One of the great things about PAX is that gamers are face to face with the developers that create the games they love. I spent a chunk of my PAX-time doing brief interviews with indie developers for a quick series called “Mini Indie Interviews.” You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll learn some things you can never unlearn. Enjoy.
Mark Nau has been in the industry for awhile. Seventeen years to be exact. While working for Treyarch, he had a hand in the creation of Call of Duty: Finest Hour, a handful of the Spiderman titles and so much more. Nau is currently working with Edge of Reality, and the title they brought to PAX East was Loadout. It was an honor to talk to Nau, because he has been living the dream even before it was a dream for most teenagers.
It’s hard to call Edge of Reality an indie studio. Actually, it’s damn near impossible. They’ve worked on titles like Dragon Age: Origins, The Sims 3, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 & 3 and more. With a CV like that, you’re probably ready to slap me and shout “WHY IS THIS CONSIDERED AN INDIE INTERVIEW?”
Edge of Reality brought their first original IP to PAX East. Nau is bringing an established studio into a new realm of existence in the game world, so although the staff at Edge of Reality might be experienced and have already seen commercial success in their time, their new title, Loadout, is a step in an unexplored and fantastic direction.
Loadout is an over-the-shoulder, free-to-play shooter. Whereas most online shooters allow you to customize what your character looks like, Loadout will offer that AND the opportunity to create your own weapons. It’s like legos, but much more destructible. Edge of Reality had a mini LAN party happening in their booth, with gamers creating their own weapons and then testing them out in the field. Nau explained that earlier in the day, a player had created a rocket launcher with a sniper scope that he could shoot from the other side of the level and remotely heal his teammates.
Currently in closed beta via Steam, Loadout is looking to move into an open beta during summer. With a free-to-play title, a “release date” is so far from typical. Taking cues from League of Legends, Team Fortress 2 and Monday Night Combat, Nau stressed that this game was going to get a lot of attention from Edge of Reality even after the game goes into open beta.
“We’re going to be working on it for the next two, three, four, five years… We’re going to be adding stuff all the time,” said Nau.
When a developer talks free-to-play, a lot of concerns can arise. Most titles that are initially free require tons of micro-transactions that nickel and dime gamers for things like extra levels. Nau is aware of this popular go-to, but refuses to take that road. He explained that anything functional within the game can be attained free by players, and that Loadout is not a “pay to win or pay to get a big advantage” title.
“If you make a great game, and people are talking about a great game, the money will come in,” he said. “You don’t have to worry about trying to squeeze anybody. We’re not good at that. The company we have is good at making games.”
It’s reassuring to hear that Edge of Reality is putting the fate of their pocketbooks into the hands of gamers. If the gaming community has proven anything in spades, it’s how we will throw money at developers that do what we love. You can sign up for the closed beta at their site, and I’ll see you on the battlefield down the scope of my OP sniper rifle.