Image courtesy of Sloclap

Absolver

Sloclap

Last modification: 6 Sep, 2017
Duration
6 mins

Announced at this year’s E3, Absolver is an open-world RPG that promises exciting interactions, fun melee action all wrapped up in beautiful 3D art.

We talked to CEO/ Creative Lead, Pierre de Margerie about Absolver, leaving AAA to go indie, and what’s behind the studio name ‘Sloclap’.

 



What is Absolver about?

It’s an online action game that is set mainly in the ruins of an old imperial city. It’s basically about martial arts fighting, with intense real-time combats, and a "combat deck" interface in which players can build their own unique combat choreographies. It's also about interactions with other players: there is a social system that allows players to build meaningful relationships with one another so you can make friends, enemies or even mentors, who will teach you new attacks.


Why make the move from AAA to indie? What did you want to achieve?

We wanted creative freedom and ownership, which is more complicated to have in a big structure. We wanted to be independent and to make everything with a small team. It’s a really interesting experience, especially when you’ve had a lot of experience working on AAA games within huge teams. It’s a good change. I mean, we certainly had a great time at Ubisoft and learned a lot. We still have great relationships with them. It’s just two different ways of working and we’ve been doing one for a while so we wanted to try the other.


Absolver © Image courtesy of Sloclap



Why did you name the company ‘Sloclap’?

There was a tradition at Ubisoft. Typically, when somebody was leaving the studio to move to Canada for instance, they would go in front of everyone on the open floor. One person would start clapping and everybody eventually picks it up and it becomes a regular applause. So, that’s a bit of an inside joke from those of us who met at Ubisoft.

It also has a double meaning. If you go to the Urban Dictionary, the slow clap is something that is done to applaud an underdog, someone who wins against all odds or who loses but with their pride intact. So that was the idea. It can also be sarcastic so, we thought it was fun.


It’s a very interesting name.

We try not to take ourselves too seriously. *Laughs*


What are the major differences between working at Ubisoft and working at Sloclap?

The main difference I say would be working with 20-something people versus working with a team of 250 people. It’s a pretty big difference.


What about in terms of workflow?

Well, from a technical perspective, Absolver is a very challenging project, with seamless matchmaking and a pretty intricate 3D real-time combat system. That being said, in terms of scope, we do manage to limit it and so the scope of the project isn’t necessarily as huge as a project we would work on at Ubisoft. That makes it manageable when you’re in a team of 20 something people. The consequence of that is everything goes faster because the code base isn’t as huge and the team is in direct communication with, with one another. Also, the decision-making process can go faster. The important difference is scope.


Absolver © Image courtesy of Sloclap



How did you create hype for Absolver?

We decided to work with publisher Devolver Digital. They’re a great independent publisher. We were actually about to announce the game and when we decided to sign with them. We partnered up for the reveal just before E3 with a launch trailer. At E3, we had a fully playable demo with loads of press.


How did you use 3ds Max and Maya in the pipeline?

We use them in different ways. Maya, is a great tool for animation. It’s got a pretty solid integration with the Unreal Engine and all our character animation is key framed in the game. Working in Maya has allowed us to fine tune animations. The character movement is so important in the game so it’s crucial to have a solid animation tool to create these movements with precision.

3ds Max is the tool of reference for the 3D content creators for 3D modeling and so pretty much all our artists were proficient working with Max. So it was hardly a question when we started up our own company.


Absolver © (Concept Art), Image courtesy of Sloclap



As CEO, what have you brought from your AAA background to Sloclap?

In terms of setting up the framework, we’ve learned a lot at Ubisoft. How to plan, anticipate, iterate and generally maintain that sort of loose control you need to have when developing a game. You discover the game you’re making as you’re making it, even if there is a strong vision at the beginning, and everybody is aligned on what the game should be. As you build it, you learn its strength and weaknesses, new ideas emerge, that don’t change the direction of the project but that simply make it better. That’s certainly something that we experienced hands on and more directly than in the bigger and longer projects that we had at Ubisoft. It’s about having an open mind, starting from a vision and discovering what that vision can become in terms of a real game.


Absolver © Image courtesy of Sloclap

Sloclap made Absolver using 3ds Max, Maya and ZBrush and Unreal Engine 4. Check them out on Twitter to get updates. Take the sacred vow and chosen to join the Absolvers on Steam, GOG, and PS4.
Tags
  • 3ds Max
  • Maya
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