Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom Q&A

Blueside Studios director Henry Lee talks to us about the next game in the popular Kingdom Under Fire series.

When Blueside Studios announced last year that the next games in its Kingdom Under Fire series would be an action-oriented role-playing game rather than a real-time strategy sequel, many fans were quick to express their disappointment on message boards and forums. Of course, very little was known about Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom at that time, but with every new morsel of information that's released, it seems that more of the series' faithful are converted. Blueside Studios takes player feedback very seriously, as director Henry Lee explained to us during a recent interview.

GameSpot: How has development been going since the last time we saw the game?

Henry Lee: We're onto the final brushing-up/composition stage. It's almost literally evolving into a whole new, different game each day. Especially on the visual side, it's become a lot better than how it looked during the early phases.

GS: What did you think of user feedback to your announcement?

HL: Well, the most singular, prominent piece of feedback we received was, "Awww, why can't I command hordes of troops this time?" It was a bit of a shock to realize that there are so many people out there who still enjoy our previous games…more than we imagined, especially "Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders."

In Circle of Doom you'll control a single character rather than an army.

Although you don't get to control hordes of troops this time, the game will still keep you on your toes. This time, you will be controlling a single character (in the case of multiplayer mode, up to four players can form a party) who has to face hordes of enemies that rush in to pound you to death. And they will come at you from every possible angle--from the ground, the ceiling, underground. Some will even pop out of walls and shrubs to ambush you, while dozens of enemies will fire arrows and dodge in formations, cast different magic spells to hinder your attacks, and the melee types will rush in quickly to take you down. The massiveness of the previous KUF series is still there; it's just that this time, you will have to face that massiveness with only your own character. Multiplayer games will be a bit easier due to co-op, but it will still be a tough challenge. Oh, and did I mention that with the enemies, it's a fight until the death? They won't be giving up, so in other words, winner is last man standing, and it better be you.

GS: Has development been affected by the initial fan feedback?

HL: Since Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom takes a detour from the KUF franchise's RTS roots, we are focusing on delivering a whole new gaming experience while maintaining the grand scale that has been our signature throughout the series. Of course, some of the fan feedback was much more suited for implementation to a massive RTS, so we decided to use them in our next title, (I'm not sure if I can officially announce its name yet, sorry), which will be a traditional KUF-style RTS. We're really excited by the fact that there has been so much great feedback and suggestions that made a huge impact not just on the development of Circle of Doom, but also on the development of our next title. As always, it's surprising how many innovative ideas the fans can deliver to us and how much of it really does get implemented. So keep on sending those suggestions!

GS: How much have the previous games influenced this one?

It's not hard to figure out why the heroes are hoping to escape the Dark Dimension.

HL: Well, it is still a highly magical place, if not more so. Spell-like powers are abundant, and the main characters are all from the previous series (some go way back to the first KUF for the PC). Plus, the storyline for this game is a link from The Crusaders to the next KUF title. Many of the heroes that the fans have loved through the ages (pun intended) will come back--albeit in a slightly changed, different form. They're all trapped in the Dark Dimension, and all will have compelling reasons to return to the Age of Light, where the world of Bersia is about to face the most horrendous fate yet. And this will be directly linked to the next title's story arc and plot, of course. You will be able to play as previous favorites, including Celine the Elf Archer Queen (if you know who this is, you're probably one of the old-timer fans that we love), Kendal the Ecclesian Knight, and others. Players will finally get to know the inner turmoil and challenges that some of their favorite characters face.

GS: How has it been working on the 360 hardware? What benefits has it offered, which have helped the game evolve?

HL: I'm sure everyone working on the Xbox 360 hardware will agree; the Xbox 360 is a fantastic monster. It sometimes gives you headaches and sleepless nights when you try to explore some innovative things for performance. But it also has incredible features that make some parts of game development a walk in the park. We're using as much thread as possible for maximum performance this time, and it's been great--both in terms of game development and learning more about the Xbox 360.

GS: Where have you looked to for inspiration on the gameplay system and story?

HL: I usually get inspiration from famous writings, movies, music, etc. For Crusaders, I drew much of my inspiration from music. However, the inspiration for Circle of Doom came from a totally different viewpoint and taste. This time, I really wanted to create a game where four people can just play and laugh like teenagers at a slumber party, chopping up and slaying hordes of monsters. For the story, I wanted to set the stage to explore the characters' spirits and minds and how they would be viewed according to their different backgrounds. We do have some very intense scenes and story hooks, so fans that have followed our KUF series storyline will enjoy how it all unfolds. For the hardcore fans, there will be some moments of truth that will make them gasp!

However, for those that aren't familiar with the story from the previous games, you can still fully enjoy the game just by teaming up with others or hacking and slashing through mobs of enemies alone.

GS: How has it been tackling and balancing action RPG mechanics as opposed to the RTS systems you know so well?

A game you can play while laughing like a teenager at a slumber party, apparently.

HL: Circle of Doom is a battle-oriented game, so it is harder to balance the ups and downs of suspense and drama, compared to our previous RTS games. For example, it was difficult to create a mood of suspense by showing cinematic presentation during battles (it was somewhat like trying to capture the massive, spectacular mood and drama of "The Lord of the Rings" or "Blade" movies). Furthermore, the balancing mechanics are widely different from Crusaders, and so is its pacing. If Crusaders needed 10 hours of balancing, COD needs 100 hours of balancing in comparison. We've developed a healthy respect for people who create action RPG games.

GS: Has the game changed much in terms of gameplay and design since we saw it last?

HL: Well, the graphics are much improved, but the core gameplay is still very much the same as it was in our previous presentations. To be truthful, I worried that some of the features we promised in those presentations might not come to fruition, but fortunately, we have been able to complete all of them and even add a few more.

GS: What resolution are you looking to support on the 360? 720p? 1080i/p?

HL: 720p. I'm sure the Xbox 360 has the horsepower to push for more, but we're sticking to 720p because we have to support HD.

GS: How has the orchestral audio score been coming together? Who's doing it? What are you looking to for inspiration?

HL: I really wanted to put in orchestral music this time; I really did. I told myself that this time, we'll go for nice, popular orchestral music. But then, my beast got out of its shackles. So this time, the music is somewhat akin to slow rock sprinkled with a bit of industrial music. It won't be the rough, grinding heavy metal like in our previous series, but it definitely won't be bland and boring either.

GS: How are you working online into the experience? Co-op? Competitive multiplayer? What can you tell us?

HL: It will be co-op. As I mentioned above, the main goal for this game is to have people hang around together and enjoy themselves without too much stress on focusing until your nose bleeds, just for the sake of gaming. It will be like wolfing down some pizza and shooting some pool with your buddies or having a slumber party--except that you'll be slaughtering monsters together in a bloodbath. Of course, there's also the growth and advancement of your character and weapons, but we've put a lot of effort in making even that a bit hilarious and lighthearted in some rare cases. After all, the game itself can be quite challenging and complex, as well as dark and moody, so we've decided to make the gameplay itself as simple and straightforward as possible with some light humor to vent off the steam. This does not mean that Circle of Doom will be all about prancing unicorns and dandelions; far from it. Nor does it mean that the game will be easy in terms of difficulty or balance. But the learning curve for basic gameplay will be short, allowing for more personal customization and specific growth management of your character.

This can be bit of a gamble, but I'm positive that the game has been able to maintain the ideal balance between simplicity and complexity, as well as between heavy storyline and dark humor.

GS: How dependent is the game on the lore from the previous games?

Circle of Doom will purportedly cater to series newcomers and veterans alike.

HL: The previous games did help in creating a fan base, but the learning curve was a bit too high for beginners to fully enjoy, especially in terms of controls and system management. So this time, we decided to create a really easy-to-learn game. Want to throw a fireball? Just assign the power to a button and press it. End of story. At the same time, we do have some more advanced features for the serious-minded hardcore players, such as synthesizing every kind of equipment possible and combining different powers. I get butterflies in my stomach wondering if people will like what we will give them.

GS: When will we see more on the game? When are you aiming to have it done?

HL: Well, the end is near, and the development team is all dying and turning into zombies as usual. There's a huge boulder rolling toward us from the back, and we're crawling inch by inch toward the goal of completing the game. The exact release date will be decided by Microsoft, so we have nothing to announce, but we can tell you that it will be coming out sometime during the fall.

GS: Thanks for your time.

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Discussion

110 comments
speed45823
speed45823

Now this game is sorta like Ninety nine nights but with enhanced graphics. Theres really no quest. This game makes u just wanna kill things with a lot of button mashing.

nero374
nero374

sound pretty cool i might get it

Dill-Man
Dill-Man

this is retarted, i loved the other kindom under fire games but now it seems more like another dumb dynasty warriors type game

matt_is_real420
matt_is_real420

looks like a good game But.....you cannot control units of troops like the other kingdom under fire game for the xbox. You just control the main charter, with is a deal breaker for me, because the unit control aspect was why i loved the other one`s so much. Without the unit control, just be prepared for a typical hack 'n' slash with some weapon and armor upgrades.

Yokuz1166
Yokuz1166

RPG's appeal to a bigger market, dunno if that influenced their decision to switch from an RTS. I really don't care either way, I just enjoy a good game.

klasco
klasco

I wanna RTS why why did you change...............WHY!?!

TriggerWolf
TriggerWolf

This games screen-shots speak for themselves, I'm sure this game will be worth every buck I drop on the stores counter...

Hydronox
Hydronox

Whatever you do; DON'T turn this game into GAUNTLET. Kingdom Under FIre deserves a more sophisticated system.

matheusclifton
matheusclifton

its not an RTS like the first two? thats a disappointment. the first two were brilliant and famous for there large scale battles and stratagy. seems stupid to change the genre of the game now, with next gen tech at hand

azren89
azren89

Can't wait to play it on my 360's.This game gonna kick my ass.....

freakykidd
freakykidd

Looks amazing. The two KUF games on Xbox where epic, so I'm pretty hopeful about this. And co-op multiplayer hack-and-slash RPG? Where do I sign up?

ObiKKa
ObiKKa

The visuals looks exhilarating. Microsoft would have been proud of this game.

AJRiley
AJRiley

Why change the genre of the game now? Especially with next gen available. The game's main attraction was its unique rts style and the amazing encounters the many units had to face. Sad, pretty sad indeed. It may turn out good, better yet, I hope it turns out great as an RPG; but it wont feel as a KUF game.

crazykage
crazykage

aaaaaaaaaa come on the KUF fans want a rst not rpg why did we move away from the great rst games

jehnubis121
jehnubis121

Bright move for the KUF series. The previous series were good, but they were hard to play, and they had horrible multi-player. I just hope this game does not turn out to be another useless "99 Nights" type of game though. Where you just slash over and over endlessly.

Kaihato
Kaihato

I lost all interest in this game when I read that there will be no competetive online mode. T_T

raaaw
raaaw

This is the kind of Game the 360 needs! (Or at least i need!) Somthin me and a couple of mates can sit down and play! I agree with PECAX :P

PECAX
PECAX

please dont SREW UP¡¡¡

capitancahonas
capitancahonas

"Laughin' like teenagers at a slumber party.." I want what he's on please! -with regards to COD (!!?) Henry and chums have a great track record with the series and this will def' be on my wanted list. His hint at an RTS follow up is all good too...

FISHSLAP5
FISHSLAP5

Alexmon: Warcraft was a RTS, But when they made a RPG it turned out great. So we know it is possible for a game to go from RTS to RPG without crashing and burning. Just give the game a chance.

Built
Built

not too shabby

Rhen_Var
Rhen_Var

If its good its mine if its bad it gains dust

bumbro8521
bumbro8521

reminds me of back when champions of norrath came out, me and my friends played 4 person co op for 17 hours then had to go to school... this better release in the summer or on winter break.

JianJLyman
JianJLyman

I hope the game still becomes good i have trust in them i owned both on the first xbox i would love to owned this but i don't have a 360 lol!

vought
vought

This game looks great! I hope its not just a one sided hack and slash like lord of the rings.

Pete5506
Pete5506

this game is going to rock

Alexmon
Alexmon

NOOOOOO! Stupid Blueside! I LOVED the old KUF games! They were sick, controlling tons of guys like an RTS, but then killing tons of guys like a RPG/Action game!

Warhearted
Warhearted

I had never even heard of KUF until reading this, but Circle of Doom looks like it will be a great game.

Diernes
Diernes

Finally, a game I am actually psyched up for, for my 360 thats collecting dust. The previous KUF games were one of the best offerings for the original Xbox and are criminally underated. Its a travesty that they still arent backwards compatible for the 360. Come on M$ get it together. Looking good, cant wait.

JQuizzle757
JQuizzle757

gore more gore it looks like it could be fun!!

killjoi
killjoi

"Oh, and did I mention that with the enemies, it's a fight until the death? They won't be giving up, so in other words, winner is last man standing, and it better be you." Ho, boy. With quotes like these, it's hard not to get psyched with the infectious hype around this game. Never mind that KUF paved some great roads for the RTS / action hybrid on consoles. Yet here we go, with what seems to be a cookie cutter product, of which cues from Dynasty Warriors and God of War could not be more obvious. But on the other hand, can we fault them? As revolutionary the previous two games were, they haven't been all that profitable. Why not take an already established action game play component and build a game around that?

vonUnd
vonUnd

screen's looks realy cool!!!...goddamn my f(...)g country - there is no x-boxes...(((...

ironcreed
ironcreed

Cannot wait for this game. I have always thought that KUF would have been better served as an RPG. The RTS elements in the previous titles are what prevented me from ever really digging the series.

cashmonkey78
cashmonkey78

I think they should have come out with the original KUF format to the 360 first and then introduced this game. Seeing as the original aren't backwards compatible yet (or possibly never), I'm jonesin' for some new blood.

vidiot923
vidiot923

Ilove RPGs so I cant wait for this game. I really liked the first two on xbox, so I am glad they will be making another game like them, but I dont think it is a bad idea to do something different as variety is the spice of life.

NiteX
NiteX

I hope this breaths some fresh air to remove all the dust from my 360. The 360 needs some slashers which the only thing it currently has is 99 Nights which inst that great. At least there leaving the RTS genre and making something thats actually fun. Christ RTS games suck so badly.

CowbellFanatic
CowbellFanatic

Timma25, I played Daggerfall and Morrowind and I loved Oblivion, (except for not being able to levitate). But I don't think that really is relevant to this game. Its not like Oblivion changed genres like this game, it just simplified things and made some changes.

timma25
timma25

Hmm looks like another Oblivion.. New to the series love it, beloved fans are left in the dark... well that sucks..

blue-fish
blue-fish

...The guys behind the great Kingdom Under Fire RTS games sold out and made a hack and slash huh... great, just great......

Artemyr
Artemyr

a fight until the death? So basically, enemies will try to kill you? Whoa, I think I just might have to lie down...

IceStorm-Br
IceStorm-Br

Third person RPG :O !!! And look very cool, I buy a X360 for it !

termadoyle
termadoyle

looks awesome. hope the RPG elements are light though. I hate RPGs.

ryguybond
ryguybond

this game looks cool. i love slumber parties

zeppelin124x
zeppelin124x

its probably a good thing that they are at least trying to do new things in order to please more people, and it doesn't matter that much if its an RPG instead of a RTS cuz it says the next game is going to be "traditional KUF-style RTS" anyway.