You don’t just exploit a planet’s resources with robots and leave them there to die. Nope, as technology grows, those little bastards grow smarter, and they will get you back for it. They might even kick-ass in the process! I’m talking about Aftercharge, Chainsawesome Games‘ upcoming competitive shooter, which pits sneaky invisible robots against their gun blazing creators in a unique 3v3 setting. Are you gonna destroy the extractors and save the planet, or put those rebelling robots in line?
We had the opportunity to have a talk with Laurent Mercure from Chainsawesome Games to learn the story behind this colorful shooter, and what to expect from its fast-paced competitive matches!
This interview has been lightly edited for readability.
Nick: Your game history is certainly diverse when it comes to style and genre. What’s a key rule for Chainsawesome Games when facing a new direction/challenge?
Laurent: Our last game, Knight Squad and our current project, Aftercharge were both born from prototypes we developed during 48 hour game-jams. I think we can say that we like to make games that are rather simple and fun [from] the get go. Knight Squad and Aftercharge might look like they have nothing in common, but they do have the same intention on the game design. We want to make an action-packed experience that you can share with friends.
N: What were the things in Aftercharge’s prototype that hooked the team for a full-on title?
L: The Aftercharge prototype made during the game jam was very different from what you can see in Aftercharge today. It was top-down, 2D, and shared screen, much like Knight Squad. We kept the three core elements from that game and made Aftercharge with it: a team that’s permanently invisible, who can revive each other instantly and wins by destroying six neutral structures without getting caught. It was fun in top-down 2D and we made it even more fun as a shooter.
N: How did this colorful setting originate? Any sci-fi inspirations?
L: The sci-fi setting was decided in the game jam, so we didn’t spend hours on it. We just rolled with it. The game Evolve was an inspiration for the whole asymmetrical aspect so I think that’s why the sci-fi aspect came naturally. The rest of the setting, we kind of built it around the game mechanic we found. Energy generators and robots with stealth (cloaking) mechanics made sense.
N: Talking about mechanics, Aftercharge’s competitive gamplay looks quick-paced, but with a lot of strategy. How would you describe a successful match for a team?
L: When playing robots, you have to plan which extractor to strike first, which to leave last; but you also have to create distractions to sneak around and find the blind spots of the enemy team. You can only win if the six extractors are destroyed. You know right from the start that the last one is going to be tough since all 3 guards should be defending it. Planning the last stand carefully is crucial for your victory.
Playing Aftercharge feels very different depending on which side you’re playing. Both teams require a lot of team coordination and that’s why we decided to go for small teams.
Playing the guards is all about adaptation. You have to plan your defense to cover as much ground as possible, but you mostly have to stay sharp and react fast to the attackers. You can only win if all 3 robots are deactivated at the same time, since they can boost each other back to life at any moment. Once your team manages to take one down, your new primary objective should be to make sure no robot comes around to revive it or you have no chance of winning.
N: What resources will players have to change their game and make dynamic strategies?
L: Both of the sides will have various characters to choose from. Guards will have different classes with wildly different abilities, kits, and roles. Robots will have different models each with a unique overcharge ability. When in a game, there are a lot of ways you can try new strategies. With their positioning, it’s the guards that ultimately decide which extractors they want to leave last and this changes the end game a lot. Guards can also decide to play more aggressively and try to get the jump on the robots before they can carry out their plan of attack.
As for the robots, there are way more variables. Which extractors do we go for first? Do we go all three of us to destroy it faster? Do we sacrifice one of us to create a distraction first? Who do we send charges to, so he can perform a big overcharge ability?
N: Aftercharge recently had its first great connection with the audience. How did PAX East go for the team?
L: PAX East was absolutely amazing. We had a cool booth and everyone was amazed at Aftercharge. Everyone told us that we had some pretty unique mechanics there, things you don’t find in any other games. People came back to the booth and brought friends along, and that’s always a great sign. Most people came by, stayed around to watch the gameplay and couldn’t wait to try it out.
They were a little worried about the balance because it may have been a little off at the show. We reassured them that balancing Aftercharge is going to be a huge challenge, but we’re dedicated to make it as perfect as possible.
N: The last three years were huge for the independent scene in terms of releases and recognition. Do you feel the industry is shifting or the audience is?
L: That’s a tough one. I feel like it’s a little bit more about the industry shifting. The larger part of the audience don’t even know that’s happening. The quality in indie games is rising and the environment (publishers, platform holders) is more and more favorable.
On Steam and even on the console digital stores, indies and AAA are often side-by-side and hard to distinguish from one another when you’re the average consumer. I feel like these labels are disappearing. A great game is a great game. Most of the people playing Rocket League don’t know it’s an indie game by definition.
N: Finally, we’d love to know about the game’s current state. Where is Aftercharge now and what can we expect as the next step in development?
L: We’re pretty much halfway through. Our first year of production was focused on creating a ridiculously polished vertical slice (1 character on each side and one map) of the game to show at events and to business partners. Now that’s done, we’re starting to work on new characters and new maps. We don’t have all of the features just yet so we can’t say we’re alpha, but technically, we’re getting pretty close to that.
Our next steps, in terms of getting the game in the hands of people, will be launching some sort of closed alpha, probably in Fall; and a beta maybe around January or February 2018, right before launch. We still have a few things to announce, including the console we’re launching on. The best way to get all these news is to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.