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Why PlayRaven is ditching second-to-second gameplay in favour of rich metagame

Why PlayRaven is ditching second-to-second gameplay in favour of rich metagame

Taking the stage at Pocket Gamer Connects London, PlayRaven CEO Lasse Seppanen is positive about his studio's output so far.

Robocide in particular, which peaked at #1 in the US strategy charts and has enjoyed consistently good reviews, is an evident source of pride. 

But he's also frank about the young studio's missteps.

"Today I'm going to be talking about Winterstate, which was not as successful, and what we learned from that," he says.

Winterstate, launched in March 2016, was inspired by PC RTS but designed specifically for mobile phones.

Gameplay first

The game was focused heavily around strategic vehicle combat, with a smooth, mobile-optimised control system whereby units follow lines drawn on-screen.

"We got high scores for this gameplay, so that makes you think we're doing the right thing," reflects Seppanen.

However, in hindsight, he considers that the team was guilty of prioritising what he calls "second-to-second gameplay" over metagame.

"Vehicles were designated as the main thing you'd be building and levelling up," he explains. "We ended up with 15 vehicles - it's not a great inventory."

"Looking back at this, it seems totally insufficient," he goes on - although adding and balancing new vehicles take a long time.

Going meta

Seppanen considers this lack of metagame focus a key factor in the game's lack of success.

The currently soft-launched Spymaster has been designed as a reaction to this.

"We're going to make a game with a large inventory of collectibles, a rich social metagame and no second-to-second gameplay," he reveals. "None whatsoever."

"You stay in the metagame all the time. You basically don't leave the metagame."

Seppanen and his team at PlayRaven will be hoping that this helps Spymaster succeed where Winterstate failed.


Features Editor

Matt is really bad at playing games, but hopefully a little better at writing about them. He's Features Editor for PocketGamer.biz, and has also written for lesser publications such as IGN, VICE, and Paste Magazine.

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