Ask Me Anything Creator & Game Director AMA

blackfox_peter

Registered Developer
Mar 3, 2020
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Creator & Game Director AMA

Hi folks, Its Peter here, creator of Dreadlands, I'll be around all week to answer your questions :



Before starting Blackfox Studios in 2017 I worked at Fatshark (Warhammer Vermintide 2 etc) for over 10 years as a Senior AI/UI/Network/anything programmer, working with almost all systems featured in the titles we released. Fatshark is also, by pure coincidence, the publisher for Dreadlands. This gave me plenty of valuable insight into the development process and design of video games.

One of my favorite titles we worked on at Fatshark was a game called Krater. Released back 2012, Krater was an ARPG set in a post apocalyptic Sweden with a great backstory, setting and style.

Since then, I always wanted to make something more in the Krater universe, hence the birth of Dreadlands. After about a year of prototyping, the idea was pitched to Fatshark and fortunately, they loved it. This signalled the start of building a small team of talented people to help create Dreadlands, including some old veterans from the Krater team.

Dreadlands isn’t set in Sweden, but in a completely different part of the world, that’s a bit weirder when it comes to environmental vistas and the areas you explore. Gameplay is also different, as Dreadlands is a turn-based tactical skirmish game, influenced by titles such as X-COM, Jagged Alliance and Blood Bowl, but also draws a lot of inspiration from board games such as Necromunda, Mordheim, Shadows of Brimstone and Blood Bowl (again).

So do you have any questions about the studio, the game or anything else? Ask away!
 

jpishgar

Staff member
Nov 24, 2019
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Conveying a few questions through from social media here:

Q. Loving the Dreadlands dystopian setting! What were your primary inspirations for the aesthetic?

Q. Stats and gear usually figure prominently in tactical games. How'd you balance these with the tactics cards? Is there a clear stat/gear/card combo that emerged as kill in your playtesting so far?
 

blackfox_peter

Registered Developer
Mar 3, 2020
16
38
50
Great questions! The inspiration for the setting come from a variety of places, we knew when we started the project that we didn't want it to take place on your kind of normal Mad Max desert post-apo world but instead a world where nature kind of struck of back at mankind for mistreating the planet for so long. So we have a lot of really weird places, nature and fauna in Dreadlands.

The balancing of tactics cards are tricky, we really want them to feel powerful and be able to change the flow of combat since you only get four of them and they can only be used once each but at the same time make the game not just about playing cards. I think we have a pretty close to getting them to where we want them. Right now I think the Healing Totem for the tribe-kin is really good, maybe a little to good. Just pop it down somewhere safe and keep your guys close and the enemy will have a hard time killing you.
 

blackfox_peter

Registered Developer
Mar 3, 2020
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Q. Where'd the name "Blackfox" come from?

Q. Do you expect the game will appeal more to the PvP or PvE crowd?
We knew we wanted something with fox in it since foxes are clever and we are making strategy games so maybe that would give the illusion of us being clever aswell . And Blackfox just sounded more badass then Whitefox

I really do enjoy PvP myself so Im hoping we will get some good pvp crowd going but I think generally speaking the turnbased genre has attracted more of a PvE crowd. We are hoping for a good and healthy mix of them both.
 
Jan 19, 2020
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Do you anticipate, or have you tested, your game working through Valve's SteamPlay tool?

I'm referring to the Steam Proton compatibility tool used to let Linux gamers play Windows games. It's built on the WINE project with custom library integrations such as DXVK. Often Microsoft specific media formats cause issues as does some Windows specific implementations of anti-cheat (EAC, Battle Eye, etc).
 

PCG Robin

Staff member
Dec 10, 2019
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Hi Peter, thanks for answering everyone's questions!

You mention some tabletop games there - are you a big tabletop gamer? How does that influence your approach to development?
 

blackfox_peter

Registered Developer
Mar 3, 2020
16
38
50
Do you anticipate, or have you tested, your game working through Valve's SteamPlay tool?

I'm referring to the Steam Proton compatibility tool used to let Linux gamers play Windows games. It's built on the WINE project with custom library integrations such as DXVK. Often Microsoft specific media formats cause issues as does some Windows specific implementations of anti-cheat (EAC, Battle Eye, etc).
We have had full focus on the Early Access release going live today so we haven't had the time to check SteamPlay tool. But ill check it out, thanks for mentioning it
 

blackfox_peter

Registered Developer
Mar 3, 2020
16
38
50
Hi Peter, thanks for answering everyone's questions!

You mention some tabletop games there - are you a big tabletop gamer? How does that influence your approach to development?
Yes I'm a huge tabletop nerd and play a variety of tabletop games. Mostly different GW games such as BloodBowl and Necromunda and the likes, but we also have a long Shadows Of Brimstone campaign running at the office. A lot of the design inspirations in Dreadlands origin from different tabletop games but has since kind of evolved into their own things and been worked into better fitting in a computer game
 

PCG Andy K

Alien: Isolation editor
Staff member
Dec 10, 2019
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We've been debating (well, arguing) about the respective merits of turn-based versus real-time with pause combat in RPGs. And I'd be interested to hear your take, being the developer of a turn-based strategy game...
 

blackfox_peter

Registered Developer
Mar 3, 2020
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I think my biggest issue with the real time pause combat is I dont feel like I see the result of my actions clearly and what caused what to happen. In turnbased, I really enjoy moving a char in position, take a flanking shot, see what happened to the enemy and then move on. In a real time pause I have to set up where I want to go, unpause, pause when he gets there, setup the shot, then unpause again. So I have to be very attentive to when my guy doing his flanking move is in position, so I can pause at the right time, and missing everything else that is happening to the other guys... kind of..
 
Jan 13, 2020
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Hi Peter - thanks for doing an AMA. I'm excited by what I've seen of Dreadlands! My gaming questions are about user interface and quality of life (QoL) design choices.

Specifically, what do you think are some of the coolest interface choices you've seen from other games--and what do you think are going to be the coolest interface choices/QoL ideas for Dreadlands?

thanks!
 

blackfox_peter

Registered Developer
Mar 3, 2020
16
38
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Hi Peter, thanks for your answers so far What's it been like launching Dreadlands in Early Access on Steam?
Yea its been a fun ride! We had an open beta during december with alot people playing for the first time and giving great feedback! Now we tweaked and reworked some system based on that feedback and we are really looking forward to see what the community feels about all these improvements in Early Access
 
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blackfox_peter

Registered Developer
Mar 3, 2020
16
38
50
Hi Peter - thanks for doing an AMA. I'm excited by what I've seen of Dreadlands! My gaming questions are about user interface and quality of life (QoL) design choices.

Specifically, what do you think are some of the coolest interface choices you've seen from other games--and what do you think are going to be the coolest interface choices/QoL ideas for Dreadlands?

thanks!
Good question! I think both Destiny and XCOM2 have really nice UIs which I really like, and I remember really enjoying the Guild Wars2 one aswell. Our game UI have a bit more of a dirty rugged look which fits the theme of Dreadlands and a post apo world better. Since we have a little bit of a table top origin with Dreadlands I really like how our fighter cards turned out. They kind of look like something from an roleplay game or boardgame, with a character portrait in the middle and some stats and name and stuff on it, but when you mouse over it the character comes to life and does his/her little animation, letting you know they are ready to fight for you!
 

JSimenhoff

Community Manager
Staff member
Nov 25, 2019
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Hey Peter, it's great to have you on the PC Gamer Forums! I'm a tactics fanatic. I guess I just love strategically moving units around a board. Doesn't matter if it's tabletop or on my laptop. As a designer of great tactical games, I'm wondering what you think goes into a good tactics game? Is it good unit/faction balance? Good player action or abilities?
 
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Jan 19, 2020
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@blackfox_peter @PCG Andy K have you played Tower of Time? ToT offers an option to toggle real-time with slow (the default) or full pause. I personally like the "slow" feature better than "pause" because it adds an element of pressure to decision making. The slow also means I can see where my bad tactical decisions start to go wrong, and can try and correct mid-course. It adds an element of chaos, but the slow offers some manageability to the maelstrom. I'm curious if you have an opinion on real-time with slow versus pause. Overall, I prefer turn-based but I think this is a refreshing change sometimes. It works well for their game at least.
 

Zloth

Community Contributor
Jan 13, 2020
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The slow also means I can see where my bad tactical decisions start to go wrong, and can try and correct mid-course. It adds an element of chaos, but the slow offers some manageability to the maelstrom.
I think my favorite part of slow time vs. real time with pause was that I didn't have to time my pauses. It actually seemed easier to me to get my characters to do what I wanted when I wanted with that system rather than trying to pause just as each one finished their animation for their last move. (Though I think it would have been nice if we could hold down the control key then speed up/slow down time with the mouse wheel.)
 
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blackfox_peter

Registered Developer
Mar 3, 2020
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Hey Peter, it's great to have you on the PC Gamer Forums! I'm a tactics fanatic. I guess I just love strategically moving units around a board. Doesn't matter if it's tabletop or on my laptop. As a designer of great tactical games, I'm wondering what you think goes into a good tactics game? Is it good unit/faction balance? Good player action or abilities?
Good question! I think its a little bit of all actually. And I really think you need to have options on how to approach a fight, not having the best way of tackling a fight be the same all the time. We try to keep it fresh in Dreadlands by offering different tactic cards and challenges to nudge the player to try new tactics and loadouts.
 

blackfox_peter

Registered Developer
Mar 3, 2020
16
38
50
@blackfox_peter @PCG Andy K have you played Tower of Time? ToT offers an option to toggle real-time with slow (the default) or full pause. I personally like the "slow" feature better than "pause" because it adds an element of pressure to decision making. The slow also means I can see where my bad tactical decisions start to go wrong, and can try and correct mid-course. It adds an element of chaos, but the slow offers some manageability to the maelstrom. I'm curious if you have an opinion on real-time with slow versus pause. Overall, I prefer turn-based but I think this is a refreshing change sometimes. It works well for their game at least.
Haven't tried it, but Ill make sure to pick it up! sounds interesting!
 

blackfox_peter

Registered Developer
Mar 3, 2020
16
38
50
Are there good channels when it comes to economical or similar type of support for this type of creative organization in Sweden? Like how some artists can get support from the Ministry of Culture.
Not that many options actually, Its quite hard to get funding if you haven't already done something to show. But we do have a pretty good network of indies in stockholm helping each other out with support and encouragement.
 
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blackfox_peter

Registered Developer
Mar 3, 2020
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Q: In games, which type of endings do you prefer, open-ended or closed-ended?
I usually prefer open endings, if I find a game I like I want to play it forever. And I very rarely finish games. Last game i finished I think was Mutant Year Zero, excellent game. But to be honest I dont think I have even finished xcom2 which I spent sooo many hours in.
 
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