A few weeks ago the Uruguayan company Ironhide released next game in their tower defense Kingdom Rush series. We talked with the team about their experience.
Kingdom Rush Vengeance
How decisions are made on developing or not developing the next game in the series? Who is a decision maker?
At Ironhide we prefer working in teams. Each team has multidisciplinary members, programmers, designers and artists. This means that the games are created in a creative
environment where everyone has a place to collaborate.
A year ago Iron Marines were released. It was a big step for the company that before made only tower defense games. As I know Iron Marines has become
more commercially successful comparing to your previous games. But the question is what do you feel about the game?
Iron Marines was a challenge in itself. We were creating a new IP and developing a game with a genre in which we still had no experience. Of course, creating something new always
has uncertainty in the result. With much effort we developed a game that we are very satisfied with and that is reflected in the response of our fans and the specialized press.
What was the most difficult part during the Iron Marines development?
The most difficult part of developing Iron Marines was to adapt a traditional PC genre like RTS to mobile. The main challenge was to adapt and transfer the spirit and controls in order
to keep the core of the genre. One alien at a time, the Iron Marines was finally ready to go out and explore the galaxy.
By the way, why did you decide to come back to Kingdom Rush games after the Iron Marines release?
Kingdom Rush is acclaimed by the critics and players as one of the best tower defense games in the world, as long as our fans love them we will continue working on them.
We have different teams working at the same time in different projects. Apart from Iron Marines we started working on Kingdom Rush Vengeance almost simultaneously. Also we
have another team working in a third secret project!
How should each new game in Kingdom Rush series be any different from a previous one? Do you have any special requirement?
All Kingdom Rush need to have something fresh compared to the last one. Kingdom Rush Vengeance keeps the classic elements players love and has several upgrades based on the
player’s feedback as well as a few new innovations we hope they like!
Kingdom Rush Vengeance
Let’s give our readers an example. What brand new things did you decide to add in Vengeance in compare with Origins (previous part)?
In Kingdom Rush Vengeance you are part of Vez’nan’s army (main enemy in previous games) and the objective is to recover what was taken from him. To achieve this you will have to conquer old and new realms and
fight against different types of armies.
Another new feature, that we are really excited about is that players can choose and combine up to 16 different new towers!
We also have technical improvements like the game engine. We’ve been working on leveling up our art techniques, always keeping the classic cartoonish style fans love but with a lot
more details and animations.
How does the audience usually react to changes? Are they waiting for them?
When we started publishing information about the game and we mentioned that they were going to be able to choose the towers before the battle, we noticed a lot of enthusiasm. This
feature will help each player design their strategy before each battle allowing more personalization.
Let’s talk about the engine and technologies. In terms of these technique things how much does each part of the game differs from the previous one?
In this game we use a new engine in order to be able to integrate new mechanics. These types of mechanics, such as the one mentioned before for the tower system, was never used
Also I have a long list of questions about your tools. What does Ironhide use for making games? Also, do you have your own editor? How does it work?
The tools that we use to develop our games depend on different factors, but what might be the most important one is what type of game we are developing. For Kingdom Rush
Vengeance we used some tools that are ours and also we use Adobe Animate, and COCO2D-x
I noticed that you regularly update even your first Kingdom Rush up to five-six times a year. Why do you do this?
At Ironhide we take care of our fans and this covers many aspects. One of them is to keep the games updated and that they can be played on all platforms without users having problems.
Apart from fixing certain bugs that appear, we localize all our games and we are working on cloud save for Android.
Kingdom Rush Vengeance
Also I would like to talk about game design. Can you share a few rules of making great tower defense game?
To sum up the entire process the most important for us is to always be player-focused and try to craft a good experience from them. We follow two main principles: allow different strategies
for players to enjoy new things but keeping the classic feeling and don’t forget it is a game.
You have been developing tower defense games for eight years. It’s obvious that the games shows the same pattern of making cool maps. How does the work usually start? How do you decide what should be on the map? What iterations does each map go through to be done?
The process of creating a map start with an idea, after that we make the concept and then we choose a topic or main “story concept” for it. After we pass these steps we make a road map,
and then craft a sketch of the stage. Then we play and test that it has what it takes to be an actual map. Afterwards we made the final art and that’s it!
How many time does each map take?
It actually depends on which map and the difficulties and challenges that map has. It’s not the same to work on a Boss Fight than any other stage. However, we take a lot of time in making
each stage as polished as possible.
A few years ago Polygon published a great article about Ironhide where were mentioned that you have a 15-person team. Is the situation still the same?
As we developed more projects, the team grew. Today we are 30 fun people dedicated to developing games. We work on a lot of different areas but always with the same purpose and
that is working on things we love. As the studio grew we got to work on more games and this made the number of people increase.
How roles in the team are distributed?
Each team have its own lead artist, game designer and programmer. All teams tray to keep a unified style working on the decision making as a whole.
You have been making Kingdom Rush since 2011. Don’t you get bored?
No, we love the genre and we think there is a lot of room for improvement. Just like Kingdom Rush Vengeance added a new type of mechanic to a classic TD there are a lot things to do
and possibilities to explore in the future. We work on each game as a personal challenge for us to keep growing.
What do you do to keep your passion?
Making games is our passion, but the feedback of our fans, the reviews and the press comments about our work renews constantly our passion giving us energy to conquer new
What is next? Do you plan to continue making tower defense games? Sure, it will be great for fans, but what does the team think about it?
We will continue as long as our fans keeps enjoying them. We are always open to feedback to make them better.
As a company we want to keep expanding our options and this is why we made the decision to have multiple teams, just like the Iron Marines team worked on an RTS we might work on a
different genre in the future.