Pirates vs. Ninjas Dodgeball Interview (Xbox360)

Speaking with Chris Stockman, studio director of Blazing Lizard, Strategy Informer had the chance to chat about Blazing Lizard and Gamecock’s upcoming title, Pirates vs. Ninjas Dodgeball. Over the course of the phone interview, we dug deep into investigating what makes PvN a great title for the Xbox Live Arcade and the possibilities of it arriving on another download service such as WiiWare. Read on to find out about Pirates vs. Ninjas Dodgeball, a title that has been in development for close to a year and a half.

Strategy Informer: Chris, could you inform us of your duties at Blazing Lizard?

Chris Stockman: Basically, I handle a lot of the producing and supervising.

Strategy Informer: Describe one of the best moments you had while developing the title.

Chris Stockman: “I think the first time we had a multiplayer match with our test group and everything came together. It was a ton of fun as it’s a multiplayer centric game even though it’s single player game too. But when you get eight players together and throwing big red rubber balls at each other, including trash talking, it doesn’t get much better than that.”

Strategy Informer: Tell us a little more about the game – how will the gameplay proceed to lure gamers in?

Chris Stockman: “The multiplayer is a big component and the fact we have three different dodgeball modes. There are a lot of different customization options to use. Also, there are four teams we are shipping with: zombies, robots, pirates and ninjas. Each team will schematically tie to a level and will have a story of their own to play through that is tongue-in-cheek. Each will come with their own cut scenes too.”

Strategy Informer: Have you received a lot of fan mail and community reaction due to the popular internet meme?

Chris Stockman: “Yeah, we definitely at first we had quite a bit of e-mails and still to this day we have e-mails asking when the game is coming out, but as of late, we have fell of radar because there hasn’t been much buzz or talk about it; we kind of fell of the map because we were going through certification trying to figure out the best release date. But coming up, you’ll definitely see more announcements regarding the game.”

Strategy Informer: Has the title passed certification yet and if so, what do you think about Microsoft’s certification process?

Chris Stockman: “It’s passed certification and it’s waiting to be released at this point. I think what Microsoft offers is pretty transparent. We knew from the very beginning when we first got into it what the TCR requirements were and all that, and I know that a lot of other developers sort of complained a bit. Microsoft’s TCR is fairly workable and they have a lot of interpretations and will usually work with you regarding the TCRs that can be interpreted different ways. The development team is already familiar with the TCR policy and it was all planned for at the beginning. That’s the key too, not many developers really plan for the commission conference, and they don’t plan for meeting certain guidelines or requirements. If you plan from the very beginning, you’ll be better off.”

Strategy Informer: Is there a price point and launch day set for PvN?

Chris Stockman: “We are looking forward to early September and at 800 points.”

*Note: Since this phone interview, Blazing Lizard has announced via press release a September 3 release date for Pirates vs. Ninjas Dodgeball.

Strategy Informer: Could we see more PvN titles in the future such as Pirates vs. Ninjas Volleyball or Party Game?

Chris Stockman: “Yeah, we do. It’s something in the future I want to see. I definitely want to see future PvN games. I could totally see a puzzle fighter style game with PvN. It’s sort of the action based genre that’s character based. Maybe sports, pretty much a team aspect of it although, you know, I definitely want to see more genres. The sky is the limit for PvN.”

Strategy Informer: Is there a chance that PvN will show up on any other download service?

Chris Stockman: “There were tidbits thrown about at E3 but we can’t officially confirm anything yet.”

Strategy Informer: On the website there’s another bonus team that has been labeled as locked, can you speak on that yet?

Chris Stockman: “It’s not a part of the shipping game, but it’ll be for downloadable content. We can’t mention the name or who they are yet, but they are certainly are an icon and a part of gaming. When they do release, they’ll come with their own level and story. We think people will get a kick out of it. Very cool team, cool visuals and really cool level. As a matter of fact it’s one of my favorite levels.”

Strategy Informer: How far off is the downloadable content from releasing on Live?

Chris Stockman: “I’m hoping to get it done within the month of the game’s release.”

Strategy Informer: How has working with Gamecock benefited the team?

Chris Stockman: “I think in terms of what people have said about Gamecock and how they are very hands-off developer is that it’s all true, none of it is hyperbole and it’s all very much true. They do write critiques and provide criticism. They’re never “you have to do it this way or that way,” they kind of left it up to us. For an independent developer and being funded by a publisher, it was pretty nice for sure.”

Strategy Informer: What’s the future for Blazing Lizard look like? Are there any new projects on the way?

Chris Stockman: “I can’t speak on that yet, but I can confirm that we are an official PS3 developer and Wii developer.”

Strategy Informer: What do you think about dodgeball being banned in elementary schools?

Chris Stockman: “Kids will find another way to compete, it’s sort of the nature of growing up – nature of humanity you could almost say. Cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians have been going on forever. I think it’s kind silly.”

Strategy Informer: So who’d win in the theoretical battle, pirates or ninjas?

Chris Stockman: “I’m kind of a more of a pirate fan. I love the ninjas, but I think their weak. I like rum too, so I think I’m more on the pirate side.”

Strategy Informer: We’ll conclude our interview with one last question, why is Pirates vs. Ninjas Dodgeball a must have title?

Chris Stockman: “You know what, if players want an experience the keeps on giving, a multiplayer game let’s say, a game that you don’t play for a few hours and put down, then PvN is the right choice. It’s the kind of fun that has unlimited assort of gameplay. A lot of customization options for matches with beautiful graphics and really cool dodgeball gameplay. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience on Xbox Live Arcade. You’re not going to play anything like it and players will have the chance to finally figure out what’s better: pirates or ninjas or zombies or robots.”

Strategy Informer: We sure hope it turns out great; the idea of Pirates vs. Ninjas is fun to throw around.

Chris Stockman: “I think so too. The game is fun and the story is really funny. It’s light-hearted but it’s the multiplayer that’s going to keep people coming back for more. That’s where we see Live Arcade, that’s the type of games we want to make. We’re not into the single-player experience where you play for a few hours and put the game down. We’re into the online multiplayer where players can keep coming back and feel like they are getting their money’s worth."


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