Recently I was lucky enough to attend a hands-on preview of the spiritual successor to the Dungeon Keepers series, War for the Overworld. Being made by a tight team and led by Josh Bishop, I had a chance to have a ten minute chat, discussing the game and its upcoming release.
SR: For complete novices of PC games such as myself, why should people pick up War for the Overworld?
Josh: When was the last time you were able to be an evil demigod, imprison pitiful heroes and burn them to death? Or perhaps convert them to your side, or drop them in a meat grinder and feed them to your army?
SR: It’s certainly appealing!
Josh: It’s like a reverse Diablo. As opposed to being the hero running through the Dungeon, killing the minions and avoiding the traps, you’re the evil under-lord building the dungeon, training the minions and building traps, trying your best to kill the heroes. It’s a complete role-reversal in that sense.
SR: Of course this game takes its lead from the Dungeon Keeper games. From a creative stand point, have there been many restrictions in terms of the creative vision for the game, versus the original series your taking inspiration from?
Josh: I wouldn’t say we’ve been limited in any way, we’ve sort of done what we wanted to do. Yes, we’ve taken cues from it, but those have mainly been from a mechanical and gameplay stand point. From an artistic side we’ve done exactly what we intended to do, starting from scratch and steering clear of copying any content piece-for-piece.
Dungeon Keeper 1 & 2 were made fifteen years ago, so in terms of the way video games are made today, there’s been a lot that’s been able to change due to the ramp up in technology and what’s capable – there’s a lot more we can do.
SR: Would it be right to say that War for the Overworld was one of the first major Kickstarters to hit the ground and gain such a successful result in fundraising?
Josh: It was one of the first in the United Kingdom. Within the first year of Kickstarter being in the UK, we were the third or fourth biggest on that platform, with two above us, Elite and Godus.
SR: Godus being the game in development with Peter Molyneux, the very same man who created the first two Dungeon Keeper titles and gave him blessing to War for the Overworld, correct?
Josh: Yeah, so Dungeon Keeper was part of Peter’s older game catalogue back when he ran gaming studio, Bullfrog. The series’ license was then bought by EA and then Peter left, resulting in no more titles being made. That’s the driving reason as to why we’re here doing what we are, it’s been too long.
SR: How did you take on the reception of the Kickstarter, overshooting its target of £150,000?
Josh: We were quietly confident for our plan, as this has been a long time coming and so many people have wanted this to happen. We were pretty confident we were going to be able to hit out goal, and actually we overshot our goal, closing at around £240,000. Although we did expect to do well, it was still such a gratifying experience for people to believe in what we were doing. I think a key way we’ve handled the size of the project it to be as transparent as possible for the two and a half years we’ve been in development.
SR: With six weeks out until release, what should players expect in terms of content, plus how many people currently sit on the team?
Josh: On release there’ll be a thirteen level campaign, a skirmish mode in which you can play against computer controller enemies or mix and match with the multiplayer aspect of the game, bringing in a few friends as well. We also have a basic sandbox mode which drops the player into a map and let’s them spawn enemies while they create their dungeon. We’ve yet to implement more advanced features for editing the terrain, though we hope to add that further down the line. In terms of the people on the team, including a few people in part-time roles, there’s about fifteen of us.
SR: Quite a tight team then!
SR: On a final note, what’s been your fondest memory on development so far?
Josh: I’ve never been asked that question before. I don’t know! (laughs) Well, there is one thing…
We started working on the final campaign about six months ago. I started designing the levels on paper and the building them in the engine etc. We then began recording the VO work with Richard Ridings, who is actually the original voice actor from the first two Dungeon Keeper games. Once I had his recordings in the game for the story, it was really satisfying for me, because before we’d only have him providing alerts and small quips. So that was a great moment for me personally.
SR: Josh, good luck with development towards release and we look forward to delegating minions once more!
War for the Overlord releases on April 2nd 2015 for Windows, Mac and Linux.