Line of Defense: Tactics interview with Derek Smart, president and lead developer of 3000AD


Pure|New recently had the chance to interview Derek Smart, the president and lead developer of 3000AD. Derek Smart is also the man behind games as BattleCruiser 3000AD and Universal Combat.

In the interview not only we get into detail about Line of Defense: Tactics gameplay and development but also ask Derek Smart about the future of The Line of Defense franchise for this year.

So let’s get this started shall we?

Question : What was the idea behind Line Of Defense Tactics?

Answer : The idea started out as a companion app for our upcoming Line Of Defense MMO. After some thought and research, it dawned on me that most of the so-called companion apps out there – mostly on mobile – were not up to snuff and did hardly anything to boost the appeal of the game they were supposed to be promoting. I didn’t want to go that route.

So I came up with the idea to do a full blown game which would also serve as a companion app to the MMO.

Since we were relatively content complete on the MMO back in late 2012 when I first had the idea, I decided that it was worth the effort to do the full game based on the assets and world of the MMO. Shortly after I decided that it had to be multi-platform, so the decision to go with Unity3D engine was a no-brainer. Especially since I couldn’t possibly imagine developing a game that didn’t make it to the PC platform as that would be considered sacrilege or something.

With that, I then decided to use the storyline of one of our DC Comics as the basis and that it had to be real-time strategy title in order to play into the premise of the MMO game itself.

In the end, I put together a team headed by myself, got JJ over at CapitalJMedia to put together and lead a dedicated Unity3D dev team, called in my old friend, Ricardo Sanchez (the writer of the DC Comics) to come up with a script based on the first comic (which would become the basis of the missions) and off we went.

About a year later, the game is now done about to be released. The rest is history


-  For fans of both Line of Defense MMO and comics, what can they expect from the mobile game besides being on the same universe? ( ex : Storyline or returning characters )

A: Since it is a stand-alone game, I think the familiarity is going to come from the characters, weapons, vehicles, the world etc. And as a companion app, when the MMO game is released, they will be able to lookup info about the entire MMO game from within the mobile app itself. This includes weapons, items, vehicles, the world map etc.

More importantly, it just sets up the premise of the bigger game to come and gives them an idea of what to expect. Especially since the MMO is not designed as a “free for all” type game. It has a lot of real-time strategy type elements intertwined with the team based fps, vehicular and aerial combat action.

Q –  What can players expect in terms of gameplay and replay value?

A : First, there are very few games like it in the mobile space. It is a hybrid of real-time and strategy based gaming. And since you’re going up against AI opponents, the game has a very high replay value. Which is why, after you’re done playing the full sixteen mission campaign, it unlocks the whole thing so you can go back and play any individual mission in order that you like. And it also has a skirmish mode which just pits your four man team against numerous waves of enemies.


Q – Could you tell us a bit more about the development of the game?  ( ex:  Engine, Art department, design philosophy )

A: As I mentioned earlier, it is based on the MMO and uses all of its pre-existing assets, game world etc.

Because a lot of things had already been established, it was just a matter of reusing art assets, data sets, world maps etc. and massaging them to work on the less powerful mobile platforms while doing optimizations for standard WIN and MAC platforms. Aside from the UI elements, there are no unique game related assets in LOD Tactics; all of it comes from the MMO game.

We used the Unity3D engine, so a lot of work had to be done there in order to get our more higher end assets to scale down to the target platforms. The MMO game uses Havoks’ Vision Engine and a plethora of other middleware engines, so our world and assets were already better suited to the higher end targets. Quite a bit of time was spent tuning these assets to work with less powerful platforms since we were targeting smartphones and tablets as well.

From the onset I wanted the game to be simple yet powerful, advanced yet easy to pick up and play. Being a “Derek Smart” game, that was easier said than done; but I think we’ve come up with a really good compromise as you can see from the gameplay videos. In fact, one of the reasons for releasing those videos is to give people an insight as to the sort of game that it was and the target audience that we were shooting for. Especially going on mobile where there is so much crud to wade through, I wanted the game to stand out, not get lost in the fray and to be something different.


Q-  How different is the game compared to other apps in the market? ( ex: Arma Tactics or other games of the style of LOD Tactics)

A: It is very different in many, many ways. From its advanced yet simple pick-up-and-play style, down to the diversity of the environment. It has gameplay ranging from space combat, to planetary combat, combat inside stations, team and inventory management, strategy mechanics etc. In fact, because it offers such diverse and eclectic gameplay, multiplayer was never in the cards to begin with as that would have ultimately restricted the sort of game that it would end up being.

Q -  What can we expect from the  Line of Defense franchise in 2014?

A: Well, Line Of Defense Tactics is the first of two planned games in the IP, with the larger and much anticipated Line Of Defense MMO to follow later in the year. Due to the design of LOD Tactics, depending on how it does in the marketplace, I would be looking to add more content to it by way of missions, maps, assets, weapons etc. since it doesn’t even feature 5% of the total world and asset dB of the MMO game.

Plus, we have a total of six DC Comics based on the IP of which only two have been released thus far and the others in the works as I type this. So I am planning on adapting missions from the remaining comics as we did with this first comic.

So it should come as no surprise if we continue to expand on that game and indeed the Line Of Defense IP in 2014 and beyond as I’ve done with all my other IP over the years.

Question number 6 warps up our interview with Mr Derek Smart, we hope you enjoyed this interview and stay tuned for more information about Line of Defense coming in the near future.

if you’re looking for more information regarding Line of Defense: Tactics just see the image below.


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