that Transformers fans who aren‘t hardcore gamers will recognize and play the game quite easily and equally massive Transformers fans who know MMO’s will be able to have as much fun as well.

So potentially you could introduce new maps and characters with downloadable content?

Yeah, those are the joys of an MMO. There’s pretty much instant access. There isn’t any 12 GB download. We can adapt the game as we need to, so we can introduce locations or characters in a moment as we see fit.

Will Transformers Universe be released only on PC or other platforms as well?

Well, it is browser based…

Maybe Mac?

I don’t know how Mac works with some of the browsers and there could be some Java issues, etc. PC browser is our primary focus, but lower range machines should be able to run it as well.

Will you be doing some testing prior to launch? Maybe some beta testing for the most die hard Transformers fans?

Yes, we will have closed beta before we launch. As when that will be, we haven’t said any dates yet, because we want to wait until we are happy with the game ourselves. We’re all big Transformers fans. When we’re really happy with it, we will start asking fans what they think of it.

 

Thank you for the interview.

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