Stunlock Studios, the group behind Battlerite, today have shared a Dev Update Q&A, for their open-world vampire survival video game, V Rising due for release on Steam with the Beta planned later this year.
Interview with the
Vampire Marketing Director
Ruth here, reporting from Stunlock Studios HQ. In this Dev Blog, I collected more questions from the community and talked to Stunlock Studios’ Marketing Director, Johan Ilves. You will find some of your questions answered, so read ahead! If we didn’t answer your particular question, worry not! We might reveal the information you were looking for in future dev updates. Please keep in mind that the game is still in development, and everything is subject to change.
Thank you for being part of the V Rising community!
Ruth: Hi Johan! I am excited to talk with you about the game and give more details to the community! But first, please tell us a bit more about yourself.
Johan: Hello there! I have a background in sales, and I have been working in the game industry for seven years. I started as a freelance music composer (Dead Island Epidemic, Battlerite) and, for the last five years+, I have been working as the Marketing Director for Stunlock Studios. I’m doing everything from studio communication and marketing campaigns to directing visual branding and trailers for our games.
Ruth: V Rising is a very different game compared to what we at Stunlock have done in the past. Who came up with this idea, and what inspires the team?
Johan: After ten years of creating competitive arena games, we felt it was time to go outside our comfort zone and try something new. The vampire theme idea originally came from one of our game designers, Martin Lövgren, while the many ideas of the game are always a team effort. Waking up in a coffin after centuries of sleep, stripped from your powers, and fighting to become the next Dracula is a great power fantasy to work with. The team takes inspiration from various horror movies, tv-shows like Netflix’s Castlevania, and classic horror literature while looking at the local Swedish nature for world-building aspects. We want to use our experience of making skill-based combat experiences and put it in an atmospheric open-world environment.
Ruth: I often see players talking about Valheim in V Rising’s Official Discord server. What would you like to tell us about Valheim’s success and how that might affect V Rising?
Johan: We’re almost neighbors with Iron Gate, the studio behind Valheim, here in the small town of Skövde, Sweden. A fun fact is that Skövde is slowly becoming a new Swedish hub for successful indie game developers. Games like Valheim, Goat Simulator, Satisfactory, Raft, Passpartout, and our previous title, Battlerite, have been developed here. I believe we thrive on each other’s success, and Valheim being a massive hit is only a positive factor. It shows that the genre is still blooming and that players are looking for new takes on the survival concept. With V Rising, we’re offering a unique alternative with the vampire theme and taking the tight combat mechanics our studio is known for, which we have refined for years, into the survival open-world genre.
Ruth: Thank you for this little introduction. Now, let’s jump into the game. I would like to start by talking about the World of V Rising and its inhabitants. Nortwin#2655 and tess#2970, among others, are curious to know more.
Johan: V Rising offers a vast open-world, with room for at least 50 castles per server, where you can move freely between regions. The most prominent parts of the map consist of lush forests and open farmlands with villages and caves/dungeons. We’re also working with some visual storytelling, and you will be able to discover hints on the map from the past when vampires ruled the world. There will be bosses, as well as random encounters of patrolling humans and vicious vampire hunters. It’s a world of conflict where vampires, humans, and various creatures co-exist in a delicate balance. We have a faction system, so there will also be confrontations between different NPCs, bandits attacking farmers, wolves attacking bandits, etc. The mystery lies in what’s around the next corner, exploring the world and running into everything from bandits, the undead, witches, and werewolves, besides finding resources and items to upgrade your castle.
Ruth: We know we can travel the world by mount. Tell us more about it!
Johan: Mounts are the most effective way to travel the world. Once you find a horse, you don’t want it stolen or slain by enemy vampires, so make sure to take care of your trusted steed. A feature I am very fond of is mounted combat, which means you use your weapon (not spell kits) while riding.
Ruth: Several Discord members have also asked about the night and day cycle. Will the gameplay be different depending on if it is daytime or nighttime? Please tell us more!
Johan: In my opinion, hiding from the sun is one of the coolest survival elements of V Rising. Visually, we made the night very eye-pleasing, so you as a player will feel at home at night, much like a vampire, while the daytime is a bit more gloomy. The night is longer than day to give you plenty of hunting time. You can still explore the world during the day by moving in the shadows, as any extended exposure to sunlight will burn you to ashes. As mentioned in the previous dev update, you will learn how to craft gear and items to improve your sun resistance. Humans won’t spot you as easily in the dark of night, which gives you advantages when out hunting. There is also a difference regarding what kind of enemies you will meet during the day and the night, with some creatures only lurking after dusk.
Epsilon#9656 asks: What are some of the environmental threats you have planned for the game, other than sunlight? So… what do we need to be aware of trying to survive as a Vampire?
Johan: Drink blood and be aware of sunlight, vampire hunters, holy areas such as churches, garlic, silver, angry nuns, and megalomaniac vampire clans!
Ruth: Some are asking about the role of humans in the game. Can players choose to play as a human?
Johan: There are both harmless villagers and various hostile human soldiers. You will need to weaken a human in combat to drink their blood, or you can choose to finish them with a bite. The current design goal is to let players immerse themselves as vampires. Humans will most likely stay NPCs.
MattD#1111 thinks that drinking blood sounds exciting, while LizardWizard#8207 is skeptical about it. How will blood work, and can you only drink human blood?
Johan: Human blood will be the primary source of blood, but there will be emergency supplies in the form of rats and other “snacks.” Rat blood is not very tasty and has less value. Instead, the chef suggests fresh “rogue” blood, which will make you faster and stronger in combat, or some fine “scholar” blood to improve your magic damage. LizardWizard has probably never tasted some first-class rogue blood. Certain blood types are best in combat situations, while others are a better option if you plan to gather resources. Once you get the hang of different blood types, there are more ways to optimize your perks since the blood quality of each human varies. Higher quality blood will additionally increase the number of perks. A fun challenge would be to find a human with the perfect blood and store him/her in your prison for future gourmet dinners with friends.
Frog Cultist#7624 asks: You mentioned that there are werewolves. Will they be active on the map or just stated as existing, but they won’t come out much?
Johan: Werewolves are a shy bunch. But who knows, you might encounter one or two after dark, when the moon is rising.
Frog Cultist#7624 is also curious regarding the addition of werewolf hybrids? For example, if a werewolf is in human form and you try to convert them into your servant.
Johan: We didn’t think of that, but I like it! I will bring it up during our next werewolf meeting.
Ruth: Now, let’s talk about my favorite part of the game, Vampire Castles! JeyciKon asks if we are tied to our castles or if it’s possible to play without a castle? Any news on Castle building?
Johan: You will be able to play without a castle, but you won’t be able to progress very far. Castle building will be a topic for a future dev update, but to sum things up: First, you will need to gain sufficient power to raise your castle. You build it from scratch, put up walls and doors, and construct various rooms such as workshops, libraries, and prisons. Explore the world to find recipes and resources for crafting special rooms with unique perks. Use decorations to personalize your domain’s appearance and create the gothic dungeon you always dreamt of. You will also need to expand your lair to fit new rooms and build walls to protect your belongings from power-hungry neighbors.
Ruth: How is base-building connected to the vampire fantasy?
Johan: I think connecting castle building with rising in power as a vampire fits the theme surprisingly well. Throwing up walls using your dark powers almost makes more sense compared to in other survival games, throwing up walls in a millisecond while chopping wood with a scythe, haha. Strolling around in your newly built gothic castle as a vampire and sleeping in a coffin adds a lot to the experience.
Ruth: Let’s jump into another hot topic: combat mechanics and PvP. What makes Stunlock games’ combat unique, and will we use a similar approach in V Rising?
Johan: I think it’s more about our focus on gameplay first and making everything feel as satisfying as possible that many players praise us for. We’re old-school in that sense. It can’t feel sloppy, it needs to feel good. In V Rising, like all our previous titles, players use WASD movement instead of mouse clicks, and it has some FPS input style to it with mouse-aim and skill shots.
Tevoss#8014 asks: How intricate is the PvP system? Will it include my favorite elements from Battlerite, such as canceling abilities, reflects, counters and i-frames?
Johan: The PvP combat will be fast-paced, and fans of our previous titles will feel at home, even though the gameplay feel does differ a bit from each game we develop. Without promising too much, we will most likely have everything you ask for, Tevoss!
Halpachino#3552 asks: What penalties do you incur when you die?
Johan: You end up where you started – naked in a coffin. All your equipment and items will drop where you died, so make sure to run back and find them before someone else does!
Ruth: There are also questions about friendly fire and if combat is always active. What can you tell us about this?
Johan: Combat is permanently active, but there is no friendly fire, so you can’t deal damage to the other vampires in your party.
MattD#1111 asks if we can carry different weapons at once, or is there a limit?
Johan: There will be a limit regarding how many items you can carry, but you will be able to carry more than one weapon and switch between them.
Croissant#2288, RainbowBender#2690, CJAssassinator(Callum)#1411, Stackman#5767, and Jordian#7980 all want to know how gear and Spell Kits work. Can you upgrade spells and equipment? Are they similar to Battlerite?
Johan: Good questions! Players will unlock new technology and gear in their castle. Expanding the castle and upgrading its rooms will allow players to access a wider variety of equipment. The more the castle grows, the more there will be to discover. You will craft weapons and combine them with powerful spell kits that both work similar to Battlerite champion abilities. There will also be different tiers of spell kits to learn, upgraded versions of the same skills. Many of these abilities are inspired by the ones you find in Battlerite.
Halpachino#3552 asks: Can my castle be raided while I am offline, and, if so, is there any sort of mitigation for people who can’t be on 24/7?
Johan: This is a very important question, and we are still evaluating different approaches. We will discuss this topic in detail when we know more about the final design.
Epsilon#9656 asks: Is skill going to be more or less important than gear when it comes to combat for both PvE and PvP?
Johan: We believe it’s vital that you feel that your skill has a significant impact on the outcome of a battle. At the same time, hard-earned equipment must also play a role. As with all our games there will be moments of outplays and crazy turnarounds.
Ruth: Several people also have questions regarding servers. What can you tell us about them? How many vampires can play at the same time on one server?
Johan: We have not yet defined an exact number, but, as mentioned previously, we aim to fit 50 castles into the world, supporting both solo players and clans. The maximum number of server CCUs will likely end up somewhere between 40-80 players. Private servers will give the possibility to choose to play solo and co-op in a less competitive environment or go to war on PvP servers. We’re still working on server settings and the final amount of players per server, so this is all information I can share for now.
Ruth: Others are asking how dark the game will be. Will it be as grim as Diablo? What’s the mood of the game?
Johan: The mood is quite dark and brutal, fitting for the vampire theme. There will be blood! However, the stylization is more playful and has some subtle humor mixed in to contrast the darkness. It’s an atmospheric world with a distinct art style, avoiding the more generic survival genre look.
Ruth: Both you and I love dark games, and I have talked to other horror fans such as @Zealothia on Twitter about her interest in the game. Who else do you think might be interested in V Rising?
Johan: Without being too specific: Action Survival gamers and players into sandbox open-worlds with crafting and building elements. But also players into Action RPGs, MMO RPGs, Diablo-esque games, and anyone who played our games in the past. V Rising is like our previous games, its own thing, and a multiplayer action game first.
aSpeedster#1617 and Who knows?#1566 discussed roleplaying possibilities in the game. Will roleplaying be a thing?
Johan: I would love to see players roleplaying in V Rising, and I believe there will be a lot of vampire politics in this game. It is, however, hard to tell how much freedom is enough for players to feel like a real vampire. We will use the beta period wisely to collect player feedback and improve on what players want more or less of.
Ruth: What are the biggest challenges when it comes to the development of V Rising?
Johan: Creating a top-down world big enough to fit a large number of majestic vampire castles while ensuring that it is rich in content and fun to explore is one of the greatest challenges we are facing. It also comes with more technical and artistic challenges than the more common third-person perspective. Finding the balance between our arcadey top-down combat and an immersive vampiric experience is not an easy task, but we’re getting there, step by step.
Epsilon#9656 also asked when we can expect to hear the V Rising’s Soundtrack?
Johan: You heard a sneak peek of the music in our teaser trailer. The soundtrack is composed by Aleksandria Migova, who made both in-game tracks and all the trailer music for Battlerite. We will set up an interview with Aleksandria and have a dev update dedicated to the music later this year.
Last question from Epsilon#9656: Is V Rising going to be a “game as service”? How are you planning on supporting the game after release?
Johan: We will update the world of V Rising and keep adding content after the release. How we scale the game is always dependent on how many players we have. I believe the updates will come less frequently but will add more meat to them when they are released.
Sultan Cat#9969, among others, want to know how they can support the development process.
Johan: Thank you for wanting to be part of the development of V Rising! Your questions have been an excellent way to understand what you want to see in the game and what you consider important. Keep em coming! Player feedback will be crucial during both closed beta and early access so we together can create a kick-ass vampire game. We also highly appreciate all content and youtube videos made by you guys, any help with spreading the word about the game means a lot to us.
Ruth: Timeless#3231, Edwin#5891, and several other players have been asking when the beta will start and if anyone can apply. What’s the status of the game, and do you have any new information about this?
Johan: Yes, anyone hungry for blood and tyranny or who just wants to craft coffins and explore the world can go to playvrising.com and sign up for the closed beta. There is no date set yet, but it’s planned to kick off later this year. We already have a playable build, and the fundamentals are in place. However, there are many features to finalize and a vast world to build. We must wait a bit before starting the closed beta and letting all the thirsty vampires in.
Ruth: Thank you, Johan! Do you have any final words for all Vampires out there?
Johan: Thank you all for your support! There will be more reveals coming even though it will be some time before we can go into the details of game design. Bear with us as we keep building the world of V Rising.
Johan and I greatly appreciate your questions and are looking forward to sharing more news about V Rising in future dev blogs. As always, please feel free to wishlist V Rising on Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1604030/V_Rising/