The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of: Defenders of Ardania Interview

Conducted By Adam Ames

András Klujber (pictured above), lead designer on Defenders of Ardania, talks to TPG about developing PC games, his personal thoughts on the PC gaming industry and much more.  Here is a sample:

How important is it to get instant feedback about Defenders of Ardania from users through online message boards and other social networking sites?

It’s quite important for Paradox Interactive and for us too. We try to consider every feedback came from the users. That’s why we created a preview copy of Defenders of Ardania long before the release, to get some feedback from the press, and from the gamers. We get some constructive critics, especially about the PC controls of the game. So we’ve created a brand new control system, uniquely designed for the PC version. We hope that the gamers will like it!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your role with the development of Defenders of Ardania.

Hello! I’m András Klujber, the lead designer of Defenders of Ardania. My main task was to create a well working concept and a design document, and keep the design team on the right way. I’m also responsible for the game balance and the story too.

How did you get started in developing PC games?

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… 🙂 Well, it was my childhood’s dream, and this is one of my favorite hobbies too, so I’ve made everything to know the game development better. I’ve made levels and mods, for several games, I’ve played everything under the 8-bit sky, so I dug myself into the deep of the computer games, and one day  I saw an advertisement, so I left my job and sent my CV to that game developer company…

Where did the idea for Defenders of Ardania come from?

The ‘Defenders’ part comes from a mix: The first is our addiction of tower defense games which one is easily understandable, because the world is full of great TD games The ‘Ardania’ part was given by the Paradox Interactive (our publisher). They loved our idea about reforming the TD genre, so they gave us one of their best fantasy setting –Ardania – which one is loved by our side. So it looked like a win-win situation.

What are some of the successes and failures you learned from in developing Defenders of Ardania?

Well, the first of all success what we’ve learned during the development is, that if you have a good idea, you have to stand out for it, no matter what kind of difficulties come along to your way. The failures, yes we’ve got some. We have to focus more on the planning phase, there are lots of things that we should do better now, and we must separate more time to bugfix too.

In its current form, how close is Defenders of Ardania to your initial vision?

In a gameplay level – tower defense with unit sending, strong multiplayer, spells and economy upgrades – the game is very similar to our original vision. We’ve got free hands from the beginnings of the development (thx Paradox, we love you ) and this meant that we didn’t have to make big changes. Of course, as a prototype we had only an initial, general fantasy setting with three races, which one is elbowed into a corner, but in the meantime we’ve got the marvelous world of Ardania, so it was a really good change.

Some devs admitted their games were too hard upon release because they became experts as they developed the game.  Talk about setting the difficulty levels for Defenders of Ardania and if you faced a similar challenge.

Yes, it’s absolutely correct. For now we’re too experts to play the game as an average player should play it, but we’ve expected this, so we’ve tried to involve as more outsider players and developers as it was possible. We’re also trying to read and analyze the previews, and all kind of feedbacks that we got. If they make sense, we’re open to fix them. Any similar challenge? Well, it’s a little bit harder than to bullseye womp rats in a T-16.

Were there any challenges you faced in ensuring Defenders of Ardania would run on the various PC system configurations?

Here at Most Wanted, we’re working on different machines, and some of them are close to the minimum requirements of the game. We also ran lots of compatibility tests to find the ideal performance for Defenders of Ardania, which ones made us hard times: Basically we’ve planned more units and towers to the levels, but after the performance tests we had to cut down from the original numbers, and that caused a totally different balance setting, and so on…

Please talk about developing the art style, level design and music for Defenders of Ardania.

We’ve started the level design with some research. We’ve played different TD titles, and tried to collect every information from the levels, like the size of them, the complexity, the graphical settings, the number of the landmarks, the difficulty settings, etc. After that, we’ve grabbed pen and paper, and drew tons of different level layouts. Most of them were totally unique, but some of them are inspired by other games, and there are a few, based on existing levels from other games, totally honored by us. Find them 😉

The setting wasn’t the last great thing what we had taken from the Paradox. They also ‘give’ us Andreas Waldetoft, who made the music of the two Majesty games. His knowledge about the world of Ardania and his talent about the music-composing made us very easy to work with him, and I think this is totally represented in the final soundtrack of the Defenders of Ardania.

About the art style… After we and Paradox decided that the game will be put in the world of Ardania, we haven’t got too much to do with this. Ok, I’m just kidding, here is a link to a related developer diary: http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?537440-Defenders-of-Ardania-Developer-Diary-3-Races&s=282e69ec72e231ff940a41b6fb9d003f

Outside of creating the game itself, what is the toughest aspect of being an indie developer?

Every time we start something new, we have to absolutely sure in our ideas. As a small, not to well-known company we haven’t got too much time to make prototypes, and get proof, that our ideas work. Every developer wants to create as good game as possible, and sometimes we haven’t got enough resources to achieve every feature we wanted, and we have to make compromises. As we are in love with the game development and with our game, we tend to have some crunch times for the project.

Did you receive emotional support from your family and friends during the development time?

Of course. Many of our friends are also working in the game development, or close to that, so they can understand our problems easily. We have lots of common events with the colleagues and the friends, like Board-game parties, hangouts, laser tag battles and stuff. So we know each other very well in any kind of situations, and it makes us something like a huge, geek family.

Tell us about the process of submitting Defenders of Ardania to the various digital distribution platforms and if you encountered resistance in doing so.

As the distribution belongs to the publisher, our task is to match the requirements of the platform owner companies, which one is usually gives our QA team hard times. There are totally different requirement for all platforms, which means we have to make different versions of the game. These requirements are very detailed and exact, and most of the time they’re help the developer’s work, but of course there are a few odd and annoying rules too. Once we’ve finished the testing the actual version, we had to send it to the publisher, who sends towards to the platform owner’s test team.

For the most part, big budget studios no longer release PC demos while almost every indie developer does.  Why do you think this trend is occurring?  Tell us why released a demo for Defenders of Ardania and the difficulties in doing so.

A well-presented demo is one of the strongest marketing stuff that a small indie developer should have. It introduces the game concept and the gameplay in the best way to the players and the publishers and gives a strong base to the ongoing development of the game. The big ones can easily redeem the demo with a huge marketing campaign, and they can save the time of the demo making for other important tasks.

How important is it to get instant feedback about Defenders of Ardania from users through online message boards and other social networking sites?

It’s quite important for Paradox Interactive and for us too. We try to consider every feedback came from the users. That’s why we created a preview copy of Defenders of Ardania long before the release, to get some feedback from the press, and from the gamers. We get some constructive critics, especially about the PC controls of the game. So we’ve created a brand new control system, uniquely designed for the PC version. We hope that the gamers will like it!

How much value do you place on the opinions of those who review Defenders of Ardania professionally?

We’re trying to get and read all previews and reviews about the actual project. Most of the times the reviewers are writing known issues, but if they found something new, and if it’s worth it and don’t push the game too far from the original vision, we’ll try to change/implement it. Lots of the missing features are originally planned, but they were the casualties of the limited budget or time.

How do you feel about DLC and its current implementation in the PC gaming industry?

First of all, that is a good opportunity for the developers to achieve more features (including that ones, what we had to cut down before). On the other hand, when a new DLC is released, it could increase the sales of the original game too. So we like DLCs, we have lots of plans and ideas about them, but everything depends on the sales and feedback from the gamers on what they want. So, help us with support and feedback if you want DLC:s  😉

Recently, there has been a lot of talk about modding of PC games and the relationship developers have with modders.  How do you feel about the online modding community in general and specifically if mods were created for Defenders of Ardania?

The modding community is the birthplace of the true game developers, so we honor them. Here, in Most Wanted Entertainment many of us started as a modder, and some of us are still an active member of a modder or scener groups. Unfortunately we’re not planning any mods for Defenders of Ardania.

What advice would you give up-and-coming indie PC developers who are trying to break into the business?

If I knew the exact answer for this question, I would have my own successful game developer company 😉 -End

We would like to thank András and everyone at Paradox Interactive for allowing us to get a glimpse of what it takes to create a PC game in today’s market.  

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5 thoughts on “The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of: Defenders of Ardania Interview

  1. Pingback: The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of: Defenders of Ardania Interview … | PC Game Downloads & Reviews

    • It’s a lot of fun, especially now that they have a proper mouse interface implemented. I can’t wait for the final release.

  2. Pingback: Defenders of Ardania Preview Update | truepcgaming

  3. Pingback: András Klujber talks about Defenders of Ardania | PSN Fans

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