Interviews

8Realms: 'We can challenge Total War and Civilization'

Interview: Jagex has high hopes for browser-based strategy title

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Aren't browser-based titles always going to pale in comparison to their triple-A rivals - especially in the visual stakes?
It depends on your metric, I'm very busy as are many of my friends. The appeal of a game I can load up in a browser in moments is a very big pull. Also the ability to update a game quickly without installation and access it from anywhere, not worry about saves and have multiplayer built into the platform. Well that's all pretty attractive to many people.

If I'm playing a fast paced shooter about the terror of war sure I want as much intensity and reality as can be delivered, but for most games that fidelity is just not required. Graphics will improve with HTML5 and the WebGL standard being developed. I personally say the primary purpose of a games graphics is to communicate information effectively in the tone of the game. Some of the prettiest games I've played in the last year are fairly low-spec and just have a nice art-style or well delivered vision.

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One of our big challenges was to design an effective user interface which strategy players could get the quality out of but would not intimidate players less experienced in the genre. I like to use the phrase, the discerning gamer, to describe our target audience. People who enjoy games, and know the quality of good strategy. So all the people who enjoy strategy but no longer have the time for a 6 hour game session, but also those players who devote hours to gaming. I like to think we have a broad appeal, but I'm really hoping we can draw in retired 20 something strategy gamers who think they no longer have time for games.

Which games have been the biggest influence on 8Realms?
Board games mostly, we play a lot of them here and I think some of the best examples of an exciting meta-game, refined strategy and pure enjoyment can be found in non-digital games. Games like Neptune's Pride and the Civilization series have a strong effect on us as well.

Was there added pressure on you to follow up the phenom that is RuneScape?
Not really, we are working parallel and developing a game completely different in style and market appeal. At no point would I say anyone in our team has held 8Realms up against RuneScape. We are new, and have our own ambitions and goals which we hope to achieve.

Jagex seems very committed the browser-based business model. Why avoid the boxed game model?
I wouldn't say we avoid it, the online model offers so much with a direct line to players, the ability for quick updates and great accessibility.

Are there any plans or discussions around whether your titles might ever come to console?
We have several console kits in the office as well as other tech, and have done for some time. Technically we have everything we need, we just don't see a reason to be on consoles at the moment. The question comes down to will our games be better served by being on platform X, if the answer is yes then we will put the game on that platform.

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