Transformers Universe First Details - An Interview with Steven Huckle

Earlier this year Jagex announced its latest MMOG project, style="font-style: italic;">Transformers Universe.
Details were still a bit thin so Ten Ton Hammer caught up to Art
Director Steven Huckle on the show floor at gamescom this year to see
what more we could find out. As it turns out, Steven was happy to
answer our questions.

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src="">TTH: How
long have you been developing Transformers Universe?
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Steven Huckle:
We started in earnest in January, but there was a build-up before then.

TTH: Are you talking
about a persistent world where everybody is a transformer, an autobot?
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Steven Huckle:
Yes. Essentially, it’s more self-contained, I want to say it's a
traditional MMO but it’s not. It’s combat based because you have 30
foot robots going around smashing the crap out of stuff. It’s going to
be good. We have some very unique things other than traditional
vehicles or class mounts that get you from A to B. Here, the mounts are

Character progression is something that we really want to get right. If
we get too complicated, people don’t know what we’re doing.

TTH: Are you using a
proprietary engine?

Steven Huckle:
No, it’s our own design. We have a whole new graphics engine for it.
Runescape is what we’re built on. We’ve got a lot of experience with
engines. With Transformers, we’ve got something more.

TTH: So it's going to be
browser based?

Steven Huckle:
Yes, it is. It's more accessible. It makes it easy for people to get
their heads around it.

TTH: Obviously, there’s
going to be some PvP?

Steven Huckle:
Yeah, it’s going to be a mixture of PvP and PvE. I think, again, it’s
that broad audience we're after. We want to give players the
opportunity to do both.

TTH: Now when we were
talking about the universe, are you looking at the modern universe or
at the classic universe?

Steven Huckle:
That’s a difficult one to answer. Transformers had 11,000 transformers
in the last 25 years so we’ve got a lot to choose from. Obviously we
have the big names in there. We want to give something special to the
fans and we’ve got a couple identifiable characters that we’re not
really talking about at the moment.

It’s set in the Prime Continuity because that’s what is on the latest
TV show now that the films are out of the way. We’re kind of conscious
that there’s a big world of wealth of transformers to choose from so
we’re going to take cues from everyone. It’s an MMO, we’ve got ten to
twenty years hopefully so over that time, we’ll be able to add lots and
lots of stuff into it. We feel like kids in a candy shop and
sometimes have a hard time which bots we're going to choose.

TTH: Sometimes picking up
a large IP like Transformers can be somewhat restrictive by trying to
stay true to the canon and all. Do you find it restricting at all or do
you find it just so invigorating that you just want to do it?
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Steven Huckle:
I think that it’s a combination of both. We knew that we couldn't make
Optimus Prime pink for example, so I think certain restrictions were
kind of set.

With the character customization, and the fact that we’re creating our
own and we’re designing the world and making it for the players to use,
we have a lot more freedom there. We’re restricted in some ways, but
more free in other ways. Which works out really well. It makes our life
very, very easy. We can actually focus on making it look good and play
well as opposed to battling over smaller details.

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Obviously we know that it’s an MMO. But is it more of an MMORPG or a
MMO action game?

Steven Huckle:
I can’t really say at the moment. It’s more action oriented.

TTH: Gotcha. Do you get
equipment upgrades that you wear?
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Steven Huckle:
There’ll be weapons in it and there’ll be a progression system, so as
you play the game, you won’t have the same exact stuff and stats that
you start with.

TTH: You’ve got a great
IP. You’re going to be pulling in a broad audience. You said that you
wanted a big mix, so what age range are you shooting for?
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Steven Huckle:
13 and above. There are many, many reasons behind that, but I don’t
want to go into them. Making it accessible for 13 and above, in many
ways, makes it a lot easier.

The films are PG as well, so it works. We didn’t want to say, “Let’s
make an 18 game,” because it’s transformers. There’s too many people
outside that who would want to play it. We keep it really broad. That’s
probably not the best words to use, but it’s true. With transformers,
there’s very few people who haven't heard of it, and the kids now will
love the new stuff. We’ve got it all at our disposal.

TTH: What I really liked
about the transformers movies was Megan Fox.
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Steven Huckle:
I can tell you now that she isn’t going to be in it.

TTH: Oh no, disaster. style="font-weight: bold;">

Steven Huckle:
No chance on that one.

TTH: What kind of
timeline are you looking at for launch?
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Steven Huckle:
We’re hoping for beta around Christmas time, but that’s quite flexible.
We’ll have a closed beta, then we’ll have an open beta, and then we’ll
have a release. The release is going to be sometime in 2012. Those set
dates we don’t know yet.

It’s one of those projects where we've got the time and we want to make
sure that we get it right. We’re conscious that we need to deliver and
get it out. We want to make sure, and we’re all big transformers fans
on the project, what we do and what we deliver is absolutely right for
us. When we go to beta and go over beta, we get the fans’ feedback.
Don’t forget that online, we get the opportunity to be open to changing
and updating on the fly as we do it. We can see how people are playing,
what they’re liking, what they’re not liking, what they’re fans of.

TTH: Are you concerned at
all about players making transformers that look too much like the
iconic transformers, such as Optimus Prime?
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Steven Huckle:
It’s something that we’re trying to avoid. Bumblebee is the most
popular character out there. We don’t everybody getting a sports car
and making a Bumblebee out of it. There are design and style cues that
we’ve gotten from Hasbro that we know to stay slightly away from, but
so far, our relationship with Hasbro has been brilliant. I can’t fault
it. They’re loving everything we’re doing. We’re really happy with the
feedback that they’re giving us, so we’ve been quite clever with the
way that we’ve designed everything that we don’t too close to what the
main guys are like, but close enough so that the fans go, “Hey, I can
see myself being…”

TTH: Inspired by? style="font-weight: bold;">

Steven Huckle:

TTH: Will the look of
their character change during the course of the game?
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Steven Huckle:
I don’t know. Those are things that we could potentially do or not do.
There’s a lot of stuff, as you guys probably know, that change as you
get into beta and you start really hammering out the game with the
fans. They give you very good feedback! You need to react to that and
follow what they’re saying and listen to them, because at the end of
the day, they’re the ones who are going to be paying and playing the
game. If we’ve pleased them and everybody else, then we’ve done our job

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Transformers Universe Game Page.

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