When Peter Doidge-Harrison and his partners decided to make a mobile game, they knew it would be difficult, but they didn’t realize just how difficult it would be.
“We never underestimated the difficulty of building a game,” he told the Georgia Straight during an interview in his North Vancouver home. “The business challenge with mobile is greater than we expected.”
Doidge-Harrison, a 20-year veteran of the game industry, and his two partners, Alan Bucior and Barry McDougall, formed Magnetic North Games after the 2013 collapse of Slant Six Games, which Bucior and Doidge-Harrison cofounded. In the last few months that Slant Six was operating, they’d been working on games for mobile, and it was a platform they wanted to explore further.
Working out of spare bedrooms in their respective homes, the three men have been developing Open War League, an open-world strategy game for iOS, for the past 14 months. According to Doidge-Harrison, with the exception of music and sound, all of the work is being done by the trio.
Doidge-Harrison said that the business strategy for the game has changed since it was first conceived. Magnetic North has released the game as a free-to-play title with a premium currency for players who want to speed up their progress.
Available now in the Canadian iTunes store, Open War League is an attempt to recapture some of the elements of the real-time strategy games, such as Command & Conquer, that Doidge-Harrison used to play when he started his career. Where most strategy games for iOS are “lightweight and cartoony”, he described Open War League as being “aggressive and hardcore”.
“It’s really engaging and skill-based,” he said.
In Open War League, players can group together to form nations. Teams are encouraged through daily rewards to recruit different levels of players. This is in distinct contrast to other games in which players try to stack their teams with only the best players.
“We’re trying to make it as inclusive as possible,” Doidge-Harrison said, “while keeping the competitive edge.”
The game plays out on a single instance of a massive map, with all participants sharing the same “living world”. This allows relationships to be developed, Doidge-Harrison explained. There are, he said, no “fly-by-night interactions. In our game, when you get attacked, you know it was the guy down the street.” And because of advances in computer technology, there’s enough virtual space in Open War League for something like 75 billion players before things start to get cramped.
Open War League will launch worldwide later this year. Magnetic North is hoping to attract investment, which will be used for advertising and to expand the game’s content.
“We’ve got a ton of ideas and plans that we’d like to put in place,” Doidge-Harrison said.