INTERVIEW – In Conversation With Jan Theysen (Battle Worlds: Kronos Kickstarter, KING Art Games)

By Marty Mulrooney

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Battle Worlds: Kronos is a classic turn-based strategy game currently being developed by KING Art Games. The studio has already reached and surpassed its original $120,000 goal to fund the game via Kickstarter and is now pursuing additional stretch goals before the campaign ends on the 28th April 2013. In 2011 Alternative Magazine Online reviewed PC point-and-click adventure The Book of Unwritten Tales, which was also created by KING Art Games, describing it as “one of the most enjoyable adventure games to have been released in a very long time.” AMO is therefore proud to present an exclusive online interview with the studio’s co-founder and creative director, Jan Theysen!

Hi Mr Theysen, thank you for your time and welcome to AMO!

Thanks for having me!

Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself please?

I’m the creative director and co-CEO of KING Art Games. I founded the company 13 years ago together with my partner Marc Konig. I’m 34 years old and don’t do much else other than designing games, thinking about games and playing games. 😉

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You are the Creative Director at KING Art Games – what does this role entail?

First of all I’m head of production at KING Art Games. This means that I work together with all our development teams, supervise their work and help them with creative decisions. In some projects I’m also involved on a daily basis, doing the game-design or writing stories and dialogues.

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You recently announced your latest game, Battle Worlds: Kronos, via Kickstarter. What can you tell us about this exciting new project?

It’s a turn-based strategy game in the tradition of games like Battle Isle, Advance Wars or Panzer General. We tried to make this game for a LONG time and we’re really excited players all over the world seem to love the idea. We received great feedback and reached our funding goal only seven days after we started our Kickstarer campaign. We’re trying to reach our second stretch-goal at the moment to bring the game to tablets and OUYA.

What made you decide to crowd-fund the game via Kickstarter?

We developed a prototype of Battle Worlds: Kronos seven years ago but couldn’t find any publisher to finance the project. It became “the game that hasn’t been made” for us and we kept looking for opportunities to finally make it. When Kickstarter emerged as a possibility to get the money directly from the players we were very excited!

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You have enjoyed great success in recent years with your adventure game The Book of Unwritten Tales. In my review, I described it as ‘A lengthy, high quality point-and-click adventure game full of fun exploration, genuine laughs and well thought-out puzzles.’ What made you decide to try your hand at creating a classic turn-based strategy game?

Back in 2006 after developing mainly browser-games we wanted to make a “real game”. We knew we had to make a game in a niche genre if we wanted the game to stand out. We wrote two game-designs, one for Battle Worlds: Kronos and one for The Book of Unwritten Tales. We thought we might have a better chance selling Battle Worlds to a publisher because it was the smaller project. But ultimately The Book of Unwritten Tales was picked up and we became known for adventure games. But the idea to make a TBS game isn’t something new for us, it has been part of our history.

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What other turn-based strategy games would you cite as inspiration for this project?

The biggest single influence might be Battle Isle 2, a game I loved as a child and teenager. But there are influences by all kinds of other TBS games. When we developed the first prototype we gathered a group of turn-based enthusiasts around us and discussed more or less every gameplay and control element in the game with them. And I don’t think there is any TBS game that hasn’t been discussed back then.

What will be the core gameplay mechanics?

We wanted to stay true to the turn-based strategy genre, so Battle Worlds: Kronos is all about using your units and resources to the greatest possible effect. In order to win, you will need to consider factors like the positioning of units, attack range, armament and equipped upgrades. Victory or defeat will be decided by your tactics.

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Will the single player campaign feature a story to tie all of the missions together?

There will be two campaigns with each having an individual but still tied together story and all missions are tied together.

How will the multiplayer aspect of the game work?

There will be at least 3 different modes; a regular live round by round multiplayer, a hot-seat mode and an asynchronous mode. The live multiplayer connects the competitors directly and their actions will have an immediate impact on the battlefield. Long lasting matches can even be saved and continued later on. The hot-seat mode is a kind of retro mode where several players will play on one computer. Last but not least there will be the asynchronous mode, which is like a modern version of play by mail. As soon as the active player turns over the match, the game data will be uploaded and send to the opponent who then can take his time to figure out his tactics.

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You’ve asked for $120,000, a goal which has already been surpassed – how will this money be spent? And is $120,000 enough to realize your vision?

We put as much of our own money into the project as possible. The $120k is only the missing third of the budget for the basic version of the game. Well, “basic” sounds kind of wrong because it is THE version we always wanted to make. It features single player campaigns, challenge maps, multiplayers maps, an editor… we didn’t have to cut anything for this version. The stretch-goals add something to an already complete game (additional maps, new languages, new platforms and so on).

What rewards can backers look forward to?

We’ve prepared quite a few things: digital goodies, alpha & beta access, merchandising, naming things in the game, playing against someone from our dev-team and it is even possible that a backer can get their likeness with name into the game.

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You recently announced additional stretch goals – what can players expect if these stretch goals are reached?

The contents of the first stretch-goal will be added to the final / release version of the game. Backers who have made a pledge within a reward tier where they get a copy of the game and those who will purchase it will find this content in the game.

If the second stretch goal is reached, we’ll be able to develop the mobile versions of the game which backers will of course receive for free.

And with the third goal we can start early to work on an add-on for the game. Of course this will also be for free for those who backed.

What platforms are you planning to release Battle Worlds: Kronos on?

The game will be released on PC, Mac and Linux. If we reach our second stretch-goal, the game will also be released on iOS and Android tablets and the OUYA console. We really hope we’ll reach this stretch-goal because we think tablets are just made for TBS games like Battle Worlds: Kronos!

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KING Art Games is currently working on two adventure games that are already fully funded. Will the team be focusing on this Kickstarter project before continuing with production on those adventure games?

No. Our adventure-team is finishing our next adventure ‘The Raven’ (www.raven-game.com) right now and then starts production for the new adventure. The Battle Worlds: Kronos team works parallel on finishing the game by the end of 2013.

Thank you for your time and good luck with the final stretch of the Kickstarter campaign!

Thank you! Reaching the second stretch-goal would be the icing on the cake because the whole Kickstarter campaign has been a great experience already. We’ll do our best to deliver a great game!

For more information – and to pledge your support – please visit:

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http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kingartgames/battle-worlds-kronos-turn-based-strategy-revisited

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