Interview: Crossing Swords in Knight Squad with Chainsawesome’s Jean Simon Otis

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We played a ton of Knight Squad at PAX East. Read our Hands-On Preview here.

Every year at PAX East, there’s always one game that attendees begin to whisper about as they’re chatting with strangers while waiting in one of the many lines. This year, that game was Knight Squad from Chainsawesome Games. All weekend long, crowds were pushed towards their little booth to play their eight-player game that very closely resembles the love child of Gauntlet and Bomberman. This left the developers, including Lead Programmer Jean Simon Otis, completely exhausted, but also excited.

Both feelings were very present when we sat down to talk with Otis at the show.

John Scalzo, Warp Zoned Editor-In-Chief: You pitch Knight Squad as “Gauntlet meets Bomberman.” I think that’s one of the most accurate pitches I have ever heard.

Jean Simon Otis, Chainsawesome Games: That’s actually funny, because it didn’t come from us. People were playing it and it’s an eight-player chaotic game and they were like, “Well it’s basically Bomberman meets Gauntlet.”

I was like… “Dude! That’s my pitch right there! I’m going to use that!” So yeah, it’s pretty much eight players, top-down multiplayer, locally or online, with up to ten game modes with lots of powerups and weapons as well.

WZ – John: I played Capture the Grail, Gladiator, and Soccer, what are some of the other modes like?

Otis: There’s those three and there’s also Capture the Flag. Juggernaut, which has one minigun in the middle of the map and you want to get that to become the juggernaut. Once you’re the juggernaut, you can shoot the minigun and kill everybody. So if you get killed, then the other guy will get the minigun. There’s also Team Deathmatch. Crystal Rush, which is inspired by a MOBA where you have several crystals per team so it’s four versus four and you have to defend your crystals and destroy your opponents. To do that, you need to get the drill because drilling the crystal is the only way to destroy it.

Um, what else am I missing? I’m missing a couple. There’s so many, I forget a couple.

There’s a total of nine in the game right now. We’re aiming to have one or two more before it releases.

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WZ – John: There’s a lot of variety in the multiplayer. Is there a single-player mode too?

Otis: There’s Challenges, but there’s not a campaign or anything like that. It’s levels with really challenging objectives like we have one that’s “defeat the dark knight army.” You start by fighting one and then we add one more knight every round so that you have 30 knights running after you in the end. But you only have one life, which is gone in one hit, so that’s pretty challenging.

There’s several bosses as well. For example, the second one is Worms. You’ll also fight Trolls, Dragons, and stuff like that. It’s all Challenges though. Each one gives you one life to complete it and several enemies you have to defeat.

WZ – John: So miniguns and laser pistols… you’re not going for accuracy with the medieval setting are you?

Otis: No. Definitely not.

It’s medieval, but it’s really not. The game is crazy in itself, but we could have tried to be accurate and do it medieval-style, but it was so much more fun to introduce those crazy weapons that make people do a double take. Why do I have a laser pistol? This is what makes the game more fun. We didn’t want to go for accuracy, we just wanted to go for fun.

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WZ – John: Knight Squad is a really good party game. But does it feel the same when you’re playing online?

Otis: The online is still pretty good if you want to play against people because it’s pretty rare you’re going to have eight people playing in your room. We’re aware of that. But there is always, in any online game, latency and stuff. So it’s not exactly that same. It feels pretty good, but like I said, you will never get the same feeling you have with people screaming at each other in the same room.

Knight Squad will always be more local-centric because there’s the chaos in the game, but there’s also the chaos outside of the game. But it’s still really fun online.

WZ – John: Knight Squad is definitely very chaotic. Are you worried it’s too chaotic sometimes?

Otis: I think we’ve reached the balance where it’s chaotic enough but not too chaotic. It’s hard to reach the good balance in this type of game, but we stuck to a really simple design and not introducing any noise.

Several people have been suggesting we should add a special ability for each character skin, but we’re not going to do that. That would add to the complexity of the game and make it more chaotic. And because right now it’s chaotic enough, we don’t want it to go too chaotic. I think we did a good job of that.

WZ – John: The game is still a work-in-progress and you’re on Steam through Early Access. When do you think the full version will be ready?

Otis: It’s really hard to tell because I keep telling dates and I keep pushing them back. So I don’t really have a date but I’d say a couple months. Yeah, two or three months. But it’s really a guesstimate.

WZ – John: Would the Xbox One version launch at the same time or after?

Otis: Same time. That’s full release for PC and Xbox One.

WZ – John: Thanks so much Jean! Is there anything you wanted to say to send us off?

Otis: That’s pretty much it. Knight Squad is on Steam Early Access right now. And if you want to see more, follow Chainsawesome Games on Twitter or Facebook.

This entry was posted in Features, Interviews, PC, Previews, Top Story, Xbox One and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

John Scalzo is Warp Zoned’s Editor-In-Chief and resident retro gaming expert. You can follow him on Twitter or email him at john AT warpzoned DOT com.


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