May 182011

I can’t wait for the future! To be in a giant mech and battling friends seems awesome! Well, I recently had the opportunity to talk to the artist/designer at Adhesive Games, Dave Nguyen (along with a few interjections from Adhesive’s co-founder, Chris Lalli) about their upcoming FPS mech game called “Hawken.”

-To the gamers who haven’t heard about or seen the game yet, how would you describe Hawken?

Hawken is basically a multiplayer FPS mech game. I wouldn’t call it a mech simulation because it’s more arcade-y than that, but there’s still a lot of weight and realism, and it’s quite different from human-based FPS’s like Halo or COD.

-Hawken seems to be a multiplayer game at its core. Is there any sort of story behind Hawken?

Correct, because of our limited team size and resources there is no single player campaign mode planned for Hawken. There is a story to set up the world and circumstances, and serve as a backdrop for the Hawken universe, but it doesn’t have as much of an impact on the gameplay as a singleplayer-focused game. We aren’t ready to release the details of the story yet.

-The game is confirmed to have at least three different mech types (fast, slow, average) — can you elaborate more on the differences?

Dave Nguyen: The light class is built to move quickly, enabling it to control the pace of the fight by engaging and disengaging the enemy at will. The heavy class is basically like a tank. High defense allows it to hold or push certain areas for the teams advantage. The medium class is very well rounded. The balance allows the medium class to be used for all situations.

Chris Lalli: Additionally, the different types will each have the use of items and an ability unique to it’s class.

-How will you make sure that no one class of mech gets overused or underused?

Dave Nguyen: The team play modes will most likely need the use of all types to be effective. We want to emphasize some teamwork so the classes have specific roles in the strategic aspect of the game. It will also take a lot of testing to balance the classes correctly.

-Will customization play a big role in the multiplayer?

Most of the impact from our customization will be visual, such as armor styles, decals, camouflage, etc… We want to maintain a fairly level playing field between newbies and veterans, while still providing rewards and incentives to play. There is also customization of each mech in the form of upgradeable stats such as mobility, defense, and attack, as well as items and weapon load-outs that can alter playstyles.

-You’ve said before that one twist here is that health does not auto-regenerate and requires you to manually heal yourself. Are there any other repercussions like this in the game that aren’t normally in other FPS games?

Dave Nguyen: I would say the abilities to hover and side dash are not common in most FPS games, although there are games that have had these features before. Most of the mechanics in the game have pretty much been done before in one way or another. The challenge comes from taking great ideas and tweaking them to fit our style of gameplay.

Chris Lalli: Hawken has other elements not found in most FPS’s, such as heat management to avoid weapons shutdown, and a fuel gauge that restricts jet pack use. You also have simultaneous use of multiple weapons (left and right guns as well as offensive items), each with unique properties and cooldowns, which requires its own sort of management to be effective.

-Is deathmatch the standard mode for Hawken? Will there be other gametypes like capture the flag? Maybe new gametypes?

Deathmatch will be available, but it’s not the core or main focus of Hawken. The real fun of the game will be our new unique team modes, which will require strategy and teamwork to master. The large battleship you can see in our videos is from one of these team matches. These modes will incorporate strategy elements such as resource collecting and management, and require communication among teammates.

-With first person games like Call of Duty, Halo, and Homefront taking control of the FPS market, what was the real driving force to keep the first person view from within the mech?

The first person view provides the level of immersion we were hoping to achieve. It gives you the feeling of actually being the pilot, strapped into a cockpit and surrounded by controls and steel and glass, something that a 3rd person view can’t provide. You really feel the impact of the weapons and the weight of the mech this way.

-From what we’ve seen of the game, it looks to take place in a heavily industrialized arena. Can we expect to be mech-battling in other settings?

Yes, at the moment we are planning to ship with 7 different maps, and they each have a unique feel to them. Some are in strikingly different environments and even on different planets.

-Were there any real world inspirations for the setting of the game?

Some of the city maps such as the one in the trailer were inspired by the complex alleyways and chaotic urban settings of some asian locales, such as Hong Kong, Vietnam and Tokyo.

-What are your true ambitions for Hawken?

Personally, I’d like to create an enthusiastic community for the game, and then support that player-base with further content and updates. I can’t speak for the whole team, but I’d honestly be happy if all we achieve is a fun multiplayer game that a few people enjoy. Ideally it would be nice for Hawken to become a successful franchise, with a detailed universe and other forms of media such as comic books, although that might be too ambitious. I’d really like it if Adhesive Games became known as a high-quality independent developer.

-Is there any projected time we can expect to see the game release?

On the content side we could be done by the end of this year, although that depends on the features we add to the game. We won’t be done until the game is completely fun and satisfying to play. I’d say we’re aiming to release in the first half of 2012, but we haven’t committed to any date yet.

Thanks again to both Dave Nguyen and Chris Lalli for the interview. Can’t wait to see how this all turns out!

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