Colossatron: Massive World Threat is a significant factor in Brenna's ongoing struggle with insomnia. Desperate to conquer the game and get some sleep, she turns directly to developer Halfbrick for advice.
Colossatron is a strange little game for Android and iOS which had its hooks in me within seconds of watching my brother fire it up on his iPad. Describing it as a tower offense match-three strategy hybrid with progression and custom loadouts doesn't do it justice; and I'd argue that its early levels don't do the job, either. It's not until you hit your first challenge, frown over your choices, and rejig your tactics that the whole thing starts to come together, and then it's four in the morning, you have to be up at seven, and you regret everything - but don't put down the tablet just yet.
I really like Colossatron, and I wanted to use my increasingly intimate knowledge of its in-ands-outs to highlight it in an interview feature of such insight and clarity that you'd all rush out and buy it immediately. Alas! Lead artist and co-designer Matthew Knights answered my questions in such a forthright and charming manner that I feel compelled to present the Q&A in its raw, unedited form. On the bright side, I don't have to invent context to string the answers together. On the downside, this is my interview technique, and now you all know it.
VG247: Hello Halfbrick! I love Colossatron. To say I play it every day would be to quietly overlook the fact that I have to hide my tablet from myself to get any sleep. My high score after one prestige is 28 million. Is that a lot?
Matthew Knights: It depends on the continent you got the score on. It’s easier to get high scores on the earlier continents. I’m assuming you got the 28 million on Metronia, and yeah, it is a very good score! The best score among our friends is 62 million, but most of us have score of around 20 million.
I don’t know if it’s a lot because I’m not on Facebook and nobody else in the whole world is on Google Plus or whatever it is. Guys. Cross-platform leader boards. Why not?
Currently our Halfbrick system doesn’t support global leaderboards, but it hopefully will soon. There’s a possibility of putting leaderboards onto Google Play Games, but we’ll have to see if we can get it done.
Now that I’m done complaining, who is the best player in the office? What’s their high score? What weapons do they favour?
Honestly, everyone on the dev team played the game so much during development that most of our best scores were made when the game was balanced differently and so they don’t count anymore. I can tell you though that the Tier 3 attack drones are very strong, also the laser cutter and fire nova. There’s lots of other little tricks you can do to get better scores too, like putting rapid fire between two Tier 3 segments - and by making sure they are secondary colours, (Orange, Green, Purple). These do more damage than primary ones.
We’ll be putting in more tips like this into our first update.
Do you collect metrics, and if so, have they revealed any balance issues? Obviously I don’t expect you to tell me the winning formula (please tell me the winning formula) but come on guys, the blue thunder one that stuns: nobody wins with that, do they? Ever. Ever.
We’re putting more metrics in to the update we’re working on right now. They will help us pinpoint any weapons that are too weak or strong more accurately. I can tell you though that the rocket launcher and plasma cannon will be getting a little buff, and some cool new weapons will be added too. Oh, and don’t underestimate stun… any flying enemy that gets stunned will be instantly destroyed, so it can actually be pretty good.
Is the purple laser one the BEST? It is the best, isn’t it. You can tell me.
It’s definitely ONE OF the best. Especially at Tier 3 and late game, and unlike most weapons, it can be used pretty effectively by itself. But, you won’t get as good a score with JUST the rail gun as you would with a good combination of weapons.
Are you tweaking the balance on the fly at all, or will you issue a patch, or are you just like, “Don’t mess with the masterpiece” and storm out letting the door bang dramatically?
We don’t have the ability to tweak it over the air at the moment, but we do want to create a game that has LOTS of fun strategies to try out and so balance is very important to us. We will be tweaking weapons as we release updates and we’ll try to make those changes known in the update notes.
Have you read that hilarious review on Google Play where a guy complains about not being able to directly control Colossatron and says that ‘because he’s just moving coloured orbs around, even his cat could play it’? Personally I’d consider a review like that worth throwing a party for but maybe you’re not as perverse as me, I don’t know, tell me your feelings on this.
We do read reviews, and some have been a bit negative, but overall I think the response has been quite good. Some people don’t get the game at first and then once they get into it, they end up really liking it. I think some people came in expecting a game like a more explosive Snake, but then they got this weird tower offence / match-3 strategy game and couldn’t see the depth or control in it. I think we could have introduced the core concepts a bit better at the start of the game and we’re actually improving this aspect in the first update.
I’ve tried to get a few friends into Colossatron but unless I can put it in their actual hands (difficult; I never leave the house) they don’t “get” it from the description and my gibbering enthusiasm. Are you having a hard time communicating it?
Yeah, a bit. We ran into the same problem with Raskulls (not sure if you know that game). We love making unique games here, and often that means they are difficult to communicate, and not everyone is going to like them, but it’s still worth it I think. We actually changed the description on iTunes because we were getting a lot of 0 star reviews saying, “You can’t control the snake...”, to be more specific as to what you do in the game. We seem to get either 0 stars or 5 stars with this game. Curiously, no one thinks it’s just “average” or “pretty good”.
Are you aware that the bits where you have to fight a military base with pop up laser turrets are extremely hard? And also that when there are lots of helicopters and tanks you may as well just sit down and cry? If I were an unkind critic I might describe these as (*looks around surreptitiously, lowers voice*) unfair difficulty spikes.
We do have some metrics on this and yes, there are some levels that seem to be a bit spikey. We’re fixing that in the first update - and yes, they were mostly turret ones.
I’m way better at Colossatron than my brother, which has been untrue of any game ever in the 30 years of our lives. Clearly it was made for me, or for people of my kind. Was Colossatron designed by a really handsome person with great hair? It seems the only possible explanation for this phenomenon.
That is correct.
Thank you Halfbrick, I love you! xxoo
You’re welcome. I love you too! (kisses and hugs omitted for legal reasons).
Brenna has now prestiged twice and unlocked all the best weapons. Her high score is still 28 million, though. Colossatron: Massive World Threat is available on the iOS App Store and Google Play.