Here we are, a couple of weeks after EGX 2018 came to a close, and I finally have a chance to write about Vanguard: Fight for Rudiarius. The wait is not a knock on Vanguard, more a nature of my busy Autumn filled with wrestling, rallying and running a half-freaking-marathon. But here we are to talk about Vanguard. Let’s crack on.
Vanguard was unveiled to the public at EGX, and seemed to have a pretty busy booth, which can only be seen as a good thing for the team working on this ambitious project.
It’s ambitious in several aspects. It will be launching into Beta in January across PC, mobile and VR. Vanguard is a competitive cross-platform multiplayer game pulling together players from the vastly different platforms into one unified space combat arena that pulls inspiration from Roman gladiators.
What’s more, Vanguard isn’t coming from an established group of indie games developers. It is the brain child of Chris Jeffries, the founder and Managing Director of Dev Clever, a bespoke software development company that works across a wide variety of sectors. Some of the projects Chris described to me that Dev Clever have worked on sounded fantastic, especially the work they have been doing in the education sector.
I asked Chris why he had decided to move into games development, and why he chose to create a competitive online action game based around classic Roman gladiator types. He described to me how this is a passion project, that while the core business of Dev Clever is extremely rewarding to everyone involved, the ability to ‘sit down with our team and go “literally, the sky isn’t even the limit, away you go”’ was a driving force. Chris is half-Italian, with a family heritage going back to Roman days. He told me that he has ‘always been fixated with Imperial Rome. I just thought, what a fantastic introduction to competitive gaming is Roman Gladiators. It’s been done to death a little bit, so what would those Gladiators look like in the future, in space and bring them into these massive space arenas.’
Vanguard takes place in a futuristic alternate timeline where the Roman Empire didn’t collapse, but instead kept evolving to a point where it controls 85% of the galaxy, still conquering civilisations and running gladiatorial combat, but now the combat is in arenas in space. You can expect different ships to be styled on the classic gladiator archetypes. Indeed, the setting has given the artists at Dev Clever a chance to really show off their creative flair.
‘When we’re designing the characters, the Vanguards, we’re researching and bringing in type of Gladiator, for instance a Murmillo, having a look at their traditional armour, what they used to wear and just thinking “What would that look like 3,000 years on”. When you look at the characters we’re creating, and a show like Spartacus, you’ll see a real resemblance.’
I had a couple of quick fights against some of the development team at the show across all three platforms. Vanguard was my first ever VR experience, and I was instantly feeling transported into the action, even if my understanding of the Oculus control pad was non-existent. Playing the game on mobile though was fantastic, the game looked great on a mobile device with gyroscope controls adding to the immersion and sense of flying a futuristic spaceship.
The team have a wealth of experience of working on mobile as part of their key corporate work, but getting the cross-platform experiences to blend together with balanced controls has been a challenge. ‘We want to give people their own unique playing experience, but without giving them a competitive edge. So, we’re trying to incorporate the different elements of each platform into the UIs. Even on mobile, even thought it’s a static view, you can move your phone to look around the scene so it emulates a VR experience in that way.’
Chris is looking to build a community, and get fans to engage with the team during the development process. ‘We’re going full open production, sharing everything we’re doing and really taking on board any comments and suggestions people bring to us…Every week we will be releasing our intentions for the ships and new Vanguard Gladiators with the view to letting the Beta version to the first original Vanguards, then polishing towards the full launch in April. Hopefully towards the end of next year, we’ll be looking to the PS4 and Xbox One versions of it as well.’
Vanguard is a wildly ambitious project, but it was already feeling nicely refined when I played it at the show. The enthusiasm Chris has for the project shone through while I was talking with him, and I am sure that the team will deliver the goods. Head over to the official site for more details of how to get involved in the open production.