Dropzone Jason Coleman Interview – Preparing for Free to Play
Answers by Jason Coleman, Founder of Sparkypants
1. Dropzone is at last leaving early access to accept a fully free to play model on April 12th. Has planning for this transition been a challenge?
Actually, it’s just the opposite for Dropzone. Dropzone was built to be a F2P game so it was actually awkward the other way around. For example, we wanted to give away a lot with the purchase but it really hurt the fun of progression we had built. So we’re happy to restore that idea. Also, a game like Dropzone needs players and lowering the barrier to entry with F2P helps a lot.
2. Can you explain to us how that’s going to change? Will it be free to play with no restrictions or more of a “veteran” system where you can opt to purchase the game?
It will be F2P. We may offer some kind of bundles on Steam at a later point but it’s very much built with F2P in mind. That said, our goal was to make it perfectly reasonable for players to fully experience the game without having to spend real money. We are sensitive as developers and as players strive to avoid being labeled by the community as the dreaded Pay-to-Win. To that end, we give a nice collection of options even during the initial tutorial and “onboarding,” and we’ll keep working to make progression a fun experience.
3. One of the biggest things for me is I’m getting on in years! Mastering the control of 3 rigs at once can be incredibly overwhelming for people that normally aren’t big into RTS, but love the concept of this game. In that vein, I heard there’s a a new 3v3 mode! Can you tell us a bit about it?
Yes! It’s actually our most requested feature or at least the concept of only controlling 1 rig at a time. We were stupidly stubborn about it but then decided 3v3, 1 rig each. And it is so much fun! Even our hardcore developer players love playing on a team and the core of the game is still there: rig customization, capture points, scoring, 15 minute limit. We did end up increasing rig speeds slightly, reducing cooldowns, and decreasing respawn times. Some of those changes have actually made it into the 1v1 mode. But we knew it was fun immediately and we have had to sometimes ask the development team to stop playing so much. Nice problem to have! An awesome side effect of this change is that the game is basically balanced for both team and individual play.
4. Will players be able to pick the same characters, or Mirror Matches on the other side?
In 3v3, there are actually no restrictions on the Pilots. You can even have duplicates on the same team. This may change with time, but we’ll start with looser rules and go from there.
5. Have you considered 3v3 Ranked matches? Is that something that players might be able to look forward to?
We wanted to get 3v3 out there and we are just now introducing 1v1 ranked draft. But, with demand, we’ll make it happen.
6. In that same vein, there’s going to be 1v1 competitive, where players will control the traditional 3 Rigs at once. In that mode, every decision is going to be incredibly important, from Rig to Pilot. Will there be any major changes between Normal 1v1 and Ranked 1v1? Bans, etc?
For serious competitive play, Ranked Draft is definitely a game changer. In Ranked Draft, there are no bans (yet) but Pilot picks are exclusive. In addition, there is a gear “sideboard” which each player can bring to make changes in a second phase of the draft with each Pilot in succession. This should dramatically increase the strategy and variety of play on the competitive scene. Unranked 1v1 will continue to allow mirrored Pilots in its current form.
7. Will there be a ladder or a season to climb, and what awaits players that climb? Would you like to see Dropzone become a new RTS esport?
We will soon release the ranked divisions and the associated leaderboards. And we’ll have more details at that time. We would of course love Dropzone to be successful as an esport and as a more casual game, and we’ll keep working to provide for both.
8. Are you going to be pushing the focus of the game on one of those new modes over another, or will players be able to progress through the game in whichever one they feel more comfortable in?
Players should definitely feel free to play the game as they wish. However, there will be some level gates on various forms of matching-making and ranked play with 1v1 having the higher level requirements. Because of the upfront skill needed to play 1v1 successful in a competitive sense, we feel it’s important to provide ample training beforehand. The one caveat to all this is that, where it matters, we will balance for 1v1 first.
9. Dropzone is at last leaving early access to accept a fully free to play model on April 12th. Has planning for this transition been a challenge? And since I always drop a goofy one: If Dropzone became an esport…given that it has a sports feel with the scoring and the time limit, who would you like to see do color commentary/play-by-play of esports matches? Personally, I’d like to see Jim Ross and Mauro Ranallo.
Gotta go old school… John Madden or bust.
Thanks for your time! To learn more about the big changes in the coming free to play patch, be sure to check out the latest patch notes page!
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