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Midlife Gamer Meets: Rock Hippo Productions

July 14th, 2010 by

Recently, I reported on the new free-to-play MMO-TPS Microvolts, which enters beta soon. The colourful and impressive looking game ought to be a great deal of fun when released, with its setting within the world of toy figurines. We spoke to Flavio Caracas – marketing manager at Rock Hippo Productions – about the game, his feelings on the free-to-play model, and what we can expect from future Rock Hippo releases.

Richard Birkett: The first question, very simple; who are you and what do you do?

Flavio Caracas: My name is Flavio Caracas and I’m the marketing manager at Rock Hippo Productions.

RB: The next question is one we ask everyone we speak to here at Midlife Gamer, what is your favourite beverage and biscuit?

FC: Now that’s a tough question. I’d have to say it would be a Brazilian soft drink called “Guaraná” and double chocolate cookies. Should I expect them in the mail?

RB: Could you tell us a little more about Rock Hippo? What are your specific goals as a studio, and what do you aim to deliver?

FC: We’re a publisher of premier quality online, community based video games for a worldwide audience. That’s who we are, and what we aim to deliver is a gaming experience that is second to none.

RB: Your latest game, MicroVolts, is a free-to-play MMO. Can you tell us a little more about the title?

FC: MicroVolts will let players create and customize their own characters and battle other players in a fantasy based toy environment. It includes some very unique features and deep gameplay mechanics. The game takes place in our world, but the action happens when humans aren’t looking. Their toys come to life and battle for valuable battery resources in bedrooms, kitchens, gardens, or even entire neighbourhoods. Some maps are fairly small, encouraging fast paced action, while others provide a huge battlefield for strategic gameplay. Most importantly, the focus is on fun.

RB: Who do you think is the intended audience for the title and what do you feel makes this title stand out amongst the other online shooters?

FC: The audience for this game is anyone who, above all, wants fun gameplay. That includes players of all kinds and from all corners of the world. Part of what makes this title stand out from other online shooters is this interesting contrast between a cartoon toy environment, and deep gameplay mechanics. We have put a lot of effort into making sure the gameplay is as polished as the presentation, and select players will get a chance to see that for themselves once the closed beta begins.

RB: The free-to-play subscription model is currently being implemented in a number of games, what are the main benefits in using such a system and do you feel there could perhaps be any negatives associated with its use?

FC: The free-to-play model has many advantages, and one of the most important is that we are able to quickly build a large community which supports the game. There are some misconceptions about free-to-play games, but we will simply let the game speak for itself. MicroVolts provides an incredibly polished experience and once it’s in the hand of players they will let others know about it. We understand that ultimately gamers just want a good game.

RB: Why is it, do you feel, that free-to-play titles haven’t made the leap from PC to console yet?

FC: The PC platform has some very important advantages when it comes to online multiplayer games, especially for digital distribution. We would obviously like to reach as many gamers as possible, but I think the current generation consoles are still some time away from being able to provide the same experience. When that time comes, we will be ready to consider new possibilities.

RB: MMO’s are obviously driven mainly by the community, so are there any specific design choices you have incorporated into MicroVolts that strengthens social networking and interaction between players?

FC: The answer is most definitely. We believe that the community is at the heart of online gaming and we have taken many steps to support it with MicroVolts. Players will be able to interact and socialise not only in the game itself, but also through a community centre on the website, as well as social networks. Integration between all these venues will bring the social experience to a new level.

RB: MV uses a third-person perspective within the game, is there any reason why you chose to shy away from the first-person experience, and what are the advantages associated with third person combat?

FC: The third person perspective lends itself well to MicroVolts for several reasons. First of all, this is a game where character customization is very important, and with a third person view players have their character on-screen at all times. It also complements the game’s excellent graphical style. For example, a player can perform taunts to provoke their opponents, which is made much more enjoyable when you can actually see your character doing it.

RB: The game boasts “thousands” of cosmetic changes available to each user. How important do you feel it is for each player to have a sense of individuality and a unique presence within the online community?

FC: Again, we believe that aspect of online gaming is very important. A community is made up of individuals from all walks of life, and everyone should be able to create a character that represents their personality and style. Having that unique presence also allows players to be recognised for their contributions to the online community.

RB: When the game sees launch, where do you go from here? More MMOs? Iterating on MicroVolts further?

FC: While we can’t give away too much, you can definitely expect to see plenty of new content available on a regular basis. We are working daily with the development team to explore additional content, including new weapons, characters, items, maps, modes, and much more. In regards to other projects, I can only say that we have no announcements to make at the moment.

Lastly, I’d like to thank Midlife Gamer for taking interest in MicroVolts and we hope to see many of your readers playing the game. The closed beta will begin very soon, so make sure to sign up at www.MicroVolts.com for a chance to win a closed beta key and play the game before anyone else.

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