PC Interview

Cyanide talk up Chaos League

Developer waxes lyrical on new fantasy RTS game

With the imminent release of Digital Jesters unusual Chaos League extreme-sports RTS title (next month), we thought it was about time we had a few choice words with developer Cyanide on what on earth they're playing at...

Ferrago: The premise of Chaos League is somewhat unique. How on earth did you come up with a blend of sports title and fantasy game?

Cyanide: We have played a variety of games with similar settings in our youth actually and we felt it was a shame that no one was willing to "re-invent" the genre by adapting the overall concept with more "modern" game mechanics. Games like Mutant League Football, Speedball, MUDS, Grave Yardage, etc...Some of them were action oriented, others were more strategic but we really wanted to make an RTS-type of game based on the concept of fantasy football.

Ferrago: In what manner is the fantasy element of the game more than a 'gloss'? How will the sport and how it is played be affected by the fantastical setting?

Cyanide: Setting the game in a fantasy universe lets us do a lot of thing that would hardly be possible in a real-life setting. We don't have to care about being realistic. The fantasy setting allows us to use magic spells that add variety to the gameplay. It also lets us have many different races with different attributes. We can dope players, bribe the referee - without people complaining about ethics because it is a fantasy environment.

Ferrago: What balance has been struck between RTS and sports game in the controls?

Cyanide: The game really plays like a RTS. The controls will be familiar to gamers used to this type of game. The main difference is really that the goal is not to destroy and conquer but rather to destroy and score. The strategic aspect sometimes takes from the sport world. For example, it is important to have at least two safeties that act as last defenders but since there are very few rules, you cannot really say that knowing one particular real-life sport is really an advantage.

Ferrago: Tell us about multiplayer - specifically online. We think the potential for tournaments is huge.

Cyanide: The game has been designed to push gamers to play online. We offer the classic RTS options of 1-on-1 games in either friendly mode or ranked play (with our official ladder). We also allow team play with up to 3 human players controlling the same team which is actually very fun and even more strategic.

To help people interested in developing online leagues, we let users create teams in solo then export and use them online (non-ranked play though for cheating reasons). Exported teams will earn experience online that can be spent to acquire new skills and spells just like in solo. The setting of the leagues will have to be handled by the "league commissioners" but we plan to assist them and provide them with tools they'd like to see. So far, we have a few leagues being created and we have started providing exports of match logs and stats. You can also use the replays of games and exchange them in order to learn how different players play with their team.

Ferrago: How will players progress in Chaos League, to keep the game fresh and interesting?

Cyanide: When you start a game, you start with a set of standard players (although you can choose the mix between positions). As your players gain experience, they can acquire new skills and spells. This is really addictive as you start to have customized veteran players who you are getting attached to. It can really be devastating to see your star receiver getting killed after a couple seasons!

As you progress, you also have access to new players that are too expensive at the start of the game (such as monsters like Minotaurs or Trolls). When you reach the highest division (there are 4), you also can try to hire some unique star players.

Trying to collect all the trophies and elements of the gallery can also be quite motivating.

Ferrago: What influences has the game drawn from the sports and fantasy genres respectively?

Cyanide: From the fantasy genre, we probably use most of the stereotypes. We didn't want to "confuse" players by creating a whole new universe with extremely original races. Most people know what an orc is and what his strengths are supposed to be. So we took these standards and tried to apply them to our game. As for the sports genre, we took some tactical elements but also some of what goes on behind the scenes that is not always very moral!

Ferrago: What game modes will be available for budding players?

Cyanide: In solo, you'll have a career mode which lets you take control of a customized team and try to take it to the top of the elite league. There is a scenario mode where you'll have to complete a variety of objectives that have sometimes nothing to do with winning the game. Then you have the single match mode which lets you control any pre-set team that is in the game but also any exported team you may have. Finally, the multiplayer (LAN, internet) that has already been discussed.

Ferrago: How detailed is the management side of the title? Are we taking Championship Manager with elves?

Cyanide: Quite light. We wanted to concentrate on the in-match action. We track records and stats but we didn't want to confuse players as to what the game is. It is an RTS and not a management game.

Ferrago: Finally, how do you hope gamers will view Chaos League upon its release?

Cyanide: Given the feedback from beta-testers and the demo so far, we hope people will be very pleasantly surprised. The game is original and very fun. The fact that matches are only 10-15 minutes long allows gamers to play quick matches online so we hope that the community will keep developing rapidly.

Ferrago: Thanks for you time, and best of luck with the game's launch.

E3 Trailer