E3 2011: Orcs Must Die! Interview with Justin Korthof

iTZKooPA awarded Orcs Must Die! his best of show for PAX East 2011. Not willing to miss a single morsel of information, the shelled blogger pinned down Community Manager Justin Korthof for the 411 on the upcoming title that blends a smörgåsbord of genres into a single experience.

Senor Korthof was even kind enough to tighten up the release window. Orcs Must Die! is now slated for the “end of August or the beginning of September.”

LoreHound: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions during your busy E3 schedule. Could you give a quick recap of Orcs Must Die! for those of our readers that haven’t seen our previous coverage?

JK: Orcs Must Die! is an action-strategy game coming out this summer from Robot Entertainment. It puts you in the shoes of a character called the War Mage who is tasked with defending a series of fortresses from invading hordes of orcs and other creatures. The player unlocks traps, spells, and weapons as they progress that will help them dispatch the orc mob in amusing and deadly ways.

LH: Robot Entertainment has been slowly feeding gamers bits and pieces of the game. I’ve (iTZKooPA) personally enjoyed the Trap Spotlight. What’s your favorite trap so far? Anything still in the vault that you’re excited for? How many traps will players eventually unlock?

JK: Personally, it’s a toss-up between the Wall Blades and the Elven Archers. Both have their particular uses, and I really enjoy using both for different reasons. I still chuckle every single time the Wall Blades cut orcs up into little pieces. Every single time.

The interview continues with more media after the jump.

LH: During the run of Trap Spotlight and updates to the Defenses page, addition items have been added that aren’t necessarily traps, but items on our avatar, such as the Wind Belt. Are players going to have a lot of personal versatility available to chose from?

JK: There are two weapons, a handful of spells, and a huge variety of traps. Spells like the Wind Belt don’t fall into player customization. They are placed into your load-out at the beginning of a level like other traps and weapons.

LH: Speaking of the avatar, what’s his name and backstory? Will the cheeky one-liners Robot polled the community for be voiced?

JK: The player character is the War Mage. He is one of the last of his kind. I don’t want to go too much into it, as the game itself has a campaign that reveals portions of the story about why – and who – he’s fighting. The one-liners we got during our community campaign were great. They were intended for the orcs, and while we only chose one winner, we actually wound up recording about 35 of the lines. They’re in the game now, and are really funny.

LH: How many different mobs are there? Do some of the orcs avoid specific traps, like flying units ignoring the ground spikes? Are there any intelligent orcs to guide invaders around our path or engineering orcs that can ruin traps?

JK: I can’t go into too many specifics about the number of enemy types. We’ve revealed several so far, but it’s not the whole story. We’ll be talking more about other enemy types as we get closer to release. We did just reveal the Gnoll Hunter for the first time at E3. He’s an enemy that is less concerned with getting to the rift, and more concerned with killing you and your minions. If you’re not paying attention, he can sneak up on you and really make your life difficult.

LH: Are there many RPG mechanics, like increasing our HP or crossbow damage, or is it more about building our mousetrap? Can individual traps be upgraded in any way?

JK: We do have an RPG-lite element in the game right now, but we’re not discussing the details of that just yet.

LH: We were told in the past that there will be “over 20 unique levels.” Is Orcs Must Die! going to have difficulty settings? Any other feature that will increase replayability (achievements, leaderboards, etc.)?

JK: Yes, Orcs Must Die! has three difficulty settings. When you start the game, there is an easy and normal. When you’ve beaten the game on our “normal” difficulty, you unlock a mode called “Nightmare” in which everything moves faster, you get no breaks, and we introduce more difficult enemies a lot sooner. It’s a much more difficult, frantic experience. We also get a lot or replayability out of our skull-rating system. In each level, a player can earn up to 5 skulls. Completing the level under the par time and letting zero enemies through the rift will give you 5 skulls, and it goes down from there. Several of the levels may be easy to beat, but they’re not necessarily easy to perfect. There are other replay elements in the game as well, like scores and leaderboards.

LH: Orcs Must Die! is heading to PC, PSN and XBLA. Was there a lead platform?

JK: The game has been developed primarily on PC, but we’re putting in a ton of work to ensure that the console versions have controls and a design that make sense for console gameplay.

LH: Cutting up hordes of orcs is crazy fun, but the fun can be crazier with a friend. Any further talk on co-op or even competitive multiplayer being added later in the form of DLC or an expansion?

JK: It’s something we’d love to do eventually. We gave ourselves a shorter development cycle on Orcs Must Die! than many of us have been used to in the past with games like Halo Wars or Age of Empires. What that meant was that to keep the quality level high, we were going to have to be honest with ourselves very early on about what we could accomplish in the amount of time we had. Many players have asked for Co-Op, and we agree it would be an amazing addition to an already fun game. It’s on the table for future discussion, but there’s nothing to announce at this time.

LH: Has the summer release window been tightened up to a more specific window? Is there going to be a beta phase on any platform?

JK: There are no plans for a public beta phase for Orcs Must Die!. As for the release, we still don’t have a specific date yet, but we’ll likely be releasing near the end of August or the beginning of September.