Chris “Kades” Cantrell here, lead for Mechs vs. Minions. It’s been a long time in the making, so we’re really excited (and a little nervous) to be talking about it with all of you! We’re going to be doing a few posts about the process of making the game, but wanted to start just by talking broadly about the gameplay in MvM and some of the major decisions that went into it. First up: the decision to make the game co-op.
**WATCH MY TEAM WORK
It may come as a surprise that the game isn’t PvP. We definitely tried out PvP iterations of the game, but in the end, the co-op version of the game… well, it was just a lot more fun. We don’t have the luxury of online matchmaking, but wanted the replayability and depth that a good, online PvP experience would be able to provide, and we felt closer to those goals when the game was fully co-op. We also wanted the game to be fun for the experienced player as well as the brand new player, even if they’re in the same game. We went through a LOT of testing to get as close to that mark as we could, and we plan to spend the next post talking about those design—and testing—challenges. The design choices became a lot easier to make once we found a theme to match to these mechanics…
In MvM, the players act as one of four yordles and “program” their mech with different ability cards. Each turn, the player can add one of these abilities to their command line, and soon the mech has a series of commands that it executes every turn. The idea is to build out a minion-stomping machine that you masterfully pilot through the mission—but it’s easy to run into technical difficulties, especially once you start taking damage. In our games, we kept driving into walls, or bumping into teammates, or wandering the wrong way altogether. We asked ourselves: what kind of champs would accidentally walk into lava? There was no other option: it had to be yordles.
With a game set in the League universe, we took the opportunity to tell a story with familiar characters and have them go on a journey. MvM uses a modular board that changes as the story progresses and includes lots of dialogue (both written and recorded!) to deepen the story and give the game that distinct yordleiciousness that we wanted.
**ONE (MECHANIZED) STEP AT A TIME
We’re super excited for the launch of the game. We earnestly hope that everyone who plays MvM enjoys playing it, but we also know that it won’t be for everyone. Every choice is a trade-off, but we prized fun gameplay above all else. Even the most carefully painted miniatures can’t make up for a snorefest of a game, so we erred on the side of gameplay depth when in doubt, and we leaned on the full campaign to introduce that complexity over time.
We really wanted to make a game for League players as well as core tabletop gamers, and choosing not to license the game out to another developer meant developing MvM entirely in-house. Once that decision was made, we were fated to learn a lot of lessons—the hard way—about what it takes to make a board game. We’ll be talking about that in the next post!