You may have heard that Overkill 3 will be a third person, cover-based shooter. Although this definitely seems like revolution, the final approach to the game came to existence through a long development evolution.
The original Overkill was a definite hit and a total success when it was released in 2011. When we first introduced Overkill 2 in Spring 2012 the feedback was largely positive, but voices of criticism began surfacing from the hardcore-gaming community. “No movement. Was expecting something more than a gallery shooter. Too repetitive.” These were the most common complaints.
We got a little worried, but that’s normal with every launch. When we got a 5/10 review from one prominent gaming site, the anxiety levels increased significantly. What’s going to happen now? That was Friday. Then the weekend came, the “rush-hour” of mobile gaming. 4-5 stars reviews kept flooding in. Players enjoyed the game and were coming back for more. All was good! Still, we felt that might not happen again with Overkill 3 if we followed the same path.
At the time of Overkill 2’s launch, we had already put in seven months of work on Overkill 3 (the development started Summer 2012). Back then it was still a first-person railshooter of sorts, with interactive cut-scenes/runs between the shooting stations, during which the camera would go to a third person perspective. The frequent changes from first to third person and back didn’t feel natural, so we tried adjusting the zoom speeds and angles. It improved things, but still wasn’t 100% what we were after.
The first voices for a third person revamp emerged, but the willingness to throw out months of work and change the whole concept on this matter alone was understandably low.
That view had been gradually changing as more arguments in its favor piled up. Why did we spend so many resources on making cool-looking armors when you can’t actually see them in the game? The same was also partly true for gun models, as they are now completely visible. Also the line “it would be great if you could cover from enemy fire” kept popping up in Overkill 2 reviews, even from players who loved it. We finally decided to give the third person a try, and it worked surprisingly well. It also opened the way for cover mechanics. With cover mechanics we could have boss battles! And of course it solved the original camera problem.
Controls – keeping the core gameplayDespite the criticism, the “easy to learn, hard to master” controls of Overkill are what make it Overkill. While hardcore gamers are all in for dualsticks and moving/aiming/shooting all at the same time, mid-core gamers find it a hard thing to do on touchscreen.
Developers are well aware of this discrepancy; it’s clearly visible in experiments with tap-to-shoot controls (The Drowning, Gunfinger), but that makes it too casual for us. Dead Trigger 2 came with auto-shooting. It was neat and efficient, and it kept the gameplay skill-based at the same time. But even reactions of our team differed – some of us loved the idea, some didn’t. The same was true for part of the hardcore gaming community – they were not pleased at first (until they found out they can change it back to dual-sticks).
For Overkill 3 we wanted to keep the core gameplay, which is hugely based on reflexes, speed and precision, but we also wanted to expand the game beyond gallery-shooter. Cover-based third person-shooter was the way to go for us.
We’ll have a playable version for beta testers soon, and can’t wait to see the first feedback outside of Craneballs. Overkill 3 is the biggest project we’ve ever done. We have great design ambitions and dreams for additional content, and we hope the game is popular enough to let us make them come true.
As we all learned from The Collectables, even the cutting-edge graphics of the Crytek engine don’t guarantee success. Plus there’ll be a lot of competition. Modern Combat 5 is coming out. Console/PC games studios are getting in, attracted by the mobile gaming’s big numbers and success stories.
We are incredibly pumped about the huge step we’ve taken with Overkill 3, but it is the gaming community that will have the final word this Fall.