Eurogamer Expo 2013 – Stronghold Crusader 2
Stronghold Crusaders 2 is due for release early next year and it was being demoed at Eurogamer Expo 2013, so we caught up with Nicholas Tannahill and a colleague of his from Firefly Studios for an informal chat to see how they were getting on.
The London based studio were eager to show off Stronghold Crusader 2, the long awaited follow-up to 2002’s original Stronghold Crusader game. It was being demonstrated in the Rezzed area of the show.
We spent a long time chatting about Firefly Studio’s decision to self publish Stronghold Crusader 2. Rather than using Kickstarter – like several other games – the British based company decided to go with the funding platform Gambitious to fund their game. Gambitious works in a very similar way to Kickstarter but dedicates itself to only funding gaming projects. The crowdfunding website has been around for just over a year now with Stronghold Crusaders 2 being one of the first projects to appear on their website.
A big motivation behind the teams decision to self publish was the ability to make their own decisions on which features to concentrate on. It also gives Firefly Studios the freedom to change their release date if the game doesn’t meet their high standards rather than needing to release an unfinished game to avoid fees from publishers for missing set deadlines.
Stronghold Crusaders 2 is currently slated for a Q1 2014 release and I’m sure that Firefly Studios will be working very hard to make that happen but I bet that having the ability to change their release date helps to relieve the pressure that most development studios working with publishers find themselves under.
The Eurogamer Expo was the first public exhibition that Firefly Studios have attended. I spoke to them on Thursday afternoon so they hadn’t had much time to get a feel for the event, but they were already enjoying themselves, being able to converse with their fans and get feedback from those who were new to the series. It would be great to see Firefly Studios attending more events in the future, possibly even becoming a regular feature of Rezzed.
Firefly Studios did also attend E3 in Los Angeles but not in the traditional sense – they had their own trailer across the road.
We also spent some time talking about the fact that Firefly Studios also have an office in Canton, Connecticut, with a Quality Assurance team in Aberdeen, Scotland. For such a small company, these varying locations – and timezones – could be problematic but the company make it work.
When asking about the differences between the Stronghold and the Stronghold Crusader games it was explained to me that the Crusader games are more skirmish based whilst the Stronghold games are more campaign based but both series have partially bled into one another with it being recently announced that Stronghold Crusader 2 will be featuring a fully fledged Arabic Campaign. Firefly Studios are aware that players want to see value for money and this is something they are very keen to provide.
This doesn’t mean that they aren’t exploring the possibility of releasing future paid for content but for now Firefly Studios are concentrating all of their efforts on making the game as great as they can for launch.
Going back to the gameplay, the skirmish matches can be played in any combination with up to a total of 8 players or AI. This could be a traditional 4 vs 4 setup or one overly confident player could put themselves against seven AI characters. The game will also feature a unique co-op mode where you take shared control of a single castle with shared units and resources whilst fighting against common enemies.
From my research into Firefly Studios prior to the interview one thing that became clear to me was how community driven the company are. They regularly hold Q&A sessions on their website and their YouTube channel. I asked about the possibility of a public beta and I was told it was something that they were keeping under consideration.
In the days leading up to the Eurogamer Expo, Firefly Studios released a short comedy skit on YouTube talking about how they ‘recruit’ their voice actors. It showed that they don’t take themselves overly serious and when I questioned them about this, they explained that it was reflective of the company and that they have also tried to carry some of this humour over to the game through the voice acting.
Be sure to check out the final game once it arrives on Steam early next year. We’ll be looking to get a review out close to release.