Spacetime Studios' Cinco Barnes says Call of Champions has plenty more to come
Spacetime Studios thinks its recently-released mobile MOBA, Call of Champions, is going to be a resounding success. But to many, it's "just another MOBA," and when matched up against other games in the same genre, like League of Legends and Dota 2—some of the most popular games ever—there's a chance that the game ends up just a footnote in MOBA history.
But that all depends on how Spacetime's unique take on the MOBA format is received by fans. At its core, Call of Champions is built for mobile users—and that means fundamental changes to the traditional MOBA formula.
One clear deviation is that the game has a finite time limit (five minutes), rather than ending only when a team has destroyed their opponents' base. In Call of Champions, destroying an enemy base is still the main goal, but if that hasn't happened within five minutes, the team with the most tower kills wins—and if teams are still tied, the winning team is simply the one with the most kills.
Call of Champions also caters to mobile by simply cutting out a lot of the complexity that MOBAs are known for. That means removing minion waves, along with neutral jungle camps for players to farm money and experience. There's also no items or experience points to gain during the game—players remain at the same power level during each match, putting more of an emphasis on teamwork and tactics.
Of course, any game these days is also evaluated on post-release content as well—DLC, new patches, and more. According to Spacetime, there's plenty of content still in the works for Call of Champions.
We sat down with Cinco Barnes, head of the design department at Spacetime, to find out more about Call of Champions, what it has in store for the future, and why he thinks will make it stand apart from the crowd.
What were the initial goals laid out for Call of Champions as it began development? How have those goals been met, or changed?
We set out to make a battle arena experience that fit perfectly into the way we, as mobile gamers, like to play. It was crucial that the game be extremely fun, fast-paced, dramatic and competitive. But it was also important to us that the product design resonated with the human factors that are unique to 'mobile gaming.' One of the biggest steps we took toward that goal was building in a five-minute time limit. This keeps the gameplay rolling in a manner that's perfect for mobile—but it also adds intensity with every passing second, amplifying the suspense and drama as teams rush headlong to the ending buzzer.
Now released, Call of Champions enters a popular and packed field, with PC-based League of Legends and Dota 2 dominating, but also with mobile-based competitors like Vainglory. What sets Call of Champions apart from the pack—why should people play it over the others?
Vainglory and Call of Champions are two distinct games that we think helps build the overall genre of mobile MOBAs. Call of Champions is just plainly a fun battle arena experience designed for competitive mobile gamers. It gets right to the good part and focuses its depth on team fights and player skill. By omitting traditional lane play and item builds, the game eliminates rigmarole and slow-pacing and goes straight for the savagery. You'll find that the biggest and most fun challenges in Call of Champions come from keeping up with the split-second play that our meta requires. It's a fresh way to get that emotion of competition we all love.
Are there any specific esports goals for Call of Champions? What can esports fans, and interested pro players, expect in the coming months and years from Spacetime in terms of esports support?
Developers design games; communities make esports. To excite and entertain the community, especially those who create streaming content, we knew that the game needed to be as fun to watch as it was to play. So we included a feature-heavy "Watch" mode specifically to make viewing a more dramatic, expressive experience. This feature allows you tons of camera control, timeline controls, playback speed control for slo-mo highlights and more. It is an amazingly powerful feature that we have not seen in any game, regardless of platform. As things develop, we expect our streaming community and their fans to drive a lot more features in this area.
Where does Call of Champions go from here? What are your next steps?
The Call of Champions development team is hard at work improving the game, adding feature suggestions from our players and releasing new champions. We launched with 16 highly polished, balanced champions after testing roughly 22 during our Alpha and Beta phases. A total of 40 champions are waiting in the wings! We released a new champion (Nova: an explosive light-wielding mage with a laser that can cross the entire map) just last week during TwitchCon. Apart from development, expect to see us working with professional teams, the streaming community, and tournament organizers. It's my belief that our biggest opportunities are yet to come in the streaming, tournament and event spaces.
Anything else gamers should know?
Call of Champions is a new mode for competitive play, and a fresh way to enjoy the battle arena genre. Hardcore MOBA fans should download Call of Champions and see what we've done with the meta and how well our time-limited, non-laning, no-minion style of game works. Players who haven't enjoyed MOBA games should try Call of Champions for essentially the same reasons: It breaks the mold and delivers the emotion!