Ogre is a pretty big deal. It's a classic board game, created by legendary designer Steve Jackson. And it's getting a digital release on October 5th on Steam. Which is pretty darn exciting.
We took the chance to have a chat with Steve Jackson, president of Steve Jackson Games, and Nina Adams, Production Manager at Auroch Digital who are developing the game, to find out more.
Pocket Gamer: It's been 40 years since Ogre was first released, what changes have you seen in the board game industry in that time?
Steve Jackson: Oh, not much, just a complete change. Huge, huge growth both in number of fans and number of games available, the involvement of more women. More knowledgeable retailers. Kickstarter!
What's the feature you're most excited for players to see in the Ogre video game?
SJ: If I have to get it down to just one, it's the beautiful animations and the little bits of sound. That brings the game to life. For me, the game mechanics features are a given... it plays the way it needs to play, which is impressive.
Nina Adams: Definitely the 10 scenario campaign. We've worked hard alongside Steve to keep the game true to the board game but the campaign is where we were able to utilize what the digital platform has to offer.
Each campaign builds on from the last, creating the story, leading up to bigger and better battles.
Have you balanced the game to ensure new players and more experienced Ogre fans are both going to be able to enjoy it?
SJ: Yes. The scenarios start easy and get harder, and of course experienced players can find each other online and play HARD.
NA: This was one of our goals from the start of the project as Ogre has a lot of rules and can be complicated for new players. We developed the tutorial in a staged way so information is given to the player as building blocks to help them get used to all the elements so they can start enjoying the games as quickly as possible.
In multiplayer, players are able to invite their friends to a game but we're also using ranked matchmaking to ensure someone who is playing their first game isn't annihilated by someone who's been playing for the last 30 years.
What have been the main challenges in porting Ogre to digital?
SJ: I should leave this one to the folks at Auroch who did that work.
NA: The main challenges were mostly to do with the edge cases and displaying them to the player without the screen being overcrowded with pop up boxes.
There are a lot of different rules for the many units, terrain types and weapons to help the player remember. The User Interface for the game has been carefully designed to keep it streamlined but still give the player all the information they need.
We were also faced with the challenge of what to do when rules in the board game involve something like 'decided between you what happens next'.
This doesn't work in a vs. game where the other person is on the other side of the world, so we've had to come up with solutions to that.
If you had one tip for someone coming to Ogre for the first time with this version, what would it be?
SJ: Don't let the Ogre get trapped by a crowd of defenders. Individually they are easy to kill, but they have strength in numbers. Or, if you are playing the defender, try to have many of your units hit the Ogre together.
NA: As someone who played Ogre for the first time when we started this project, I know how it feels to be a new player, and in comparison to some of Ogre's veterans, I still am one!
I would say, stick to the original scenario to start with. The board, units, and tactics are simpler which gives you the space to learn the game properly before the craziness of trains, swamps, and cities are introduced.