Interview: Spiral Game Studios talks about ORION: Dino Beatdown

The indie game development team at Spiral Game Studios has been working on their first announced game, ORION: Prelude, for quite some time. The team launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2011 to help fund the development of the sci-fi and dinosaur themed first person shooter that looks like a combination of Halo, Unreal and Jurassic Park. In 2012, the team announced that prior to ORION: Prelude, they would launch a multiplayer-only spin-off with the very cool title ORION: Dino Beatdown. It's due to be released this spring via Steam and OnLive for $9.95. Anyone who participated in the ORION: Prelude Kickstarter campaign will be able to get ORION: Dino Beatdown for free.

We got a chat to ask Spiral Game Studios founder and CEO David Prassel some questions about ORION: Dino Beatdown, including how it will hopefully help to fund the more fully featured ORION: Prelude.

First, Spiral Game Studios has been working on ORION: Prelude for some time and indeed fully funded a Kickstarter campaign to help in its development. What's the current status of that game?

We currently have six game titles in our immediate development pipeline, two of which are ORION: Dino Beatdown and ORION: Prelude.  Prelude is heavily on track for our internal release goal and we are going to be showing a lot more of her as we get closer to E3 2012 and PAX Prime 2012.

How did the idea come about for ORION: Dino Beatdown?

ORION: Dino Beatdown came to fruition simply due to remote development.  We are scattered all around the globe and battle time zone differences so getting 16 people around and available at the same time is a very tricky thing.  

We created a quick developer game mode back in November that was a very primitive version of what ORION: Dino Beatdown inevitably evolved into.  The great thing was that it only required five players which is much easier to organize.  After our first play through we realized this had extreme potential and shortly after that we uploaded a private trailer to show our partners and it slowly spread and we started getting all of these demands about people wanting to play that and we realized we could make a killer product that was not only incredibly entertaining – but extremely affordable.  This would allow us to demonstrate our love for genuinely fun and addictive games but also our dedication towards post release support, downloadable content and community inclusion.  

The goal with this game is to use it as a replacement towards investors or a major game publisher and use it to self-generate the otherwise required investment to do development of ORION: Prelude in a studio-based fashion.  This would allow us to retain 100% creative freedom and truly experience “The Indie Dream”.

ORION: Dino Beatdown: great title or greatest title for a game?

It all stemmed from punching a raptor in the face.  It’s pretty satisfying.

For those who may not be familiar with your game's universe, can you give us an idea about the game's back story?

We are not ready to talk story yet.  That being said, there is a planned trilogy (ORION 1, 2 and 3) and they have been designed for many years now.  The story is deep, expansive and the universe behind ORION already spans thousands of years – millions if you include the Origin stories.

For now, just enjoy the crazy, over the top, retro-inspired gameplay and entertainment that we are going to provide using the ORION IP.

What can you tell us about the player classes for the game?

With the launch of ORION: Dino Beatdown we are offering the players to take on the roles of the Carrier Marine Force (CMF), aka the Human faction of our universe.  We are offering three classes at launch which include the Assault (Jetpack), Support (Medical Gun), Recon (Cloaking Device).  

Each class has its own unique armor, personality style, ability, voice actor and starting grenade type.  We are going to be doing video documentaries in the coming weeks leading up to release – one which goes over the classes.

What kinds of upgrades and perks can players get?

We are launching with FOUR Character Perks:

    RABBIT – 2X Speed while sprinting
    ARMADILLO – 2X Shield (200%)
    WOLVERINE – 2X Melee Damage
    FELINE – 2X Jump (Hold – Power Jump)

We are launching with THREE Ability Upgrades:

    HARRIER – Hover Ability (Jetpack)
    ENGINEER – Heal Items & Vehicles (Medical Gun)
    NINJA – Move 2X Faster While Cloaked (Cloaking Device)

We are launching with FOUR Weapon Upgrades:

    STOPPING POWER – 2X Damage (Pro) / 2X Less Firing Rate (Con)
    COWBOY – 2X Reload Speed
    DOUBLE UP – 2X Ammo Clip Sizes
    SPRAY & PRAY – 2X Firing Rate (Pro) / 2X Less Accurate (Con)

The great thing about the Perks and Upgrades is that we will be adding more over time through post-release support updates.


What kinds of gameplay modes can players expect to experience?

ORION: Dino Beatdown is launching with a single, vast game-mode simply called "Dino Beatdown".  This is an open-ended game mode with a variety of objectives ranging from Capturing Bases, Defending Bases, Protecting and Activating Generators, Locating Artifacts and of course the most important - Surviving against the Dinosaurs.

We are launching with three huge worlds: Covan, Depth and Eden.  Each world has at least 5 huge bases that each have their own unique assortment of structures including the Barracks (Player Store), Armory (Weapon & Item Store) and Garage (Vehicle Store).

Each base is powered by a single generator.  This gives power to things like the Shops, Inventory Stations, Supply Stations, Respawn Stations and more.  If these generators are taken offline all of the above becomes inactive until the Generator is brought back online in one of three ways:

    QUICKEST (Recon Class) - Throw an E.M.P Grenade (default to Recon class) at the damaged generator to instantly restore power.
    MEDIUM (Support Class) - Purchase an 'Engineer" upgrade for the Medical Gun to allow healing of items (like the Generator) and Vehicles.
    LONGEST (All Classes) - Hold "use" on the generator to restore power.

The Stores allow the player to purchase new guns, grenades, weapon upgrades, character upgrades, ability upgrades and vehicles utilizing Credits you earn during gameplay.  Think of them as dedicated Counter-Strike Buy Zones.

In this mode there are two "types" of Dinosaurs.  The first type are the ones associated with the "Waves" that attack the bases as you defend them and the other ones are the "World" Dinosaurs that navigate and wander the world just utilizing their A.I and provide a visual ambiance as well as credit opportunities / obstacles while scouring these huge worlds.

For our default game settings there are 5 bases per world with 5 dinosaur waves associated to each base.  Utilizing this setup it takes over an hour to beat each world fully with the Depth world possibly taking up to 1.5 - 2 hours.

There is a TON of gameplay especially considering that this game is built around Artificial Intelligence, Open Worlds and a plethora of gear, upgrades and content.  Due to the A.I the game experience is never the same and given how many guns, grenades, items, abilities, vehicles, stores and upgrades we are launching with you almost literally never have to play the game the same way twice.

Will players be able to play as dinosaurs in the game or will they be AI enemies?

For ORION: Dino Beatdown we are focusing on the interaction you have with these dinosaurs as a player.  We’ve put in a lot of work to the A.I and Behavior of each Dinosaur and we are really excited to see how the players work around each different type. If you want to play as a Dinosaur we’ve announced a game mode for our other title, ORION: Prelude which allows people to play as humans and Dinosaurs and go toe-to-claw.

How will the dinosaurs differ in terms of their gameplay and attacks?

Each Dinosaur in the game is powered by two key systems.  The Artificial Intelligence and the Behavior System.  We are launching with three dinosaurs: T-Rex, Raptor and the Rham-Phorynchus.  The T-Rex is more aggressive by nature, doesn’t get scared easily and if shot will do anything to rip your pretty little face off. 

The Raptors on the other hand work in groups (like wolves) and get scared easily, avoid your crosshair when being aimed at and will typically flea when shot at but only to find a new route and flank you from behind or the side.  The Rham-Phorynchus covers the skies of the game and has the ability to grab daring Jetpackers out of the sky as well as swoop to the floor level and grab players and drop them from great heights.

What other features can players expect to see in ORION: Dino Beatdown?

We have it all!  Open World, Cooperative, Multi-Objective, Interactive Foliage, Destruction, Vehicles, Guns, Jetpacks, Perks, Upgrades, Credits – everything you could want in a game and more.

Any plans for a beta before the full game launches?

There will be no beta for ORION: Dino Beatdown.  However anyone that purchases ORION: Dino Beatdown will receive automatic inclusion to the ORION: Prelude Multiplayer Beta upon its arrival.

After the game is released, what plans does Spiral have for additional content?

We already have a good deal of DLC planned for post release support.  Our first DLC pack will be a Dino DLC Pack called the “Herbivore Pack” and will include three new dinosaurs for FREE!  This will include the Argentinosaurus, Triceratops and Stegosaurus.  We also have another world planned for shortly after release among new vehicles, weapons, items, classes and more depending on the demand for it and if it makes sense for us as a business.

Finally is there anything else you wish to say about ORION: Dino Beatdown?

Buy it… or else!

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