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Interviews: Rage of the Gladiator - Ghostfire Games

Posted by Corbie Dillard

Ghostfire Games talks about their upcoming WiiWare fighter.

Anyone that's spent any time in the comments sections of our various Rage of the Gladiator news items will know Ed Roman, CEO of Ghostfire Games. Ed is always kind enough to answer questions and concerns from our readers and even implemented some new features into the game based on feedback from Nintendo Life readers.

We recently caught up with Ed and he was kind enough to take the time to answer a few of our questions. You can find out what he had to say in the exclusive Nintendo Life interview below. And, as an added bonus, you can also download a brand new MP3 clip from the game's soundtrack at the conclusion of the interview.

Nintendo Life: How did you come up with the idea for the game to begin with?

Ed Roman: Rage of the Gladiator is a first-person perspective arena combat game where you are fighting for your life against fantasy creatures, with only a magical warhammer and shield to aid you. The first-person perspective was inspired by a lesser-known NEO-GEO game called Crossed Swords. But there were many games that served as inspiration for our game. Specifically:

  • The combat system was inspired by some of the best ideas from games such as 1980s Punch Out
  • The theme was inspired by games such as God of War
  • The cutscenes (such as conjuring a meteor, tornado, or lightning storm) were inspired by games such as Final Fantasy
  • The tech-tree was inspired by games such as Diablo or World of Warcraft
  • The music was inspired from movies such as 300

Nintendo Life: How long has Rage of the Gladiator been in development?

Ed Roman: We’re getting close to finishing the game. Originally the game was supposed to be a 6-month project, but we’ve increased the scale and scope of the game quite a bit since the original design so that we can provide the best experience possible. We’re on our 13th month of development now, but we think it's time well-spent.

Nintendo Life: What controllers and control methods will be supported in the game?

Ed Roman: We have 3 different modes:

Traditional Horizontal Wii Remote: You hold the Wii Remote sideways, NES-style. This is great for old-school gamers that love quick responsiveness of buttons.

Wii Remote + Nunchuk: You hold the Wii Remote in your right hand, and Nunchuk in your left hand. You swing the Nunchuk or Wii Remote to perform attacks. By holding down a button, you can aim low when you swing.

Wii Remote + Nunchuk with Wii MotionPlus: The motion controls are enhanced here. You can swing up, down, left, and right when you swing by aiming the controller in that direction. We feel this is the most enjoyable experience and its pretty good exercise, too!

Nintendo Life: How many fighters are available in the game in total and does the game feature any type of replay value to keep players coming back to the game?

Ed Roman: There are 10 bosses plus 1 final boss in the game. All the fights are “boss fights” since we find that to be the most interesting aspect of video games (who needs fodder?). Once you beat the game you get to fight all of the bosses over again in Challenge Mode, where they get new powers and feel like completely different fights, and you get to also face the final boss who is reserved only for Challenge Mode.

Each time you defeat a boss, you gain skill points to customize your character in the three skill trees. That’s how you acquire new powers, such as conjuring a raging tornado or summoning a fiery meteor. One cool way to replay the game is to build your character in a different way to try out new spells and take a different path. For more on this, see this link.

Nintendo Life: With a game that has the visual flair and a musical score like this one, was it tough to stay within the 40MB file size limitation?

Ed Roman: In the past we developed cell phone games, and I remember building a game that had to fit into 64KB (not MB) so that the game worked on all phones. This was only 3 years ago, too! Compared to that, 40MB is huge!

The tough thing is to make tradeoffs about what content to include. You need to always be thinking about the game size throughout the development process, and be smart about optimizing and compressing things. So you need careful planning. But if you’re smart about it, and optimize well, you can fit quite a bit into 40MB. Using these techniques, we were able to include many hundreds of hand-crafted custom animations, great-looking 3d graphics, full voice acting, 4 epic soundtracks, and a whole lot more.

Nintendo Life: Any chance we might see add-on content made available for the game, such as additional bosses to fight?

Ed Roman: No, we won’t be doing downloadable content. Instead we’re cramming everything into a single download. We think our customers will appreciate that rather than have to pay over and over again.

Nintendo Life: How difficult was it to implement things like the Wii MotionPlus support and dynamic lighting effects so far along in development?

Ed Roman: It wasn’t as hard as we thought originally, mostly because Nintendo gives developers great tools to work with. But those features are just two of many small improvements we’ve made to the game over time, such as voice acting, a skill tree, and a 2nd play-through of the game in Challenge Mode. Those features (in total) have definitely pushed back the project.

Nintendo Life: How has the developmental process been with Rage of the Gladiator in comparison to the process on your first WiiWare title Helix? Did you find it easier this time around?

Ed Roman: We really benefited a lot from the experience of making Helix, and learned many tips and tricks about how to cram a ton of content into a 40MB download. We also went through some good employees, and some not as good. Our staff quality improved as a result of Helix.

This game is much more ambitious than Helix. The sheer challenge of making a game of this scope for WiiWare was daunting, and that made this project much more challenging than Helix. We really wanted to push the limits for what you expect in a WiiWare game, since its tough to stand out otherwise, especially when you’re an unknown developer and don’t have an existing known brand for your game.

Nintendo Life: How did you come to work with Sean Beeson and what has he brought to the table with his musical scoring of the game?

Ed Roman: We noticed Sean’s excellent work on other downloadable games. He’s just an absolutely fantastic composer. We thought he was really talented and reached out to him. Luckily for us, he was amenable to making music for our game.

Nintendo Life: Any idea when we might expect a release of Rage of the Gladiator and have you finalized a price point yet?

Ed Roman: We don't have a release date yet. It’s hard to give an exact timetable due to the process for approving a game by Nintendo. Our goal is to release the game this year. However, we won’t release it until it is completely polished. We are very proud of this project and want to make sure we are providing the best gaming experience possible. Basically we’re learning from Blizzard’s model --- be patient, don’t give in to the temptation of releasing too early, and focus on high quality.

Nintendo Life: Has there been any WiiWare titles that have really impressed you?

Ed Roman: World of Goo impressed us the most. They took their time to make sure the game was solid before releasing it and that’s commendable.

Nintendo Life: Any desire to try your hand at DSiWare in the future?

Ed Roman: Most likely we will not be doing DSiWare. Our company is laser-focused. Rather than trying to be all things to all people, we like to do one thing and do it well.

Nintendo Life: Is there anything you'd like to tell our readers in closing?

Ed Roman: Thanks in part to the NintendoLife community, we added Wii MotionPlus and Dynamic Lighting support. You guys gave us those ideas and pushed for them! You guys are awesome – and the game is stronger as a result.

Nintendo Life: We thank you once again for taking time to answer our questions and we look forward to playing the game.

Click Here to Download the Brand New Rage of the Gladiator MP3

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User Comments (26)

Odnetnin

#1

Odnetnin said:

"The combat system was inspired by some of the best ideas from games such as 1980s Punch Out"
YES!!!

Odnetnin

#2

Odnetnin said:

"There are 10 bosses plus 1 final boss in the game. All the fights are “boss fights” since we find that to be the most interesting aspect of video games (who needs fodder?). Once you beat the game you get to fight all of the bosses over again in Challenge Mode, where they get new powers and feel like completely different fights, and you get to also face the final boss who is reserved only for Challenge Mode."
Sounds exactly like Punch-Out!!
Yes, World of Goo is 'solid.'

cheetahman91

#3

cheetahman91 said:

What a relief it features NES style controls, and basing the fighting system of Punch-Out is also another good thing. I have a feeling this will get a eight or above. Make us proud Ghostfire Games!

pixelman

#4

pixelman said:

Been saying it forever - looks just like punch-out. And that's a good thing.

WolfRamHeart

#6

WolfRamHeart said:

Fantastic interview Corbie! The more I learn about this game, the more that I want it! I'm glad to see that they are taking their time on getting the game just right instead of rushing to release it. It looks like it is going to be worth the wait so I'm setting some points aside in anticipation of it's release.:)

ReZon

#7

ReZon said:

Those are some great inspirations to use (FF, Diablo, Punch Out). This game keeps sounding better and better.

I enjoyed looking at the Skill Trees - definitely potential for some replayability there.

Objection

#10

Objection said:

I'm getting more and more interested in this-hope it turns out as well as it looks!

odd69

#11

odd69 said:

You know it's going to be hard for any developers for Wiiware to live up to the example that Ghostfire has made for us readers. These guys and Legendo have much respect from me. They have actually earned my purchase of Rage of the Gladiator. Again thanks for the free mp3s. Very awesome.

bro2dragons

#12

bro2dragons said:

yeah, these guys are great. i can't remember when i last bought a WiiWare game (though there have been many i've seriously considered) but these guys have my money the day it comes out. they've earned every bit of it, and i want to see MUCH more.

brandonbwii

#13

brandonbwii said:

Wow, for a fairly small developer, they sure are promoting the heck out of this game. It'd be a shame with this much viral marketing Gladiator doesn't even make the top 20.

Ren

#14

Ren said:

Wow,
good stuff. Smart guys and great features for what could easily have been a throwaway title. I loved Helix and just wanted a little more depth to it and more of a motion based fighting element to join the great fun of violent classic fighting games with some interactive actual movement that keeps your heartrate up. Can't believe someone is finally giving it to us! Even if it's, "meh", I'm going to have to get it to support this awesome effort. At WW Prices it seems this can't really go wrong.

thebigM

#15

thebigM said:

Instant download for me as well. Thanks very much for sharing all this and responding to the NL community requests.
Keep up the good work :D

KaiserGX

#16

KaiserGX said:

I know you guys are working hard on the music and it's good but can you add SD Card music support? Would be the only Wiiware game to do so. :) (Excite Truck and Endless Ocean are the only games on retail that come to mind). Then again my 80's collection might not fit the game's atmosphere...

Devastator

#17

Devastator said:

I am getting this game for sure if it is not too many points, and gets a good review.

Kirk

#19

Kirk said:

I'll take some credit for getting all that lovely new dynamic lighting in the game thank you very much ;)

shinigami_tidus

#21

shinigami_tidus said:

Great interview and a very good song!
Nintendolife asked about the release date, but what's about the prize? Is your aim to release it for 1000 WiiPoints?

Virus

#23

Virus said:

Great interview. Although I'll probably wait for the reviews, each new article increases my interest; I'm still reeling from how much content they put into 40MB.

I do have one question, though, and perhaps this has been discussed before, but I was wondering, if given five or ten more megabytes to work with (in other words, the file size limit would be 45 or 50MB), how much more could you guys do with the game? I'm not implying you guys need more content--which you certainly don't--I'm simply interested in what can be accomplished with different limitations.

Please ignore me if I'm being ignorant.

sirgrim

#24

sirgrim said:

Excellent idea on the SD card music. I'm going to rock this game with the punch-out theme on SD.

KaiserGX

#25

KaiserGX said:

Yeah I was herd! I wonder if it's hard to impliment though... I'll still play the game the way it was intended first, if SD music is allowed. The music is epic. How many blocks is 40mb? Anyhow, day one purchase!

ghostfire

#26

ghostfire said:

If we had 5-10MB more, we'd probably add additional environments.

I think you guys will be really happy with the music in the game. Its really awesome. The SD Card idea is good but I can't promise anything, so don't get your hopes up too much :) We'll put it on our internal list of ideas though.

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