A short while ago, we were given the unique opportunity to send some questions along to G.I. Joe: Battleground producer David Phan, and he responded with some terrific answers about the recently released mobile game. He answered questions about characters, game mechanics, and revealed some very nice tidbits of what we can expect from the game going forward.
It was a terrific discussion. Check out the full interview after the jump.
YoJoe: With both Transformers: Legends and now with G.I. Joe: Battleground, you have focused on card battle elements with these mobile games. Are there specific reasons why you think this game system works for properties such as these?
David Phan: G.I. JOE and Transformers are revered brands that are a great fit with this game genre because they have such an amazing cast of characters that are beloved around the world. These rich rosters of characters gives us so much material to produce game avatars and character art that is exciting for fans to encounter and collect. There’s just this extra surge of exhilaration you get when you finally acquire that Rare Zartan or Epic Snake Eyes that can’t be matched with other games in the genre that create their characters from scratch.
YoJoe: How do you balance the desires of the fans with the need to pull in the general public when it comes to a property like G.I. Joe?
DP: Meeting the desires of both fans and the general public is actually one unified endeavor. What I mean by this is that G.I. JOE is such a strong franchise that by serving the fans we are actually also showing off the best of the brand to new and casual fans to get them engaged. An example of this is our selection of characters that we release in the game. We definitely have the most well known Joes and Cobra in there, but to really hit that sweet spot with fans, we include some of the lesser known, but cool looking characters that fans and collectors crave. By doing this, we get to expose new and casual fans to unique characters they would have never known about and thus inject them with that feeling of “discovery”.
YoJoe: One of the most clever elements of Transformers: Legends was the use of early cartoon episodes to drive their Events. Do you foresee doing something similar with G.I. Joe: Battleground?
DP: Absolutely! We’re working closely with Hasbro’s resident experts to start putting together the framework for exciting special events that pay homage to classic cartoon episodes and thrilling comic book story arcs. Right now we’re kicking things off with the “backyard battle with your friends” approach where we get players building their squads and having fun before we shift gears very soon and get serious about story-based events.
YoJoe: Speaking of Events, Transformers: Legends seems to be loading up pretty heavily on them, often doing them back-to-back. Is that the ultimate goal for these types of games, or do you envision a bit more down time between events in G.I. Joe: Battleground?
DP: Our goal is to provide a dynamic environment and game world that is exciting to players where there is nearly always something going on. We do recognize that it can often feel a little bit hectic between events, but we have some great features coming up that will help players transition smoothly between events. As a sneak peek into what we mean by “great features,” we will be introducing a feature that allows players to use our Skill Upgrade function to Level Up their Primary Unit at the same time they’re upgrading their Primary Unit’s skills. What this means in plain English is that players can take that Level 1 Reward Character they earned from the Special Event and get them leveled-up super fast.
YoJoe: What made you decide to focus on the G.I. Joe brand for a mobile game?
DP: Outside of the recent live-action movie based games, there’s been a serious lack of G.I. JOE based video games on all gaming platforms. It’s insanity to us that there have been no mobile games based on ARAH and only a couple of ARAH based video games in the past decade. We do have to tip our hats though to both of the recent live-action movies for re-invigorating interest and generating new G.I. JOE fans about this awesome franchise. This boost in popularity definitely helps solidify that we’re heading in the right direction with a G.I. JOE mobile game.
YoJoe: I know you’ve said previously that you would likely stay away from the movie universe for G.I. Joe: Battleground, but do you plan on hitting all other eras, including Adventure Team and G.I. Joe: Extreme?
DP: Actually, to clarify our stance on the live-action movie universe, there are certain things that we can’t do, but there are certain things that we can do. We won’t get into the nitty-gritty details, but suffice to say that we can and we will be taking advantage of the amazing action figures that Hasbro produced as part of the live-action movie line in a way that keeps all stakeholders happy.
Regarding the Adventure Team line, we’d be remiss to not respect and deliver on the characters that started it all for G.I. JOE. So the very old school fans can definitely expect something from us in the future when it comes to Adventure Team. As for G.I. JOE: Extreme, there are definitely some opportunities to inject the best of that toy line and cartoon series into G.I. JOE: BATTLEGROUND.
YoJoe: From what we’ve seen, the artwork on these cards is pretty magnificent…I know Robert Atkins has been doing some work on them. Who else is working on the art, or what other resources do you folks have for art use?
DP: We’ve been blessed to work with talented artists like Robert Atkins as well as Mike S. Miller (of G.I. JOE vs Transformers fame) and Anthony Washington, a colorist on numerous G.I. JOE comics. For our gouache painted style, we have on board Jarreau Wimberly who has done killer work for the action figure package art. And in-house, we have assembled an elite team of artists who contribute to this awesome pool of artwork that brings G.I. JOE: BATTLEGROUND to life.
YoJoe: Which is your favorite G.I. Joe character that you folks haven’t been able to include yet?
DP: We’re woefully missing Sgt. Slaughter, but we are actively working hard to make that happen for the fans. Keep your fingers crossed!
YoJoe: During a recent event there were some Rare cards offered for Low Light, Budo, and Countdown to go along with the Raid Cards of Dusty and Gung Ho. Were those other three cards only exclusively for the event, or will they appear afterwards? Do you envision that there will be many exclusive cards that are only available during a given event?
DP: Budo, Lowlight and Countdown were introduced into the game during that Battle Simulator event, but they are not exclusive to it. In fact they’re now part of the regular rotation of characters that can be acquired and added to your collection. Regarding exclusive cards however, there’s definitely going to be a subset of “reward” type cards that are only available from the event. But worry not, we are really listening to our fan base and we hear you LOUD and CLEAR that you want to be able to trade your characters with other players.
We here at YoJoe would like to extend a huge thanks to Mr. Phan for answering some of these questions! G.I. Joe: Battlegrounds has exploded to life over the past few weeks and is a very fun and engaging game. The collectible nature of the cards is right in our wheelhouse.
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