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Slice and dice in the Kingdom of Blades
Ready to slice and dice in the Three Kingdoms? Kingdom of Blades is now available on Viveport, so we caught up with Chesstar Studios to talk about their samurai slicer.
Tell us about Kingdom of Blades!
Kingdom of Blades is a fast-paced VR slicer game based around a cartoon rendition of the famous Three Kingdoms era in China. We wanted to take a lighter approach to the events around the Three Kingdoms era and went with a more comical arcade style. Both the stylized setting and room-scale tracking allow for a more precise and immersive take on sword-based gameplay.
What would you say gave you the inspiration to make Kingdom of Blades?
Based on our past experiences, we found that the slicing mechanic works really well in VR. In addition to fully utilizing the controllers and sub-millimeter tracking, the design of the controllers itself felt as if they were modeled by a swordsmith. Since there aren’t a lot of VR titles currently out there that focus on this particular type of playstyle, we decided to take the dive and try to make a full game based around this concept.
Is there something about the Three Kingdoms period that drew you in?
We picked the Three Kingdoms for two main reasons. The first being that we are based in China and we felt confident in our ability to fully flesh out the potential of the Three Kingdoms instead of picking something we’ve never seen or heard of before. Secondly our initial main audience is heavily based in Asia, so we wanted to create an experience catered to what fans might be familiar with. Our first priority was to focus on gameplay, then build in an storyline that didn’t detract players from the core experience and mechanics.
You have made VR games before. How was the making of Kingdom of Blades different from your previous titles?
The main difference is definitely the scale of the game in question. With a project of this size, our coders, artists and testers have all had their work cut out for them. I don’t think there was a day on this project where we haven’t had to work overtime!
A lot of people might say that Kingdom of Blades is a lot like Fruit Ninja. What’s your reaction when people say that to you?
We do get that comment a lot and I’d like to respond to it by saying, aside from the fact both games use slicing as a main gameplay mechanic, the rest is completely different. In Fruit Ninja each session is completely randomized, with all the different fruits and power-ups being based on a random algorithm. Our game however has specifically designed levels to try and teach the player while providing a fun experience at the same time. Not a single enemy is placed without careful thought and consideration which is the what makes Kingdom of Blades unique from Fruit Ninja. Also we have a sword that summons a meteor!
What was the creative process like, coming up with all the different bosses, weapons, and abilities?
When coming up with a new boss we first would look at his/her presence in the source material (Three Kingdoms). We try to make the characters semi-believable in the sense where those who are familiar with the stories can identify key features of a certain boss. As far as weapons and abilities go, we just try to come up with ideas that are fun to play around with. We take those ideas and demo them to select users. With their feedback we rework, adjust, or completely change a concept until it’s a balance between fun and useful for the player.
Is there a particular storyline fans of the Three Kingdom would recognize?
Our artwork is heavily inspired by the Three Kingdoms stories. Without giving too much away, fans of the Three Kingdoms are sure to notice a few “surprises” if they observe their surroundings carefully. Also, like what I said before, we try to base our bosses around the canonical source material. For example, on of the bosses, YuanShu, is famously known as the Jade Emperor. We took that and gave him a host of Jade-related abilities players will have to face.
You guys got the chance to show off the game at VDC 2017, are there any special moments you would like to share from that event?
First off let me just say that it was am honor and a privilege, being able to showcase our game at the event. We would like to thank everyone on the Vive team for your wonderful support! Now, onto funny stories! My favorite moment would definitely be the time two girls walked up to demo our game. One was filming the other playing the game. She decided to use the Snake Spear and just started swing the controllers around like no tomorrow. I don’t think either of them fully understood what was happening at the time, but it was definitely entertaining to watch. When she finished the both started chatting excitedly about how fun it was, and that the other girl also wanted to try. Its moments like these where as a developer your heart just melts, seeing others enjoy your game so much. Definitely my favorite moment of the event!
So, what’s next for Chesstar Studios? Plan on releasing more VR content?
We definitely plan on supporting this game for the foreseeable future. It took a long time to make, we’re not going to leave it so soon. As for future content, who knows? Maybe we’ll take what we’ve learned here and try our hand at a different genre.
Kingdom of Blades is available now on Viveport.