Thanks to Torn Banner Studios, answered by Steve Piggot.
NoFrag : Hello to the whole studio. Thank you very much for agreeing to do this interview. Could you introduce the team? How many people currently work at Torn Banner?
Torn Banner : Our team is 25 people (and growing), all based here in Toronto, Canada. Many members of our team from the original Age of Chivalry and then Chivalry: Medieval Warfare developer teams are now joined by a lot of talent from the AAA industry. Torn Banner in 2019 is now the best of both worlds: we have the raw original talent that brought the original magic to Chivalry 1 back in 2012, but with even more experienced AAA industry team members who will help us to bring the quality and polish bar up several notches as we work to create a true sequel.
NoFrag : The announcement of Chivalry II during E3 was a surprise. How long have you been working on the game? Why did you keep it a secret for so long?
Torn Banner : We’ve been working on Chivalry 2 for over two years, since early to mid 2017, immediately following the launch of Mirage. But it’s been in our heads for significantly longer… this is the game that our studio has been waiting to make for a long time. It’s our dream game. The trailer that we showed at E3 was more of a tease than a full gameplay trailer, we’ve got so much more game to show people as we move towards launch in 2020.
NoFrag : Before discussing the game in more detail, a word about Mirage: Arcane Warfare which was a flop. How was the atmosphere in the studio? Were you always motivated to work on something?
Torn Banner : Mirage released in early 2017 and it’s commercial failure deeply shook the studio. We put years of hard work and love into that project and for it to not just not take off, but truly crash and burn right off the start the way it did was hard and took all we had to recover from.
In a way it was also a blessing, as despite being a very painful time for the team, it forced us to look at how we were operating and how we got into that place where we created something that didn’t resonate with an audience. The failure was so complete that there was no option of shying away from our mistakes, so the only option we were left with was to get to work fixing the problems.
There is no doubt that this experience has strengthened and refocused our team. And now I’m happy to report that everyone here is motivated and giving everything they have to make Chivalry 2 the best game it can be. I believe it was ultimately our core passion for the Chivalry series that got us through those “dark ages” and kept us driving to make all the hard changes and improvements we had to as a company in order to be able to make a great game. We just knew we had more we wanted to accomplish in the series and no defeat would take away that potential from us.
NoFrag : Tripwire is your publisher for Chivalry II. Could you explain how you work together? Do they participate in development?
Torn Banner : Our collaboration with Tripwire is more of a creative partnership than a traditional publisher / developer model. We’ve known Tripwire for almost 10 years now, essentially since before we launched Chivalry, so they are the closest studio to us in the industry. They’re good friends. We think that there is so much for players to be excited about when it comes to this partnership.
Essentially it is combining the best qualities of our studio with the best qualities of Tripwire. Tripwire are participating in the development of Chivalry in various aspects, providing seasoned advice, technical support and allowing us to make Chivalry 2 bigger and more impactful than we could on our own. We’ll go into more detail about that in the future, though on a creative level Torn Banner are still leading the design and development of Chivalry 2. As an older and bigger team we’ve got a lot to learn from Tripwire and we are excited for all of the awesome improvements to Chivalry 2 that this partnership will bring.
NoFrag : How the combat system of Chivalry II will be different? Do you promise that we will no longer see any abuse of the combat system: touching opponents from behind, making it impossible to read the strikes or playing the ballerina?
Torn Banner: We think we feel the same way about the first Chivalry as many of our fans do, it was a game that had a tremendous amount of potential and was quite fun for a time, but at higher skill levels it fell apart due to the level of swing manipulation that at times looked absurd. It’s important to understand that many of the actions players were taking to do these moves were awesome and creative, but they looked silly or didn’t provide the opponent with a viable counter action.
So our goal this time around is to keep the creativity and control for players, but make their actions look good and be readable and reactable to other opponents. This is essential in a multiplayer game so that when you lose you feel like it was a result of your opponents superior skill and not an “exploit” within the game.
Chivalry II’s combat will feel familiar on a base level, while at the same time it is a substantial change from the first game. The combat this time around is much more fluid, varied and faster, it feels like a more natural extension of the players hands. We have significantly increased the moveset available to the player and iterated on the combo and input systems so the responsiveness and flow lets players engage in combat where they become whirlwinds of steel.
Our goal is to create the best melee combat ever, and when driven by a pursuit like that you can’t stay still.
NoFrag : Dragging will always be present. Can you talk about it?
Torn Banner: Yes, dragging will be present. Dragging is a core aspect of the combat system, it is what allows the game to have the level of precision and control you would expect from an FPS. At the same time everything in the combat system needs to meet the criteria of feeling good to use – and to have used against you on the other side, so we will be limiting and controlling how much players can influence their weapons during swings to ensure the result has every action feeling physical and weighty- the way knights fighting in armour should. We do this primarily through our revamped animation system, where instead of the player having all rotation instantly at the hips, the motion is cascaded through different parts of the body proportionally, so turning your camera to the left turns the hips a little, the upper torso more and the arms and head even more. This more nuanced and realistic representation of the mechanics of the body motions during a swing are good example of how we are keeping the fun while dropping the visual jank that dragging has caused in the past.
NoFrag : You mentioned an improved sandbox experience. It’s not very clear. Can you detail and give some examples?
Torn Banner: When we say improved sandbox experience, what we’re talking about is the dynamic tools and weapons players will encounter in the environment and will be able to interact with to quickly improvise new combat strategies on the fly. This is for both humor and tactical purposes, such as throwing rocks down on people trying to climb up the ladder or grabbing a shovel or pitchfork as a makeshift weapon. We have no doubt some players will spend the majority of their time picking up and flinging horse poo, because hey, its that type of game too.
NoFrag : Will you keep a class system or something more free for character creation?
Torn Banner : Yes we are sticking with a traditional four class system in Chivalry 2. This helps to achieve a level of balance in the gameplay and allows players to see an opponent and understand the combat possibilities of that encounter. There will be plenty of room for experimentation and improvisation within the class system still but we will touch on that more in the future.
NoFrag : I imagine you’ve heard of Mordhau. What would be the differences with the Triternion combat system? By the way, have you played the game?
Torn Banner : Yes many of our team have played Mordhau. It’s really a cool thing to see a game that has basically risen up out of the community from your own game and be as successful as it is. It is also validating and it’s shown just how huge a market there is for medieval video games, and specifically melee games. Essentially there are still very few developers doing stuff in that area and as huge fans of the genre we’re grateful for some competition.
We respect what Mordhau and others in the genre are doing, but we are confident that what we have planned for Chivalry 2 is a much more ambitious and impressive game. From the powerful atmosphere and scale of our new Team Objective maps, to the hilarious new character voices for players to roleplay with and the best melee combat ever made we are confident that Chivalry 2 will capture the potential the first game showed and help put the First Person Slasher genre on the map in a bigger way than ever before. We’ve also heard from some players who consider Mordhau essentially a sequel to the first game, and to that we say: well, I hope you are looking forward to Chivalry 3, because in many respects that is the game we are making.
NoFrag : Chivalry had a certain atmosphere in its design, black, dark. Are we going to feel that again?
Torn Banner: Our goal is to bring players the experience of their favourite medieval movie scenes and those scenes are all about that dark, cruel medieval world. It is one of our biggest priorities to nail that atmosphere and have the levels and art represent a world that players want to get their hands dirty (or bloody) in. We want players to feel like they are playing in a map that’s part of a wider living world that has a life and personality to it. It helps bring a sense of story and purpose to the levels in multiplayer. So yeah, that dark and cinematic feeling from the original Chivalry will be recaptured in Chivalry 2, but also expanded upon. We are doubling down on that feeling of a sense of place that transported the player to a medieval world as we know that was a huge part of what people loved about Chivalry 1.
NoFrag : Will the game take place at the same time as the first one? Or will we have the possibility to play samurai, spartans, etc. as in the DLC Deadliest Warrior.
Torn Banner : Chivalry 2 to is set approximately 20 years after the events of Chivalry 1 so yes, it’s the same world and continues the story of the first game. We are not planning for alternate time period stuff that you saw in Deadliest Warrior to appear in Chivalry 2, that was always treated as a small spinoff project in a different world.
NoFrag : You announced that there will be horse fights. How do you approach the gameplay?
Torn Banner : Our approach to horses is that they are an essential component of the fantasy of medieval warfare, part of the romance of the era and to do them justice they need to be a fully featured and satisfying addition to the game, we aren’t happy to have them be glorified motorbikes, we want them to feel like massive 1000-pound war beasts. You’re going to be crushing people’s skulls with the hooves of these monsters. These aren’t just intended for fast travel around the map and to score cheap driveby kills, instead players should expect to be able to engage in satisfying sword combat, either with another mounted opponent or against foes on foot. In addition, spawning with a horse as part of a cavalry wave can be a game-changing moment in the hands of the right players and adds that “Battle of the Bastards” feel to the battlefield. We don’t think horses have been done that well in any multiplayer game so far and we feel confident that our team is going to deliver the best horse combat ever.
NoFrag : Will there be siege weapons in the field? If so, which ones?
Torn Banner: Siege weapons are going to be a major part of the team objective mode experience in Chivalry 2. Many of the objectives will revolve around them, as you siege castle walls and invade massive fortresses. Catapults are something that we’ve shown already in our trailer and we’re excited to show the various other siege weapons that will be playable in the future.
NoFrag : You mentioned a castle siege. So we imagine a particular game mode. Will there be a destruction system?
Torn Banner : Not talking about that today sorry.
NoFrag : We have seen some images of the dismemberment system, will we see a lot of blood, arms and heads flying?
Torn Banner : Of course! Blood and gore are essential parts of the Chivalry experience. At bottom, the game is about challenge, mastery and satisfaction. In victory and defeat, players will find themselves soaked in blood. We’re adding a lot to the death experience aspect of the game to make it so you can continue to fight after losing a limb, clutching your wounds and finding a way to win against the odds, as that is what fighting with the spirit of a warrior is all about.
NoFrag : What game modes will be available? Do you think of a competitive mode with duels?
Torn Banner : We’re not talking about other game modes moment but rest assured that along with Team Objective mode which is the focus for Chivalry 2, other classic game modes will make an appearance too.
NoFrag : How many maps are you working on? Do you have a little picture to show us, discreetly? We won’t tell Tripwire anything.
Torn Banner : Not talking about other modes or maps today, sorry.
NoFrag : You have made the decision to make the game exclusive to the Epic Games Store. Was the main motivation financial? Who made the first step? Epic came to meet you? Can you disclose the amount involved?
Torn Banner : There was a substantial financial aspect to the Epic Games Store deal which helps to ensure that Chivalry 2 will be the best game we can possibly make. We don’t have to compromise on any ideas, features or scope. Because of this deal, players will be getting the best sequel we can possibly make and for us that is what the decision ultimately game down to, how can we make the best game possible for players? We are also excited about the improvements to the Epic Games Store and other unannounced news that will be coming out by the time that Chivalry 2 launches. Ultimately we made the choice based on what we felt gave us the best chance of giving everything we had to the development of Chivalry 2.
NoFrag : Will there be a solo/story mode? You were talking about continuing the story of the first opus.
Torn Banner : There will not be a single player aspect to Chivalry 2, we’re just focused on the multiplayer experience. Of course the lore and storytelling that began in Chivalry 1 will continue in Chivalry 2 in terms of the wider context of the battle between the Agatha Knights and the Mason Order. We see one of our goals as delivering a narrative experience to multiplayer and building upon the foundations the first game laid in this sense.
NoFrag : Will Chivalry II support modding?
Torn Banner : Mod support is definitely something that we’re looking to explore post launch but don’t have details about right now.
NoFrag : Agatha or Mason?
Torn Banner : We follow whichever faction screams the loudest.
NoFrag : Will Chivalry II include some form of micro transaction?
Torn Banner : Our plans for progression and customization will be revealed a little later on.
NoFrag : Will there be a battle royale mode? Please no.
Torn Banner : Not talking about other modes or maps today, sorry.
NoFrag : Thank you very much. I’ll give you the last word.
Torn Banner : Thanks for your time. We know that Chivalry holds a very special place in the hearts of many gamers. Its release back in 2012 and its rise in popularity was a special “moment” in gaming. With Chivalry 2 we’re not just banking on nostalgia, but truly looking to create the next real “moment” in gaming for players.