Jon from T.K.O. Gamez stops in to talk about their first project, Army Antz. It recently debuted on Kickstarter.
For starters, let’s have you tell us a little about T.K.O. Gamez. It looks like a pretty big team, so how did you all find each other?
T.K.O. Gamez, Inc., started with Jonathan (me) and my sister, Janet. Trent, Keaton, Chad and I went to college together and they loved the concept of Army Antz so they jumped on board. Mitch, our animator, is one of my old childhood friends and he also loved what I showed him. But we still needed some help, so I went to the Unity forums and looked for a few guys and ended up meeting Zac, Fabian, Marvin, Karolis and Roberto, who is our new programmer. And last but not least is our composer, Rich, who recently came to us through Kickstarter.
It’s really interesting that you’re going for a style similar to General Chaos, a much-overlooked gem by all accounts. Just how faithful will Army Antz be to that formula, and what does it mean for the flow of the game? For example, does the player select from preset squads and command soldiers individually, and do you plan on reviving the hand-to-hand combat when soldiers run into each other on the battlefield?
Army Antz will bring back that fast-paced General Chaos feel, but with a bigger and better twist. We are still going to have those preset squads for fast selection, but you will also be able to customize your own personal squad, thus having a well-balanced system to keep the gameplay fair. You’ll still be able to command your soldiers individually and be able to “group” select and move them as a team. We do plan to keep the hand-to-hand combat features whenever you bump into another character in Army Antz. I believe that was one of the things that also made General Chaos the game it was, with all the little funny random things those soldiers would do.
How does building a game like this with touch controls in mind make your job easier – or harder – than General Chaos’ developers had to contend with on the Sega Genesis? How are targeting and movement accomplished in Army Antz exactly?
Being able to use touch controls for Army Antz will by far make the job easier. Targeting and moving your character or team around will be a breeze compared to controlling the soldiers in General Chaos. You can simply tap a single ant and draw a path with your finger on the screen for the character to follow, or just tap an area on the map to do a straight linear path. For a team select you would tap and hold, catch all the player ants in a certain radius, and again draw a path or tap the area to direct them to.
I saw on your Kickstarter page that you plan to include terrain effects – could you go into a little more detail on this, and how it affects the player when they make a mistake or walk into a trap?
Yes, we are adding hazardous obstacles into the levels to make them more risky if you try to take a shortcut. For example, if you try to jump over barbed wire matchstick fences, you will trip and leave a moment of weakness open for an attack to happen. Same goes with slipping in a mud puddle. On the Muddy Trail level with the footprints, the middle of the foot print acts like a choke point and the foot and heel act as a trap hole. Once you fall in, it’s hard to back away if you are approached by the opposing team. Each level will have its own type of hazard to match the theme of the level.
How will multiplayer matchups work, and how many players will Army Antz support in Co-op mode and Player-vs-Player?
For multiplayer we have a few options. We plan to use an in-game invite connected to usernames, emails and Facebook, sending your mobile device a notification that you have a challenger. We’re also adding Game Center and OpenFeint for the gamers who prefer using those methods, and we’ll have leaderboards for showing the top players.
The amount of players for a multiplayer Co-op campaign can be up to two players, being two versus the CPU, and Player-vs-Player can be up to four players at two-vs-two.
You also intend to let players use Apple TV’s AirPlay feature, right? Does Unity support that out-of-the-box nowadays, or does it take a lot of extra programming to implement?
How cool would it be to have a group of friends over playing the game on a big screen TV in your living room? Yes, it’s going to take a lot of extra programming to implement this feature. We know it’s not going to be an easy task but we are going to get it done one way or another.
How did you guys happen to choose Rich Douglas as the game’s composer?
Rich Douglas chose us! He emailed me directly and was offering his services to compose the music for Army Antz. After listening to his work we knew we had the right man for the job.
What development work has been completed on Army Antz to date, and what tasks remain to be done?
The development work that has been done for Army Antz up to this point includes most of the art assets, characters, weapons and add-ons for the antz. The levels are pretty close to being finished, we have just a few more to concept and we’re waiting to see if anyone will pledge at Kickstarter for a chance to design one of the two remaining levels. Our GUI/menu is half way done and the animation is in the works as we speak. We have just started the programming to get the basics of the game going with our new programmer, Roberto Schaan.