To say Filipinos love giant robots would be an understatement. Many of us grew up on Voltes V, Daimos, and a whole slew of other mecha properties, cultivating our obsession with all things mechanical, humanoid, and ridiculously enormous.
Of course, for some, that love isn’t enough. Take, for example, the people over at Philippines-based game development studio Indigo Entertainment, who have taken their interests and transformed them into a full-on, working PC game. Previously featured on Steam Greenlight and now making its transition to Steam Direct, “Garrison: Archangel” – the studio’s very own unique IP – is a fighting game that lets you pick a giant robot, customize its appearance and weaponry to your heart’s content, then enter an arena to fight other giant robots. The result is as spectacular as it sounds: fast-paced, explosive, robot-on-robot action.
Stylish, gigantic robots trading blows
Indigo Entertainment didn’t beat around the bush when describing the inspiration behind “Garrison: Archangel.”
“Our team in general is composed of people with varying tastes in mecha aesthetics and literature,” the development team told GMA News Online. “We generally like the idea of stylish, gigantic robots flying in the sky and trading blows at high speed. For this reason, there is a strong anime bent to the design we’ve used in the game – we’ve taken some cues from the Gundam franchise, Fullmetal Panic, Muv-Luv Franchise, old 80’s anime like Dougram and VOTOMS, Macross, and even older super robot shows like Voltes V and Daimos.”
The game mechanics were also inspired by those of mecha games such as “Armored Core,” “Virtual-On,” and “Gundam vs. Gundam” – with a little bit of “Dark Souls” and “Bloodborne’s” controls and combat thrown in for good measure.
The idea of giant robots “trading blows at high speed” seems best realized as a versus game, which explains why the team chose to turn its property into a fighting game.
“The idea of making a mecha of your own and then fighting a friend’s giant robot to see who’s better at designing, and then piloting it is such a fun idea with the potential to last. Also, mecha anime is filled with dramatic, spectacular battles, which we wanted in our game.”
“Garrison: Archangel” could have turned out extremely differently, however.
“The catalyst though was a mecha-themed PVP card game that was being developed internally; we just thought, since we enjoy this theme anyway, why not build an actual mecha game the way we want it?”
A dream of mecha
Along with MOBAs, fighting games are notoriously difficult to develop. To create a compelling combat experience, the developer has to take multiple elements into consideration such as diverse fighters, special moves, a flashy presentation, and, most important of all, balance.
One of the biggest challenges Indigo Entertainment faced was creating an experience that married the team’s diverse ideas.
“We are a team of diverse tastes and preferences, so even regarding combat and controls, we had differing ideas of going about them,” explained Indigo Entertainment. “Our current system was born of these discussions, arguments and compromises, as well as feedback from our testers and fans.”
And how does the team go about ensuring the game is balanced?
“Lots of testing!” the team replied. “Also, we try to describe a weapon or a (robot) part that fills a role or a gameplay style before actually going through and adding mechanics. Then we try to make sure it fits that gameplay that we specified at the start of creation, and not be too good nor too bad at that role.”
One of “Garrison: Archangel’s” chief features is the customization system – a rarity in fighting games. This allows the player to deck out their robot in a rich variety of hardware, such as distinct types of armor, stabilizers, and rocket boosters; heads, torsos, and limbs; and firearms, melee weapons, and shields. Your choice of gear will affect your robot’s abilities, from raising its damage to enhancing its defensive capabilities.
This customization system makes “Garrison: Archangel” quite the unique fighting game, indeed.
“You create your own fighter,” said the developers. “You determine what moves and tools your character has by equipping armaments and changing your body type. On top of that, you can even color your mech and truly make it unique, even changing the color of your bullets and sword trails!”
At the center of the decision to include this feature in “Garrison: Archangel” was the desire to enable players to live out their childhood fantasies of creating their own dream mechs.
“When we made this game, we all wanted to be able to make our own dream mechs,” explained Indigo Entertainment CEO James Lo. “I personally think this is the core desire of a lot of mecha fans: They want to make their own giant robot! We just gave them what we would have wanted for ourselves when we play a mech game.”
The customization system, however, further complicates the balancing process. Indigo Entertainment is addressing this issue by having many additional rounds of testing.
“We go through lots of mech combinations, and compare new items to older items,” they stated.
A future eSport?
While a demo of “Garrison: Archangel” is available on its Steam page, the game is not 100% complete. For starters, the team has yet to finalize another key feature: the online multiplayer mode. The team aims to use this mode to position “Garrison: Archangel” as an eSports contender.
“We’re planning to make online multiplayer a key feature of the game, with ranking and competitive play. Combined with our budding community of Archangel pilots and local tournaments, we very much want the game to be a competitive spectacle for all involved!”
Also, the versus experience won’t be between two combatants only:
“The game isn’t strictly a one-on-one affair, with two-on-two and team battles being viable game modes. We even have free for all.”
Other features the team plans on adding include a pilot system and a lot more robot parts for customization.
“We want to make a pilot customizer, with similar coloring options as our mechs, for example,” they offered. “More maps, game modes, weapon and body parts… We still have lots of parts and weapons we’ve had to lock out in the demo, because they were still being developed. We have plans for strange and wonderful armaments that offer different gameplay options when equipped.”
As for those maps, they’re going to include elements that will change the way you play the game.
“The game has maps with hazards and obstacles that require you to have a 3d awareness and mobility above and beyond the usual fighters. Archangels can fly above their enemies, hide behind pillars, and get stuck in lava if they're not careful.”
A community of fans
Creating a fighting game is a grueling task. But Indigo Entertainment has had an abundance of help; a number of the game’s most crucial elements – from its game mechanics to its balance – took shape in large part thanks to the critiques from people who’ve downloaded and played the “Garrison: Archangel” demo.
“A big shout out to our community helping us out, as well as testers and fans with their suggestions and feedback,” said Indigo Entertainment. “As (Garrison: Archangel) is still in development, we are still going through the process of refining the mechanics based on the feedback we’re receiving. I think it’s a process that will continue even after we release the game.”
“Garrison: Archangel” will be officially released in the first quarter of 2018.
For more information about “Garrison: Archangel,” visit its Steam page and official Facebook page. — TJD, GMA News