SmashMuck Champions is a new free-to-play action strategy game from an independent studio and is trying to charm players with its mix of cute cartoon visuals and compelling gameplay, without all the tribulations of other games in the genre. We spoke to the Lead Game Designer, Ben Rodgers, about the origins of the game, the open development strategy and future plans.
Who is Kiz Studios and how many people work at the studio?
Kiz Studios is a small independent studio located in Charleston, SC. Our creative studio has about 20 full time staff. About 10 of that group are working full time on SmashMuck. We also have a mobile team as well as a group that is focused on larger entertainment projects.
Can you give us a general description of SmashMuck Champions?
SmashMuck is an action arena style game with quirky cartoon characters and fast paced combat.
Why did you settle on the idea of developing a MOBA game instead of other genre? What factors convinced you of going this way?
SmashMuck was never envisioned as a traditional MOBA. We certainly employ a similar camera and controls of a MOBA, but the pacing of the game much closer resembles the FPS genre. Our goal was to let players jump in and get smashing right away.
KizStudios opted for an Open Development strategy, where players could influence the outcome of the game. How was the feedback from players? Can you give us one example of an idea suggested by an involved player?
We love the Open Development process! We get our game (warts and all) out there as quickly as possible into the hands of players. This helps us receive feedback very early on in the process and fix problems. Of course, we’ve gotten lots of suggestions and feedback on things like balance and new champions, but I feel one of the biggest changes from the fans so far was to include a speed penalty when carrying the Plunderball (CTF Flag). This changed the pacing of the game by allowing other players to more easily catch their opponent. Things like Custom Games, Leagues and Tournaments, and new Game Mode ideas also come from our players.
You choose Planet Muck as the foundation for all your games. What is this planet, and is this a typically cartoonish world or there’s room for a darker approach in future games?
Planet Muck gives the stories we’re telling through games a common thread. It’s your basic battle between good and evil where the fantastical world that is Planet Muck is constantly plagued by the evil Simon Welk and his army of Muck Monsters. While the cartoonish style gives our games a lighthearted look and feel on the surface, there are definitely darker elements that are lurking underneath. This is the side we’re looking to explore with Smashmuck.
It’s impossible to speak of MOBA without mentioning League of Legends. What are SmashMuck Champions’ attributes to convince MOBA fans?
We offer a substantially different experience than your typical MOBA. Most MOBAs have a high barrier of entry for non-hardcore gamers, and have a much slower pace with longer game times. We strive to keep up the adrenaline and remove a lot of the micro-management that can take players out of the action. We also tried to limit the number of punishing decisions and make sure players could contribute throughout the game with little prior experience.
How many champions do you plan to have at launch?
Currently we have 19, a few waiting in the wings, and even more on paper. They’re seriously a lot of fun to make and test, and everyone likes to work on them. We’ve got several additional champions planned for release, and once we get a few important components locked down we will be working quickly to get them in.
Being a free-to-play game, what kind of monetization options are you planning?
We currently have over 600 items in our shop, ranging from stat boosting weapons with their own progression tracks, to purely cosmetic items. Of course, all items that affect the game in the way of power can be earned through play. We do offer a section of purely cosmetic items that can be purchased through a micro-transaction system.
When can we expect the Open Beta?
Super-soon, stay tuned for more info.