If there’s one indie title that has the AllGamers office shivering in excited anticipation, it’s Wargroove. Chucklefish’s colorful turn-based strategy game draw its lifeblood from Nintendo’s seemingly forgotten Advance Wars series, merging grid-based army tactics with a new fantasy setting, and introducing powerful leader units that can shift the fate of a battle. Along with a solo campaign and multiplayer maps for both co-operative and competitive play, Chucklefish has announced that Wargroove will come with a full map editor, letting players design not just levels, but entire campaigns with custom cutscenes and more.
At this year’s EGX we had the opportunity to take the game for a spin before sitting down with Chucklefish’s technical director and lead programmer for Wargroove, Rodrigo Monteiro, along with the studio's marketing strategist, Katy Ellis, to discuss the tools that players will have access to.
Over the course of several blog posts, Chucklefish has introduced Wargroove's impressive player creation tools, including a highly advanced campaign editor. Beyond just levels, players will be able to generate animated cutscenes and even scripted events during battles.
“We're using the same tools [to create the game itself],” Monteiro says. “The whole campaign of the game was built inside the game, inside the same tools we're shipping to the players.”
“The idea is that people can make just as good stuff as we do – or better!” Ellis adds. “We want to give everyone the same tools we've worked with for that. And that's across all platforms as well.”
How far will players be able to go in creation? Currently, Chucklefish plans to only offer players all of the components already in the game, meaning you won’t be able to create your own character avatars or new units.
“That would fall under the scope of modding which is something we hope to give very good support on PC,” says Monteiro. “Now of course it's more difficult to support modding on other platforms, so on PC you can definitely make your own new units and use them on your maps.
“The experience we want to give players is consistent, like, they know what the rules of Wargroove are. Though the map editor lets you create maps that have a very different objective, and even very strange variations on the rules, we want the basic concepts to remain the same.”
Puzzles and pizza
That’s not to say there isn’t much variety in the style of missions Wargroove will contain. Along with straight up battles, the game will also include protection, escort and puzzle maps, the latter of which tasks you with finding the method to win an arranged battle in a single turn. Players will be free to create their own versions of these as one off levels, or even include them in a non-linear campaign that changes based on mission results.
“We've decided for the main campaign of the game, the story we wanted to tell worked better as a mostly linear path,” says Monteiro. “But I fully expect players to make complex branching campaigns themselves. There can be conscious choices of which path to go along, or we have an events system in the missions where [certain actions] set some flags which effect which missions are available in the campaign. Or likewise, you can reach a branch in the map and when you enter one of the missions, you lock out of the other — things like that. The user will have a lot of control in how to organise that. I'm actually really excited to play user created puzzle maps especially.”
“The text and stuff are all customisable too," Ellis points out. "And you can change the names of units and characters, so it means the stories people can create are really varied.”
An example of the weird things Chucklefish is expecting users to make?
“We did a livestream and we made a cutscene and it was just, the most…” Monteiro trails off.
“It was about two golems fighting over what kind of pizza they liked,” Ellis chips in. “I suggested I liked pineapple and everyone else doesn't [R: controversial] so that's the level of freedom to create silly stuff that people can also do.”
Sharing is caring
With the same tools as the developers at their disposal, the stage seems set for players to create some pretty spectacular maps and missions (we’re not sure much could top the age old pineapple pizza argument, mind). The GameBoy Advance days of old Advance Wars titles might have meant your mates were the only ones able to appreciate your work, but Chucklefish assures us that Wargroove is more than ready to embrace the online age.
“After you create a map, you’ll be able to upload them to our servers and then share them with your friends,” Monteiro says. “Or you'll be able to browse publicly available maps and download content created by other users, and this is available throughout our platforms.
“The game will have a built-in user-generated content browser, but also you'll be able to find a specific map directly if your friend has created a map, they give you a code and you can just go and get them.”
These codes won’t be limited to friends however, meaning the best maps and campaigns can be shared online via forums or Reddit for anyone to enjoy. The catch? As of right now, cross-platform level sharing isn’t confirmed.
“Our aim is to provide crossplay between as many platforms as we can,” Monteiro says. “Now of course this is not entirely within our control, but that's what we're aiming to do.”
“I think ideally we would like that to happen, yeah,” Ellis agrees. “But if it's outside of our control, it'll happen to something like Minecraft first rather than an indie developer. If that happens we'll be happy.”
Given Sony’s recent change of stance regarding crossplay with Fortnite, the path has been opened, if only in principal, for further cross-platform integration, though indie devs like Chucklefish understandably have much less influence than Epic Games’ battle royale behemoth. Still, with the creation tools likely most manageable on PC, it’d be a shame to see the other platforms miss out on some of the finer user-generated content for Wargroove.
The good news is that no matter your platform of choice, Chucklefish plans to give Wargroove a simultaneous release. Yes, even Switch owners will be getting the game at the same time as it launches on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC later this year.
Check back with us next week when we’ll have the second part of our Wargroove interview looking at how Chucklefish updated the old-school design of games like Advance Wars for the modern era.