everywhere were excited when they heard that style="font-style: italic;">Gods and Heroes
was not dead, but had been given an imperial reprieve The
Roman-mythology based MMOG, initially developed by Perpetual
Entertainment, was acquired by Heatwave Interactive. Ten Ton Hammer, in
order to learn more details on the state of the game, journeyed to the
palatial villa of Heatwave Interactive. There they talked with Anthony
Castoro (CEO of Heatwave Interactive), Phil Tittle (Produder), and
Theda Sandiford (Marketing Director), and such details were learned.

style="font-weight: bold;">
Ton Hammer: How are things coming along with the game?

Things are coming along really well. The team is growing and the
project is going really well. I think that we really started to focus
on it a month ago and the response from the playtesters has been as
good as we could have possibly hoped. People are really excited about
it, and the game is in really decent shape. We’ve got it up
and running and there’ll be some changes that we’ll
be rolling out after these stress tests. We’re pretty excited
about it.

href=""> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 550px; height: 639px;"
alt="gods and heroes - before and after screenshots"

and After screenshots

style="font-weight: bold;">Ten
Ton Hammer: You mentioned stress tests. I’ve noticed on your
Facebook page that you’ve entered into some beta phases as
well. How regular are the tests you’re doing and how many
people do you have in there?

The stress tests are pretty regular. We’re finishing up our
third one. The first two were very focused on the top usage that the
server could handle. The most recent one was for three days where
people could play it at will any time of the day. We just wanted to see
how stable the servers were. Before we get into true, high-load beta
testing, we want to understand what the servers are capable of and what
things might go amiss so those things can be rectified. Tomorrow
morning, we’re going to have a post-mortem on that and decide
what the next phase is going to be. We obviously have a Plan A and a
Plan B depending upon how it went. We’ve invited several
thousand people in, and we’ve had a very good pickup from
that. We haven’t seen the actual numbers yet, but
we’re very pleased with the response.

Ton Hammer: Picking up the game where it was left with all the
Perpetual stuff, how much work has had to go into the game to get it to
where it is now?

Surprisingly, not a whole lot. We have some other projects going on at
Heatwave, so even though we acquired the assets at the beginning of the
year, we really didn’t let the team loose on it until August.
There were only two or three people on it up until that point. The
biggest issues that we’ve had to address, not including
getting it configured and up and running, was dealing with some of the
known server scaling stability issues. We have one of the best server
programmers in the business at Heatwave, who’s been at
NCsoft, Origins, and some other places, and he went through and really
fixed up some things that were going to be some obvious problems for
the service. We’ve reconfigured it and we have the benefit of
modern hardware. So, a lot of effort has gone into it that way.

At the same time, we do have graphical improvements, both from an asset
perspective and also what the renderer can do. We’ll be
rolling those out after the stress tests. As soon as we’re
done getting a feel what the servers can do and what we need to do to
make that better, we’ll start rolling out some of the
graphical improvements. We’ve posted some before and after
screenshots in the stress test forums, so players are anxious for us to
get that into the game and see that stuff in operation.

Ton Hammer: Let’s talk a bit about gameplay. Are you sticking
true to what it formerly was or have you added your own spices to it?

The things that are central to the IP, such as true historical context
with Roman mythology adventure, the minion system, choosing your gods,
all of that are core to the IP. There are some things that
we’re changing and there are some things that just
weren’t done yet. Those things that were not complete will
take on Heatwave’s flavor. One such example is combat and how
minions work in combat. We love that idea and everyone loves that idea,
but the execution on it wasn’t finished. We have our own
ideas on what will make that really fun and we’ve looked
through the history that it has been through, and some of us were in
the beta test. The community manager for that project is now a designer
at Heatwave, although he’s not working on style="font-style: italic;">Gods and Heroes.
We have a lot of context for what they tried and what they went
through. Ultimately, I think that what you’re going to see
with the minion system will be Heatwave’s play on how that
system should work and what’s going to make it fun.

Also, I think that there’s a certain tone in the game that
we’re going to be adjusting. If you play through the game,
you’ll find that the context of the setting of the game is
very serious, but the conversation aspect of the game is very loose and
is slangy and modern, which is jarring. We’re trying to find
the right tone for the setting, but also for something that
you’ll want to play all the time. A lot of that is writing,
and we have a great writer here, Todd Bailey, who’s a game
designer and he’s going to be working on that.
We’re just trying to make sure that the world feels right.
There are a few other things here and there that we’re going
to change. From a player’s perspective, all the things that
they were excited about are going to be in there.

href=""> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 550px; height: 639px;"
alt="gods and heroes - before and after screenshots"

and After screenshots

Ton Hammer: What separates
style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">Gods
and Heroes style="font-weight: bold;"> from other games?
We’ve seen a ton of fantasy based games, and sci-fi games are
coming out now, but style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">Gods
and Heroes style="font-weight: bold;"> is going in a different
direction. Where do you see your game fitting into the landscape of

I was just reading on the forums and we have a first impressions
section, and one of the funny things is that a lot of people say,
“Wow, it looks a lot better than it did three years
ago!” We haven’t done anything to it yet, so
it’s probably their video cards. But, playing style="font-style: italic;">Gods and Heroes
is a lot like playing style="font-style: italic;">Age of Mythology
on the Roman side in an RPG format. There’s a lot of context
that people already have for the setting, and there’s a lot
of popular media out now that reflect how people feel about it, whether
it’s style="font-style: italic;">Gladiator
or Spartacus.
We have the ability to tap into that. In some ways, it’s a
little more epic and a little more serious than your traditional
fantasy. Our goal right now is to be very focused on those things that
get people excited when you talk about this theme, so it’s
not going to launch with everything that you could possibly throw into
the kitchen sink of an MMOG. It’s going to come out with
great combat, the minion system, a cool context with the mythology, and
the animations that make it really pop.

There are other systems that other MMOGs might lean on a bit heavier
than ours do and we might get to those things down the road. Right now,
we’re really focused on the aspects of minions, combat,
questing, and your estate where you go to deal with your minions and
some of your other resources. Later on, we’ll address the
other system types that people will want to see. We really
can’t do everything that every MMOG has ever done. We need to
stay true to what gets people excited about style="font-style: italic;">Gods and Heroes.

Ton Hammer: You mentioned combat as one of your priorities. How does
combat differ from other games?

First of all, the minion system makes combat very different.
It’s there, but right now, we have to finish it.
There’s the opportunity to do a lot of cool things with the
minions that aren’t there right now, such as instead of
replacing other players, but rather giving the players interesting,
contextual things to do with their minions with a certain configuration
of minions. For example, if you have four healers and you’re
a healer, the things that you can do in combat are different than if
you’re a soldier with four healer minions. From a gameplay
perspective, the tactics that you can employ and the decisions that you
make with your minions make for a very different feel in combat from
other MMOGs, where you normally wonder what buff you’re going
to be using or what ability to use in a certain situation.

Ton Hammer: Let’s talk a bit about revenue and your target
audience. Who are you targeting the game towards? Who do you see it
appealing to?

Everything we do is bad-ass games for guys, males 18 to 34. Our target
audience is for MMOG gamers who are looking for the next thing.

Ton Hammer: Have you decided on a revenue model yet?

The answer to that is yes. We’ve discussed it with the
current audience of people that we have in the game. The way the game
was built and true to the current model, we’re focusing on
bringing the game out as a traditional pay-to-play game. Down the road,
depending upon what the players like and what their preferences are, we
could adapt the game to a different model. Going to a free-to-play
model with a game that was designed for a subscription is a pretty
significant undertaking. The game is so far along and there are so many
people interested in it, that the monthly subscription isn’t
going to matter to that core audience.

Ton Hammer: When you say subscription, are you talking a traditional
subscription? The reason that I’m asking is that you see
games now that charge a subscription but have other ways to cash up
with selling extra little items.

I think that we’ll definitely offer the players the ability
to buy some cool new stuff, but the game isn’t if you want
this specific content, then you have to pay. If you pay the
subscription fee, you can play all you want. Sure, there’ll
be some stuff you can buy to make yourself look extra special.

href=""> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 550px; height: 639px;"
alt="gods and heroes - before and after screenshots"

and After screenshots

Ton Hammer: How can fans become more involved? Specifically, I can see
that you’ve set up a Facebook page. Do you have plans for any
official forums outside of the testing forums? How will people get
involved in beta as well?

On the href="">Twitter
page and the href="">Facebook
page, you can sign up for the closed beta. In the coming weeks, we will
be inviting people who do sign up.

I’ve been in this business for a long time and community is
central and is the business. Ultimately, the game is more about the
quality of service that you provide to the players than it is just
about the game. I think that now the industry has gotten mature enough
that people don’t just decide on what games to play, but
whether they’re going to play your game. So we started early
on with a player advisory board with 30 to 40 representative players,
guild leaders, and fans of style="font-style: italic;">Gods and Heroes.
They’ve been exposed to the content much earlier than anybody
else and they’re able to give us feedback and their thoughts.
Now, we’re slowly adding in more people who are passionate
about the game. Our goal is to slowly roll those people in to give us
time to take their input, and to roll out the changes we make with our
plans and see if they think those changes are awesome or not. If
they’re not awesome, we’ll do it again. The way to
get in is to go to our href="">website
and sign up. There’s a newsletter there and we just pull
candidates for the beta from there.

As soon as we’re done with the stress test and as soon as we
feel that we have the stability that we need, we’re going to
rapidly roll into an exclusive closed beta for a period of time and
build up that audience. The better the game is, the more people
we’ll add. We really hope to turn that community into not
just a test-bed, but a part of the development team. So, we have a
really cool program that people can use to contribute and be a part of
development that hasn’t been done before. We’re not
giving details on the program yet, but we’ll be using some of
the democratic precedents set in the Roman era to let people
participate in the development of the game.

Ton Hammer: We’ve talked about technical updates and
graphics. Does that include support for DX10?

I’m not sure if we’re going to go all the way to
DX10. One of the nice things about picking up a game that is a few
years old is that everyone can play it. The client runs on just about
anything. We are doing some improvements to the renderer and
we’re evaluating on how far we’re going to take
that. I don’t know if we’re going to go do full-on
DX10 support. Obviously, it’ll run nicely in DX10. Certainly,
some of the things that have happened in shaders and rendering
techniques over the last three years are going to be incorporated; some
of them already are. Ideally, when we roll that patch out, people will
ooh and aah.

Ton Hammer: Is the goal still to launch next year then?

Our goal is to launch sometime of next year.

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016