Talk about Metaball…
1/ First of all hello, and thanks to the Metaball dev team for answering our questions.
Hi all french-speaking Unreal fans!
2/ How did the idea of Metaball come about?
When one of my ex-workmate (Indy) and I heard about the MSU contest, we wanted to participate. We were working in the game industry, but never made a mod before. We thought that the best way for learning unreal is making a simple mod, and after that we can make a bigger, more serious game. After brainstorming about the simple mod, we settled on a puzzle/platformer idea, involving a ball… It turned out to be a base concept we liked and was easy to extend, so it started growing and eventually became the bigger and more serious game we wanted.
3/ Who is currently involved in the mod development?
I’m working on it alone (ndlr : Zoltán Erdôkövy).
4/ At the beginning, did you imagine that after as much year your mod would have found its community and would be appreciated always as much?
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We didn’t really think about the community when we started, so it came as some kind of a shock when we started getting fan mails. We were like « Wow, someone actually enjoys playing with our mod. This is cool. »
The support of the comunity gave us a big morale boost, and helped to get through rough patches of the development.
5/ After your two versions, do you believe you found the perfect gameplay?
Due time restrictions we had to cut many things from MetaBall 1, so the gameplay is far from perfect.
In MetaBall 2 I had plenty of time to refine the design. I think it’s pretty solid now, I was able to put in everything the base idea can carry. I did my best, but eventually it’s for the players to decide how good it is.
6/ Talking about the « 1.02 » version, and the feedback you had from the community,what are the main demands you received for your next release?
MetaBall 1 ends quite abruptly, so most of the requests we recieved were about a proper end, more maps and boss fights. The MetaBall 2 design has a more sophisticated storyline, 32 maps and 4 bosses.
7/From the release of your first version, we saw some plays like « ballance » or “Switchball“ for example, is a source of inspiration for you? Or did you find in these titles of the “ideas” which came from your mod?
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Those games took a quite different approach on the « control a ball » base idea. MetaBall is a more SuperMario64-ish game, with nonlinear game progress, map discovery, item collection and physics based emergent gameplay. Our target audience is mainly the casual gamers, although to beat the game 100% you have to be pretty hardcore.
The future of the mod
8/ Do you have a release date for MetaBall 2 : The four seasons on UT3, and what are the main features or changes coming with of them ?
I announced « MetaBall 2: The four seasons » early this year. He was planned for the Unreal3 platform right from the start. The prototype is running on a modified version of RobobBlitz.
The design was redone from scratch. The basic characters and game mechanics are the same but the story, gameplay elements and art direction is more consistent. More maps, more balls, more enemies, more secrets…
I don’t have a release date. Unfortunately I failed to recruit an able team, so I’m going to stop working on the mod in the next few weeks.
I’ll post a last batch of game media and that’s it. I simply can’t do it without a dedicated team.
I don’t know, I might start again when I can finance freelancer coders and artists. Now I’d like to focus on things which might help my career more, as I’m looking for a job outside Hungary.
9/ Do you plan a multiplayer gametype for the next release?
I planned several multiplayer game modes, with a few cooperative ones amongs them. The players can choose from different Tinies as avatars. (They are the small creatures the player must save in singleplayer.) The characters can be customized for a certain degree. Each avatar has its own ball design which can also be « pimped » (The difference between multiplayer balls are purely cosmetic, they behave the same).
Bonus avatars can be unlocked in singleplayer mode. I planned a « map builder » feature too, where players can build maps for the simpler game modes. The maps can be translated/saved as 16 digit numbers and sent to friends
10/ Will Metaball on UT3 be the end of development for UT2004 metaball ?
The development of MetaBall 1 was ended at early 2006. I wanted to make a v1.5 with a few extra maps and a few new features, but it never came around.
11/ You participated in the « Make Something Unreal » contest, with a very interesting result. A new edition has been planed for UT3 release, will you participate in such an event?
I’d love to, but at this point it seems improbable.
12/ Is there anything you would like to add?
I’d like to thank all the fans supporting the project. Their feedback was invaluable, and their kind words are much appreciated. And I’m really sorry that I wasn’t able to carry out the project. :\
13/ Unreal.fr and the French-Speaking community would like to thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. We look forward to seeing your future work, See you soon.
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The pleasure is all mine.