Can you introduce yourself and describe your role on the project? How long have you been in the gaming industry and what drew you to your current position?
My name is Antoine Villepreux and I’m working as Project Manager on Blood-Bowl at Cyanide.
I’ve been in the gaming industry for 9 years now. I started as a programmer, then lead-programmer, and finally Project Manager for a few projects now.
For those people who are unfamiliar with the board game can you give us an overview of the rules and regulations of Blood Bowl? What were some of the challenges/disadvantages to bringing the board game to life?
The original Games-Workshop Game is a tabletop turn based board-game, taking place in a parody of the Warhammer universe.
It’s a mix of several genres: It’s a sport game, kind of a mix between rugby and American football, but with far less rules and more violence. It’s also a deep tactical game with RPG elements (and even looks like a strategy game when playing real-time). And it’s also a management game as you act as a coach managing your team over championships seasons.
The first challenge was to keep the spirit of the original game, which is in fact very funny, and keep the difference between Blood-Bowl and Warhammer in term of graphical universe.
We also decided to be very faithful to the original board game and to try to please the existing fan base. And that was a real challenge because that game has really strict and complicated rules with lot of skills interactions. We could have made a simple arcade football game with Orcs, but we felt Blood Bowl deserved a faithful adaptation.
Did you have to make any changes to the rules when ported the game over or not? Were you able to add anything (races, spells, etc) to the game or is it all based on the board game materials? Will these modes be available on on the platforms?
In turn based mode (we also provide a real-time mode) we tried to be really faithful to the original game, and so to keep exactly the same rules. We know there might remain some issues in the end but we are working hard (especially with our beta testers, coming from the Blood Bowl community for most of them) to minimize that.
We did not add new races: we provide “only” 8 of the original races so there are still a lot of races to add without inventing new ones. That does not mean we did not add anything: in fact that game leaves room for lot of additions: Once the player has entered the “extended” mode we give him access for examples to a real-time mode, an equipment system, sponsors, extra inducements…
Except for the real-time mode that will not be available on small consoles (PSP and DS), most of those additions will be available.
Are there any major differences between the different versions of the game (PC/360 vs. PSP/DS)? How are you planning on using the touchscreen on the DS?
As I said the main difference is the lack of the real-time mode on PSP and DS.
The turn-based mode however is almost the same on all platforms.
Of course there are some slight differences: on 360 the real-time mode is more arcade than on PC, on DS the touch-screen perfectly replaces the PC mouse…
The game has a real time and a turn based mode, why did you break the game into two different modes? Can you talk about the differences in the modes in terms of how much control you have over the action and how long a match takes to play?
First we really wanted the turn-based mode, because that’s the only faithful way to play Blood-Bowl. A turn-based match is played the same as a table-top match. Depending on the duration you allow for a turn, a match can take from 20 minutes to 1h30!
Then (and maybe having done Chaos League before was source of inspiration) we thought that providing a different play style would 1/ be really fun and 2/ add more players to a game that might at first seem complicated to newcomers. It also allows you to play a match in 10 minutes, which is a new experience for an existing Blood Bowl player.
What RPG elements are in the game? If I have a player killed in a game are they gone forever or can I resurrect them with a spell during the game or are they gone forever?
Players have attributes and skills. As they play they gain experience that allows them to increase their attributes and gain new skills. And if you play with equipment you can allow buy different pieces of equipment (helmets…) depending on your level. Players also become older, might be injured or even get killed, forever. You then understand why a good apothecary is a must during a match.
Despite the fact that this really is part of the spirit of the game; some people might get frustrated to lose important players in one match, so things like permanent death are optional.Team management is an important part of the game, how do you go about recruiting your team and what attributes will team managers be looking at when they evaluate talent? Will you strictly be working with the physical attributes of the team or can you purchase equipment for your players?
You start with an empty roster and you can buy up to 16 players in your team. You pick them among several player types available depending on the race you choose to play. For example with humans you have access to 4 player positions, plus an ogre, and even can hire a star player for the duration of a match. Of course they all have a cost.
When choosing your players of course looking at attributes (movement, strength, agility and armor) is really important.
Then look at the skills a player might already own by default and the ones he might acquire in the future.
You can also, like in any sport game, take a look at the many season and carrier statistics of the player you plan to buy.
And while optional, equipment is a really important addition that you must take care of if you enable it.
Will there be any online multiplayer leagues or is it strictly head to head? How will the team selection work for multiplayer, will players be able to bring their own custom teams into the game?
Of course you can play head to head matches, on LAN, Internet, or even Hot-Seat. Either with predefined teams (some being famous) or with exported teams from your running championships or campaigns.
We also provide two only leagues systems.
First a public league, a classic ladder, where your teams can compete against players for all over the world. Search filters will allow you to find the appropriate opponent.
But more important, we provide a private leagues system that will allow you to create and manage you own custom private league, with your favorite rules, and the desired amount of players. We hope existing online communities or group of friends will be able to migrate to our game to play their matches.
One of the great things about the franchise is that you don't have to play by the standard football rules, what kinds of dirty tricks will players be able to pull off in the game?
I personally like hitting a player while he’s on the ground, or push him out of the pitch to see him being crushed by the crowd.
You might also try to bribe the referee, corrupt a player, or give “special” potions to your players before a match.
Will players be able to have their own custom teams (logos, colors, etc) or are you confined to pre-set teams?
Of course there are preset teams ready for exhibition matches, but you have to create your own customized team to play in the other game modes.
You have to give it a name, choose a logo or even create your own, and select a team color.
Add that to the skin colors variations, the body differences for the same player type (for example different horns), the rank and position number printed on the players’ shirts, the different equipment set they own, and your team should be really unique.
How many stadiums are in the game? Are there differences between the stadiums or are they all the same? Will certainly stadiums favor certain types of teams/races?
For the launch of the game we will provide 5 stadiums that will have no effect on the match: just different sizes and atmospheres.
Is there any we missed that players should know?
We provide many game modes: championships (manage a team across seasons), campaign (a carrier mode where your start playing small tournaments against small teams and you try to level up your team across tournaments to finally play the biggest one: the Blood Bowl against the most famous teams, like the Orcland Raiders…), exhibition of course, and the Online Leagues we already talked about.
A lot of the aspects of the game can also be customized: players and teams, online leagues, match rules, championships (direct or back and forth, how many pools, number of teams per pool, cup or championship or mixed, rules…)… Blood Bowl is a game that should adapt to the way of playing of each player.
Also don’t forget our two famous match commentators, Jim & Bob that will make of each match a unique moment of poetry!
We'd like to thank Antoine for taking the time to answer our questions and to Ted B for helping to coordinate the interview.