The Average Gamer

War for the Overworld Interview: Josh Bishop

War for the Overworld - Overhead
War for the Overworld is almost here, after its successful Kickstarter in 2013. Heavily influenced by the Dungeon Keeper games of the late 90s, developers Subterranean Games had an ambitious vision for their first project. I talked to CEO and Creative Director Josh Bishop about what they learned and whether they’re tempted by eSports

Where are you compared to where you expected to be 2 years ago?

JB: We expected to be released two years ago. [laughs] A lot’s changed, really. I guess that depends what you’re asking. We I would say throughout last year we sort of knew we would be releasing around this time, we just weren’t sure exactly when so we stopped talking about a release date.

Why is that? Would you say it’s your lack of experience, or would you keep adding stuff to the game?

JB: Both. Probably more so our lack of experience. We’ve never done this before. All of us, this is our first real game so… we knew what we were doing as far as making it and we were happy that we were making it and it was solid and people were enjoying it. We just weren’t really sure how long it as going to take throughout.

People always say that the last 10% takes the same amount of the time as the first 90%. That’s very much been true.

Towards the end of last year we were getting more and more confident about early next year we’d be releasing and then it was February, then it was March and now it’s April. We’re dead set on that now. April 2nd.

All the stuff about Peter Molyneux [recently] – has that affected you in any way?

JB: No, it’s not really affected us. We’ve read it, obviously, and there’s not really much to say. It happened. I would say a lot of Kickstarters have those problems. They say a lot of things and so early on in the development and there’s a reason that the big triple-A games, studios, don’t talk to people until 12 months before release.

If you were to do an interview with, I don’t know, Bleszinski, 6 months into development of Gears of War and then 12 months before release, and you’d compare the answers, everyone would murder him.

War for the Overworld - Combat
Kickstarter is difficult in that way because you have to just guess and assume and stuff changes as you’re developing a game. If you were to go in and say stuff during the kickstarter and then just do exactly that, the game wouldn’t end up very good. As you’re making a game, it’s gonna change. It’s a creative process.

You guys were very open.

JB: Yeah. I mean, stuff has changed throughout the years. We removed stuff, we’ve added stuff, we’ve changed stuff. The thing is, we’ve just told people exactly what’s been going on and I think that’s been one of our biggest strengths. We’ve delayed the game, I don’t know how many times, and people seem to not mind because of how transparent we’re being. And of course, they have it on Early Access so they can just play it. It’s not like we’re hiding anything from them. You see it and we tell them exactly what’s going on. There doesn’t seem to be any problems.

Do you worry more about doing press than you did?

JB: I can understand people’s reservations because a lot of people aren’t as transparent as us. The level of transparency that we try to retain would probably make some people uncomfortable to start with, so going into press and them asking questions about stuff they don’t want to talk about, I can understand that. We’ve just been completely transparent with everything so I don’t mind so much.

War for the Overworld - Treasure Overhead

Are you looking at eSports at all?

JB: It would be cool. I’m not sure. I have no idea if that’s gonna be a thing. It’s difficult. I, personally, am a fan of League of Legends, LCS I watch, a lot. Some of the people on the team are big fans of DOTA, Starcraft, stuff like that. So it would be nice to see but I don’t know if it’s going to be a big enough game for that, to be honest. It could happen.

I mean the thing about all those games is, it happened organically. For the original Starcraft and the original DOTA, it was all very organic. Obviously with DOTA 2 and League of Legends, Valve and Riot are throwing millions of dollars at it. Initially, it was pretty organic. Nor do we have millions of dollars.

League of Legends Championship Finals 2011 - 2014 600pxDo you think the multiplayer has the depth and balance that could support it?

JB: As far as balance is concerned, probably not at launch. After launch, a while, once we have some time, yeah. I think it could. But we’ll see. I’ve no idea. The thing is, if you would go and look at interviews with people at Riot and you ask them “Did you think it was going to be this big, as an eSport?” they would be like, absolutely not. They started making that game in a room this big. [points around the Central London pub basement that we’re sitting in.]

You look at that picture of the original League from what, 2011? It’s like, 12 guys in a room.

JB: Yes, exactly.

But will you be looking at it with an eye to perhaps…

JB: We’re not going to force it at all.

Certainly we’re going to keep an eye on the balance because that’s just making the game fun. But yeah, we’re not going to get out of our way to try and force eSports. We might host a tournament or two just for fun but we’re not going to like, make a league.