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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long have you been developing Transformers Universe?
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?
Yes. Essentially, its more self-contained, I want to say it's a
traditional MMO but its not. Its combat based because you have 30
foot robots going around smashing the crap out of stuff. Its 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 dont know what were doing.
TTH: Are you using a
No, its our own design. We have a whole new graphics engine for it.
Runescape is what were built on. Weve got a lot of experience with
engines. With Transformers, weve got something more.
TTH: So it's going to be
Yes, it is. It's more accessible. It makes it easy for people to get
their heads around it.
TTH: Obviously, theres
going to be some PvP?
Yeah, its going to be a mixture of PvP and PvE. I think, again, its
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?
Thats a difficult one to answer. Transformers had 11,000 transformers
in the last 25 years so weve got a lot to choose from. Obviously we
have the big names in there. We want to give something special to the
fans and weve got a couple identifiable characters that were not
really talking about at the moment.
Its set in the Prime Continuity because thats what is on the latest
TV show now that the films are out of the way. Were kind of conscious
that theres a big world of wealth of transformers to choose from so
were going to take cues from everyone. Its an MMO, weve got ten to
twenty years hopefully so over that time, well 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?
I think that its 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 were creating our
own and were designing the world and making it for the players to use,
we have a lot more freedom there. Were 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 its an MMO. But is it more of an MMORPG or a
MMO action game?
I cant really say at the moment. Its more action oriented.
TTH: Gotcha. Do you get
equipment upgrades that you wear?
Therell be weapons in it and therell be a progression system, so as
you play the game, you wont have the same exact stuff and stats that
you start with.
TTH: Youve got a great
IP. Youre going to be pulling in a broad audience. You said that you
wanted a big mix, so what age range are you shooting for?
13 and above. There are many, many reasons behind that, but I dont
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 didnt want to say, Lets
make an 18 game, because its transformers. Theres too many people
outside that who would want to play it. We keep it really broad. Thats
probably not the best words to use, but its true. With transformers,
theres very few people who haven't heard of it, and the kids now will
love the new stuff. Weve got it all at our disposal.
TTH: What I really liked
about the transformers movies was Megan Fox.
I can tell you now that she isnt going to be in it.
TTH: Oh no, disaster.
No chance on that one.
TTH: What kind of
timeline are you looking at for launch?
Were hoping for beta around Christmas time, but thats quite flexible.
Well have a closed beta, then well have an open beta, and then well
have a release. The release is going to be sometime in 2012. Those set
dates we dont know yet.
Its one of those projects where we've got the time and we want to make
sure that we get it right. Were conscious that we need to deliver and
get it out. We want to make sure, and were 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.
Dont 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 theyre liking, what theyre not liking, what theyre fans of.
TTH: Are you concerned at
all about players making transformers that look too much like the
iconic transformers, such as Optimus Prime?
Its something that were trying to avoid. Bumblebee is the most
popular character out there. We dont everybody getting a sports car
and making a Bumblebee out of it. There are design and style cues that
weve gotten from Hasbro that we know to stay slightly away from, but
so far, our relationship with Hasbro has been brilliant. I cant fault
it. Theyre loving everything were doing. Were really happy with the
feedback that theyre giving us, so weve been quite clever with the
way that weve designed everything that we dont 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?
TTH: Will the look of
their character change during the course of the game?
I dont know. Those are things that we could potentially do or not do.
Theres 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 theyre saying and listen to them, because at the end of
the day, theyre the ones who are going to be paying and playing the
game. If weve pleased them and everybody else, then weve done our job
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Transformers Universe Game Page.