Nick Prühs, technical director of “A Year of Rain,” an upcoming 2v2 real-time strategy game, was adamant that his studio was not creating a massive online battle arena like “League of Legends.” Yes, it’s team-based. Yes, it has a map that resembles that of other MOBAs. And yes, it requires the fortifying your base and leveling up your champion. But according to him, it’s not a MOBA.
I’m personally not well enough versed in the world of RTS or MOBAs to really argue otherwise, but what I can say is that’s it’s being developed with esports in mind. And “League of Legends” happens to be no.1 esports in the world.
According to Prühs, the team is following a “minimum design approach.” This means that the team is trying to get rid of all of the clutter that can be found in other RTS’s. As an RTS noob, this was a welcomed advancement, even if in my eyes the menus did seem overwhelming. Maybe that’s a symptom of my unfamiliarity, but luckily there was a checklist on the left side of the screen helping guide me on what I needed to do to get my troops moving.
“In “DotA 2” there are item guides, and our idea was to combine the build items online with the item guides from “DotA,” Prühs said.
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In many competitive MOBA’s, whenever a top pro wins an event, fans on forums and on Reddit will post item guides or the things the players built to get their game-winning strategy going. This could be the number of soldiers, knights, forts, etc. For Prühs, he feels it’s best to just integrate that stuff into the game and to have a literal checklist for players that don’t know what to do otherwise. Sure, it’s a little hand-holdy, but for someone who never “got” RTS’s, it helped make everything less dense.
While some may boo-hoo integrated item guides as taking away from personalized strategy building — even though it’s all completely optional to follow — the fact is that this is how people play these games already. Prühs is hoping that if a competitive scene develops around “A Year of Rain,” that its pro players can have their item guides be fully integrated into the game. Already, Prühs is consulting with pro players like Dennis “TaKe” Gehlin to help create this game. And Prühs is hoping that because “A Year of Rain” is a totally original game — and not a remake like “Warcraft III Reforged” — that it might resonate with RTS fans looking for something different. Granted, the game’s art direction does look somewhat similar to “League of Legends.”
There have been so many games that have tried to compete in this competitive strategy space, most of which have failed. The success of “A Year of Rain” could hinge on its 2v2 system, one that makes it systematically different than “Starcraft II,” but also not as team focused as “League of Legend’s” five player system. Its success remains to be seen.
“A Year of Rain” is set to release on Steam early access later this year for PC, Mac, and Linux. Unlike “League of Legends,” it will not be a free-to-play game.