Inspirations and Design: An Interview with Anomaly 2 Devs
Anomaly 2 11 Bit Studios’ sequel to the hit tower offense game Anomaly Warzone Earth debuted last week, to positive critical acclaim. I spoke with Pawel Miechowski, senior writer for the development studio to get an insight into the inspirations and design decisions that went into Anomaly 2.
Where did the initial idea for a tower offense style game come from?
When creating the first game we’ve been playing a lot of strategy games – mostly TD games – and lead designer Michal came up with the idea “let’s make totally opposite game and more action-oritented!” and the idea started to evolve and we’ve added more features like the tactical view and the on-field commander with combat abilities like healing, smoke screen etc. The most impressive game we’ve been playing at the time was Defense Grid I think.
Anomaly 2 is the fifth game 11 Bit has worked on and the third iteration of the Anomaly series. What have you learned over the past few years that you’ve been able to apply to this relatively new genre?
I think the biggest lesson was that single player campaign may be cool but people really wanna see multiplayer. And I mean different kinds of multiplayer – symetric, asymetric, co-op and stuff like that. So from Anomaly 2 we wanna experiment more with different kinds of multiplayer modes.
I understand that at least one member of you team greatly enjoys PvZ, but what other TD games have you guys taken cues from from?
That would be Defense Grid and PvZ like you said, but also Toy Soldiers and Fieldrunners. Fieldrunners is definitely one of the best TD games for me.
How long have you had the ideas for a second Anomaly 2 floating around, and what have been the main inspirations for the new mechanics?
The ideas started to buzz around already after the first Anomaly was finished but it took some time to create a shape that you can find in the game now. Rafal – the MP lead designer – has had the idea for MP battles already in his mind once we’ve asked on the Steam forums what would be the most interesting mode and Tower Defense vs Tower Offense was totally most popular option. So from that moment Rafal already started to experiment with 1v1 battle modes. When it comes to the new morph mechanics – I guess it could be coming from Transformers movies – but in fact we were just looking for an opportunity to make the core gameplay more varied by forcing the player to devise new strategies. Morphing was like an obvious answer – let’s make units that have totally different abilities. And it worked.
Can you give a rundown of how the mech transformations will alter the gameplay from previous titles?
That’s totally up to a player. It’s not that necessary on the easiest difficulty level, although sometimes you have to use morphs. But on the advanced difficulty level (and higher) you really need to pay attention to enemies and morph your units to adjust to the battle situation so there’s no perfect squad solution. This was one of the complaints about previous titles that you can create a squad that’s effective through entire campaign. Now there is no such possibility and you need to find new tactics through entire game.
While there’s been a pretty major focus on the new transformation aspect, has anything been changed in regards to the commander?
Indeed the gameplay in single player (and in “human” side in MP) is focused around this feature but there are new combat abilities in the game replacing two olde ones. That is EMP bomb and the AIM ability which allows you to concentrate fire on a chosen enemy. I know it’s not a huge change but it makes the commander’s work somewhat different to first game.
The Anomaly series has been about an inversion of the typical TD playstyle, so what was your reasoning behind adding in a standard TD game mode?
Sorry, this is a bit unclear to me. Do you mean what was the reason befind adding the TD to the multiplayer mode? If so, that would be mostly again the desire to make something original as from what I know there was no a game so far that allows you to play so complex strategy by either attacking towers or defending them with a tech-tree that make it even more complex. From the first day we knew we wanted to make something unusual but this was also something Anomaly fans suggested on Steam forums when we asked about possible MP mode.
From what I understand, the tower defense mode is multiplayer only, so how does the online aspect make it differ from the more traditional “You vs mindless machine” type play?
The human opponent will never be as easy to beat as machine so it makes it crazy-paced strategy where you need to act and think faster + you have a bunch of various tactics at your disposal. In the end – and I see it now as gamers got far better than the devs :) this multiplayer became truly hardcore game. Your opponent is quickly acting gamer, not a machine. If you play slowly, you probably gonna loose a battle :)
I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask, any news on a mobile version?
This is something we have the porting tech waiting for :) As soon as we know we can move onto it – we’ll be doing it!
Thanks for all gamers for the support and many thanks for the Linux community with helping to polish the MP beta!
Thank you for your time.