Hawken is a multiplayer mech combat game from indie developers Adhesive Games. After being excited by the game’s first gameplay trailer, I spoke to Adhesive founder and game designer Dave Nguyen.
Dave: I’m one of the founders of Adhesive Games and am currently one of game designers for Hawken. We are all so thrilled here with the amount of cheers and support we’ve been getting from the community… I hope you understand that I must withhold some information for it is still under development and things are subject to change.
Will: Of course. First of all, will there be singleplayer or co-op campaign, multiplayer against bots, or just pure multiplayer? For multiplayer, what game modes will be available?
Dave: There are plans for a singleplayer or co-op type mode, but whether we have the time and resources to execute it is still up in the air. We are primarily focused on the multiplayer team modes and would like to get things flushed out and polished before we move on. In case things do not go our way, if time permits in the future, we still may put out downloadable content with new modes and such.
Will: Do the mechs have customisable components, like weapons, armor, jetpacks, etc.?
Dave: The player can choose his weapons and there is currently an upgrade system that allows the player to choose upgrades to certain categories to match his play-style or role in a match. There are also plans to be able to customize the looks of the mechs to a certain extent. These customizations would just be cosmetics to give different looks to the mechs but would not change the mechs’ gameplay in any way.
Will: Will the game feature unlockable weapons / abilities, a la Call of Duty and Battlefield?
Dave: We would like to feature unlockables to reward players for certain achievements. We like the idea of seeing someone in the game and having an idea of how experienced that person is just by how he looks. Like an MMO, you can tell how crazy a person is by seeing the gear they have on. Most of the unlockables would strictly be just for visuals of the mechs. We don’t want veteran players to have huge advantages over newer players. It would be very discouraging and frustrating for a new person to just jump in and get stomped on by a veteran player that has unlocked special weapons and abilities. Unlockables that would give an advantage to players would be tested thoroughly and balanced accordingly.
Will: Will the game have non-urban environments, e.g. jungles, space? How destructible are the environments? Can you crush people in the cities?
Dave: Yes, we are currently working on several different levels. Each have a unique look and feel from the others. There are some levels of destruction in the environment. Nothing big at the moment. Many of the smaller props can be damaged and or destroyed. It is an awesome feeling to run down and area and shatter almost everything in your path. Or watching a giant mech land on a container and see it crumble beneath its feet.
Will: What types of weapons will be available? Will there be melee combat?
Dave: As seen from the trailers, each mech can dual wield weapons. A primary weapon to chip down the foe and a more powerful secondary weapon that does larger amounts of damage at a slower pace. There are plans for a melee attack to help with some close range combat. Details of the melee attack are still in discussion and we have not decided to give the melee attacks special functions and such.
Will: What options for user-created content exist? Will there be mod support or map making tools? What about support for clans with custom paint schemes and decals?
Dave: While we are still in negotiations of which platforms we are to release on, if we release a PC version, I would imagine the community would find ways to do what they want. Whether we can support with the tools or not is still something we have to sort out. We would like to support clans and groups to have custom decals. Something to allow players to identify others by a symbol or color scheme that they might have.
Will: How are the mechs affected by damage – is there gradual loss of functionality? Is heat management an issue? Are player lives typically short, like Call of Duty and other FPS titles or more like traditional MechWarrior games?
Dave: The details of hitboxes or section damages are still under works and is constantly being tested and tweaked. There is a heat management for your weapons. If you over do it, your weapons may shut down for a certain amount of time forcing you to retreat until systems are back online. It adds a little element of cat and mouse of knowing when to chase and when to run. The players life is definitely longer than one that would be in COD. I would find it frustrating to die almost instantly from a shot, especially when I’m suppose to be sitting inside the armor of a large mech. The pace of the game allows the battles to last a little longer unless rained on by a barrage of artillery. Fights can end in many different scenarios. People can go head to head until one goes down. One may flee mid battle and get away hanging on with a shred of life. The other player may chase them down and stand triumphant over the wreckage. Teammates may come along and assist to eradicate the enemy. It is quite thrilling to enter a battle not knowing how it will end up. We leave it to the players to pretty much create their own action sequences. And the outcome is always exciting to see how it unfolds.
Will: Assuming the game comes to both PC and consoles, will there be any differences between these versions, e.g. additional PC controls, or dedicated servers?
Dave: It is not yet known if there would be differences in consoles and PC. I guess it depends on what type of deals we agree upon with distributors and such. You never know, it may end up being the same on all platforms, or certain platforms may have exclusive maps. Controls will be mapped out for what we feel would be optimal for each platform. We would like to have several sets of controls to choose from with the ability to customize your own keys. In regards to dedicated servers, they are very nice to help keep latency issues as fair as possible for all players. But the decision of having games go on a peer-to-peer or dedicated system has not yet been decided.
Will: Which games have most influenced Hawken? Is the game more similar to western style games like MechWarrior, featuring slow but heavily armoured mechs, or eastern style games like Armoured Core, featuring more agile melee-oriented mechs?
Dave: The two styles are very different in terms of playstyle and pacing. We try to bridge the gap between the two. We want to be able to feel the weight and size within the mechs so the movement can be slower at times. At the same time, we also want to be able to move around somewhat quickly to achieve a more intense and exciting battle. To achieve this, we added the thrusters to help maneuver a little quicker when need. This is tied to a gauge so the player cannot overuse it and this also adds another small element of resource management.
Will: What innovations are you bringing to the genre?
Dave: I am not sure if you would consider it innovating, but the visuals we aim to show can be considered to be somewhat new and different. Hopefully, people can find it to be a new and refreshing look. The few people we have in this studio are so talented and everyone here is working very hard in hopes to deliver something that everyone can one day appreciate.
Will: Finally, how long has Hawken been in development and how close are you to release? Are you planning on a beta test?
Dave: Hawken has been in development for about 10 months now. We currently have lots of the content and features done but we still have a few things to be added. We are determined not to release until we feel it is complete so I can’t really say how close we actually are to release. There are plans to have beta testing sometime down the line. The date is still unknown but we would like to someday have beta tests to help us fine-tune the gameplay and balance issues.
Will: Thanks very much for the interview – I’m looking forward to playing the game!
Please leave your comments and questions about the interview! If you have your own questions for the Hawken developers, please let me know; I’d be happy to do another interview.