Lots of enthusiasm and little news at the Master of Orion PAX Panel
During this weekend’s PAX East, Wargaming held a panel about one of their more unusual projects: The reboot of Master of Orion. Few games have shaped the X4 genre of building vast empires and crushing huge fleets as decisively as this mythical name of gaming history. One turn at a time, ships move, resources accumulate and diplomatic relationships go down the gutter in this ancient yet fondly remembered title. The company around the “World of” action multiplayer titles now set out to re-imagine it with modern technology.
Hinted at by a cinematic intro of the voice actors portraying the carious characters, the focus of the PAX panel was the voice acting of the game with a sprinkle of the why and how Wargaming approached the project. The ensemble on stage hence consisted of three voice actors (Dwight Shultz, Nolan North and Alan Tudyk) as well as two members of Wargaming staff, Loremaster Kelsey Howard as well as the Director of product vision Chris Keeling.
On the VA front, it’s worth noting that the cast for the characters outside of the ones at the panel includes such illustrious names as Mark Hamill, who has recently drawn more attention through his lack of dialogue rather than through excellent delivery. The three voice actors on stage answered questions about their work in general, on the game specifically as well as their backgrounds. The original game didn’t have any voice acting, and thus there is a lot to be gained in terms of character depths and bringing the world to life. They cast seemed fairly excited about the opportunity to enhance a classic in such a manner.
When asked why Wargaming took on the project, the representative on stage explained how real-time and turn-based strategy games had been Wargaming’s focus before striking it rich with World of Tanks. Only then did they shift their efforts on the development Free-to-Play action multiplayer titles. In addition, the current Wargaming CEO Victor Kislyi was an avid player and even went as far as stating that he learned how to strategize and run a business through the Master of Orion title. As such, the title is deeply entrenched in the company’s history.
It was re-stated that Master of Orion would be different from Wargaming’s usual payment model and that it would not follow their tried and tested “F2P with micro transactions” approach, much to the relief of the audience.
A couple questions submitted via twitter were answered as well. One of them was about how the developers identified the most important parts of the original title. Which are the ‘magic’ bits that keep you going “Just one more turn” until 4am and how do you best transplant them into the future of today? Chris answered this, stating how various people who worked on the original title were contacted. Among them is the original art director, Jeff Dee, and he was asked the question of how he would have done things 20 years ago with today’s technology and Wargaming’s resources. His answers gave the developers a lot to work with.
The second question went to the voice actors and inquired how they get in-character. Answers ranged from a relatively tame “looking at the art” by Alan to a more sophisticated approach Nolan preached: Black coffee and singing in the car on the way to work.
The presentation ended with the audience frantically searching for promised bonus codes in envelopes under their seats, however the viewer was left wondering whatever these codes might contain.
All in all, the panel held relatively little new information on the game or it’s development status. What did come across, however, is that there is no lack of enthusiasm in the development team as well as the fans waiting for the rebirth of the legendary franchise.Related: 4X, Master of Orion, PAX East 2016, Wargaming