By now you’ve at least heard of the Chaos Reborn Kickstarter campaign. It was put together by famed designed Julian Gollop – of X-Com and Laser Squad fame to name but two of his classics – to bring the world an updated version of his popular 80’s strategy game Chaos: The Battle Of Wizards. Recently Julian was kind enough to answer some of our questions regarding Chaos Reborn, some of his previous work, and in alignment with tradition gave us a little haiku. You can learn more about Chaos Reborn by checking out our previous coverage of the game, or through its Kickstarter page, where there’s still 13 days of funding left to raise the final $60,000 of its $180,000 funding target.
Cliqist : You’ve got quite a history in the gaming world, going back longer than some of our staff have been alive. What keeps you going and still interested in making games?
Julian Gollop : I just love the creativity in making games and then watching people play and enjoy them. I am, of course, a player of games myself, and I am constantly on the lookout for new, innovative and interesting ideas.
Cliqist : This is normally the part in the interview where you’re asked about X-Com, but I’d like to change it up just a little. Laser Squad Nemesis was a critically acclaimed title that people today may not remember very well; which is unfortunate given that it was one of the early examples of a big name developer going indie. Can you tell us a little about what happened to the game and Codo Technologies?
Julian Gollop : Laser Squad Nemesis was a fantastic project and really opened my eyes to the possibilities of involving a player community in the development of a game. Technically the game was a bit handicapped by requiring emails to exchange game turn information, although it did work pretty smoothly in the end. Our business model wasn’t ideal either, since we were charging a monthly subscription fee only. Nevertheless, the game had a very enthusiastic and loyal following and we kept it going for over 6 years. Then I got married to a Bulgarian and moved to Bulgaria where I took a bit of a break from making games. I still missed working with other creative people though, so I joined Ubisoft Sofia as a game designer where I worked for nearly 6 years. Now I am returning to indie development with Chaos Reborn.
Cliqist : Moving on to Chaos Reborn, were your nervous about asking for $180,000 while still having a lot of placeholder graphics in the game?
Julian Gollop : Yes, incredibly nervous. I knew the game play was good, and we had proof in the form of our playable prototype. However, many people still judge things in just a few seconds by looking at it, so it was risky to expose what we had. I believe we made the right decisions, because Kickstarter backers really need a high level of transparency from the developers they are backing, and a degree of proof that the game can be made.
Cliqist : How has running a Kickstarter and asking for money from your audience differ than going the publisher route? Some have lamented the that running a Kickstarter campaign drives them to over promise, put pressure on friends and family to give money, and that people just become potential backers with money to them.
Julian Gollop : There is an enormous difference. My experience has been that there is a huge amount of goodwill from backers who believe in Chaos Reborn and my ability to deliver something exceptional. Many of them are players of the original Chaos and my other games. They are also willing to contribute ideas, support, publicity and help in any way they can -and we have a dialogue about game design and game features which provides very valuable feedback for me. All of this would be absent by going to a publisher. I do understand the temptation to over-promise, but I think this is generally a risk in game development anyway. Many publishers have also made this mistake, and frequently they will delay big AAA games because they are not matching the initial promise. With Kickstarter, the important thing is to be honest with your backers if you are having problems and help them understand the situation.
Cliqist : I’m pretty sure there’s at least a few people in the world that still play played the original Chaos from time to time. What does Chaos Reborn offer them other than prettier graphics?
Julian Gollop : Chaos Reborn rests on the foundation of the earlier game, but adds some very interesting metagame elements. There is a single-player RPG mode which uses procedurally generated or player created realms which players can explore, fighting AI controlled wizards and acquiring treasures, spells and artefacts. There is a guild system, and a social rank system where players can progress from Wizard Lord, to Wizard King, then Demigod and finally God. There will be multiplayer ranked matches and tournaments.
Cliqist : How would you describe Chaos Reborn to someone that’s never tried the original?
Julian Gollop : It’s a fast playing game of turn-based wizard combat where you start with nothing except a limited selection of spells. It’s all about summoning weird and wonderful creatures, manoeuvring and attacking with them, and using spells to buff and de-buff them. It’s highly tactical with a big spicy dose of randomness, so every game is different and exciting.
Cliqist : Is there any chance we’ll get a demo before the Kickstarter campaign ends?
Julian Gollop : Yes, there is a chance. We are working on it, so look out for announcements on our Kickstarter page.
Cliqist : Any final words for someone that may be reluctant to back Chaos Reborn?
Julian Gollop : If you like strategy games, fantasy, tactical RPGs – and especially if you liked XCOM – then Chaos Reborn is definitely for you.
Cliqist : Can you close us out with a Chaos Reborn haiku?
Julian Gollop :
The Summoner cries
Chaos rises, beasts descend
Laying waste his foes
Thanks to Julian Gollop for taking the time to answer our questions! To learn more about Chaos Reborn be sure to check out its Kickstarter campaign page.