An interview with director Austin Ivansmith on Marble Knights’s newest features!
When Marble Knights spun into Apple Arcade last September, players got a chance to venture across the Kingdom of Roundingham and take control of the ten Knights of the Round as they battled the forces of Lord Terroball in sword-swinging, orb-using, puzzle-solving action for up to four players. Since then, additional updates have been rolling out, including the Battle Arena versus mode and unique Marble Knights twists on basketball, bowling, racing, and more. The most recent update, launched on May 21, adds two more minigames for two to four players: Bombing Blast and Lazer Orb Arena. See the latest trailer here!
Bombing Blast is an explosive competition in which you must use bombs to clear away rubble and clear out the opposition, with the explosions getting bigger and bigger the longer the contest lasts. Lazer Orb Arena, meanwhile, puts players on Lazer Orbs that leave powerful trails in their wake; the goal is to trap opponents in your ever-growing Lazer Trail while using power-ups to avoid getting trapped yourself.
With a full blown Quest Mode, a dedicated versus mode, and six minigames (with more on the way), Marble Knights is equal parts fantasy adventure and multiplayer party game, but to get further insight into the game and its latest content, we sat down with director Austin Ivansmith to find out why this well-rounded fantasy title is not to be missed.
WayForward: The latest Marble Knights update adds two new minigames: Bombing Blast and Lazer Orb Arena. What inspired these two minigames, and what makes them fun additions?
Austin: Lazer Orb Arena was kind of a no-brainer with the team after our Lazer Orb was designed and first implemented into the game for Quest Mode. The trail of the Lazer Orb is a neon glowing wall, much like the lightcycle trails from the TRON movies, and in our minigame, players are constantly moving while their trail grows longer and longer. Being a child of the ’80s it only made sense to combine TRON and the classic game Snake into a four-player minigame.
Bombing Blast is such a fun addition because I tried designing a fun way to use bombs in Quest Mode, but it never felt right in that context, especially for lock-and-key puzzle solving — but as a minigame with infinite bombs spawning under players, it’s way more fun. I think I’ve always wanted to make a top-down bomb-exploding action minigame, especially after all the bombing games I’ve played over the years with friends. And, of course, we have one game to thank for that: Dynablaster.
WayForward: What kind of strategies would you suggest for players who want a leg up in Bombing Blast and Lazer Orb Arena?
Austin: For Bombing Blast, a big key to success is clearing out your area of bricks early on so you don’t get trapped. After that, it’s really useful to attack bombs which have been planted and are going to explode, because you send them sliding across the stage, and the explosion timer is reset on the bomb. It’s a great way to really surprise your opponents and corner them with explosions, but it’s only for the truly brave risk-takers.
In Lazer Orb Arena, the name of the game is patience. There are weapon pickups at the center of the stage, and they are super useful against your foes, but it can become a deathtrap when everyone rushes in at the same time. Watch your opponents from the perimeter, don’t trap yourself, and then make your move once a new weapon pickup respawns.
WayForward: How is your approach to developing Marble Knights, with its continued rollout of new post-launch content, different compared to other games you’ve worked on?
Austin: Surprisingly enough, the approach hasn’t been much different from the games I have previously directed, which had all content in the game complete when sending it off to be published. Along the way you schedule out the order you make the content, abide by that schedule, and the game is done when all the content is done. It is a little weird knowing that the game has already launched and it’s in the hands of fans, but all of the Marble Knights minigames were planned from the very beginning, so in my mind our game isn’t truly “done” until all the minigames are in players’ hands.
WayForward: Back on April 1, Oblate, one of the heroes of Marble Knights, was announced as a dateable character in Are We Soulmates Or Am I Just Being WayForward, which, tragically, is totally fake. What did you think of “Hot” Oblate, and why would you date him?
Austin: I feel like “Hot” Oblate was given some very bad dating advice on how to impress others. It’s so sad because Oblate is such a beautiful soul, that he shouldn’t have to try so hard; he should just be himself. He has such a soft spoken, quiet charm, and his no-nonsense attitude is just something really attractive in a partner. If he could get his confidence back and just be himself, I would totally date that Oblate.
WayForward: Marble Knights now features Quest Mode, Battle Arena, and six diverse minigames. What are your favorite ways to play?
Austin: My favorite way to play is on the Apple TV with my kids. We play games as a family all the time on all the consoles, and Marble Knights is also one of our favorites because it’s one of the more fun four-player games for us. We are really close to completing Quest Mode as a group, and usually after tackling one stage in Quest Mode we go play some minigames (bowling is a huge hit in my house). And even though we usually plan on playing a quick minigame, we tend to play over and over and completely lose track of time.
WayForward: For players who haven’t given Marble Knights a try yet, why should they pick it up now?
Austin: There’s way more content now than when the game launched, especially where multiplayer is concerned. Many people I know are starting to see more friends and family in indoor settings now that they are fully vaccinated, and with all these great minigames, it’s such a fun way to spend time with your family. There’s something amazing about playing in the same room when zany chaos ensues. Bring family over and play on your Apple TV, or bring an iPad and three or four Bluetooth controllers to your grandma’s house, or play on your phones sitting around with friends waiting for a movie or concert. It’s just fun to play for any age.
WayForward: Thanks, Austin, and good luck wrapping up the game’s final batch of content!