Geek Interview Roll7 On Trimming The Excesses That Makes 'Rollerdrome' A Must-Play Genre Hybrid

Geek Interview: Roll7 On Trimming The Excesses That Makes ‘Rollerdrome’ A Must-Play Genre Hybrid

In an industry that has seemingly catered to all sorts of interests and tastes, it is still a wonderful feeling to see something truly exceed our expectations when it comes to gameplay and design. Skating and shooting don’t seem like things that could go together, but with Roll7‘s Rollerdrome, the pairing is one made in heaven that we didn’t know we needed.

Obviously, this means that we needed to get to know more about what made this game possible, and just what the team at Roll7 had going through their mind during the development period, and we had the pleasure of picking the brains of Creative Director Paul Rabbitte.

Knowing how Rollerdrome came to be was a key question that we needed the answer to, and for Rabbitte, it all came to him during “a game jam about ‘Dual Purpose Design’” where the crux was having one mechanic for two purposes.

“That’s where I had the idea for a game where doing skate tricks allowed you to regain ammo, and from that idea, Rollerdrome was born.”

Rollerdrome - Gameplay

And what a wonderful way to keep the player engaged throughout the many jaunts into the arena. In addition to that, Roll7 recognised the need for players to be actively involved, be it the skating, shooting, or just staying alive, and it all naturally led to the gameplay loop at the heart of Rollerdrome.

“A lot of our design mechanics are focused on encouraging players to really engage in both sides of the game – skating and shooting. Linking the two together was very important to us and we really wanted it to feel like a natural fit,” Rabbitte explained.

“So doing tricks gives you ammo which links the tricks to the combat. All the enemies also push you to move in different ways (if you stop moving you’ll die very quickly!), and when you eliminate an enemy they drop health so you have to skate over to pick it up. It was a very iterative process, slowly honing in on this feeling and removing any excess, and we think the result is hopefully something that feels very natural.”

Rollerdrome - Concept Art

However, it wasn’t always so smooth-sailing and refined. Before the team arrived at the final solution, there were many ideas on the table that needed either refining or elimination. One example was that the playable character, Kara, could fall if a landing wasn’t perfect, which did little for gameplay and made things more difficult than they should be for Rollerdrome.

The constant “narrowing down” of the mechanics allows for a “focus on a smaller key moveset that players could work to really master,” and that paves the way for both fun and depth to blend perfectly.

Speaking of Kara, she plays an important role in the narrative which is a nice surprise for a game that emphasises heavily on the skating and shooting. On this end, she was designed to be “an avenue” for players to “discover the world alongside her.” Even so, the choice is up to the player if they want to interact with the story further by digging into the lore, or just enjoying the “flow and focus” of the arcade gameplay.

Rollerdrome also utilises a unique aesthetic that isn’t that commonly seen, using colours and a sense of style to deliver a game that feels, looks, and sounds great.

“We were inspired by 70’s sci-fi films, which were often kind of low-budget – so we liked the idea of a setting that re-uses existing locations, like the mall. There’s a lot of brutalist architecture, which would have felt quite modern and maybe even futuristic in the ’70s. Different arenas also have different gameplay feel – for example; there are crevasses in the mountain arenas which add an environmental hazard, whereas the canyon levels are very smooth and flowing. This gives players a chance to try out new styles of play and improve their skills,” Rabbitte shared further.

Just like the studio’s other recent release, OlliOlli World, the idea of chasing a high score and showing off your mastery is front and centre in Rollerdrome, which makes perfect sense as the teams working on the games shared ideas on how to make things better. But for those thinking that this skater-shooter hybrid will be right at home as a multiplayer experience, that is unlikely to happen.

Rollerdrome was always planned to be a single-player experience – we were creating a whole new genre hybrid, so we wanted to focus on really perfecting the mechanics and gameplay style for players,” added Rabbitte.

At the very least, Roll7 has certainly done that based on the extended time we have had with the game, and suffice to say; we are going to be skating and shooting for quite some time.

Rollerdrome launches on PS4, PS5, and PC on 16 August.