‘Brass Tactics’ Behind the Scenes: Q&A with Hidden Path Entertainment, Plus Eight Gaming Streamers Go Head-to-Head in Pre-Launch Tournament
Last week, we announced the release of Brass Tactics Arena—a free version of highly-anticipated clockwork RTS Brass Tactics. The full game hits Rift on February 22, and today, we’re excited to share that some of our favorite gaming streamers will take to the virtual tabletop in the Brass Tactics Influencer Sweepstakes!
Starting at 11:00 am PT on February 21, Cas of Cas and Chary VR, Friskk, PCVR frank, Reality Check VR, Rowdy Guy, VR Gamer Dude, Virtual Reality Oasis, and Zimtok5 will face off in a bracketed tournament of single-elimination, one-match games. Follow any of the competitors on Twitter and watch their tweets for your chance to win a Rift.*
Brass Tactics Sneak Peek
Hidden Path Entertainment Lead Designer Patrick Lipo and Executive Producer, Co-Founder, & CEO Jeff Pobst sit down for a deep dive on what players can expect from the full launch.
How has Brass Tactics changed since you decided to delay the release date?
Patrick Lipo: When our original release date approached this past fall, the team had already created a fun, enjoyable game that struck a chord with those who played it. We were proud of our innovative control scheme and our execution of the classic Real-time Strategy experience—but there was a wishlist of improvements we’d hoped could make the original ship date.
Luckily, Oculus felt the same way we did. They approached us with a proposal to take the game to the next level, to make the game we all knew was possible. Despite being in sight of the finish line, we eagerly agreed to make Brass into an even greater experience.
What new content and wishlist items were you able to add in?
PL: One of the first things we added were four new units and seven new upgrades, which rounds out the player’s arsenal with a bunch of new specialties. We were even able to complete the Airship, one of the most beloved units from our very earliest prototypes! To cap it off, we created a way for players to customize their army and choose exactly which units they want to bring to the fight.
We created three new chapters for our single-player campaign, bringing back our writer and actors to add to the storyline. We built the mini-skirmish Coliseum map, so players can sharpen their skills while waiting for their next match or face off against a friend in a quick nine-round duel.
There’s now a gallery for viewing and learning about the intricate mechanical units at full size. There are player-customized team colors and metal trim, plus the mighty Scrap Hammer. We have refined visual effects, more beautiful levels, and increased unit polish. There’s even a high detail mode with added shadows and fidelity for players with high-end machines. It’s everything we hoped for—a highly polished and deep strategy game, as well as a genre-defining VR experience.
Why did you decide to add Brass Tactics Arena as a free-to-play option?
Jeff Pobst: Virtual reality games are pretty hard to evaluate without getting the headset on and experiencing them for yourself. We were trying to build something special that a lot of people would enjoy, so we wanted to do our best to let as many people as possible have an experience of the game for free. If they enjoy it, hopefully they’ll want to purchase the full game.
Meanwhile, Brass Tactics Arena will continue on past launch and allow people to jump into multiplayer games whenever they want. There are a limited number of maps available to players of Brass Tactics Arena, but they can play those maps against other Arena players or even players of the full Brass Tactics game. We think that’s pretty exciting.
What details can you share as far as maps, factions, and units?
PL: Our storyline introduces the player to the Scions of the War Table, where entire armies are commanded via intricate clockwork simulations. The campaign is made up of eight playable chapters, which take over six hours to complete. There are also seven unique maps playable head-to-head against another player or the computer AI. Finally, there are six special co-op maps that allow two people side-by-side to push out and fight an AI that is arrayed against them.
We have 12 different unit types, which can be upgraded in different ways, for a total of 36 variants. A player must load out their palette with a set of eight to use during the match, defining their “faction.” They can choose that loadout from one of three pre-built palettes, or they can construct their own palette with a hand-picked set of units, and then customize them with specialized team colors and metal trims.
How did you build out the game’s narrative campaign?
JP: The single-player campaign is designed to provide an engaging story that takes the player through several different maps, explores the units available in the game, introduces different strategies and approaches for players, and gives them a fun experience that grows their skill over time.
We have some great writing and performances in the single-player campaign as well. Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones, The Wire) voices our main opponent, Princeps Zavolto. Other great actors in the game include Shohreh Agdashloo (The Expanse, House of Sand and Fog), Ike Amadi (Halo 5, Middle-Earth: Shadow of War), and Christopher Swindle (Valarian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Transformers: Robots in Disguise). The story was written by Hugo Award-winning author Mary Robinette Kowal, who also wrote some great back-story entries that appear in the online game manual.
PL: One of the great aspects of Brass Tactics’ strategy experience is that your opponent is right there in the room with you, deliberating their choices and directing their attention around the map. This also extends to the narrative—your AI opponents are there to comment on your strategy and react to your techniques. I’ve always had a fondness for strategy games like Advance Wars, where opposing commanders aren’t faceless AIs, but actual characters with personalities and aspirations. Brass feels like the ultimate way to experience that.
How would you describe the three AI personalities?
PL: Gerro is the first opponent you encounter in the campaign, a reluctant member of the enemy cadre. He plays a fairly defensive strategy and will only advance when he’s sure that he’ll win. He favors units that aid him in his turtle-ish playstyle, such as artillery.
Edaria is an aged mentor who trained many of the best Scions in the Republic. She’s wise but plays more of an aggressive game, attacking on multiple fronts and favoring smaller incursions. She enjoys fast-moving units like wasps.
The final opponent is Zavolto, a ruthless competitor who believes in total victory, whether it’s on the battlefield or on the Council floor. His style is more balanced, and while he talks a bold game, he tries to wait for the ideal moment to strike. He favors strong units that overpower, such as tanks.
What is it about tabletop strategy that your audience finds so appealing? How did you use the genre to appeal to your target audience?
JP: The tabletop motif is something players really respond positively to—perhaps even more than we expected. It’s like we’re delivering the ultimate interactive miniatures tabletop and all the minis do exactly what you tell them to do!
There’s a lot of single-player content in the game, so players that like a story campaign in a strategy game with great voice acting should find what they’re looking for, and also have a lot of skirmish vs. AI experiences available to them after they make their way through the campaign. But VR is also an amazing social environment, and playing with other people—even if you’re not very competitive—is a ton of fun. So having the two-person co-op vs. AI experiences was something we felt was really important: It allows people to get into the game, have fun, and play together—even if they’re at very different skill levels. You can Quickmatch and meet someone new, or invite a friend into a private game.
And for the highly competitive strategy player, all the tools should be available to play PVP competitively. You can plan your strategy out before the game, execute your opening, react to your opponent, tune your approach, and iterate on your technique as you play other players in a similar skill range with Oculus’ skill-based matchmaking that the game uses. Friend invites also are supported for PVP, so you can determine which of you is better at a certain map.
Thanks to Jeff and Patrick for taking us behind the curtain. Stay tuned tomorrow for the full reveal!
— The Oculus Team
*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. Odds of winning will depend on the total number of entries received. Void where prohibited by law. Sweepstakes open only to legal residents of the 50 U.S./D.C., 13+ with a valid Twitter account. Follow the competing streamers on Twitter, and, once the tournament is over, watch for a call to action from the winning streamers to learn how you can enter for a chance to win a Rift. Sweepstakes begins: 12:00 p.m. PT on 2/21/18; ends at 8:00 p.m. PT on 2/23/18. ARV of all prize: $399. Subject to fullOfficial Rules. Sponsor: Oculus VR, LLC, 1 Hacker Way, Menlo Park, CA 94025.