Gun Bros 2 Interview With Glu Games' Daren Chencinski
Explosive details on the publisher's dual stick shooter.
The original Gun Bros delivered intense, arcade-style shooting to mobile devices. It was also one of the pioneers of in-app purchases on smartphones and tablets; make of that what you will. Now Glu Games is back with a sequel, aptly called Gun Bros 2, and this dual-stick blast-a-thon expands on the formula with a slew of mods, enhancements to the Brotherhood system and co-op play between iOS and Mac users. To learn more about this free-to-play follow-up, we spoke with the game's General Manager, Daren Chencinski.
A lot has changed in mobile gaming since the original Gun Bros. How have you adapted the sequel to compete against the current crop of shooters?
Shooters have certainly grown since the original Gun Bros, and we're fans of the ones on console, PC and mobile. We drew inspiration from some of these titles, but we did our best to deliver an original take on shooters and, with this sequel, evolve the Gun Bros universe. Holding true to the original, Gun Bros 2 is a unique and entertaining experience.
Gun Bros has always been about the guns and gun variety. We really wanted to take our guns to the next level and introduce a new MOD system. The MODs are basically weapons in their own right. The team held to the mantra "put some guns on those guns" as inspiration for our MODs. In reality, most of the MODs don't actually behave like traditional guns. The point of the feature is to add attachments to the guns that do more than just modify their stats. In other words, we wanted you to strap weapons to your guns. We also wanted the MODs to affect player strategy. In order to do this, we first designed them to complement one another. Secondly, we allowed for up to three different MODs to be attached to any gun. This means players can carry up to six unique MODs at any time, giving the player a lot of options for attack. Finally, each MOD has its own cooldown, making it fun to experiment with MOD combinations to see what's more effective for your play style.
In addition, we wanted to promote gun variety. In the first game, it was fun to switch guns, but there wasn't a huge reason to besides traditional, yet semi-advanced play strategies. As gameplay progresses in Gun Bros 2, the enemies start to equip barrier technology. These barriers are color coded red, blue and purple. These barriers take a huge amount of damage to take down and can make a normally meaningless grunt a tough opponent. However, the player can counteract these barriers by applying a barrier breaker of the same color to their gun. If the correct barrier breaker is applied, then the barrier is shattered very quickly. The player has intel prior to each mission letting them know which two barrier technologies the enemy will be equipped with. Once in gameplay, the player can easily identify what the barrier technology is and switch to the correct weapon.
Another important tenant of the Gun Bros universe has always been player individuality, which besides the guns, has been expressed by the wide-ranging selection of armor in the game. However, it was tough for players to feel individual in the first game since stat boosts were attributed to the armor worn at that time. Of course, this meant you just wore your best armor in many cases instead of what you as a player may have wanted to wear. In Gun Bros 2, we now provide the player with permanent stat boosts for every armor piece you acquire. This means players are rewarded for all the armor they collect but aren't punished for what they wear...or don't wear.
In this game, we also added a robust collection system. The player finds MODs and armor by simply playing the game. We give the player big, permanent stat bonuses for completing sets of armor. It's really fun to find new stuff, and since the drops are random, you are very likely to have a different load out from your friends playing the game.
The team's favorite addition to the game was the introduction of vehicles. Gun Bros 2 version 1.0 has a tank that we call the Honey Badger. It's essentially a power-up that randomly appears and is air dropped in for the player. Once you jump in, you can cause complete mayhem. The Honey Badger allows players to fire machine guns, rockets and ram attack (which is also useful for chasing down enemies). It doesn't take any damage but will run out of gas and explode after a certain amount of time. It feels really good to jump in there and wreak havoc without having to worry about enemy bullets...at least for a little while.
It's certainly a bit understated, but before adding any of these features, we wanted to move to full 3D to enable more interesting level designs and gameplay scenarios. We also wanted to raise the bar significantly with our visuals. The art team pushed for much higher fidelity Bros and enemies. In fact, Percy and Francis have been given a major overhaul, which players will notice immediately. The combination of higher end devices and an outstanding engineering team have allowed us to deliver great visuals and dynamic gameplay
What was the process of getting iOS and Mac cross-platform functionality? Any chance of adding Android support?
Gun Bros 2's development team utilized Game Center's multiplayer support to deliver this cross-platform functionality. We are very excited to offer Apple users this type of multiplayer experience.
Gun Bros 2 on Android will also launch with real-time multiplayer and the new Brotherhood.
As for the Brotherhood, players are able to bring their Facebook friends into battle across both iOS and Android devices thanks to Glu's proprietary technology. Of course, iOS players can play with both their Game Center and Facebook friends.
We heard the team tweaked the Brotherhood System. How so?
For those unfamiliar with the Brotherhood, it is basically a list of friends playing the game signed into Facebook and/or Game Center. You can select to bring your friend into battle as an assistive AI Bro; leveraging their current load out. This carries added importance in Gun Bros 2, thanks to the MOD and barrier system.
The Brotherhood now includes a leaderboard in our new endless mode. Playing against fellow Bros for the high score now takes on a new level of competition. We have a number of other updates planned for the Brotherhood.
Gun Bros. was known partially for its expensive in-app purchases. What can we expect in the sequel?
We strive to make a great game and awesome gear for all of our players. Gun Bros 2 offers great gameplay regardless of how much players choose to spend. We do not lock players out from any aspect of our game, but of course players can choose to what degree they will spend to get the best gear a little faster. We have also created a more compelling way of acquiring new gear by virtue of our collections system. It makes it more fun to play when you're finding gear along the way.
What kind of MODs can players expect?
Gun Bros 2 will launch with 10 different MOD types. There are varying versions of each MOD type just like we had multiple guns for every gun type in the first game. There are about 30 MODs in the game that you can find and we plan to add more.
There are a set of MODs that are meant to be "fire and forget". For example, the Spydr Mine is essentially a mine with legs. Once launched, it will seek out enemies and explode on impact. There's also the Rocket Shot, which fires between one-to-three homing rockets that never miss. You can also use the Shield MOD to protect against all damage for a set period of time.
Some MODs are designed for tactical players. The Shockwave MOD knocks back all enemies in near proximity while exerting damage concurrently. Another good way to find some breathing room is to activate the Shoe Speeder, which gives the player a burst of speed. The Singularity MOD creates a miniature black hole causing damage to any nearby enemies. Our D-Coy MOD creates a holographic Bro that constantly flexes. The T.O.O.L. are fooled into thinking he's the main target, which diverts fire from the player.
On the mass destruction side of things, we have a few options. The Mallet of Brawn sends a suborbital ray of solar energy that seeks out and destroys enemies. There's the Box Missile that launches four tactical mini-nukes that destroy even the toughest bad guys. And of course, Gun Bros wouldn't be complete without the all-damaging Air Strike that now is available in MOD form.
Tanks made the cut. Any plans to add more vehicles in future updates?
We love the Honey Badger! And yes, we definitely plan to introduce new vehicles.
Since this is also an Android title, what are your thoughts on Project Shield? Will we see Gun Bros 2 on this platform?
We cannot comment on plans for Project Shield at this time.