Swordy is a game I’ve seen going around a few times *snrk*, featuring warriors with iron stomachs spinning into one another like whirling dervishes of death. Up until speaking with Alexey, I considered it to be a pretty fun local co-op game, but a quick interview revealed that the game will be expanding a bit further. Honestly, smashing each other apart with spinning maces, swords, and flails was already pretty fun, but there’s a lot more to look forward to in the near future.
You were here with Swordy at PAX last year, as well, what’s changed the most about the game in the last twelve months?
Well, this is our third year at PAX in Melbourne, we just released Swordy on Steam Early access in July, and since then we’ve worked on a bunch of stuff. The update we just released on Early Access was a single player component, we have things like location based damage, so depending on where you hit your opponents is how damage is determined. We also have armor, you can pick up pieces of armor to cover up certain locations, allowing players to be strategic about where they’re targeting other players, and where they’re being targeted themselves. The single player component of that is kind of what we call a missions mode.
There’s only three of us [in the development team], the resources are scarce, and we’re trying to optimise the best way to go about something big like a single player mode. What we came up with is, you play missions that are staged based, progressing through the stages as enemy bots become harder and harder, with stronger armor and weapons. You can also play cooperatively now, it used to be that Swordy was just a multiplayer game, but now there’s co-op there, as well, if people want that. That was our first step, we’re going to work on that, add more stages and the kind of encounters – we want a little bit of stealth, and a little bit of skirmishing type encounters. At the moment, we’ve kind of gone with the intial idea of a horde mode, where you fight waves, and that’s worked really well as a first step for us. The frameworks is there, so we can keep building on it.
How long has it been in development for, and how long do you think it will be before you’re finished with it?
It’s been in development for almost three years now, and not all that time has been full time work on it, but the idea was conceived early 2014. We’re planning to be, hopefully, another six to eight months at this stage. We don’t really know, because a lot depends on our resources, how our sales go, and what the community wants. We’re basically done, pretty much, with the competitive multiplayer side of things. We will add a few more modes, we want to do more variety-party stuff because not everyone is into just killing each other and deathmatch stuff. So, we’re gonna do sportsball, which is something people are really excited about, a lot of YouTubers see the mode in map selection, and are like, “Oh! Sportsball, I really want to try that!” Those kind of scenarios are a bit more casual, on top of more maps, and more weapons selections.
So what has the process been like in terms of programming, building the game, and what engine are you using?
So, we’re using Unity as our engine – Unity’s great. I’m not the actual programmer, I’m responsible for some art, music and sound in the game, and a lot of the community management type styuff. I do a lot of the social media account type stuff, editing trailers, and things like that. It would be good to ask Hamish about development on the development.
Hamish: Unity’s been fantastic, and I guess the biggest challenge is that everything in Swordy is physics based, which makes things… interesting.
And where did the idea of just swinging around and around with weapons come from?
Hamish: We originally started with a kind of scissors, paper, rock style of combat mechanic, then we decided to try and add in some physics, and that turned oiut to be a lot of fun, so decided to go all in with that.
With the game being on Early Access, what’s it been like altering the game over time based on player feedback, either art wise, or programming wise?
Alexi: We started off for the first two years in a kind of player feedback loop at these kind of events, stuff like PAX, and our local community meetup. Most of the game has been built up on that kind of feedback, so more or less, the game was ready to face the world once we went onto Steam. It’s kind of tricky because you want to keep the game vision solid, and not let the game be diluted by everyone pouring in too much feedback with, “You should do this,” or, “You should do that.” But, at the same time, you want a lot of space left for that kind of thing, so people feel like they’re part of this development process, to feel like they’re influencing the game, and having it end up how they envision, and hope it ends up being.
We’ve only been in Early Access for four months, it’s quite early to tell. We’ve had some really great feedback, we have some really passionate players that, once we push an update – even the slightest bug fix – they’ll play it and give their feedback on it. They’ll tell us what they think is too overpowered, or feels wrong, or might be broken. It’s really good to have that kind of thing, as developers, but at the same time Early Access is very challenging because it’s hard to promote Early Access games, there’s a lot of stigma. Steam doesn’t really promote Early Access games as much as it does full releases, so getting that traction is really difficult, and convincing people that it’s not another “dime and dash” type thing. But we were lucky in that we have a community, which we’ve built in the three years we’ve been taking it to PAX, in Australia and the US, that we have a bit of that momentum to keep us going. It’s still been really challenging though.
Since it sounds like Swordy is fairly close to being completed, have you guys got your sites set on future projects at all?
Nothing specific, we’re very excited about VR – our living room is basically a big VR playground, we don’t have a couch in the middle or anything like that, so we’re playing just about every VR game that’s coming out. We’re hoping that we’ll have enough time to experiment and play before deciding what our next thing is going to be.
Here are some other places where you can show your support for Swordy: