On August 19, 2013 Ronimo Games, the creators of the 2D side-scrolling MOBA game Awesomenauts, launched a Kickstarter to get funding for Awesomenauts: Starstorm, an expansion to the original Awesomenauts. We were curious about what to expect from the new expansion and reached out the developers behind the project.

In Awesomenauts: Starstorm, an ancient space station that has the power to destroy stars and houses a deadly robot legion has been mysteriously re-activated. This has caught the attention of the Ones and Zeroes factions and as a result, each faction has sent their best teams to secure the station.

Awesomenauts: Starstorm adds three new characters, new levels, and a bunch of new features to the Awesomenauts experience. The team at Ronimo Games was more than happy to sit down and answer our questions about the Starstorm expansion and what it means for the fans of Awesomenauts.

Awesomenauts Starstorm

TDS: What made Ronimo Games want to expand on Awesomenauts?

Ronimo: Well, we always planned to keep expanding Awesomenauts for a long time. For us, Awesomenauts was bigger than the six characters we launched the game with back in May 2012, and we’ve been releasing more and more characters for the game since then. Unfortunately, due to problems with our publisher, we weren’t able to keep this up on the consoles. On Steam, though, the game has grown tremendously since we launched there in August last year.

TDS: Before, all new updates for Awesomenauts were patched into the game for free, what made Ronimo need to use Kickstarter for this one?

Ronimo: It’s been a year since Awesomenauts came out on Steam, and we have been adding more and more content to the game since then. The main body of the game is still the same though, and we felt that we were reaching a point where ‘just’ adding more characters wasn’t really what the game needed. We needed to make a bigger step – not just adding more of the same, but expanding the game as whole. Carrying the game to the next level, instead of carrying on. This would take a really big investment though, and we just couldn’t do that on our own. Trying to fund this through a Kickstarter made a lot of sense to us, and it has turned out even better than we had hoped!

TDS: Why are features like “Spectator Mode” and “Global Chat” so important?

Ronimo: They’re important for different reasons, but I think both of them will contribute to pulling together the Awesomenauts community. Spectator mode is mainly meant for the more serious, competitive players. It will foster a community where players can watch other teams play, perhaps do livestreams, or commentate on matches. We already have the APL and AWC tournaments, and even without this feature they’re a blast to watch. It’s going to give them a lot more options and allow them to push the bar even higher!

With regards to the chat, I think it’ll provide a good platform for new players to find people to play with. Awesomenauts is a team game, and if you don’t have any friends playing it can be pretty daunting to enter matchmaking alone. At the higher levels, a lot of players play in premade teams and having a global chat option could help individual players unite. Also, it’ll just be a good place to chat about random things, and we hope that people will just hang out there even if they’re not playing!

Awesomenauts Spectator Mode

Awesomenauts Spectator Mode in Action!

TDS: Why were they not originally added in the base game?

Ronimo: We had big plans for Awesomenauts when we decided to bring it to Steam, and hoped our publisher would be able to help us realise these. Unfortunately, our publisher DTP filed for insolvency shortly after we launched on consoles. We had to go at it on our own, and because of that we weren’t able to do much more than make a straight port of the game.

TDS: With all of the backstory that has been provided for this expansion, have you considered a co-op or campaign mission on the Starstorm?

Ronimo: The idea for something other than the competitive multiplayer mode of Awesomenauts has come up a couple of times over the years, but we’re just a small studio and don’t have that many people available to work on different things. We decided to focus on the core of Awesomenauts, which is the 3-on-3 multiplayer aspect, so a campaign or co-op mode isn’t in the works.

However, with the Custom Games feature that was included as one of the stretchgoals in our Kickstarter campaign, you’ll be able to play with your friends against bots. You can make this as crazy as you like, and you can play with 6 players on a single team against 10 AI-controlled Clunks for instance. That’s probably as close to cooperative content as we’ll ever get with Awesomenauts.

Awesomenauts Custom Game

Awesomenauts Starstorm Custom Game Screen

TDS: Are the existing characters getting any tweaks with this expansion? Will they need any re-balancing?

Ronimo: We’ll continue to tweak and balance existing characters just like we’ve been doing until now, even after the Starstorm expansion hits. The balance moves all the time, and as we add more content, we’re bound to make some changes to the existing content. So even though I don’t think we’ll have to do any major changes to any existing characters because of the new Starstorm content, we’ll probably make a couple of small changes here and there… but that’s nothing new.

TDS: What factors influenced the designs and abilities of the new characters?

Ronimo: This is the first time that we’re releasing a couple of characters as part of an overarching theme. All of the new characters are tied to the Starstorm spaceship in one way or another, and that has influenced their designs a bit. This will also reflect in their dialogue and stuff like that, so they’re a bit more of a close-knit group of characters than the previous ones we’ve been doing. In terms of abilities, they’re just made up of awesome ideas that we came up with during brainstorm sessions, so I don’t think we taken any really specific influences there.

Ted McPain

One of the new characters from Starstorm

TDS: Will the new characters just be made available to all Kickstarter supporters when they are released, or will players need to reach a certain level before being able to play as them?

Ronimo: The new characters will only be playable for users who own the Starstorm expansion. We haven’t decided whether they’ll be automatically unlocked from the start for those who own the expansion, or if they have to reach a certain level like players have to do now… so that’s something we’ll have to decide upon later.

Players who don’t have the expansion won’t be able to play with these new characters, but they will be able to play in matches where other players have them. So there won’t be a difference between Vanilla-Awesomenauts and Starstorm matchmaking.

TDS: Could we get a sneak preview of some of the new characters abilities? What kind of customization and lead-out options will be available for the new characters?

Ronimo: Ted McPain is the only Awesomenaut that is currently in production, and while I could tell you all about it, our designer Fabian actually did a livestream on Ted last Friday. It’s actually best to watch the video, because that also has a ton of in-game footage of the work-in-progress Ted McPain: Check out the Ted McPain video here!

TDS: In the background information for Starstorm, it is said that the Starstorm ship has a deadly arsenal of bots on already on board. Could this mean that, in addition to all the new environmental hazards, the Red and Blue team bots will use the deadly bots on the Starstorm?

Ronimo: That is actually a pretty cool idea! We haven’t started working on the new map yet, so I must admit that we haven’t thought about this particular angle yet. So perhaps… But they’ll be included in the map in one way or another (though maybe just as part of the scenery, with no actual gameplay role).

TDS: What made Ronimo Games choose the PS4 over the Xbox One as the Awesomenauts debut on the next generation of consoles? Could we ever see an Xbox One release?

Ronimo: It wasn’t really a decision of one over the other, it was more that the opportunity to do a PS4 version arose and we leapt at it. Sony made their plans for self-publishing public at an earlier point in time and it didn’t take us long to find a partner who could help port the game to that platform. It all just came together really quick. We’re definitely interesting in bringing the game to Xbox One as well, so we’re looking into ways to make that happen… but there’s nothing that we can announce on that right now.

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