Well, thanks to everyone that sent in questions. Here are all the answers I could scrounge up. If there is still something on your mind, feel free to comment and I’ll try to answer as new ones come up. All answers are from me unless noted as being directly from Steve Taylor (President, Wahoo Studios/NinjaBee).
On with the show:
Q from AC91: Release date and price please…
A: As if my NDA allowed me talk about such things… [Update]: Well, the cat’s out of the bag now so get it on 6/20/2007 for 800 MS Points!
Q from staticwrap: Downloadable content?
A from Steve Taylor (aka stay): “We’re trying to avoid discussing DLC details for now.”
Q from AC91: What are examples of achievements?
A: Check ’em out at x360a.org.
Q from Measure: How hard will BoB be to learn? Will I have to spend hours just to get the hang of it? If I do spend dozens of hours in the title, is there enough intricacy that I will continue to learn new strategies?
A: NinjaBee went out of their way to make this title extremely accessible to those who are more casual gamers. The tutorial is very well structured to give you an idea of exactly how the game works. Despite the casual focus, the game does have some serious complexity to it that is nearly transparent to the casual gamer (because it’s not necessary to have fun playing the game) but will be engrossing to the hardcore player. Ultimately, NinjaBee has pared down the tactics genre, but even with this distilled version Band of Bugs is filled with depth.
Q from staticwrap: About how long does a match take (on average)?
A: It all depends on the size of the map and the turn time limit you set, but most multiplayer games I played were under 15 minutes. I played single player for hours at a time, but that’s just my nature.
Q from dezombie: Is there options to shorten the average game length also? Such as reduced HP of all characters, blitz modes (shorter timers on turns), or even a simple time limit?
A: Yes. You can reduce the hit points and general power of a character by lowering its level. You can put time limits on turns as well. There is no option for a timed objective or anything like that, but games are so relatively quick (see above) that I can’t imagine having a match that takes an overly long time.
Q from AC91: Can you have an army of Ninjabees in a custom made online match? Can you change the bugs each army has in the game lobby, or is this all determined by the original map maker?
A: There can be only one! And it would be wise to avoid angering the NinjaBee with these claims of clone armies. One NinjaBee is enough to lay waste to your enemies. As for the bug types on the map, they are all predetermined. The exception to this rule is Spider Hunter where you choose your bug type when you start the game and you can change your type any time you die.
Q from AC91: Can you change the skill levels of those bugs?
A: Skill levels can only be adjusted in the Level Editor.
Q from ART0R1US: Don’t remember if you already covered this, but will there be local multiplayer?
A from Steve: Yes, there is local multiplayer. It was a big deal to me to get that in. It works pretty much the same as everything else. Unlike Worms, it’s not hot-seat – you have to be signed in with your own controller. The controller rumbles when it’s your turn. When it’s your turn you get control of the camera and target. The game supports up to 4 players in local MP.There’s no local multiplayer Spider Hunter, but the other modes are all supported – elimination, capture, and escape. Any maps available in single-player skirmish are available in local MP, including custom maps.
Q from Measure: Any chance of giant tourneys for BoB? Does XBox live not allow for this? Burnout does giant tourneys, but that’s on EA’s servers. Anyway, if it was at all possible, I think being able to have say, a 64 player tourney would turn up the fun on these mulitplayer games quite a bit.
A: Steve and I have been in discussions about this for some time and we hope to offer a way to sign up and administer tournaments through the forums. So, keep your eyes peeled.
Q from AC91: What will leaderboards show?
A from Steve: There are unique leaderboards for each level in the main campaign, a summary campaign leaderboard, and a bunch of other leaderboards including something weird we’re anxious to find out if people like.
Q from AC91: Do stats from single player carry over to online, or are the stats different?
A from Steve: “Stats” as in leaderboards are separate for single-player and multiplayer. Rankings for ranked multiplayer play is done with TrueSkill. “Stats” as in bug stats don’t carry from match to match. In single player, bug level progression is part of the normal sequence of the campaign.
Q from AC91: Will the online seamlessly let [other players] in by taking over a CPU spot, or do they have to be in the party from the start? (a la Cloning Clyde)
A: Spider Hunter allows for drop-in, drop-out multiplayer and will probably be a great place to congregate as you wait for your buddies to get online. The other modes require all players to be in the party from the start. And since everyone ends a match at the same time, you can avoid the “I got killed first and now I’ll just wait forever till the match ends” problem.
Q from AC91: Can we expect a [Band of Bugs] video sometime soon?
The following questions all refer to pieces of the video which is linked above:
Q from AC91: Do the doodads in the map editor affect gameplay at all? For example, does that log serve as a barrier? Can you get on it, over it? Shoot over it? Use it as cover?
A: I answered this in my Level Editor Preview, but here’s the short answer again: Doo-dads can affect gameplay by blocking attacks or hindering movement.
Q from AC91: The change environment screen has three options (leafy, rocky, and golden). Will more tilesets be available to download in future DLC? Basically is it possible?
A: See above comments on DLC.
Q from AC91: I love that there are different types of fish! (Slow, dizzy, and another one!) And the mushroom description is great! I like the Words of Wisdom on the loading screen there. Also love how the loading screen took a little split second.
A: These are more comments than questions but I wanted to say something about them. First, the animated doo-dads (such as the fish) are really cool in general. Second, the loading screen text is pretty funny but sometimes the loading is so fast you don’t have time to read it. Funny that a loading screen could be too fast.
Q from AC91: Was that sweet knockback a one hit kill? That was cool!
A: Knockback, by itself, is not a one hit kill. However, if you knock your opponent off the map, into a bottomless pit, or into water (unless the unit can fly) that bug will be instantly killed. You can also instantly kill an enemy by melting the ice under their feet and drowning them.
Q from AC91: How does quicksand movement work? Overtime or a one turn thing? I dig the sarlacc pit thing at the bottom of one!
A: Quicksand (or any conveyor type tile) moves your bug one tile for each turn in a round. So, remember to calculate how many turns are left in the round before throwing your bug into harm’s way. Otherwise, it may be sucked into a bottomless pit or into other danger (exploding mines, runes, etc.) before you have a chance to move it again.
Q from AC91: On the very last scene, what is that tent thing for?
A: It’s just a doo-dad.
Q from AC91: In single player, can maps be bigger than the 12X12 limit for multiplayer (looks like it)?
A from Steve: 12×12 is only the limit for user-created maps.
Q from AC91: Does single player involve going from point A to point B in a level to accomplish an objective, or just using your space to effeciently kill the enemy?
A: Single player levels are just like multiplayer. They might require a complete annihilation of the enemy, the capture of a location, or for one of your units to escape to a designated area. At least one of them requires you to hold-off the enemy for as long as you can and some actually require you to destroy certain objects.
Q from staticwrap: What would you give this game out of a 10?
A: I’d say 8.5/10. But I imagine when some really great user created maps come out, it’ll move closer and closer to a 9.
Q from AC91: What was your favorite part of the game?
A: My personal favorite part…hmm…that’s tough. If I had to choose I would say the Level Editor. But I love small touches in the game like the NinjaBee flip and the particle effects in the spells. Oh, and knockback. See! — I can’t choose.
Q from AC91: What other games did you get to check out at NinjaBee (other than Space Station Tycoon and Band of Bugs)?
A: Well the other games I got a chance to see were mostly Wahoo Studios games and not NinjaBee games.
I got quick peek at Space Station Tycoon (Wahoo Studios/Namco Bandai). Steve Taylor actually showed me the opening cinematic which was really funny and Brent Fox and Jeremy Throckmorton demoed the game a bit for me. No hands-on unfortunately.
What I will say about it though, is it seems like a micromanagers dream! Even more so than Kaloki, and I assume most people know how much I love that game. This game’s arrival will probably also signal the day I buy a Wii.
I also got to peek over someone’s shoulder while they were testing Saga (Wahoo Studios) which looks to be shaping up really well. I’m very curious to see how an MMORTS game could work.
In addition to all that I also got a peek at some ultra secret stuff on a white board that I probably wasn’t supposed to see (sorry Steve! It was just out in the open.) but gets my interest piqued about their next NinjaBee project.
Q from Measure: What exactly is your relationship to Ninjabee? Are you outside with contacts inside, or an official blogger from inside Ninjabee?
A: You can read a bit about how this whole journey got started on my blog. As for my relationship: I am, first and foremost, a huge NinjaBee fan. I’ve been a huge contributor on their forums for over a year (e.g., 15% of all forum posts are mine, I have a higher post count than Steve Taylor now). They were certainly generous to help me come out to Utah and let me get a peek behind the curtain. I hoped to repay them in some way by writing up as much about my experience as possible to help them reach as wide an audience as possible because I truly believe in their games and their mission. In fact, I still have quite a bit of stuff I’m still working on getting written up about NinjaBee culture and some quick interviews and such.
So, I’m not on their payroll or their “official” blogger by any stretch but I have strong ties within the organization and hope that I can spread around the joy that NinjaBee has brought me.
That concludes the debriefing questions. If you have any more questions feel free to post a comment anywhere this story is posted and I will do my best to answer.