“The Sports Authority”
One afternoon while walking to lunch, I overheard Josh discussing League of Legends balance changes along with his detailed analysis of Sunday’s big Football game. I was blown away by his deep understanding of both competitive games, and as someone who doesn’t know much about sports, intrigued by his passion. Luckily, I found some time to ask him about it, and how his interests help him craft a better game.
First of all, what’s your role here at Boss Key?
My role at Boss Key is Senior Gameplay Programmer.
How about background in the industry? You’ve worked on some high-profile titles, right?
Wow, my background in the industry? Sounds pretty funny to read that I actually have a background. I have been doing this for about seven years now and I previously worked on defense contract stuff, Ghost Recon Future Soldier, Far Cry 4, and The Division.
Around the office, you’re more or less the authority on League of Legends. Why do you think that game is so celebrated in the realm of competitive online games?
First, I think LoL is celebrated because its barrier of entry is low while its depth of mastery is high. At first glance the game is about picking a Champion you like and the abilities (QWER) it has, but when you really start to take a look at the abilities you will begin to see the subtle synergies, combos, windows of strength/weaknesses, and paths of mastery. There’s a desire to learn and understand all these aspects of a Champion and that’s what engages people (well that, and using the knowledge to dominate matches is engaging too!). Second, the game is so celebrated due to Riot’s interaction with its players through the forums, champion spotlights, major content/balance patches, and patch preview videos. These things are vehicles for player interaction that galvanizes players into a community that is constantly talking about League which only helps the game grow and improve. Lastly, the professional scene of League of Legends is amazing from the Twitch streamers to all the professional leagues around the world. Simply put, the game is fun to watch and makes you want to go play a match.
Favorite Champion and why?
My favorite champion is Leona. The reason why I like playing as her is because of her kit. She has a very aggressive CC (crowd control) oriented style which fits my aggressive play-style.
Now, your interest in competitive games also spans into real-life sports. What is it about sports that grabs your attention?
In athletic sports it is all about the subtle dramas in a single play that really grabs me. In American Football, things like the battle between a cornerback and wide receiver or in Basketball, with two opposing point guards dueling it out. At a glance sports can sometime look like chaos but when you really learn it what you actually have is some very interesting Chess moves being made in a rapid, violent manor.
Favorite team and why?
Philadelphia Eagles all day EVERY DAY! I’ve been an Eagles fan since I was a kid. Growing up, fathers and sons sometimes don’t see eye-to-eye, but for my dad and I we could always see eye-to-eye on the Eagles. So they will always be my team for that reason.
Do you think the understanding of balance, mechanics and design is universal, across all forms of competitive play (League of Legends vs. Basketball for example)?
I don’t think it is necessarily universal because understanding the in-depth aspects of one sport, lets say American Football, doesn’t make you an expert in Basketball. But understanding that a game like American Football or Basketball is comprised of systems and mechanics that need to be balanced just like League of Legends allows you to see a lot of correlations between the two. Once you see and understand these systems, competitive player’s mastery of the game can increase and the viewer’s appreciation of the game can increase as well. Lets take any offensive “set play” in Basketball and compare it to a “team fight” in League. At first glance both are fast, chaotic, and over in a matter of seconds. Seemingly, the only thing that can be understood from the “set play” or the “team fight” is who was successful (i.e. did the ball go in?) or which team had more Champions alive at the end of the fight? On further investigation into both, the Basketball “set play” and the League of Legends “team fight” you might see a top of the key pick-n-roll play that opens the floor for the point guard to distribute the ball or the exact moment Thresh hooks an enemy Champion out of position and secures the match’s first kill. Both the pick-n-roll and the Thresh hook are mechanics designed to be tools, if used correctly, towards the success of the player and the team.
How does your passion for concepts like these help you make an arena shooter like Project BlueStreak?
As as player of competitive games, the concepts of mechanics, designing a game to promote player mastery and fairness, as well as nurture a passionate community are important to me. The act of developing and molding these aspects, along with my deep appreciation for the world of competitive sports, allows me to make Project BlueStreak into a game that adheres to these concepts and will be a hell of a lot of fun to play for years to come.
Anything you want to say to our community?
First and foremost: thank you for being apart of this journey to make this game. It’s going to be an interesting ride, so buckle up! Check us out on Twitch or hit me up Twitter to let me know what you think about Project BlueStreak or even all games, life, sports, or cake. I even accept Cowboys fans…
Thanks Josh, see you online! You can follow Josh on Twitter @BossBlackDante.