You may have seen on social media, that we have recently added to our team. We’re excited to announce our new Game Design Lead, Matt Fleming. He will be heading the design of HGA’s major game mechanics as well as the single player campaign.
We got a chance to sit with him and gained some valuable insights into what he has planned for HGA.
Matt, tell us a bit about yourself. What are some of your influences?
Well, I’ve played video games since I could stand upright - my earliest memories involved wondering what Qbert was actually saying. Since then, my tastes have evolved, mostly focusing on role-playing, strategy and massively multiplayer games on just about any platform you can think of. I even have an nGage and a Neo Geo Pocket somewhere.
Tabletop roleplaying games and miniature games are also a huge influence. I started with Dungeons and Dragons at age 11, but my horizons were broadened when I worked at a little independent game store at 18. It was there that I learned exactly how deep that rabbit hole goes. It partly explains my two shelves of gaming books and stacks of board and miniatures games.
What games have you worked on? Could you elaborate on your experiences with them?
I’ve spent more than a few years in the game industry, but my major design credits are on Ultima Online, Rift and Defiance. In each, I was in charge of creating content and providing feedback on balance, systems and supporting ingame events. I’d say that some of my favorite pieces to work on have been the first iteration of the Extra Life corgi rifts for Rift and the Stahma storyline for the second season of Defiance.
What are some of the things you like about the Heavy Gear universe?
I really like the narrative written for the worlds, and how the timeline really embraces how realistic people and organizations would act in a situation like this. It’s why I really appreciate Dream Pod 9’s attention to detail in all of their RPGs.
The fact that Gears aren’t monstrous, gargantuan pieces of machinery is also a really unique piece in the Heavy Gear universe that makes the world work. Size does matter, and the scaling between soldiers, Gears, Striders and tanks and all the rest really does keep everything grounded and sane.
What are some the challenges you foresee to working with an established IP like Heavy Gear? What are some of the advantages you see?
Working with an established IP means I have boundaries that have existed for quite a while. On one hand, it means I have plenty of characters, locations and systems all ready for me to play with. The story bible has been written, and I can use all of these tools to make an awesome experience!
On the other hand, it also means that introducing new things into the world can be tricky. Taking a game made in one medium and converting it to another means that things will have to be changed a bit to fit, and making sure that the spirit of the world is brought over as intact as possible is a challenge.
Heavy Gear Assault is slated to be primarily an e-sports combat game, similar to professional sports involving giant robots. However, there will be a single player component focused on military conflicts. How will you bridge the gap between these two spheres?
The good news is, the world allows for both styles of game to co-exist! My goal is to use the single player components to tell the story of the world, and to provide a “lore wrapper” around the Arena component. The world of Heavy Gear has lots of really great story, and I’ll be using as much of it as I can to get people immersed into the “why” of the Arena.
Customization is a core feature of the mech genre. What are some of your plans for the Gear Bay, Gear and equipment customization?
I don’t want to write too many checks that I may not be able to cash here, but the current goals I’m wanting to hit involve skins and decals for Gears, a variety of weapons from the books and a version of ONNET. I also have some plans for Agents and Pilots, but they’re all still in the early planning stages.
Weapon and component customization are on the list, too, but we’re still figuring out the specifics. I want the idea of manufacturers to be prominent here, though.
Following up the question on customization, the player driven economy or “Black Market” will be a huge feature in HGA. What do you envision?
My goal with the Black Market is to have a bustling economy, where players can make and sell cool things like blueprints and things made from said blueprints as well as the components to put everything together. I want every piece that you get from playing to be useful to someone.
To finish off, do you have any parting comments?
I’m really excited to be working for such a detailed IP with an awesome group of people. My overarching goal is to, in so many words, to give people reasons to keep playing, and I want to put as much Heavy Gear into HGA as I can. I’ll be reading the forums, so feel free to sound off there with your ideas and thoughts!