Infinity Blade 2: Vault Of Tears Interview: Readying Grandma For Battle
Chair Entertainment founder Donald Mustard wants your nana to take on the Lupun.
Tomorrow marks the release of Chair Entertainment's biggest update for Infinity Blade 2, titled Vault of Tears. Available free of charge, this exciting DLC brings new elements to the popular hack-and-slash experience, from new social features for ClashMob to various single-player additions, including treasure maps that lead fans to valuable items and a variety of creatures to tackle, with names like Moss Golem and Bog Giant.
On that note, we tracked down Chair founder Donald Mustard to learn how Facebook will help players win ClashMobs, and which character will aid hero Siris in his battle against the Deathless tyrants.
First, congratulations are in order with Vault of Tears. It seems the developers at Chair have accomplished something very special.
We're super excited about this update. That's one of the things I love about iOS development, how easy it is to continually update our apps and add cool new content. This one is by far the biggest update yet, and I'm excited about continuing the single player quest. We're also tweaking ClashMob as well.
While on the subject of ClashMob, how does the new Facebook and Twitter integration work?
We're experimenting with new ways to make ClashMob events meaningful from players doing social stuff. In the original implementation of ClashMob, you receive a victory screen that says something like, 'you've done 10,000 damage', and if you have enough friends in the Mob, you can take another turn. We also have the Facebook and Twitter icons on the side, where if you want, you can post something. What we wanted to do was make this more important, game-related and cool.
Now, when you finish one of those Mobs, the screen will kind of look the same, with the 10,000 hit points of damage, but now it'll say (and this is variable), that to do an extra 10,000, go and like our post. What we're doing differently is this: on every ClashMob we start, we post a message to our Infinity Blade Facebook page that has a description of the ClashMob. If you hit the Like button, it'll like that post and you'll do an additional X amount of damage, as well as get an extra turn on that enemy. We'll also have a comment button, where you'll be able to post a comment that automatically appears on our Facebook wall. We want to create an easy way for people playing ClashMob to post to a board and hold a conversation about that specific event. And if you comment, you'll also do more damage and receive another turn.
From there, we'll post a Tweet saying 'here's the ClashMob going on', and if you re-Tweet that, you'll do additional damage and get another turn. Hopefully, that'll allow people to be more social together and do some cool stuff. It's a new way to use the social mechanisms to put new Mobs together and deal damage outside the game.
Taking it a step further, I'm playing Infinity Blade 2, but my grandma will probably never play it. That said, my grandma might like a Facebook page if I tell here there's five hours left in some event and we need to do 500 million damage to some guy. She can then do damage without having the game. We see this as being innovative and really cool. We want people to rally around a specific event and communicate with each other.
Was this an idea you guys had on the table for a while, or a direct result of people not finishing ClashMobs?
Well, we purposely make some of the ClashMobs harder and easier. Looking back over the last few weeks, we had roughly an 80 percent success rate. People have done a great job completing ClashMobs. We had a tough one last night, where you had to beat something like 2,500 level 1,000 characters. Over a million people participated. This was just something that's taken a while to create the infrastructure for.
When grandma likes that post, is this completely random, or does the game know she's on my friend list?
She's just going to the page and liking it. We're able to track anything tied to that post.
Are you guys happy with ClashMob and the reception so far?
Yes. Our goal is to look at finding new ways to create interesting and original gameplay. ClashMob is a good example of us looking outside the box and asking what can a mobile device do. Not just with touchscreens. What can you do beyond a console or traditional gaming device? We want to make gameplay that is uniquely suited to how we interact with these devices. That's why we wanted to design something more social and asynchronous. It's more cooperative. I'm pretty happy with it. We've had millions participating, with hundreds of thousands of people per day. It's an interesting indicator of some cool stuff you can do with a device that you take with you all the time. It'll continue to evolve.
Looking at the title of this DLC, what is the Vault of Tears, specifically?
I cannot tell you what it is specifically. That's why you need to play the content to find out. It's one of the big story reveals you'll discover as you play through the DLC. We've hinted through the main campaign what the Vault of Tears is, and many players out there have some pretty good theories, but they'll be happy once they figure out what's really going on.
What about the hidden allies? You've been vague as to how this factors into Infinity Blade 2.
Again, that's something I want people to discover. However, I'll give you a hint. If you've read the Infinity Blade Awakening book, the digital novel we wrote with Brandon Sanderson that bridges the story between the first and second game, the concept of the ally refers to a character in the background aiding you on what you're doing. That character will make an appearance in the update.
Let's move on to the Treasure Maps. How do these work?
This is really cool and something I'm very excited about. Treasure Map is as simple and as awesome as what we dreamed treasure maps were as kids. You can buy some in the store, find them in treasure chests or pick them up from dropped enemies. Click on one, and you'll see a map with an X. As you carefully explore the environment, you might be able to locate one of these spots to find cool items and loot.
How many treasure maps are in the game?
I think for this update there are roughly 15.
Most downloadable content for iOS is free, whereas console players always have to pay for it. Do mobile developers have the right idea?
I have quite a few mobile games that ask me to pay another $0.99 to unlock a map or pack of levels, so there's paid DLC on mobile, but there's a lot where you update the game for free. I think it depends on the game and what's viable. I love the ability to update our game and add significant content well after its release. We experimented with that with the first Infinity Blade, where we released the game and said, 'let's keep working on it.' That was a radical idea at the time, and we're really happy with the result. It helps us keep the game fresh.
On that note, is the plan to keep Infinity Blade iOS exclusive? Do you discuss bringing it to different platforms?
We want our games to be accessible to as many people as possible. We love iOS and think that it's an amazing platform that can reach an extremely vast audience, but we're always looking at how we can broaden our audience while doing something in a way that makes sense and is right for the game.