After catching the most recent trailer for Ronimo Games’ upcoming Awesomenauts, we found ourselves saturated in pure Saturday morning cartoon bliss. So much so that we decided to reach out to the independent developer for an interview. Jasper Koning, Co-Founder and Game Designer at Ronimo Games, spoke with us at length about Awesomenauts, its inspiration, the way it’s played and how it became what we’ve seen so far today.
Awesomenauts wasn’t always so steeped in that cartoony vibe that’s turning a lot of gamers on. In fact, as Koning explained, it was once much darker.
“The original vision was pretty dark and serious. It played in a Shangria-La like environment with fantasy characters. But as the game progressed, the action became more and more hectic, and it became very hard to effectively communicate what was going on. So we switched to a more bold style.”
That bold style began to grow on the Ronimo team. Koning told us that his peers fell in love with what they were seeing, and that “it grew more and more crazy and awesome, and it started to remind us of the great Saturday morning cartoons from our youth. We just embraced that vibe and ran with it until it became the Awesomeness you see today.”
The cartoony, bold look may serve to actually aid new players as this could be their first time stepping into the world of MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena). Built in the same vein as League of Legends and DotA, Awesomenauts is a three vs. three, strategy combat game. Koning says that the DotA-esque games were introduced to Romino by a staffer within.
“A few years ago, one of our artists introduced us to DotA when we were looking for things to play over our LAN,” explained Koning. “We were hooked. When the League of Legends Beta came out we signed up for it straight away, and we’ve been playing that game since. So when the time came to brainstorm for our next game, a lot of the ideas involved bringing MOBA style gameplay to consoles.”
And so came their decision to build Awesomenauts in a 2D, platformer style instead of the more traditional nearly top-down view of other MOBA games. The visual form of Awesomenauts has been created with console gamers in mind.
“We love 2D stuff, and we loved the immediacy of the action,” Koning told us. “We also felt that this was the best way to bring the MOBA genre to a console audience, because it allows the game to be more action packed and easy to get into.
“Everybody knows how to play a platformer, how to jump and shoot. If you can do that, you’ve already mastered a very large part of what makes you a great Awesomenauts player. We also have a single tutorial mission that explains all of the important gameplay elements, such as Solar (the in game currency), items and pushing. This tutorial can be skipped, if you know the game, as well as replayed at any time to show new people the ropes.”
Awesomenauts is meant to be played with groups of six humans, three against three. However, Ronimo didn’t want to make players wait to play anyone; instead, they wanted folks to be able to hop directly into matches regardless of current matchmaking queues. They did that by creating bots to fill the void while players hop in and out.
“You can always play Awesomenauts, and it’s always 3-vs-3. If there aren’t enough human players in your game for whatever reason, bots will fill out the match. And people can come and go whenever they like…One of the cool things about this is that you can always play with friends as soon as they come online. They can just enter your game, or you can switch to theirs.”
The obvious fear here for anyone that’s played a MOBA style game is that joining late will introduce you to a wealth of strong opponents already leveled up. Ronimo thought of that and offers a little help.
“If you join a match in progress yourself, you will get extra Solar. So once you’ve spent that in the shop, you’ll be at the same strength level as the rest.”
Dropping in and out of matches is quick and simple. According to Koning, “a match does not break as soon as a player leaves since bots offer plenty of resistance.” So don’t feel too bad if you have to ditch a game.
That said, “if you leave before the ending of the match, you won’t earn any account XP in the next match.”
Currently, Ronimo is only officially planning to release Awesomenauts for the Xbox LIVE Arcade and PlayStation Network platforms. We asked Koning about a future potential PC release and whether or not they were looking at Steam. His response: “Not yet, but we’d love to see it on Steam some day, I’d say the chances are pretty good.”