Interview: PS All-Stars Game Director Omar Kendall Talks about Beta Focus, Updates, and New Offense Mechanics
Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale had its first public closed beta event over the course of last weekend. While SuperBot was interested in testing the game’s online play on a large scale, players with beta access had their own plans. As reported early Sunday morning, enterprising members of NeoGAF leaked a number of files in the beta, confirming the existence of 20 collective characters, 14 stages, and a slew of game modes and options for both single player and vs. mode.
Though it took them a few days, SuperBot Entertainment president Chan Park posted on the official PlayStation blog addressing the leak and the future beta for PlayStation Plus members. I was fortunate enough to also speak with director Omar Kendall about PS All-Stars and how it will appeal to various markets.
Paul-Anthony LaCen: Another beta in the fall seems rather late, considering the game’s October 23rd Launch date. Will the fall beta mainly be there to test net code, server stability, etc?
Omar Kendall: The PlayStation All-Stars betas are being used to gain useful information on a number of issues, including the ones you mention. Rest assured we’ll be tuning and tweaking this game as much as we can, both before and after release!
P: Due how early the beta build was, a lot of the complaints were about things that SuperBot had already fixed. The use of a more stable build may allow a lot of the superfluous topics and complaints to take a backseat to useful gameplay feedback. Is there any intention to maybe grant players access to a later build for the beta? Or is that out of the question, especially due to the leak that resulted from just an early build?
O: The beta code currently being tested is rather old in terms of buginess and gameplay. Our intention for this phase of the beta is to test various network issues, and many of the rough areas you’re experiencing in the beta have already been addressed in the most recent internal builds. We will continue to update the beta with improvements to all areas of the game, including stability and gameplay, in preparation for our release.
P: Is the character list greater than the 20 we know of? Are there plans for characters via DLC?
O: I can’t comment on the details of the feature list beyond the characters, levels, and content we’ve already announced. Please stay tuned for more official announcements, like the one we’ll be doing at Gamescom, for your information fix!
P: How much attention are you paying to the community that intends to play your game at a competitive level? Is there any intention to possibly adjust characters in the future with patches should someone turn out to be overpowered in competitive play?
O: We’re paying attention to the feedback of our entire community, competitive and otherwise. Something we’ve already seen in the beta is how different characters appear to players as too strong or too weak depending on their familiarity with the game. We see characters rise and fall in popularity on almost an hourly basis! PlayStation All-Stars has technology that allows us to update the game’s balance without the need of a patch, and this technology is something that we plan on using to address any gameplay issues as they arise.
P: Is each character’s story independent of others, or will there be an overarching plot that links our heroes other than “well there’s this tournament and they’re all here for it”?
O: We’ll be talking more about the story in PlayStation All-Stars soon, please stay tuned!
P: With the great reception that happened at Evo, will you be going to other competitive events to promote the game? Word is that the tournament organizer for Apex, the largest smash tournament of the year, is looking for All-Stars to be a part of the event.
O: We’re very excited at the prospect of bringing PlayStation All-Stars to as many different events as possible, but we’re also not trying to force this game down anyone’s throat. My personal approach is to let the fans decide on where they want the game taken, and then support them in their efforts. I personally would love it if Apex added PlayStation All-Stars to its competition.
P: SuperBot president Chan Park addressed the datamining leak that resulted from the beta. He stated what I feel should be obvious, but probably needed stating anyway: that files in such an early build do not represent how the game will turn out in the end. Is there anything you’d like to say regarding it?
O: I think Chan spoke to the feelings had by myself and the rest of us here at SuperBot very well. While we’re bummed about the leak and any impressions players might take away based on it, we’re also energized by the positive response people are having to our beta and ultimately we think the game and it’s play do more to affect the game’s perception than any leak could ever achieve.
P: The leak hinted at a lot of extra versus modes. We haven’t heard much officially regarding this. Stock and Reverse Stock were mentioned and explained, but are there any other gameplay modes that can be brought to light? There was a mention of a “Sumo Ring” mode, can that possibly be explained?
O: I really can’t comment on any information gleaned from the unintended leak other than to direct you to Chan Park’s comments on the PlayStation Blog regarding this issue.
P: Regarding gameplay options, there were a lot of AP modifiers that came up, such as AP loss on eject, crumple and twitch. Just how deep will the AP modifiers get?
O: PlayStation All-Stars is fundamentally about AP usage, gain, and loss. You will see that many of the game’s mechanics, including the ones you mention, all mess with our players’ access and ability to use to AP. I don’t want to spoil the fun of discovering the various layers of AP strategy for players, so I’ll leave it at that.
P: It was briefly mentioned that the designers were toying with the idea of AP loss due to excessive blocking against assaults, was there any development on that front? Has the design team considered other options to discourage excessively defensive play?
O: I won’t give you a full breakdown of our combat system (I really couldn’t, considering we’re still tweaking it), but I’ll give you two examples of recent additions that discourage overly defensive play. First, we recently added AP “chip damage” to blocking opponents, which means that even against a blocking opponent, the attacker is still able to earn a diminished amount of AP. Second, we added a system called Guard Crushing that allows certain moves to defeat the defense of a blocking opponent. These two additions mean that at any given time, simply blocking all incoming attacks is not enough to nullify the AP accrual of your opponents, which should inherently discourage blocking.
P: Thank you for your time and for your answers, Omar.
O: Thank you very much for you interest in PlayStation All-Stars!