There's been a fair amount of buzz surrounding Breach & Clear even before it was released on the App Store last week. And with good reason: it's pretty awesome. However, there's a bit more to the story of this mish-mash of genres and themes, including some rather unexpected sources of inspiration. Josh Fairhurst (president of Mighty Rabbit) and Wes Keltner (Creative Director for Gun) took a few moments out of their busy schedules to share some of the juicier tidbits with us.
148Apps: Breach & Clear uses a great combination of strategy mechanics. What were some of the least likely places you pulled inspiration from?
Josh Fairhurst (JF): The least likely place was NFL 2K1. The planning phase in Breach & Clear was beginning to feel a lot like creating a plan in a game of football, so we turned to the best football game of all time. Most of our gameplay was designed using powerpoint presentations supplied by our consultants. In each one of these images, vision cones were the dominant markings - so we built gameplay around that. A lot of people will probably think Frozen Synapse was an influence, but we didn't set out to be directly influenced by it. B&C was originally fully turn-based, but we found that with proper tactics, enemies never got a chance to respond. We switched to using simultaneous turns as a response to that.
Wes Keltner (WK): I agree with Josh, strategy and planning in Breach & Clear is somewhat similar to calling routes in football games. At one point we even discussed creating an ‘audible’ type button. During pre-production/design doc phase, my inspirations were a little more obvious. Classic strategy shooters on PC like Rainbow Six, SWAT, and Jagged Alliance, as well as titles like Final Fantasy Tactics were all staples for me.
148Apps: The weapon attachments all have some sort of statistical trade-off. Was this intentional as a means to prevent players from relying too much on relying on their equipment rather than stats and tactics?
WK: We basically wanted all these cool attachments to really push the realism of each weapon. Allow the user to really customize and tinker. We put the heavy lifting part into good hands.
JF: We felt that for every bonus, there should be some kind of drawback. At the same time, we definitely wanted to push tactics and proper planning above all else. In the end, the weapons and attachments don't feel like they make a huge difference unless you lean a gun all the way towards one of the stats. We're hoping to fix that in the future by adding some guns that will change the way you're approaching combat entirely.
148Apps: Were there any classes or skills that had to be cut due to time/space/balance? And if so, were there any you regret not being able to include?
JF: The Intel specialization originally had a tactic called "Direct Link" which allowed you to reveal the enemies in a chosen room. This was a great tactic, but in the end it felt like it would cause players to just leave their Intel guy positioned outside the level, slowly revealing all the rooms. I can't think of too many things that we cut that I regret cutting, I think we made pretty good choices.
WK: Yes, I don’t regret any of the cuts we had to make. As team working together, we all picked apart classes, features, content, each time they were considered. We would shoot holes in it, looking for weak spots. So the things that hit the cutting room floor were all for the good of the game. It’s often difficult to find a good balance between realism and fun.
148Apps: What are some of your preferred class combinations and loadouts?
WK: My preferred team is a Fireteam Leader, Medic, and two Direct Action guys. I love the sprint perk. Being able to move a guy so quickly around the level allows me to get the drop on unsuspecting foes, as well as help another unit out. Having a couple Direct Action guys allows me to quickly subdue a situation that might have gotten out of hand if it had taken me two turns to get there. I run 100% suppressed on all weapons. Suppressed weapons, mixed with the lock pick kit, allows me to play B&C with stealth and precision. Mix that with two speedy Direct Action guys...You’re a fast, efficient ghost.
JF: I tend to roll with a Fireteam Leader, Weapons Sergeant, Intelligence Officer, and Direct Action Specialist. I get into a lot of scenarios where an enemy is behind cover and there is no safe approach - I can quickly solve this by putting my Fireteam Leader into cover while using his "Draw Fire" tactics. After that I can use my Direct Action Specialist's "Sprint" tactic to run behind the distracted enemy. I tend to prioritize anything with a high rate of fire and I modify the gun to get that RoF even higher.
148Apps: What's next for Breach & Clear?
JF: Right now we're going through everything people are saying about the game - critics, customers, fans - everyone. We're going to be working hard over the next few months to respond to these suggestions, and hopefully, get them into the game. Our first targets are knocking out all those "Coming Soon" banners!
WK: Ditto on what Josh said...Oh and Android, Android, ANDROID! We can’t wait to allow Android players to start breaching to their hearts content. There are also some features and content Gun and Mighty Rabbit have been tossing back and forth but Josh hit it right on the head...we want to listen to the fans.
Our thanks go out to Wes and Josh for discussing design and tactics amidst all the post-launch hullabaloo. If you haven't given Breach & Clear a spin yet, you should probably go ahead and nab it off the App Store for $1.99.