Mobile developer Space Ape Games has teamed up with Hasbro to create the next Transformers title.
Transformers: Earth Wars is a ‘build and battle’ strategy title in the vein of Space Ape’s previous games Samurai Siege and Rival Kingdoms.
Built in Unity, the release is Space Ape’s first fully 3D effort and features more than 40 characters from Hasbro’s Transformers: Generations line of toy figures – rather than their appearances seen in Michael Bay’s series of films.
The 20 Autobots and 20 Decepticons have been redesigned for a modern audience, morphing into contemporary vehicles with custom animations.
Including two single-player campaigns – differing for the two opposing robot sides – and online PvP matches, Earth Wars has been written by former Marvel UK editor Simon Furman.
Described by Space Ape as ‘the voice of Transformers for a lot of people growing up’, Furman wrote many of the original Transformers comics, as well as some for the franchise’s modern day publisher, IDW. He also wrote episodes of ‘90s TV spin-off Beast Wars.
The voices of Optimus Prime and Megatron from the 1980s cartoon, Peter Cullen and Frank Welker, are also contributing their talent to the game.
Despite this, product team chief Chris White insists: “We haven’t tried to build a retro product or a homage to the 1980s.
“We’ve tried to tie a lot of different things together: the collectability of the toys, the scriptwriting and the dialog, the voices of the characters from the shows and the Michael Bay films, and our knowledge from the genre, so making this kind of game. We want it to reflect well upon Transformers and this kind of game in general.”
Earth Wars features a soft in-game currency, Energon, which can be topped up with micro-transactions. Although, White emphasises, "pretty much all of the game is accessible for free if you’ve got enough time and patience.
"We don’t do anything too icky in the game in terms of blocking you from getting particular robots. You get Optimus Prime nice and early and things like that.”
He says of the title’s online game modes: “One thing we did very well with Rival Kingdoms and Samurai Siege is providing a constant stream of interesting events and things to do in the games for players, because it’s live. We’re taking a lot of that into this game.
"We’re building quite an extensive alliance system, which we’re engineering for the purpose of Transformers. You’re able to join other groups of Autobots and Decepticons and go on large sort-of raids with them and communicate them using the chat system.”
White told Develop that Earth Wars would be targeted at both existing mobile strategy diehards and Transformers fans who were newcomers to the genre.
"It’s amazing how many people who are Transformers fans haven’t played a game in this genre before,” he explained. “As a result of doing that, you start to think you shouldn’t take things for granted.
“Rival Kingdoms was almost targeted at fans of the genre who wanted the next level up and a more spectacular array of features. With Transformers we wanted to strike the right balance between differentiation – which we’ve done with the transformation, characters and other bits – but without alienating people who haven’t played loads of these games before, because there’s an awful lot of jargon and things you need to understand with the base and battle genre.
“We’re doing a lot of work, like making sure who come in fresh can still enjoy the game, because we do believe there’s a lot of potential there in getting those guys on board.”