VGB Feature: Kill to Collect Interview with Pieces Interactive CEO David Rosén

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Known as the developer of Magicka 2 (and DLC for the original Magicka), as well as Leviathan: Warships and some other smaller titles like Fret Nice and Puzzlegeddon, Pieces Interactive is hard at work finishing up its next project, the cyberpunk 1 to 4 player rogue-like Kill to Collect. As the PC game’s scheduled spring launch on Steam approaches, we recently got a chance to fire some questions over to the Swedish studio’s CEO David Rosén, who now shares with us more details on what to expect from Kill to Collect, accompanied by a few exclusive pieces of concept artwork. Once again, thanks also go out to TriplePoint PR’s Katherine Fan for help coordinating this Q&A!

VGBlogger: How is the game structured as far as world and mission/quest design? Do you start in like a hub world and then choose bounties or jobs to undertake? Does the game flow floor-by-floor like a traditional dungeon crawl?

David Rosén : We have more of a lobby than what normally is seen as a Hub. We call it; the Bounty Bar, a place to chill, but most importantly, select the next target to “Kill and Collect” upon. As far as mission design it depends a bit on the game mode you pick.

The Story Mode guides you through Geoshelter Alpha, the last city on Earth, and introduces you to the enemies that overrun the area while giving a glimpse into the lives of the people living there. Each of those missions are procedurally generated floors with an end room that allows for upgrades, powerups, etc., after which you can descend to another floor. At the end, you meet the target and/or their affiliates for a final showdown.

In the Free Hunt mode, there is less structure and more procedurally generated missions, you can select which enemy group to target – gang or corp, with a majority of the content unlocked and explorable from the start. “Kill and Collect” their bounties in any order you want. The floor structure will remain the same with the final showdown located on the last floor.

In the Challenge mode, a personal favourite of mine, there is a longer run with one floor per gang or corp and one floor per boss mounting up to 8 floors of mayhem.

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VGB: Does the game have a storyline with an end point or is it built to just keep going with randomly generated content?

DR: Both. The story mode is not really a strict storyline per se. It basically gives you a feeling for the various types of jobs you get thrown your way as a Hunter as well as a sense of what troubles the citizens of Geoshelter Alpha experience on a day-to-day basis. It’s a dark place where life has little value and everyone has their own agenda. The Free Hunt is designed to give the player a 10-15 minute session of tight action where you can try on the different opponents in the game.

VGB: How roguelike of a roguelike is Kill to Collect? In other words, is it more in the direction of a ‘rogue-lite’ with some degree of persistence and continuation, or are you aiming to make this a pure roguelike with permadeath and more hardcore elements like that?

DR: As a true fan of the original games that gave the genre its name (yes I am an old fart), I have a hard time answering this question without being a bit biased. I would say it’s more rogue-like in single player mode than co-op when looking at the permadeath aspect. When diving down the rabbit hole of making a rogue-like into a co-op game, we really had to look at the effects of death. Death is definitely a part of gameplay, especially since we wanted players to die if they just try a more “hack n’ slash” approach. But for a co-op game to work, you need to give people a chance to assist each other and make sure the down time for fallen comrades are relatively short. Thus we have features like “down but not out” and chances to bring friends back to make sure a party of four can play as a party of four.

Another thing we wanted to achieve was to make sure all players have an equal start. Anyone should be able to play with anyone at any time; it’s not fun to play if one friend greatly out levels another from the get-go for example. Thus there is no significant progression after each session that affects the ability to play together, even if you unlock new skins or load out options. However, we are not so hardcore that we’d reset the whole storyline if you die in one mission, though we may have jokingly entertained the idea…

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VGB: How many playable hunter characters does the game offer and what are their unique talents?

DR: We will launch with our four lead characters, each with their distinct styles and roles. There is Shocking Shelly, a rocket-fueled mechanic in a homemade biomata suit. Building turrets and electrocuting enemies, her abilities make her a great support character. We have Ivan Ironfist, the pretty boy dancer with bionic arms, throwing punches to the beat of his walkman, being somewhat of a glass cannon. Riot Ray, the old (for Geoshelter Alpha), former-Corp officer, has survived this long using proper defensive tactics. Their leader, Kate Katana, is an all-around character with plenty of crowd control. Each character has its own playstyle, fit for co-op or single player, allowing players to develop their strategies depending on the lessons learned from part bounties.

VGB: In co-op, are players allowed to play as the same hunter or are they forced to each take on a different role?

DR: We believe in diversity, so no two characters are allowed in the same mission 😉

VGB: What character customization/progression options does the game provide?

DR: You will unlock new skins for each character as you play. You may also unlock new weapon loadouts which are the only lasting, mission-altering items that carry over. Within the missions however, you can upgrade your character with various buffs at the food dispenser using food stamps you find along the way. You may also trade in any tech you find for a new weapon, more ammo and/or other buffs, if you haven’t already spent your tech on regaining health!

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VGB: Kill to Collect strikes me as the kind of co-op game that also has at least some underlying spirit of friendly competition over loot drops or collecting the most bounties or friendly fire. Will the game feature any rivalrous co-op dynamics like that?

DR: It’s a well balanced mix. In challenge rooms, you have loot chests that will be distributed first-come, first-served. In the shop, one person could buy all of certain powerups. Limited random drops can be picked up by anyone. However, since you succeed or die as a team, the best strategy will be giving loot to those who need it the most. This also means that someone with more tech can buy all the things in a shop to share with his/her less fortunate friends. The main mission resources, tech and food stamps, are always split evenly. Certain buffs also affect the whole team, so the co-op is designed to be more friendly than rivalrous.

VGB: How, if at all, has Pieces Interactive’s previous experience working on the Magicka games influenced the design of Kill to Collect? Are there any direct inspirations or borrowed gameplay concepts?

DR: I am one of those people who truly believe you are the sum of your experiences and life lessons, thus I can’t say we weren’t influenced by Magicka at all. However, we were more inspired by Spelunky and The Binding of Isaac, even if Kill to Collect is different in many ways. My quick pitch was at one time:

“Take The Binding of Isaac, remove the heartbreaking story, melee instead of ranged, and throw that in a blender with a bad ass 80’s vibe.” I still think that is pretty much the gist of it.

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VGB: What multiplayer features will be supported? Will it offer both online and offline play? And how about drop-in/drop-out functionality?

DR: We use Steam Lobby functions so for multiplayer, you’ll need to be online. We have condensed missions of roughly 10-15 minutes, so we felt these were short enough in length to commit to, and thus, the drop-in/drop-out rate was deemed unnecessary.

VGB: What were some of the artistic inspirations behind the game’s neon, 80s-flavored visual style?

DR: Our dear Art Director, Daniel, has always been a fan of old school manga’s like “Battle Angel Alita”, “Appleseed” and “Ghost in a Shell.” I would say those three are the main inspirations, together with the magic of Daniel and the rest of the art team.

VGB: From the teaser trailer it sounds like Kill to Collect has one rockin’ retro synthwave soundtrack. Who are some of the artists contributing to the music? And do you plan to offer the soundtrack sold separately or perhaps in a pre-order offer or special edition package?

DR: We love our sound and are super psyched to have our contributing artists onboard. We will be announcing them at a steady pace up until launch and will plan to have the soundtrack sold separately and/or in a special edition package with the game. We didn’t plan for a separately-sold soundtrack at first, but after having listened to these fantastic tracks for inspiration during the development process, we thought, what the hell, let’s see if we can make this work and contacted them. Most jumped on board without hesitation. [Ed. Note: check page bottom for a soundtrack preview playlist.]

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VGB: Kill to Collect has thus far been announced for PC/Steam. Are there any discussions for possible console releases in the future?

DR: We have made the game compatible for a controller on PC, and in our mind it could have the potential to play very well on console as well. At this time though we’re only focused on PC/Steam and have no additional updates to announce.

VGB: What is the current target for a release timeframe? And have any details like system requirements and pricing been determined yet?

DR: We will be available this spring, with the exact release date and pricing to be announced soon. We’ll have more to share soon regarding system requirements.

VGB: Thanks so much for your time, David!

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!