Haunted Hollow Interview: Firaxis Doesn't Want To Rip You Off

By William Usher 2013-04-19 19:27:55 discussion comments
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Firaxis Games is working on an upcoming mobile title called Haunted Hollow. It's a strategy-based title with elements of action, horror comedy and competitive multiplayer. Branching out from the typical bigger budget titles released for home PCs and consoles, Firaxis is trying their hand at a unique kind of mobile title all while trying to play by the rules so that their game isn't another pay-to-win cash-in.

The game basically sees players trying to scare people out of their homes using tricks and traps, and then eventually building up and expanding their haunted antics in the neighborhood, all while battling rival scare artists and their army of ghoulish fiends. The designers are working hard to strike a balance between a core title with depth and replayability, as well as a casual title that has an easy enough entry level of access so anyone can pick up and play it, all while avoiding the money pits that some other publishers have employed with their microtransaction exploits.

We got in a few questions with the Haunted Hollow designers at Firaxis, David McDonough and Will Miller, who were kind enough to answer the following questions for their title, which is set for release this spring, exclusively for iOS-powered devices.

Gaming Blend: In the interview with Modojo, it was mentioned that the game spawned from an idea on a whiteboard...is this the usual process for coming up with new games – just drawing or conceptualizing on the board – or was this just the rare time something ended up on the board and then became a reality? 

Firaxis: We think every game starts as something simple, whether it’s a sketch on a whiteboard or a very basic prototype. And the two of us spend a lot of time saying to each other: “You know, such-and-such would be an awesome game…”

Gaming Blend: The video game industry has been in a wild evolutionary swing lately and not every game hits its mark with its intended audience. I'm curious, is Haunted Hollow aimed at the pick-up-and-play casual players or is the game being designed more-so for a core audience – gamers who may invest a lot of time and energy into the product? 

Firaxis: We think both are possible. The game is certainly easy enough to pick up and figure out where you left off, and the mechanics are simple to explain to people. When you add in the different monster types and building a team of monsters, then you start to get into the kind of strategies like you see in collectible card game deck-building, and a lot of planning against possible opponents.

We want as many people as possible playing against each other, and so the game needs that sort of emergent complexity from simple systems. That’s also a hallmark of Firaxis’ games, and one we’ve tried to bring out in Haunted Hollow.

Haunted Hollow gameplay

Gaming Blend: Following up on the last question...since most of the websites reporting on this game will cater to toward the hardcore gaming audience, what would be the pitch to get this audience interested in a mobile title like Haunted Hollow? Especially following incidents like EA and Real Racing 3, which helped put a damper on the mobile gaming arena in the eyes of core gamers.

Fireaxis: We wanted to make a game that was lighthearted and fun, but also full of hidden depth. Additionally, we wanted to appeal to the kind of person who enjoys strategy games, while simultaneously reaching the kind of player who maybe doesn’t consider themselves a strategy gamer, per se. The way we see it, mobile gaming is continuing to grow and grow, and now that we consider tablet and mobile devices as viable gaming platforms, we want to be part of that eco-system, as well as contribute to its growth.

Gaming Blend: In recent interviews about Haunted Hollow, it's mentioned that the game will have microtransactions to expand the gameplay, including houses and accessories. How far into the game's lifespan do you plan to keep the new content rolling out or will there be a set amount of content planned for release before moving on to the next project?

Firaxis: We’ll continue to provide material for the game after our global launch, and we’ll listen to what our players are telling us about the game.

Gaming Blend: Given the resurgence of popularity for the XCOM brand in video games, would it be possible that we could see tie-ins from XCOM in Haunted Hollow?

Firaxis: We’re huge fans of XCOM: Enemy Unknown and the game has been very well received among gamers, so we’ll wait and see what happens after our global launch!

Gaming Blend: Depending on how things go with Haunted Hollow, is there a possibility that Firaxis could further pursue more opportunities in mobile game development?

Fireaxis: We’d love to continue to develop for mobile! We want to continue to push boundaries in content and innovation, and bring that “just one more turn” feeling that our previous games are famous for. Civilization Revolution has been out on iOS for a while and it’s been successful, so we’re confident we can make great games that our long-time fans will enjoy just as much as new gamers.

Big thanks to Will Miller and David McDonough for answering the questions. You can learn more by paying a visit to the official Firaxis website.
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