Pity the poor Orc. Whether they’re the White Hand of Saruman’s minions or the greenskin mulch for a Space Marine to stick his chain-sword through, they’re always painted with the big brush as The Bad Guys. That’s never been more obvious than in the Orcs Must Die! series, and with the third entry – a timed exclusive for Google’s Stadia coming out this summer – that’s not about to change.
Once again, here’s a game all about stopping a horde of Orcs by chopping, burning, stabbing, and smushing them into little bits with an array of traps and weaponry. You might almost feel sorry for them, if it wasn’t quite so much fun. We got the chance to catch up with Jerome Jones, the Design Lead for Orcs Must Die! 3, and ask about where they’ve taken the series as it becomes a trilogy.
TSA: As you began development on the third entry, what were the things you wanted to implement from the off? Has that evolved as development went on, or did you stick to the plan?
Jerome: I think the biggest thing that players ask for when it comes to OMD games is “just give us more of everything.” Besides the obvious stuff which is a new engine, new art & graphics we have a few things that are in OMD 3 that were not in 2, like War Scenarios and War Machines.
In a normal scenario in Orcs Must Die 2, over six waves you might see 400 to 600 units coming over the course of the battle. In a War Scenario in Orcs Must Die 3 you’re going to see that many units in a single wave. It’s so much bigger. Not just in terms of the number of enemies coming at you and trying to get into the Rift but also from how you can experience the level itself where you can now go outside the castle.
Then we give you special traps for this, they’re called War Machines. The War Machines themselves are much bigger in scale as well, they’re much more efficient at killing large hordes of enemies. Some War Machines are even mountable, so players will have to balance being inside of them or jumping out to get into the fray.
I think the fans will really dig it because they’re always asking for more orcs, more levels, they just want to be bombarded with trouble and see if they can get out of it. So that’s what we did in these War Scenarios.
TSA: The new War Scenarios look absolutely incredible – what was the toughest thing to get right working on that larger scale?
Jerome: I always tell people that from a design standpoint, and I don’t mean this in a negative way, that we design these levels to feel like you just can’t win. We want people to feel wowed when they’re done, that you actually beat the scenario, you defeated lots of stuff. And we give you a lot of weapons and traps and trinkets and things and upgrades to do that with.
In the War Scenario, the first time you play and those enemies start coming over the ridge, it looks like they just don’t stop. It’s like water running over a ridge. It’s different from what you’ve ever seen in an Orcs game before, which is pretty cool. It was very difficult balancing them because we get a huge variety of skill levels in our game.
TSA: What can we expect in terms of narrative? Is that a driving force in Orcs Must Die! 3?
Jerome: The story is one of key things that people love about the Orcs series. The game is set around 20 years after the end of Orcs Must Die 2. That’s where the story takes up our two heroes, Maximillian and Gabriella. They have rebuilt the Order, they’re training new War Mages to continue defending the Rifts and trouble ensues as usual.
TSA: How was it developing for Stadia compared to previous platforms you’ve worked on?
Jerome: A whole lot of the dev process is the same. There are a lot of things about streaming that just make the games easier to develop, with one big thing being no download times. We learned during the quarantine that this was a very big advantage in keeping the process moving as we started making so many builds of the game.
TSA: What do you see as the benefits of streaming games? Do you see streaming becoming the new norm as time goes on?
Jerome: One of the things I am excited about when it comes to Stadia is when we think about the War Scenarios. As a designer I spend a lot of time working with the team to perfect the looks, pace and experience of a specific element of the game, and with Stadia, regardless of their machine quality, as long as they’ve got a decent internet connection everyone gets to experience the game as intended.
It also doesn’t hurt to be able to play, pause, move to another room or screen and pick up where you left off. There are a lot of conveniences about game streaming that I think gamers are going to start to notice the more they try it out.
TSA: What can we expect to see on the roadmap for Orcs Must Die! 3?
Jerome: Not sure how much I can talk about right now but the short answer is:yes! We plan on supporting OMD 3 on Stadia with free and paid updates & DLC. Anywhere that we will be able to take proper advantage of future Stadia features, you can bet we will.
Orcs Must Die! 3 releases on Google Stadia this Summer – though rumblings suggest it might appear as soon as the 14th of July as a free game as part of the Stadia Pro subscription!