Q&A with Quentin Correggi, Associate Producer of Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope

We had a hands-on preview of Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope during our afternoon. We took a few minutes to talk with Quentin Correggi (an Associate Producer on Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope).

You were in the same place during Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle.

As an Associate Producer, my main responsibility is to coordinate all of the different teams (designers, artists, animators) for a specific game. My area of expertise is combat in Sparks of Hope. I can also handle any other aspects of combat.

The greatest change Mario + Rabbids Sparks for Hope has seen is in combat. Can you talk about how your design allows for a real-time focus, while still keeping a turn-based element, to shift into the real time?

Kingdom Battle received lots of positive feedback from players, mainly because of the combat and the twist we added in the tactical genre. We found that players enjoyed the variety and freedom offered by Kingdom Battle’s movement options. There were many movement options available, including team jumping, sprinting, taking a pipe, etc., which allowed for a lot more freedom. Sparks of Hope was the first thing we thought about. We knew we wanted to expand on that freedom and movement aspect. We tried many prototypes before we finally decided that we could give the character the control. It doesn’t mean that we need a grid or a cursor. While we still want to play turn-based games, this is what gave rise to the concept of giving the player more control over their characters and movement.

There is already some element of timing with moves such as sprinting into the Bob-ombs and picking them up before they explode.

We didn’t know where it was going until we unlocked the Real-Time Control. Once we gained control of the character, there were many opportunities to use real-time events in combat. Bob-ombs are a good example. When you touch them, it activates the timer. You have a few seconds to grab them and throw them before they explode. You might also see this in the preview session. We have a battle with large stone masks that blow wind in a consistent rhythm. You will need to adapt your movement to avoid being pushed around by the wind. It allows us to bring many real-time events, beyond just combat control. The problem is that we want the game to be a tactical one at first. It is important that the player has fun planning and thinking, not just on the execution. We need to strike the right balance so that we don’t push too hard on the character skills, but still focus on the planning and thinking.

Accessibility and for those who prefer to be more methodical and slower, is there a way to either increase or decrease the timer on these real-time events?

There are many accessibility options available to adjust the difficulty of our game. However, for Real-Time Control, there is no one-size-fits-all option. After that, we decided that we would give the player as much time as we could. The Bob-omb is an example of this. You have plenty of time. It’s a bit frightening because you can see that the Bobomb is going to explode, but you have a lot more time before it actually explodes. The Bob-omb explodes almost immediately if it is thrown. However, as long as it is not thrown, it will still be able to be used. It allowed us to give enough time for players to take it. However, once they are done, they can see the results and execution without having too much to wait for other things to happen.

I did notice that some characters had an overwatch ability that allows them to counter enemies if they move within range. Will enemies also have similar abilities to mine?

The Lone Wolf is our enemy. You will also see this in the second part. The Lone Wolves also have a Hero Sight, but in this instance, an Evil Sight ability. The area will appear on the ground. You will need to be careful where you go in order to avoid it being triggered. Or maybe you want to trigger it for a particular reason.

Already, there have been some similarities in the combat, with some suggesting it may be inspired from Divinity: Original Sin. Have you considered other RPGs available on the market that might inspire this real-time focus.

A large portion of the team is a fan of strategic and tactical games. I believe there is always something we can draw from the market, even if it isn’t conscious. There is a lot of inspiration from Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle initially, but we wanted to do something new with Sparks of Hope. As far as I know, there is no other game that pushes the boundaries of Real-Time Control in turn-based games. It was also important to have our identity, just like we did for Kingdom Battle and even further with Sparks of Hope.

We have only two playable heroes at this point in the Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope preview. Why did you decide to keep the teams at 2 or 3 rather than expand?

We [learned a lot] From the feedback received by Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. As part of the Mario + Rabbids brand’s ambition, we want to appeal all players, even those who don’t like tactical games or are new to the genre. We want to make sure they are properly onboarded. It was a good idea to have two characters at the beginning. After approximately one hour of gameplay, you can unlock a third slot. This allows us to quickly onboard players and help them understand the new mechanics. We are adding Sparks, new techniques and weapons to each hero, and when the player is ready, we can add another character. This greatly increased the chances and synergies you can have in battle.

At the moment, there are nine playable characters on the roster. Why didn’t some of the heroes like Donkey Kong and the two Yoshi make it into the sequels?

It wasn’t a constraint. We are in the same universe of Mario + Rabbids. However, we knew when we decided to do Sparks of Hope we didn’t want any of our experiences in Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle to be a constraint. When we began to think about the many heroes we would have in Sparks of Hope, it was important that we felt free. We knew we needed new faces so we had Bowser. But Rabbid Rosalina, Edge, and Rabbid Rosalina are all unique characters that are perfect for the Real-Time Combat in Sparks of Hope. There’s no reason. It’s not that we don’t like Rabbid Yoshi or Yoshi on the other. They are both very much liked by us, but we felt it was more appropriate to include them in Sparks of Hope within the context of the storyline and the gameplay.

What classes or archetypes do these characters represent and what kind of archetypes are they?

Bowser is the destructor, according to me. He has many abilities that allow him to destroy many things in battle. He’s also very explosive. He is equipped with a giant, bazooka-like weapon which can produce a large area of explosion. If he falls to the ground, you can also place an explosion around him that can destroy covers. I tend to change my mind each week about who my favorite character is, but Edge is my current favorite.

Edge is very close-knit. You can feel her badass character in the gameplay. Because she has the most dashes to defeat enemies and is the most mobile, she’s very focused on mobility. She is equipped with a sword that can penetrate through multiple rows of enemies. She is all about positioning. How can I maximize my movement speed by sprinting around and finding the best spot to ensure that all the enemies are aligned so I can penetrate through them all?

Finally, Rabbid Rosalina is more of a control-slash-support character. Her weapon can fire a lot and allows her to eliminate a lot more cover. This allows her to open a line for another character. This makes her a support, and she also has a technique to lock enemies in place. She’s also a powerful control character.

You’ve already talked about Bowser’s shockwave ability when he lands. Is that an enhancement to his team jumping ability?

Yeah, exactly. Each character has an enhancement to their weapon behavior, technique behavior and movement abilities. Mario can unlock the Stomp, which allows him to stomp on an enemy’s head while gliding. The skill tree even allows you to unlock the ability to stomp three times. This allows you move around, stomp and move around again, which allows you to cover a lot of ground without causing damage. Edge, for instance, can unlock multiple dashes. Rabbid Mario unlocks explosive dies, which means that every time you run into an enemy, there is a small area of effect exposed around him. Princess Peach grants shields to any character that her team jumps on. All characters have unique movement abilities that can be unlocked through the skill tree. Bowser’s landing explosions are one example.

Were we to expect different weapon types for each hero’s character?

Each hero is given a unique weapon, which is made just for them. Each weapon has its own abilities. Mario, for example, can shoot at two targets at once with dual-wielding weapons. Luigi is equipped with a long-range, sniper-like weapon. The more distant the target is the greater the damage it does. We felt it was important to give each hero a unique and distinct identity. This also applies to their weapon. The other skill trees allow you to improve the stats as well as the behavior of your weapons. You can also change the appearance of the weapon by purchasing skins, which you can either find or unlock in the game, or purchase at the merchant using the coins you collect.

I’d like to know more about the weapon skins. Are the skins only going to be available in-game with coins or will there be cosmetic/paid DLC?

Most of them can be purchased in-game. We don’t have any monetization. We do have some exclusive weapon skins, which are only available to Collectors, and pre-order editions. Apart from that, they can only be purchased with in-game currency.

Can you give us some information about Rayman and his character archetype?

It’s a little too detailed and too early for the character archetype. However, for the context of the expansion, it will be a special adventure that will be tailored for Rayman, Rabbid Mario, and Rabbid Peach. The journey will include story content which will make it the perfect opportunity to reunite Rayman with the Rabbids.

One last quick question. One last question. Will there be any sparks that are specific to characters in the Sparks of Hope’s new Sparks system? Or will they be available for everyone?

We felt it was very important that Sparks was about player agency when we first started thinking about it. We felt it was important to clarify that there are no Sparks that can be locked to any particular character. Each character can equip two Sparks and can freely equip any Spark. We wanted to give the player the freedom to combine them however they like, as it can have a significant impact on the archetype of the character. You can put offensive sparks on an already offensive or aggressive character to add a defensive spark. Sparks can be used for specific characters, but some have cool synergies. Sparks that increase the dash ability, such as Edge, can be used to make Edge able to dash multiple times. However, every Spark can be used with any character.

We are grateful for your time.

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