Co-Optimus: There’s a lot of humor in the writing/overall setup of the game. How do you know when a joke or piece of writing “works”?
Dana: We set up a lab in our office long before we announced the game and had people come in to play. It was nerve-wracking to watch strangers try and understand your game, but you learn a lot and one of the easiest things to pull out of it was: “Did anyone laugh at our jokes?”
Thankfully, people have generally reacted well to the game’s strange sense of humor and over-reliance on bad puns, so we just kept on keeping on.
Co-Optimus: How did you go about balancing the characters? I noticed that my “go to” picks are often the melee based classes while I keep the ranged ones in reserve as a quick swap out only when needed.
Dana: Again, we did a lot of testing here. We’ve noticed a lot of people tend to gravitate towards favorites, but statistically everyone seems to have a different idea of what their favorite characters are. That’s exactly what we wanted to achieve. This is one of the funniest areas we receive Beta feedback on and probably a lesson in why it’s more important to look at stats over specific comments. Often, in one session, we’ll get two people who proclaim Queen Elizabeth I ridiculously overpowered, while the other two think she’s beyond useless.
The data tends to show the more famous people get a bit more play time, but they’re all within a reasonable range of each other. When we notice that one guy is really lagging behind – Napoleon for example in our earlier Betas – we check up on him. Sure enough, Napoleon was at one point just statistically inferior. We corrected that and things evened out.
At this stage, I think we’ve got a pretty good balance and preference seems to be driven by how each person wants to play, not a feeling that one specific character is so good that they have to play them.
Co-Optimus: What lead to the decision to make a co-op game?
Dana: Fundamentally, that was our goal as a company from day one. A huge chunk of the team has experience in online games and services, so it was a natural fit for us as a group.
From this basis, Second Chance Heroes came about and what we’ve created is a fun game that is infinitely more entertaining with friends. We are actively working on an offline mode, but that’s for the convenience of our users. The best possible experience is with three other people online. It’s a pretty frantic game, but with four characters on the go, it becomes something magically chaotic.
Co-Optimus: The game is currently in beta phase and going through testing and updates. How close is the game to actually being complete and ready for release?
Dana: We have a few more features we want to add. As mentioned, we are working to support an offline mode. The current Beta is “always on,” which is logical for an online game, but we believe that it’s important to give people the freedom to play how they want. That is, after all, how we came to the core idea of collecting and changing characters as you will. So it makes sense to extend that to how you play.
As to release? When it’s ready is so used as to be a cliché, but it’s the truth. Sometime this year, for sure, though.
Co-Optimus: What’s been your experience so far with the Steam Greenlight program? Has it proven to be a good way to get the word out about your game? Are you still planning on releasing the game no matter what?
Dana: Steam Greenlight has been interesting. Obviously, the problems with it have been well documented. It has provided us exposure to thousands of people who may not otherwise know we exist, which has been wonderful, but we also need lots and lots of votes to work our way through that process.
We’ll release the game when it’s ready and whether or not that means on Steam is, to some extent, out of our hands. Our hope is that we can be there at launch, but if it takes some time beyond that, that’s fine too.
Co-Optimus: Once the game is released, do you already have plans in place for what’s next? More characters, new relics, etc?
Dana: We have plenty of ideas, but we also want to see what our users really want. Characters, levels, relics and new gameplay modes are all obvious ways to go that we’d be very interested in, but first we need to get the thing finished and into everyone’s hands, then we’ll worry about DLC.