To say that Last Legion Games were ambitious when they developed “Watchmen: Justice is Coming” is an understatement. Using the Watchmen universe as a backdrop for a Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying game was a risk in and of itself, given the discerning nature of most Watchmen fans. Add to that the challenge of bringing an MMO to the relatively young gaming platform of the iPhone/iPod Touch, and you start to get an idea of just how ambitious the developers were. Without the luxury of a beta test, “Watchmen: Justice is Coming” launched in March of 2009 to mixed reviews. While critics were impressed by the game’s visuals and the scope of what Last Legion had created, the game had connectivity and crashing issues that made it unplayable for some, and unstable for many.
Over the past several months, Last Legion has been releasing patches and updates to the game, leading up to the major revision that is “Watchmen: Justice is Coming” version 2.0. The COO of Last Legion Games, Gregory Milken, recently talked to CBR about the challenges the game faced when it launched, as well as the new content and features that comprise version 2.0.
For people who may not be familiar with “Watchmen: Justice is Coming,” can you give a quick overview of the game?
“Watchmen: Justice is Coming” is an online roleplaying game developed exclusively for the iPhone and iPod touch. Players create their own unique character and begin adventuring through the dark and gritty streets of New York City while following an original Watchmen-inspired storyline through a real-time 3D world. They discover hidden artifacts and level up their character by completing story objectives, defeating criminals and challenging other players to battle in a dynamic strategy fighting game.
What is the game doing with the Watchmen license that you think fans will be particularly interested in?
The game is based in the Watchmen universe, but the story is completely original. In addition, because players create their own avatar, they feel like they are a part of the Watchmen universe and are participating in it.
Did you have access to assets from the Watchmen movie while developing the game?
We had access to pictures and art resources while developing the game.
Can you talk a bit about the “cloudMMO” technology that you developed the game with?
Our proprietary patent pending “cloudMMO” technology allows more avatars to populate the universe than is normally possible. It also allows avatars to communicate, play, and share with social networks in ways that were not possible before. This also allows avatars to instantly change across platforms.
In addition, the “cloudMMO” technology automatically fires up and terminates servers based on the number of people playing the game.
When you launched the first version of the game in March of 2009, there were some major issues with connectivity and crashing. Can you talk about some of the launch issues and what you attribute them to?
As with any MMO, there are unexpected issues that arise upon launch that just cannot be anticipated. In addition, the iPhone was a new platform, and this was the first time that anything like this had been attempted on the device. We fixed a lot of issues on the server side in the first two weeks related to crashing, so we have not had those issues again.
In regards to connectivity, we have done our best to communicate to the players when their connection is lost. However, just as phone calls are dropped from time to time, the connection for “Watchmen: Justice is Coming” can also drop, and this is not something that we can control.
You launched version 2.0 of the game in early September. In addition to addressing the issues mentioned above, what else did version 2.0 of the game bring?
Version 2.0 adds a completely new story entitled “We Are Compelled.” Also, there is a journal for tracking your progress, new criminals to fight and a new setting (the Rooftops) to explore. Lastly, we have built a Facebook application that displays your character and progress on your Facebook page. Whenever you change your character in the game, the character portrait on your Facebook page will automatically be updated.
Have you had any of the launch issues crop back up since the latest version of the game was released? Any new issues?
We have not seen any of the launch issues crop back up with the latest version. Also, with the experience gained from first developing the game, we have processes in place, so that we were able to head off potential major issues before the launch of version 2.0.
What have you found are the biggest challenges of developing an MMO on the iPhone platform?
The biggest challenge of developing an MMO on the iPhone platform is testing. Because the iPhone is a new device and there is not widespread recognition of it as a platform for complex games, in particular MMOs. It is difficult to build a large enough beta test audience to test the game to identify issues before launch.
As you look forward to future updates of the game, will you be adding other tools to increase the social aspect of the MMO? How about additional content?
Currently, the game features buddy lists. If the game continues to be popular, we will definitely add more social features in the future. We will also add new storylines and areas depending upon continued interest in the game.
Our thanks to Last Legion Games’ Gregory Milken for talking with us about “Watchmen: Justice is Coming” version 2.0. The game is currently available in the iTunes store for $4.99. For more information on the game, you can head over to the official website at www.watchmenjusticeiscoming.com. You can check out Last Legion’s other projects over at www.lastlegiongames.com.