Super Evil Megacorp Prepares for Launch of Vainglory on iOS [Interview]

vainglory 650Super Evil Megacorp is preparing for the upcoming release of Vainglory, its multiplayer online battle arena game (MOBA) for iPad 2+ and iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Set for release in October, the game sees players competing in 3-vs-3 team battles, as they control a single hero and work with their partners to destroy a giant crystal, called the Vain, in the enemy’s base. Vainglory takes advantage of the A8 chip technology and Metal SDK to create a console-like experience for players, even on smartphones.

Created by developers with experience at Riot, Blizzard, Rockstar and more, Vainglory’s battlefield offers a main lane, as well as a jungle area containing special objectives. The battle lane contains multiple turrets, defending each enemy base. These must be destroyed before players can advance towards the enemy vain and ultimately win. While players control their own hero, the team itself has worker minions that walk down the lane, fighting turrets and enemies in the path.

Meanwhile, the game’s special objectives see players capturing key points in the jungle, or fighting special enemies. For instance, minion mines are available in the jungle, with one on each side of the map. Capturing one of these mines strengthens that team’s minions. Capturing a gold mine, meanwhile, gives the team gold, which can be used to purchase “powerful items.” At the 15-minute mark of each match, a Kraken spawns, and can be captured by one team. Once captured, he will walk down the lane, attacking enemy turrets and enemies.

During gameplay, users tap on the screen to move their character, and tap again to target and auto-attack an enemy. Each hero has access to special abilities, available at the bottom of the screen. There are buttons for using items, opening the shop, accessing the scoreboard, teleporting home, viewing hero info and more. A mini-map is displayed in the top corner of the screen, and players can swipe their finger here to change their camera view.

We had a chance to chat with Kristian Segerstrale, COO & executive director at Super Evil Megacorp, about Vainglory, and how the game performs using Apple’s newest technology, available in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Inside Mobile Apps: If this is a gamer’s first time hearing about Vainglory, what should they know about the game before going in?

Kristian Segerstrale: Vainglory is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA). The game is a battle between two teams (3 players vs. 3 players). You control a single hero, and your goal is to shatter a giant crystal called the Vain in the center of the enemy team’s base. The team that destroys the enemy’s Vain wins the game. It’s a bit like “capture the flag.” The enemy’s Vain is defended by powerful turret cannons.

To grow more powerful, you’ll need to explore a treacherous jungle region and compete with the other team for special objectives. Earn as much gold as possible by defeating creatures and heroes, and use that gold to buy increasingly more powerful items. Over time, you will also learn and level up unique abilities that make your hero more powerful and fun. You can play over online multiplayer, but try playing with local friends shoulder-to-shoulder on the same team, LAN party style.Vainglory 650 2IMA: MOBAs typically have a lot going on, on the screen, at one time (lots of characters, enemies and moving parts). On a console, this might equal lag and other performance issues. How has Apple’s Metal helped the development of the game in those sorts of performance areas?

KS: The A8 chip technology and Metal graphics API give us the same type of native access to graphics typical to game consoles. They enable us to combine sub 30ms control responsiveness with a lot more polygons and particle effects, retaining lightning fast controls while adding life and movement to the world. The A8 chip also makes it possible to sustain performance longer, which means that your battery will last longer. Vainglory is optimized to use as little battery power as possible and having more power in the device definitely helps in that regard. With the help of Metal and new power management software, players are able to enjoy the game longer.

On a deeper level, the Metal SDK removes a layer that normally resides between the game and the hardware. That layer is basically what goes in the OpenGL driver, which is the graphic standard that was used before Metal. Thanks to Metal, game developers get closer to the hardware and are able to [make the] most out of it. Much like console developers build for their hardware. Thanks to Metal, we’re able deliver a higher frame rate, faster load times and more complicated graphics.

IMA: On that same topic (complexity in MOBAs), how has Vainglory been designed to take advantage of a smaller iOS screen, as compared to a MOBA on a full desktop PC, for instance?

KS: Vainglory has been designed to be a core game experience on touch devices. That means that we’ve built an unapologetically core game that has been reimagined and rebuilt for a new platform. Our aim is to not casualize a core game, nor do a direct port of an existing genre. The guiding principle in game design has been to assume to know nothing and reimagine everything.

As for the touch screen, one main advantage is the easiness of touch controls, which are intuitive, responsive, and accurate. Touch controls are very easy to learn and that’s exactly what we’ve wanted to do – get the controls out of the way so that players can focus on the game. Also, touch is more efficient for playing a MOBA than a mouse keyboard as instead of one cursor, you have two in the form of both of your index fingers. For example kiting (running and shooting at the opponent) is extremely easy and precise with touch controls.

IMA: Many mobile games are specifically designed for quick pick-up-and-play sessions, but a MOBA doesn’t really lend itself to that play style. Is there any element to that here, or are gamers going to need to be ready to dedicate a lot of time to the game in each sitting?

KS: Game session length has been one of the key elements we’ve put a lot of thought and testing into. Vainglory matches average at 22 minutes in length and many of our early players play several matches in one session. Comparing mobile and tablet gaming, people typically engage in longer game sessions on the tablet than on mobile and we hope players find Vainglory worthy [of] their time!

IMA: Is Vainglory the only title in Super Evil’s pipeline, or is the team working on other projects as well (even in the very early stages)?

KS: We want to create the best possible experience for our players and to do so, our team is heads-down focused on Vainglory. That said, thanks to our proprietary E.V.I.L. engine, we have great tools for making more games and we’ll see what the future beholds.

IMA: Anything else you’d like to add?

On [September 9], we also announced our partnership with MOBAFire, the largest MOBA community with over 12 million monthly users. Vainglory is the first touch game they built a site for and their support means the world to us and our players. The Vaingloryfire site is live, and includes a ton of information about the game.