Interview: George Batog, Producer of Chaotic: Shadow Warriors


Contributed by: Toby Davis

Activision is bringing a new IP into the market at a time that many people call “holiday gold”.  The Strategy RPG game, Chaoticâ„¢: Shadow Warriors, is based on a license that may not be known to everyone.  Today I was able to speak to producer George Batog of Activision about Chaotic, the game, and its forthcoming release.

Toby , Many people may not be aware of what the Chaotic license is or of this game. Can you give us a brief description?

George , In a nutshell, Chaotic is a collectible card game that has two players use their carefully built “armies” (collectible card decks) to battle against each other. A lot of thinking goes into assembling an “army” because cards are designed to work together in specific ways. The very high number of possible combinations makes devising unique strategies to defeat your opponent a fun undertaking.

If the description above sounds to you like it could pretty much fit any CCG (Collectible Card Game), you’re probably right. What makes Chaotic special is that each card has a unique code and these codes are “DNA snapshots” of the creatures and items within Perim, a “parallel world” in which four tribes fiercely fight for supremacy.

There is also a very popular animated show based on Chaotic. It delivers tips about how to play the card game embedded in a nice storyline and portrays the battles in a very dynamic and cool way. Even if trading card games aren’t exactly your thing, you’ll find the show quite addictive, as it does a great job popularizing the game while presenting itself as a solid entertainment experience in its own right.

Our aim was to make Shadow Warriors , the video game , enjoyable to more than the Chaotic fans out there. While having a prior knowledge of Chaotic does help in terms of having familiarity with your favorite creatures and will need no introduction to the battle mechanics, it’s not, by any means, a prerequisite, and gamers who are not familiar with the show or the card game but are fans of RPGs will really enjoy it.

In the video game, players assume the role of Tom, one of the protagonists of the show, and journey through eight locations of Perim, fighting their way through hordes of mysterious “shadow” enemies, controlled by an elusive, malevolent force.

Shadow Warriors could be best described as a fine blend of an RPG, platformer with turn-based strategy elements, with a strong bias towards the turn-based battles.

Toby , As this is going on a different story arc in the Chaotic universe, did you have any input during the creation of the game and if so what was it and how did it come about?

George ,We worked very closely with the creators of the show and the CCG to make sure the best-liked aspects of Chaotic are incorporated and that our game stays true to the universe. The game’s story line is somewhat parallel to the animated show. We used the most popular locations, creatures and battle gear and, although building a story to integrate all these seamlessly was nothing short of challenging, I think that, eventually, all the pieces clicked together really well.

Also, we talked to a lot of people who hadn’t heard of Chaotic to verify our assumptions and see how well they liked the game; they proved tremendously helpful in understanding how to introduce the game to new players, what was fun and what features we needed to keep refining.

Toby , Can you tell us what was one of the goals to bringing Chaotic to the console?

George ,What is great about the video game, and one of the goals with bringing Chaotic to consoles, is that people can actually take their favorite characters and control them in battle against their enemies. So fans will still be able to recognize their environments and know their armies, but now they can have full control of them.

To add to that, Chaotic: Shadow Warriors is not a typical turn-based game. Once initiated, attacks, spells and abilities each have their associated mini-games that you need to perform successfully in order to achieve the maximum effect. You can also block attacks and even scan the opponent creatures while they attack you , you can then use these scans in your army in subsequent battles. So it is definitely made to be interactive.

Toby – In keeping with the television show and bringing it to the multi-player aspect of things, will viewers be able to watch the different Chaotic battles that are going on between other on-line players?  Will we be able to see this feature in game or why was it left out?

George – Players won’t be able to watch other matches going on. While it is a cool idea, we felt our efforts were better put towards maximizing the fun factor and strategy elements for the active players. With our focus on this and the single player story we made the trade out of incorporating any kind of ‘spectator’ mode. Maybe in the sequel we can integrate that aspect into the game should we find that the fans are really clamoring for it.

Toby – Unlocking items is almost always fun in games.  How will the unlocking of items in single player effect your multi-player experience? Will you be able to play against others who have more or less battle gear, characters or magic then you may have unlocked?

George – One thing that’s relatively common with RPG’s – unfortunately – is that you play the story mode for a while, then you go online and you’re just overpowered by players who played further in the game than you did. We chose to level the playing field by giving all the players access to a number of creatures and items in multiplayer from the very beginning. There are even a couple of preset armies that you can use if you want to jump straight into the action. So, if you lose a battle on multiplayer, you’ll likely need to rethink you strategies or perfect your skills, because your opponent just made better use of the same resources available to you.

Toby – How will the match-making be set up for this game – to not harm the newer players who might face very experienced ones?

George – To avoid these kind of mismatches, the game tracks each player’s performance across all online battles played. Whenever a player starts an online ranked battle, the game searches for players with similar online battle records and selects the closest available match. However, players still have the option of fighting in unranked battles if they so choose. Thus, if they are adventurous and either want to test their skills against random opponents or just want to learn some new strategies, they can check those types of battles out, too.

Toby , During the single player experience there are eight worlds to explore. How interactive can you be with the levels, and can you possibly describe how large they might be?

George , Players will have loads of fun exploring the environments. Our focus was to allow “just the right amount of freedom”. That means you’ll be able to do quite a bit of exploration, solve numerous puzzles and overcome challenges to collect all the items and unlock all the secrets, but, at the same time, the levels are structured as a flowing experience, supporting the storyline and there always is a definite sense of progression, meaning you won’t easily get lost.

Toby , Characters are important part of the world of Perim. Were there any kinds of balance issues that may have plagued one character over another?

George – Balancing is always a problem with turn-based and RPG games. We sure faced our good share of challenges with respect to this. I guess that, aside from the countless hours we put into playing and refining the battles, the thing that helped us the most was that we built everything on top of the core mechanics that were already proven to be highly successful in the CCG.

A lot of the difficulties we had to overcome were caused by the unique creature refinement mechanic in our game, which made balancing a much more complex task.

Toby , Since you have gotten to try different character vs. character combinations, what has been your favorite match-up and location in this game thus far and why?

George – Sort of a tough question… I mainly play OverWorlders, but that’s just a personal preference. I’ve seen people build very… ummm…unusual combinations…. and end up crushing opponent armies with surprising strategies. In the end, whatever your favorite may be, each tribe has specific perks and weaknesses, so rest assured that there’s no “wrong” choice. It’s all about getting the most out of your army.

Toby , I know it may be early to ask, but will the fans of this game see continued support in terms of DLC, contests or any other means?

George , Players are going to be very pleased to find the game loaded with content that will keep them thoroughly engaged and busy for quite some time with this game out of the box. That said, DLC has been in serious discussion, but that’s all I can divulge on that for now.

I would like to thank George Batog from Activision for taking time out to answer a few questions. Now — time to wait and see if this game can not only hook fans of the license but also gamers experiencing it for the first time during this holiday season.

Chaotic: Shadow Warriors is being published by Activision and will be released in November.

Video courtesy IGN.