Interview with Carlos Bordeu: Lead Designer for ACE Team

I have a soft spot for ACE Team’s first release Zeno Clash. While everyone else was developing brown and grey FPS’s, ACE Team went in a completely different direction and created a beautiful and colorful world unlike anything I’d seen in games before. Many of the environments and characters were jaw-droppingly gorgeous and the amount of backstory the writers put into some of the lesser characters was mesmerizing. My personal favorite was a character who was continuously walking in a perfectly straight line for his entire life.

Up next for ACE Team is a game called Rock of Ages and it shows the developers taking their abilities in a completely different direction: a ball rolling, art history styled, tower defense game. It bares a passing resemblance to Marble Madness and Super Monkey Ball which is why I decided to give a little interview to Mr. Carlos Bordeu, lead designer, to see what this game’s all about.

Hit the jump to read the entire interview.

Alex: If you had to describe Rock of Ages in one sentence what would it be?

Carlos: Rock of Ages is like a obstacle course where the final objective is the enemy castle and the player assumes both the role of defending his territory and attacking his opponent’s one with a massive boulder.

Alex: Where did the idea for Rock of Ages come from? Are there any specific games that influenced its design?

Carlos: There are several marble inspired games that are really fun, but we wanted to combine the marble gaming part with a sort of ‘tower defense’ style gameplay. That was the main idea behind Rock of Ages. The gameplay mechanics was what we designed first – then came the artistic and visual style. We’ve seen many people connect our game to Super Monkey Ball, but I haven’t played SMB. My guess is that they are very different games.

Alex: Rock of Ages appears to be drastically different from your previous game Zeno Clash. What was the inspiration for doing something completely different and not another first-person adventure game?

Carlos: While working on Zeno Clash: Ultimate Edition we started brainstorming on what we could do as a second game that was not a sequel to Zeno Clash. It is really important for us to demonstrate we are a highly creative and innovative studio, and we really wanted to do something unique but very different from our debut game. The main objective was to design something more multiplayer based. We also wanted to keep a unique visual style that would set the game apart from most titles.

Alex: How are Rock of Ages and Zeno Clash similar? Why would fans of Zeno Clash enjoy Rock of Ages?

Carlos: I think both are similar only in how with both game’s we’re trying to do something new and that hasn’t been done before. Both games are drastically different in terms of gameplay and style, so they will certainly appeal to different types of people (which doesn’t mean that those who enjoyed Zeno Clash wouldn’t enjoy Rock of Ages – we actually believe Zeno Clash is more a niche game than ROA). I’ve read many comments after we unveiled Rock of Ages where people appreciate that our studio tries to do new things instead of making more of the same. That is what we want people to recognize in us when they refer to our studio.

Alex: Since this interview is for a Sega fan-site, what’s your experience with Sega games and/or consoles? Any particular games that inspired you to get into the game industry and/or influenced the creation of Zeno Clash and Rock of Ages?

Carlos: We have a really big Sega and Sonic fan here at ACE. I personally remember having great memories playing the Contra and Castlevania games on the Genesis. Zeno Clash has elements of some very specific titles (like the targeting system of Zelda), but not particularly Sega games. Marble Madness and other marble titles were certainly an inspiration for Rock of Ages.

Alex: Any hints as to what’s next for Ace Team after Rock of Ages?

Carlos: We’re prototyping some stuff that is new – but it is way to early to talk about. We also did some early tests for Zeno Clash 2 and that is something which we will be going back to… when the time is right… but for now Rock of Ages is the main priority. Whatever comes out next – for sure it will be different or unique in some way.