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NATURAL SELECTION 2 Interview with Gameogre.com

Discussion in 'MMO Interviews' started by GameOgreVideos, Jan 30, 2011.

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    "Natural Selection 2 is an immersive, multiplayer shooter that pits aliens against humans in a strategic and action-packed struggle for survival. "

    Gameogre: Natural Selection 2 is an immersive, multiplayer shooter that pits aliens against humans in a strategic and action-packed struggle for survival. What sets Natural Selection 2 apart from other games in this genre?

    The biggest thing that sets NS2 apart is the way we have blended a first-person shooter with a strategy game. There can be one or more "Commander" players on each team that are able to build structures, research upgrades, manage resources and micro and support players on the ground. The versatility and importance of this role creates a very team-focused gameplay experience.

    Another thing that sets us apart is our very different sides. The aliens are utterly different from the marines - nothing surface level about it! Each alien class has their own movement (wall-walking, sliding, flying, "blinking", charging, etc.) and their own unique abilities. There are whole routes and sections of the maps that are useful only for the aliens (vents), which makes playing a map very different depending which side you're on. We want the overall game feel to be completely different on each side.

    Gameogre: Natural Selection 2 is now on a different engine from the original Natural Selection which was a mod of Half-Life, how will the game play compare to the previous Natural Selection what changes are there in this second one?

    Yes, while NS1 was built on the Half-life 1 engine, NS2 uses a custom engine we’ve built (called "Sparkâ€). The biggest gameplay changes revolve around allowing players to enjoy their experience without having to focus too much on what another player is doing. When players are working together, they will have an advantage and have more fun, but solo players can still have fun largely uninhibited.

    Gameogre: Can you tell us a little about the story in Natural Selection 2 and how does the Natural Selection Story from the original game carry over into Natural Selection 2?

    As was the case in NS1, there is very little focus on story in NS2. Our writer (Jeff Paris) has developed an overall plot to help us establish theme, mood, and technology level for the game, but we don't have any specific characters, settings or events. We’re much more focused on creating compelling gameplay than telling a grand story of some sort.

    Gameogre: Natural Selection 2 incorporates both real time strategy and first person shooter game play. Can you tell us how both types of gameplay are integrated into this game? Would you consider it more of a RTS or a FPS, or do think there is an equal amount of both?

    At its core, NS2 is a shooter with strategy elements. NS1 was a little closer to half and half, but that had some undesirable characteristics (sometimes it didn't matter how good of a shooter player you were). I'd say NS2 is about 2/3 shooter and 1/3 strategy game, but that 1/3 strategy game is totally indispensible - if you removed it, the game would not feel like NS at all.

    Gameogre: Being both an FPS and an RTS, NS2 is somewhat of a jack of all trades. What kind of learning curve do you offer to first time gamers who may not be familiar with RTS or FPS? For fans who may be die hard FPS or RTS do you think the combination of both will still appeal to them and how easy will it be to change their play-styles to a game that offers both?

    NS1 had an incredibly steep learning curve - it was a bit of a miracle that it became so popular! Ease of use without a tutorial or reading a manual is something that's always on my mind and is constantly in our conversations when discussing new structures, user interfaces, weapons, and abilities. It's our hope that players can jump in and have fun right away without any training. Over time, they'll start to learn how the more complex aspects of the game work and their enjoyment should continue to grow. That's our hope, at least!

    Gameogre: In Natural Selection 2 you can play as both Frontiersmen (marines) and Kharaa (aliens). Can you give a brief description of both and what makes each one stand out?

    The marines are all about coordinated movement, following orders and keeping their machines running. They can all build structures, cover each other, and buy equipment at armories. They will do the best when they are staying in squads, following commander orders and using their microphones. They operate in a traditional military "top-down" fashion.

    The aliens are more about individual skill and seizing opportunity - they operate more "bottom-up". Aliens can choose their lifeform and evolve new traits on the fly. Alien commanders don't give orders - they support their team by building and researching intelligently and "marking" areas for players on the ground to deal with in their own way. The aliens "wordlessly communicate" through Hive Sight. That is, they don't need to tell each other where enemies are, as players show up (even through walls) automatically when one player sights an enemy. Everyone always knows where their teammates are as well, so they can attack an enemy simultaneously from the front, behind, above, and below (don’t forget the vents!).

    Gameogre: Natural Selection 2 has dynamic environments that players can interact with. Can you give a brief overview of what players can expect to do with this feature and how this can affect game play in general?

    Sure, here are some examples: All marine structures require a functioning "power node" to operate. If aliens kill a power node, all nearby structures power down and all the lights go out. This creates dramatic and tense battles around the power nodes with a lot at stake. The marines also have the ability to change the map layout somewhat through welding and door locking. Finally, although it's not in the closed beta yet, we will be adding "dynamic infestation" which is a gooey alien growth that is required for aliens to build upon. The aliens must link their structures to hives through this growth, or else they will eventually wilt and die.

    All of these systems work together to create a highly replayable game that (we hope) is never the same twice and provides endless variation.

    Gameogre: Can you tell us a little about the gear and equipment available on NS2? What armor and weapons are available and where are they obtained?

    Marines can build all sorts of nasty machines – MACs (helper bots), sentry guns, and ARCs (tanks). From an Armory, they can also buy weapons like the shotgun, grenade launcher and flamethrower, and buy armor upgrades like jetpacks and the Aliens-esque Exosuit.

    Gameogre: Natural Selection 2 is currently available for pre-order through Steam. What made you decide to offer NS2 as a pay to play game? Will there be any monthly subscriptions for NS2? Will you offer any additional in-game items for purchase through a cash shop or item mall in the future?

    We released and supported the original Natural Selection for free for many years. Back in 2002, it was possible to do this because games were relatively small and easy to make. For NS2, we knew we wanted to make deserving sequel - an amazing game. For that, we needed a bigger team, great technology and a financial plan that would allow us to create and support it for a long time to come. We want to make this game huge and for that, we need to charge for it.

    Valve has been very generous to allow us to sell and distribute NS2 even in its early beta form through Steam. NS2 won't be a subscription model and I honestly don't see a cash shop or "item mall" appearing in the game, but it's too early to tell. The business of indie games is changing rapidly so we'll see what the future holds!

    Gameogre: Natural Selection 2 is currently in closed beta, for those who are interested can you share how they can participate in the closed beta and what you may be looking for, for closed beta testers?

    The closed beta isn't an exclusive or private process - anyone that pre-orders the game right now can participate. However, we do have a limit of 10,000 new players we want in at this stage.

    Gameogre: Is there anything else you would like to tell us about Natural Selection 2?

    Thanks for all your support and feedback everyone! We're just getting started.
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