Have you heard of Blade Ballet? If not, you’d better pull up a chair, because we’re about to have a conversation with DreamSail Games, the New York City developers who produced this knockabout, robot-smashing, multiplayer fighting game.
Releasing on August 9, Blade Ballet is best described as a collection of mini-games punctuated by the type of fighting seen in Battleblock Theater…only with robots gliding gracefully into certain death. There’s a slalom, a jumbo soccer game, and a variety of challenging tracks (with lasers!) to keep players on their toes as they smack the crap out of each other in a bid to be the last one standing. Each of the ten robots has a unique personality and ability, so players can find a style that works for them.
Where did these robots come from, and why are they trying to destroy each other? So the story goes, the humans have all died out, but the machines built to produce the robots continue to function for millennia. This creates an overpopulation issue, necessitating a culling via deathmatch. The entertainment value is a bonus, and thus the different stages are designed for maximum comedic effect, and the Blade Ballet is born.
I’m a bit excited about this game, I must admit, and so I was happy to be able to reach out to Emma Larkins, the Marketing and Player Relations Lead of DreamSail Games, to find out a bit more about the game, the inspiration, and what we can expect:
Marooners’ Rock: Give me your best elevator speech about Blade Ballet.
Emma Larkins: Blade Ballet is a multiplayer fighting game of whirling robot destruction! There are currently ten bots in the game, each with different special abilities. Players use these special abilities to claim dominance across nine hazardous levels filled with lava, lasers, bombs, and more.
MR: Tell us a little bit about DreamSail Games.
Kevin Porras (Co-founder, Producer): Justin (Sanders; Founder, Artist) and I went to college together and knew we wanted to work on a game professionally after making some interesting demos and prototypes in school. Eventually after a few years in the industry (Justin at Insomniac Games and myself at Scholastic) we decided the time was right to finally take the leap into indie development with a very specific goal in mind: to make amazing multiplayer games. We both grew up playing odd multiplayer games, whether it was Planetside or Tribes, there was always a jetpack, gang mentality, or other themes that we did not run into day to day. We want to make games like that, games that take you out of the ordinary and ask you to deal with usual circumstances alongside others.
MR: On the developer’s website, the goal of your games is stated as such: “We want our players to learn about themselves through their interactions with others, free from the constraints of reality.” Would you say Blade Ballet is a good litmus test for friendships, both long-term and budding?
Emma: Absolutely! I think the best friendships are the ones that can withstand a little bit of friendly rivalry, and multiplayer fighting games are a perfect breeding ground for rivalry. I know it took me personally a long time to conquer my inner sore loser, and I’ve become a better friend because of it. Especially exciting is our foray into co-op with our Soccer Mode (2v2). The co-op games – Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime especially comes to mind – are the ones that will really make or break your relationships.
MR: How do you feel about comparisons to other games such as Gang Beasts and Robot Roller-Derby Disco Dodgeball? I’m a huge fan of those games, and Blade Ballet has a […] similar feel while also bringing a distinctly…graceful aspect to the “kill your friends” theme.
Emma: We’re honored to be compared to other awesome multiplayer games like those (although I haven’t played Robot Roller-Derby Disco Dodgeball yet and will remedy that by purchasing it as soon as I get home). If someone were looking for a more detailed comparison, I’d say that Gang Beasts is a more laugh-out-loud hilarious party game than Blade Ballet, and that Blade Ballet has more potential to be a competitive/tournament game.
MR: How did the team settle on the concept and design of Blade Ballet?
Neil Sveri (Co-founder, Programmer): The core gameplay of spinning and sword poking was discovered by happy accident. Nick, our CTO, and I made a prototype based on a funny bug we saw in a game at PAX Prime, and it turned out to be a lot of fun. We extrapolated this into a 4 player arena game to show the rest of the company, and the idea was so well received that we decided to expand on it. Almost everything past spinning, swords, and shields was created as we developed the game. It was perhaps both a gift and a curse that we never really settled on a design and instead kept pushing out ideas and prototypes. This resulted in a long battle with scope creep (laughs) but in the end, with a lot of polish, our game turned out to be way more exciting and fun than we could have ever expected.
With three game modes (Stock, Timed Death Match, and Soccer – Stock gameplay is featured in the header video), and online multiplayer as well as local competition, Blade Ballet hopes to be playable by beginners and fighting pros alike, and I, for one, hope to see a lot of streamers and LPers taking advantage of this potentially comedic challenge.
Blade Ballet is releasing on August 9 for PC (Steam) and PS4, at a price of $14.99 USD (with launch-day discounts). Check out the official website, follow the game on Twitter and Facebook for more information as the release nears, and check out DreamSail Games on Twitch, every Friday night, where they play Blade Ballet, discuss their progress, and answer questions!