Roller Champions is coming to PS4 (and PS5 via backwards compatibility) on May 25, offering fast-paced, competitive, free-to-play matches where you can earn Sports-Legend glory. Its roller-skate arena action is based on three simple rules: Grab the ball, hold it in your team’s lap and score!
To better understand the game, its origins, and its gameplay decisions, we spoke with Gauthier Malou, Creative Director of Roller Champions.
“Blending is the core theme of Roller Champions,” Malo said, and this is especially true when it comes to its origins, which combine a variety of inspiration from arcade games and a 70’s dystopian movie. Prior to the Roller Champions, Malou was part of a small team at Ubisoft tasked with two missions: create free mobile games and keep an eye on the market to monitor its trends. It was at this point that his team noticed that “the market is moving more and more towards interaction between players, spectators and organizers,” he recalled, citing examples such as the Twitch and Sports competitions.
“Streamers are like a Roman emperor who has to entertain the crowd,” Malo said, “and the more fun the game, the more viewers will ask the streamers to replay the game. So, at first, we thought of a classic gladiator game with swords.”
The team, however, wanted to approach the concept in a unique way, and that’s when Mallo’s inspiration came to light: Rollerball, one of his favorite movies of the 70’s. The film depicts a dystopian world where corporations occupy and make spectacles to appease the masses, the film is violent and dark – but it does not attract him.
“There was a gladiator in this movie on roller skates in a circular courtyard like Ben-Hur, that’s a real approach,” he said. “Roller skates are based on physics and inertia – it gives us fun gameplay where we’re going to push each other, knock each other out.”
Of course, the colorful and dynamic roller coasters have nothing in common with the dark and brutal world of rollerball. Instead, the team has begun work on building a prototype in a roller-skating arena that puts competition at the center of the game and still remains fun and inclusive.
Combining soccer, basketball, handball, roller derby and a handful of other sports, the team has created a completely unique sport. Without any gun, car or power competition, Malo explains that Roller Champions is a game that is “genderless, not full of testosterone, and it’s, in my opinion, ultra-modern, because it’s an environmentally friendly way to recover roller skates. Concrete City.”
But competition is still a part of it. “The power that we have always believed in comes from conflict. It’s in us, we’re competitive, “said Malo. “And to face good values and fair play, we’ve created a game.”
It’s as fun to watch as it is to play
While working on the details of this new game, the team has followed a clear, central guideline: the game should be as fun as the game itself and anyone who does not know the rules of the game should be able to enjoy it. Seeing the players move on the track is action.
During development, Malo found innovative ways to test whether the game was on the right track. “I showed my mom a match when she didn’t know what the game was about,” he explained. “She was, ‘Oh, she’s good because she backflips and falls nicely on her legs. Ah, she’s sucking because she fell on her hips.’ He was able to enjoy the game without understanding the rules. ”
These features of the game – being instantly accessible, understandable and fun – are important not only for the gameplay, but also for the game for free. Malo notes that roller champions may seem complicated at first; The game introduces a whole new game and players have to learn everything.
“Our strength, though, is that people get instant fun once they choose the moderator to try.” A price tag prevents entry, Malo says, but being free means “trying to embrace it.”
But the game is instantly understandable and fun, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. The basic idea – pick up the ball, make a lap with it and score – is amplified by moves that can be combined to create indicative possibilities.
“One of the things that has brought a lot of diversity is the combo aspect,” said Malo. “Kick right after you jump, jump again when you’re already in the air, double dodge, make a pass when you fall.”
The same concept of combos applies to many game modes that the team is testing. “For example: hot potatoes,” says Malo. “It’s the same game, but if you don’t pass after five seconds, the ball explodes in your hand. And that game mode can be perfectly combined with 2v2 game mode.
“Every time we add more game modes, the number of possible combinations is going to be indicative,” Malo said.
While the development team is experimenting with other combinations, the original game mode will always be 3v3. “We want the players to feel like superstars, so that everyone has a chance to shine, to have a moment of glory, to be happy,” Malo said. We’re keeping it as close as possible to the number of players. “
Players are celebrities, there is no class to play to emphasize this idea; Everyone gets the same equipment and the same opportunities. “It’s really the players who have the story and their abilities,” Malo notes, “so if you want a good defender in your team, you’ll hire a player who is a good defender. Players are champions, not their character.”
Map design is another gameplay decision that focuses on the players. “The game doesn’t have a big map with hundreds of players. Instead, it’s very close, “says Malo. To add to its small size effect, the map is also fully visible; its center wall is always transparent to keep viewers’ attention focused on the champions.
In order for viewers to share the same experience, the team reduced the number of thematic elements of the game as much as possible. Players will not see their enemy team as red, for example; Teams neutral colors, yellow and blue. By removing this element of opposition, the development team can ensure that the spectators appreciate the skill of the players more than the clash within the team.
“Everything is conceived so that the audience sees the same thing, because then they share the same experience,” Malo says. “There’s a sense of community, because they’re talking about the same thing at the same time.”