Killing snipers with bunnies in the iOS/Android cross-platform battle game ‘Arena of Heroes’

December 19, 2013
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Unlike most new multiplayer online battle arena (M.O.B.A.) games, Arena of Heroes lets warriors politely take turns; turns that can take minutes, hours, even a whole day. But according to Marshall Adair, the studio head of Sneaky Games, this isn’t the only way this online fracas differentiates itself from similar games.

TabTimes Games: First off, how would you describe a M.O.B.A. to someone who hasn’t played one?

Marshall Adair: A M.O.B.A is style of game where players begin a battle fresh each time they play, and use a team of characters to conquer a map that’s usually divided into lanes. Over the course of the battle, the heroes get stronger and more powerful by killing A.I. minions and other heroes, and you use them to charge up lanes to blow up a base. 

And for those who haven’t played it, what is Arena of Heroes?

Heroes is a turn-based M.O.B.A. in which players battle atop a space tower for the entertainment of an ancient council. So Player 1 uses a hero's “Action Points” to move or use a skill, then Player 2 does the same, back and forth, until one player kills the other’s Powercore on the other side of the map.

What other games do you think it’s like?

Well, the way the heroes are designed and collected, and of course the three-lane battle-map itself, are similar to such M.O.B.A.s as League of Legends or D.O.T.A. 2. But it’s actually more like X-Com or Hero Academy when it comes to the gameplay, due to the fact that battles are won or lost in a series of turns and tactical decisions.

The game has three different modes: “Single-Player vs. A.I.,” “Real Time,” and “Asynchronous Turn.” Can you explain how they differ?

Sure. “Single Player vs. A.I.” has four heroes fighting four enemies, the latter of which are controlled by the computer. “Real-Time” matches are played turn-by-turn with two minutes for each player to complete their actions, kind of like a quick Chess game. And “Asynchronous Turns” simply means we’ve extended the turn timer to 24 hours, so you can play a turn and then come back later when it’s your turn again, kind of like Words with Friends.

Since you may have to wait a whole day for your opponents to do something, can you play multiple games in “Asynchronous Turn” mode at the same time?

Absolutely. And we encourage it. We think the best part of Heroes is having ten or so “Asynch” games going at once, and having to play out tons of different strategies.

Aesthetically, the game is a mix of sci-fi and fantasy. Why did you decide to go with this, as opposed to pure fantasy or pure sci-fi?

Simply, we wanted to stand out. There are lots of fantasy-themed M.O.B.A.s with battlefields of grass and trees. 

What are some of the sci-fi and fantasy influences on the game? Because Metus seems rather Cthulhian.

Our team is an very diverse bunch, all with different games and entertainment they like. We took a lot from other M.O.B.A.s, but we didn’t want to be stuck in a single time period or environment; our characters represent an infinite possibility of what a “hero” can mean. 

Two of the characters are animal-based: Max is a bunny while Ivan is a mole. Was there any concern that these characters might be too goofy?

I mean…sure, but we couldn’t let them go. A bunny with a machine gun, and a disgruntled mole? We wanted there to be a bit of whimsy to our game. It’s quite fun to kill a hardcore futuristic sniper with a bunny.

Arena of Heroes was just released on the iPad, and will be out on Android tablets in January. Will there be any differences between them?

Nope, no difference. In fact, your account will carry between the two, just in case you love Apple and Android equally.

You’ll also be able to play games of “Real Time” and “Asynchronous Turn” against people on other systems. What was more difficult: getting this to work right, or getting Apple and Google to agree to this?

Frankly, we didn’t know what their reaction would be. But they embraced it. In the future, I think that cross-platform games will either become ubiquitous, or they’ll be non-existent for business reasons. 

As for the tech, it was the plan from the start, and we have some really innovative guys here. Though it was still an amazing moment when my iPad connected to someone in the building who was testing it on a PC. I lost, of course, but I was thrilled.

So you can also play against people on PCs and Macs?

Yup. Any platform Heroes is on will be able to play against any other platform.

The game is free-to-play, but will have stuff for sale. What kind of stuff can people buy?

We provide a few starter heroes, and players can earn new ones by competing in the arena. But if you want a hero before you have the currency saved up, you can buy him. We also have a few Premium versions of the heroes, such as Hillbilly Max and Ninja Lily.

Finally, if Arena of Heroes does well, what will the sequel be called? Stadium of Good Guys? Amphitheater of Champions? Enormodome of Hoagies? I got a million of them. No, wait, just the three.

Ha! We had fun playing with names like that but ended on a really straight forward name that we think is intriguing enough to ask, “What’s that game?” 

But when it comes to naming the sequel, I’ll give you a call.

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