Defense Derby interview: Production Director shares insights on the development and multiplayer experience

A thought process into the making of the game!

Defense Derby is an upcoming real-time strategy defense mobile game by RisingWings, an independent studio of the South Korean gaming company Krafton, Inc. Currently open for pre-registration, players would love to get more info on how the game will be on release, and how different it will be from the games in the genre. We at GamingonPhone felt the same way and sat on an interview about the game with Sinchan Park, Production Director for Defense Derby at RisingWings, who shared some interesting insights about the upcoming game.

How long did it take to develop Defense Derby from the initial concept to the final product?

Defense Derby has been in development for about two years. The initial prototype build was released in May 2021, and we will be doing a soft launch in July.

The timeline is as follows:

  • May 2021: Developed the initial prototype build
  • August 2021: Developed alpha test build & proceeded with user test
  • September 2022: Developed beta test build & proceeded with user test
  • April 2023: Developed early access test build & proceeded with user test
  • July 2023: Soft launch

What inspired the concept and gameplay mechanics of the game?

In PvP games, you meet different players, and everyone plays based on the same set of rules. I think the fun of this type of game comes from the fact that you can experience a different story and a variety of gameplay scenarios each time you play. There’s a certain level of stress that comes from losing in PvP games, and if that stress is too big, it becomes difficult to enjoy the game. In cases where the cause of the loss comes from your own lack of skills, the stress can be doubled.

In the case of our previous title Castle Burn, we opted for users to compete against each other with subtle controls, so not a lot of users were able to experience the fun that the developers had hoped to convey. Personally, I felt that this part could be improved upon. Defense Derby sought to ease the burden felt by the players by introducing mind games based on bidding and 4-player PvP battles, rather than putting the focus on game controls. Our goal is to convey the fun of PvP games to more users through these sorts of efforts.

What makes Defense Derby different compared to the other games in the genre?

At its core, Defense Derby has the rules of a defense genre. The biggest differentiating point from other tower defense strategy games is the scouting system. Players can disrupt other players’ strategies by scouting units through bidding, and they can also come up with their own unit strategy. It’s fun to see the battle situation change depending on the players’ bidding strategy.

Defense Derby Infographic
Image via RisingWings

Defense Derby is a 4-player PvP battle game based on real-time bidding. The player that survives the monster hordes and has the last castle standing wins the match. It’s a game with a mixture of defense, strategy, and battle royale. In a previous survey, users who participated in the early access test responded that the unique fun element of Defense Derby was the “scouting system” in which you have to read the opponent’s strategy and win with bold moves.

How is the approach to player progression and rewards in Defense Derby?

Defense Derby has a Guardian Level, which can be seen as the user’s growth index. The Guardian Level can be increased by acquiring units or through EXP obtained from leveling up. To provide players with a goal in order to encourage them to raise their Guardian Level, we are providing a step-by-step growth system called the Guardian’s Journey.

Depending on the progression within the Guardian’s Journey, users can acquire units as well as various growth and reward items. The game also provides various growth rewards through guide missions, as well as store events where anyone can acquire Legend Units for free.

What challenges did you encounter during the development process, and how did you overcome them?

We had a goal of conveying the fun of PvP games to players who found PvP games difficult. In order to ease the burden of the players, we designed the game in the direction of excluding any complicated rules from the initial development stages. We designed the game so that players could easily get used to the game without a demanding learning process. Therefore, we made a game where players could enjoy the game based on attribute synergy and made up the options with only essential elements.

Sinchan Park, Production Director for Defense Derby (Image via RisingWings)

We did feel that our intentions were reflected in the game such as the difficulty level of initially learning the game, as well as the fun factors. However, we started to think about, ‘How can we make it so that users can play the game for a longer period of time, in a more enjoyable way?’ We made multiple attempts so that the game player could have more options, rather than creating more unit stats.

In the beginning, we developed a more casual PvP game where players would scout a certain card and attach it to their deck, and you would win or lose depending on what type of synergy effect you make. Afterward, we focused more on adding depth to the game through the unit attributes. Since the game itself is casual, we are continuing to try out new things for the game’s balance.

How do you ensure a fair and balanced multiplayer experience, considering the varying skill levels and strategies of players?

In Defense Derby, users have to create their own personal deck and compete with others, which can lead to a difference in skill between users. So, when we started designing Defense Derby, we put more focus on luck and mind games rather than the difference in skill between users. To narrow down the difference in skill level, we introduced the scouting system. Through the scouting system, rather than using the controls, players can use their chips as well as the counterparty’s chips to engage in mind games. 

Defense Derby gameplay
Image via RisingWings

In an effort to provide a fair playing field, we put a lot of care into matchmaking and made it so that players who have similar skill levels can enjoy the PvP mode. We are also providing the Friendly Derby where all users use equal deck stats to fight against each other, as well as a mode where all users use the same deck to engage in battle. We will continuously strive to provide a fair competitive environment for our users.

Can you share any insights into the game’s monetization strategy?

Defense Derby strives to be a light casual PvP game. So rather than forcing users to pay, we created a monetization structure where players can enjoy the game even with a small amount of money. The core of the monetization structure is not simply obtaining items by paying money. Our structure is more like a Battle Pass format, so after players obtain an item by paying, the benefit of that item gets bigger the more you play. That’s the direction that we are striving for.

Also, growth through in-app purchases can help to achieve victory. However, the core of Defense Derby, and the most important aspect of winning, is scouting, which takes place through an intense mind game with other players.

Are there any plans for a subscription-based model, like a battle pass?

We plan to introduce a monetization model based on multiple forms of subscription formats. We will also continue to develop the monetization model format with a variety of rewards and other efforts.

That’s all for our Defense Derby Interview! Did you feel we missed out on any query in this Defense Derby Interview? Let us know in the comment section below!

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