Killer Klowns from Outer Space: The Game: The Interview

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Killer Klowns from Outer Space: The Game was one of the less expected hits out of Gamescom’s Opening Night Live showcase. The 3v7 horror-action game is a collaboration between the original movie’s creators, Colombian developer Teravision, and Friday the 13th: The Game executive director Randy Greenback, and is looking to build on the recent explosion of licensed horror multiplayer games.

To tell us how, we got Greenback himself to answer some of our biggest questions after the reveal:

IGN: The ’80s Asymmetric Licensed Horror Game’ has become an unlikely subgenre in recent years. What made Killer Klowns a natural addition to it?

Randy Greenback: I’m a massive horror fan and Killer Klowns has been a bucket list item for years. I love this movie. It’s everything that makes ’80s horror great. That was an incredible era for filmmaking. The movie is off the wall, but it keeps you viscerally invested in the characters… taking you along for a crazier and crazier ride. I’ve always enjoyed that it’s funny but also genuinely creepy as hell. That feeling is what I wanted to capture for players, so it’s been a good jumping off point.

Good Shepherd gave me a lot of freedom to bring on the right partners, and I knew immediately Teravision was who I wanted to work with to give the game life. We’ve worked together a lot before. They know horror, and they love multiplayer games. I visited them in Bogota and they not only understood what I wanted to accomplish, they ran with it and innovated on it. From there, we took it to MGM and the original filmmakers. Everyone left that call saying “Oh my god we have to do this!” Teravision is brilliant. It’s hard not to get caught up in their passion for this project.

“Honestly this movie is a game when you watch it, it wants to be a game, it HAD to be adapted into a game.”

The translation of Killer Klowns to video games has been pretty natural. The movie has a little of everything, dozens of Killer Klowns, all kinds of delightfully unaware 80’s human caricatures, surreal scares, wacky kills, batshit bonkers weapons… I could go on and on. Honestly this movie is a game when you watch it, it wants to be a game, it HAD to be adapted into a game. The filmmakers were ahead of their time, and having them involved in our process has been not only a privilege, but also a joy and a ton of fun.

Stepping back though, new fans and old will both get this right away. End of the day, yes this is based on a movie, but ultimately we are talking about Killer Klowns…….. From Outer Space! Clowns are scary! Invasions are frightening! Even if you don’t know the movie, you’re going to be able to jump right in and share in the fun and steer the course of the match so you have your own story to tell. Maybe along the way, we can share our love of a classic with you as well. Everyone has poured their hearts and souls into this project. We can’t wait to see people try it out.

IGN: Having helped kicked off this movement through Friday the 13th, what learnings have you brought to this project?

RG: I reflected on things for a year after Friday the 13th: The Game launched before starting to lay the groundwork for getting Killer Klowns moving. When we began talking with Teravision about the wild idea of doing this game, I asked myself: What did players enjoy most for the longtail of F13? What kept them coming back for more and more? Sometimes putting in thousands of hours on the game.

Things like roleplay and “stream-ability” were highlighted goals and inspired things that were baked into that game during the development and that helped carry it on to be a continuous success on Twitch and YouTube. In Killer Klowns, we embrace the weird, surreal, fun “WTF” moments from the film and allow for players to act out scenes using the character archetypes/tropes from the movie. We hope the community runs with this concept and creates their own characters and personalities with the tropes we’ve seeded and entertain themselves, friends and fans out there with the content they create.

We discussed the varied objectives within Friday the 13th for the Counselors so that matches would always play out differently based on the choices of the players. The primal fear that Jason inspired as a killer through his abilities that were in-line with his action and performance in the films, how well localized VOIP worked and the kinds of emergent situations that would arise when players got creative with communicating, and much more. We needed to emulate those things and even push to advance them further.

We took that wall of pros and some cons we came up with then we rallied around the goal to come up with some core innovative elements that the game could hang its proverbial party hat on. We took those and began pairing them with what worked so well in F13, so we could advance the asymmetric multiplayer horror genre within the context of Crescent Cove and the Killer Klown universe starting from a strong base game design.

Some other key takeaways from F13 that inspired us were the lobby system and keeping players together match-to-match to share their experiences with each other, giving everyone a chance to be a Klown or Human in a fair way while avoiding lots of lobbies with only people waiting to be the killers that happens in other games in this genre. I always viewed this as a big part of the glue that bonded the community together and what keeps people playing to this day, it’s the friendships that come out from it that are the real fruits of these kinds of experiences online.

IGN: The trailer seems to show a slightly less cat-and-mouse take on this kind of game. How powerful are the human players?

RG: Just like in the movie, our human characters are much weaker physically, they start out relatively oblivious, but they eventually grow to be cunning and if they work together, they will be able to stop the Klown invasion. We’ve worked hard to keep each match fresh, so there are several ways for humans to win the match: they can either keep the majority of citizens alive throughout the match, flee the town, or – my favorite – take the fight to the Klowns. If your team decides to fight back, you will have to sneak inside the Big Top spaceship, sabotage its systems, and destroy the cotton candy neon pink power core to make Killer Klowns vulnerable and put them on the run. Doing that removes the Klowns of their ability to respawn.

Then it’s just like in the film — shoot them in the nose and send them to a klowny grave! So, humans are strong in their own way, but those players need to focus on cooperation and be extremely cautious – the Klowns are powerful from the start and only get more so as the match goes on. But because the humans outnumber the Klowns, players on the Klown team will also need to work together in order to survive. We will dive deeper into the gameplay systems in the coming months though, as there’s still a lot to talk about that we’re not revealing quite yet.

IGN: 1v4 is a pretty established multiplayer game size now. How did you land on 3v7 for Killer Klowns? How much tweaking had to be done to get there?

RG: Before we got into designing the exact balance of Klowns to Humans we talked a lot about how we wanted the matches to feel. The movie continues to amp up more and more and still even more and we wanted to capture that same feeling for players. As you go, the intensity increases and by the end it’s just this Klown war of wackiness and you’re asking yourself “what the hell is going on here?!” We’re shaking things up in the genre quite a bit by introducing a more elaborate approach to the usual hunter/prey formula.

The game requires a lot of cooperation and strategizing. We want players to get in there and enjoy the thrill of either invading or resisting together. Both sides have a large variety of playstyles that are supported through the unique playable classes we have available, so you’ll have to figure out what mix of things sets you up for success. I can give you some hints. For the Klowns, this is going to be about the synergies between your super powered special abilities, while the humans can juggle their strengths and weaknesses with opportunistically finding various items and weapons across the town.

We’re going to have quite a few more players in these matches than is typical so far in this genre which is still relatively new, so we also increased the map size and varied our locations to fill out the experience. It’s been amazing and fun to recreate the town from the film; I think we’ve made good use of that increased real estate by adding not only creative places to move and hide, but also adding a bunch of objectives that keep the matches interesting. It adds a lot of long term replayability and It’s going to be fun to watch players peel back the layers and find the pop-culture and horror easter eggs we’ve hidden everywhere as well.

The 3v7 approach has required a lot of new innovations and additions to the genre which really changes the way this game feels to play. Fine tuning the balance is our number one priority right now so we will be hosting multiple beta tests before release to make sure the game strikes just the right note between tension and fun for the fans of multiplayer horror. I want to say more but we will dive deeper into those systems in the coming months. There’s still a lot to talk about that we’re not revealing quite yet.

IGN: You briefly mention PvPvE – how does that manifest in here? What are the AI elements to the game?

RG: Okay this is an element we are pretty proud of. When you are playing as a human, the big thing you want to avoid is being captured and killed by the Killer Klowns, right? But when that happens we didn’t want it to be an immediate “game over” for players, now watch the match or jump to another game. That’s no fun and then players don’t stay in and together for the end of the match laughs and smack talking. We wanted to give our teams another chance to stay together and potentially pull off a dramatic comeback win or have fun trying.

You also want to survive as a human with your first character as long as possible to maximize the XP you can accrue, so that can turn things more towards a co-op-petitive slant on the human side of things. You want to survive more than the person next to you, so there are points where you want to “use” someone and get them to be chased to let you escape. It can be quite fun even when teamwork begins to break down in tense moments.

In our first map, Crescent Cove, there will be dozens of human NPCs wandering around the town. When you’re playing as a human, if you get captured or killed, you are going to respawn as one of those remaining NPCs and continue playing – but it’s likely going to be a different character class/’80s trope than you initially chose. We have five available classes inspired by camp horror archetypes – Teenager, Cop, Biker, Punk, and Redneck. You might have started the match as a crafty but weak Teenager but then suddenly change it up to become a Biker with a shotgun because you want to take the fight to the ship or do some lackey Klown hunting. If the Killer Klowns capture the majority of citizens, be it players or NPCs, they win the match. So humans will need to watch each others’ backs all the time and try to free their neighbors from the Cotton Candy Cocoons before they get stored in the spaceship and it’s too late.

IGN: Can you tell us more about Teravision as a developer?

RG: Teravision is a super skilled team based out of Bogota, Colombia. They’ve done a huge variety of stuff, including horror and VR but I met them when we worked together on a few still secret things… and fun semi-secret fact, the team did the initial prototype for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. There’s so much talent there I could have a whole conversation just about the great people at the studio, but I’ll take this chance to call out my creative partner in crime on the Teravision side, Luis Daniel Zambrano. LD is the Creative Director on the game, he’s been an amazing collaborator and has an incredible knack for taking my high level design ideas and breaking them down with me into more defined and concrete designs that can be implemented by the team.

Their studio is really a gem. A collective of wonderful, genuine, passionate and supremely talented people… I’m excited to see this game take them to the next level and give Teravision Games the spotlight they deserve as they step up to the world stage and take on the horror genre like never before. Getting to do all that with people who are friends and not just collaborators? It’s all magic really, and an experience I think everyone involved is truly cherishing as we build this title out. We can’t wait for everyone to start rolling into the Klown tent spaceship and start cocooning their friends online.

“What if Crescent Cove was not the only place where Killer Klowns landed? Or 1988 wasn’t the only time the Klowns have visited? It is definitely going to get Craazzy.”

IGN: We saw licensing debates cause major issues for Friday the 13th: The Game. How did you collect together involvement from so many parties for this?

RG: Well, I’ve definitely had my own experiences with that and when licensing goes wrong it can be very unfun. We’ve been really fortunate that MGM has been really supportive of the project, great stewards of the IP and that we’ve been able to work directly with the film’s original creators, the legendary Chiodo Brothers and even John Massari who did the original soundtrack. There was a shared passion to revisit this weirdly rich universe and reintroduce the Klowns in a surprising new way to both die hard and new fans in waiting. As for collecting everyone together it was actually relatively easy, everyone was excited and ready to come back and to expand the Klown universe again.

IGN: You mentioned live-service in your announcement – is this a free-to-play game?

RG: The game is a premium title that will receive free seasonal updates and a lot of content drops after release. We will start talking about our post-launch plans at a later date, but what I can already say is that we’re working on some pretty insane ideas that will expand the Killer Klowns universe beyond the movie in surprising new ways. We are aiming to keep players always guessing what on earth could possibly come next (but we will be dropping lots of hints and Easter Eggs).

We’re lucky enough to be working directly with the Chiodo brothers who have been a treasure trove of new ideas and super supportive of us bringing our own creative concepts to life. Like for example, in the film, we only witness one town under Klowny alien siege…… but what if Crescent Cove was not the only place where Killer Klowns landed? Or 1988 wasn’t the only time the Klowns have visited? It is definitely going to get Craazzy.

Joe Skrebels is IGN’s Executive Editor of News. Follow him on Twitter. Have a tip for us? Want to discuss a possible story? Please send an email to [email protected].

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Author: Joe Skrebels

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