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Smite 2 Interview - Titan Forge takes us through what goes into rebuilding the Battleground of the Gods from scratch

With the second alpha weekend coming up and a more complete launch planned for late July, Titan Forge's design director AJ Walker and executive producer Alex Cantatore delve into Smite 2's god design, how Hecate has been rebuilt, what Unreal Engine 5 means for the future of the game, how they approach community requests, and more.

Audio transcription

"Hello everyone and welcome back to another Gamereactor interview.
Today I'm here with, not just one person actually, today's a bit of a special interview because I've got a double whammy of talented developers to talk to."

"I'm here with Titan Forge's Alex and Ajax, both of them who are incredibly invested and important to the development of Smite 2, which is a game that I'm also very invested in because, well, I'm a bit of a Smite nerd, one could say.
I'm very excited about this, I really am. So let's dive on in."

"Ajax, Alex, tell me a little bit about the first alpha weekend that's just been for Smite 2.
What's the feedback been like? Are fans excited for Smite 2?
Are they looking forward to this massive sequel?
Yeah, I think the feedback's been pretty great."

"It's a big challenge to remake and evolve a game that people love so much.
That you have been playing for a decade.
And we knew that this is an alpha, right? It's not a finished product.
We have a long way still to go, but we felt like we were kind of on the right track, which is why we wanted to do an early alpha weekend."

"We kind of wanted to confirm our beliefs that this is moving in the right direction and all the players are excited about it.
And that was largely the feedback we got.
I think we heard from people, hey, this is fun, the bones are there."

"There's obviously a lot of work still to do, which we're well aware of.
But we're on the right track, which I think is good.
And I think the other thing that was really good about it was we got a lot of really micro-level actionable feedback from people."

"I had no idea that so many people bind abilities to mouse wheel scroll up and down on PC.
But I must have gotten 50 people DMing me specifically about that.
So now that's going to be fixed for the next alpha weekend.
So learning what is important to fix from the player's perspective, even if it's something tiny like that, is great."

"The reason why we do these tests.
There's a lot of things you just can't learn any other way.
So actually shipping the game to players is a huge process on our side that a lot of the general community is unaware of how much goes into that."

"Just so you can click the download button on Steam.
So much has to happen.
Actually playing something online.
We're testing our entire new Rally Here platform for SMITE 2."

"So even when you don't take into account any of the actual design and gameplay elements of SMITE 2, huge amounts of testing took place in this first alpha weekend just from those two things alone.
And then just the scale of getting all these people in who all have their own individual preferences, settings, play styles, gods and goddesses, items that they like and dislike, and focusing in on that."

"We were really thrilled with just how much participation there was from the community.
People who were generally happy, generally understood what our plans were and where we were going, and then were just extremely helpful to the process all across the board."

"And I think just one of the things, very easily the first weekend could have been the servers don't work, everything is on fire.
We were very fortunate that technically all of that stuff held up, right?
Which again is, okay, we're on the right track."

"We've got the good foundation, now we just have a lot more work to do.
There was players even saying, hey, if you don't get to play at all this weekend, just know that's a thing that happens.
Yeah, but we managed to survive that."

"So we definitely got the base.
No, it is a massive accomplishment.
It's something that's not talked about enough.
Credit to you guys for managing that."

"But anyway, let's talk a little bit about the gods then.
So we know that in this coming alpha weekend that's on its way, Hades and Sol are set to make their arrival, right?
So what's the process that goes into bringing these existing gods into SMITE 2?
How much work goes into bringing these already established characters into the sequel?
A lot of work goes into it."

"We're remaking all of the gameplay completely from scratch in the new engine.
Obviously, we have a strong foundation to work off of, but a lot of things could be implemented in a lot of different ways for similar results."

"There's a lot of decision-making and a lot of just work to be done even when following an exact template.
But we're not just following exact templates.
We're also adding unique, fun, new mechanics to almost every god."

"Some need a little bit more than others.
Some feel like, oh, this kit held up so well, and we don't really want to change much.
Others felt like, okay, we have a couple problems here we need to solve."

"So just that process of assessing that on each god is another big chunk of time.
The planning process for which gods are going to come out in which order and how we're going to stagger all that is something Alex has been super involved in that's also a big effort."

"It's a significant part of our daily work on SMITE 2.
It's planning, designing, implementing, testing the gods.
It's a big task, but it's one that we planned for, prepped for, and we're allocating tons of time to it exactly as planned."

"Yeah, and I think SMITE 1's subtitle was The Battleground of the Gods.
The two most important things is we've got to have good gods, and we've got to have a good battleground.
So we spend most of our time thinking about those two things."

"Just as an example, one of the gods in this update is Hades.
Hades is the god that was one of the very first SMITE 1 gods.
Beloved god, still very popular to this day in SMITE 1.
We had to ask ourselves, okay, well, if we were to design this god today, what would we change, right?
And one thing that we decided not to change is Hades' core appearance is very similar to the way he looks in SMITE 1."

"It's updated, higher definition, all of his effects are completely redone, the sounds are all redone, but he still looks like Hades from SMITE 1.
And something like that's important to us because there's a huge player base of people that loved Hades in SMITE 1, and some people will be like, oh, well, he should look different from SMITE 2."

"It's like, no, Hades is going to look like Hades.
It's the same character.
Then it's like, well, how do we evolve everything beyond that?
Like I said, it's the effects, it's the audio, it's the core gameplay where now there's a twist for..."

"Do you want to talk about his ultimate?
Yeah, it's kind of cool.
The big new feature we added in Hades is in his ultimate, he can reuse one of his first, second, or third ability again."

"So you can ultimate, and then you can leap underground to relocate the ultimate.
Or while ulting, you can silence a bunch of enemies to trap them in the ultimate or prevent them from fighting back."

"Or you can just detonate and do a big additional burst damage on top of the ultimate.
So Hades is one of those characters that a lot of players might be a little more cynical or a little bit more pro-focused, be like, this kid just needs to be changed a lot."

"But the character we felt has been really successful across a lot of different metrics, has seen a good amount of pro play, even in recent years in solo lane and things like that.
So we really look at, we kind of say a plus one."

"What's something really exciting we can add on top of the current kit without taking away too much of the additional?
So it's quite literally adding to the kit.
And that's where the ultimate additional ability fire came from."

"Yeah, the first time I saw Hades in a playtest, he's got his big circle.
And I'm like, okay, cool, I'm safe. He's over there.
And then he goes underground and comes up, and I'm like, oh God, I'm not safe, I'm dead."

"It's just these little twists to the core gameplay of Swain that makes it feel unique and new, and every game is exciting again.
So it's a lot of fun.
And I think Ajax, you mentioned there that Alex is quite involved in the way that you choose which gods come to Smite 2."

"What is that process like?
How do you decide which gods are best suited to come at this time?
How do you say, this god is great, but we want him to come at the last, towards the end of all the other gods."

"Who gets the short end of the stick, is basically what I'm asking.
Yeah, there's a lot of spreadsheets involved.
So basically, for the very first group of gods that we're working on, the most important thing was what tech is involved with that god's gameplay, because we need to build out every little piece of tech to then be able to make other gods' gameplay kits."

"So the first few gods that we selected were more along the lines of like, what helps us build the toolkit that we need to be able to build all the future abilities?
And then layered on top of that is, okay, which gods are popular in Smite 1?
Because we know that if your favorite god in Smite 1 is, I don't know, who's the god?
Scotty, okay."

"Your favorite god in Smite 1 is Scotty.
You might not come play Smite 2 until Scotty is in Smite 2, which is a reasonable thing to do.
So we want to make sure that we're prioritizing some of the most popular gods as we get them done early."

"And then also, we're trying to prioritize different classes, different play styles.
It's a little bit less of – Smite 1 had a very strict, like, okay, there's five classes."

"This is what it has to be.
And it's more in Smite 2, it's like, okay, well, we want to make sure that we have enough gods that can be played in the jungle, that can be played in solo lane."

"For the roles that are a little bit more restrictive, even if they do allow a lot more variety than they did in Smite 1.
So it's kind of a combination of, like, popularity, role mix, what tech we're trying to build."

"And then I would say the last thing that we do think about is just, like, the balance of the pantheons.
Because Smite is not just Greek gods fighting Greek gods.
A lot of the most famous gods, like, that people just think of in their day-to-day life tend to be Greek or Norse, because of the way our culture has evolved in Western culture."

"Right.
So there's a big push where people are like, well, why don't I have these ten gods that are usually Greek or Norse?
And it's like, well, because one of the things that makes Smite, Smite is that it has gods from all the world's myths."

"Right.
So we do very intentionally try and hit on a lot of different mythologies when we're putting together even this early roster to give you a feel of it's all the gods fighting, even though we still have, you know, a lot of gods still to put into the game."

"Right.
I mean, you could have Doctor Strange powers to see the 14 million different combinations of which order you could go in, and there would be one that might be the best for all of these different variables, but I don't think there'd be any other way to figure that out except for Marvel Cinematic Universe-level powers."

"Yes.
We're dedicating quite a bit of effort to it and to getting an order that we're pretty happy with.
We expect the players to be pretty happy with."

"I mean, the last little bit of it is feel, right?
I mean, a lot of the people at the studio are Smite fans, Smite players, before we were even game devs or before we were high-res devs."

"So there's a lot of, you know, individual community passion going into picking that order as well.
But in general, we're trying to make something that we can do efficiently and quickly so we can get as many gods into Smite 2 and make sure they all reach that new quality bar of looking and feeling great and having new gameplay, just trying to make sure we get that done."

"Now, talking about gods as well, we, you know, you're steadily working through bringing all the Smite gods to Smite 2.
That's going to take time, understandably.
There's a lot to go through."

"But you're also introducing new gods at the same time, ones that are going to be exclusive to Smite 2.
Now, one that we're familiar with is going to be Hekate, if I'm right in saying, coming up in time for launch and whatnot."

"But there's also rumours that Aladdin and Mordred are also going to be coming up soon.
So is there anything you want to add to that at all?
We will not confirm or deny any data mining or other rumours, right, Alex?
Yeah, I think what's interesting to us has been how interested people are in trying to data mine what we're doing with Smite 2 already."

"Oh, yeah.
I feel like we got to build the early days of Smite 1 in a lot more, like, relative calm.
And, you know, we're trying to develop some better anti-data mining techniques for Smite 2, but we aren't quite there yet."

"So, you know, it's interesting.
I think one of the things to always keep in mind, though, I will say about data mining is that everything that we work on goes through 12 iterations before it ships."

"Right.
There was a meme from the early days of Smite 1 that the next God was Fenrir.
Because for about a year, the data miners thought that the next God that we were going to make was Fenrir."

"But we had started working on Fenrir, and then we stopped.
And then eventually we came back to it, worked on a little more, and then we stopped.
And then eventually Fenrir came out."

"But it didn't mean that he was the next God.
So I would say, you know, if you see something in data mining, it's usually something we're thinking about, but maybe not something that will ever actually come to reality."

"I will say, moving back to Hecate, though, I think that that's an interesting character for us because, like, a big community desire, right?
We've been working on, you know, we announced it at Worlds, and then we did this kind of reveal of, okay, cool, this is what Hecate is going to play like in Smite 2."

"And the community was like, that's not kind of what we were thinking it was going to be.
And that's kind of part of an alpha to us, right?
It's like hearing what the community wants and doesn't want."

"So since we debuted Hecate, we've got back to the drawing board, and we've been kind of working on a second character.
Pretty much three abilities completely reworked.
So almost the whole kit reworked."

"One ability in the passive stayed about the same.
Two abilities pretty much completely changed, and one was like halfway heavily changed.
But yeah, I mean, we wanted to get that feedback."

"We are learning a lot about the process, the new tools.
It is not the same as the way we could focus on gods in Smite 1.
In Smite 1, a lot of the core game was already built.
A lot of the old gods were already in the game, obviously."

"So we could focus on the new gods as a relative singular focus.
For Smite 2, we have so many things to work on all at the same time.
I mean, trying to make a new god while you're also still figuring out your core system for projectiles in your game at the same time was a larger challenge than we maybe initially thought."

"We learned a lot, and we've been improving on the whole game, which is also affecting all of the gods that are currently in development.
So there's a lot of back and forth between all those different features.
Generally, everything is additive to each other and fixing and improving as we go, but there is just so much to be done."

"So we felt like there was still more to be done on Hecate as well.
I think that was definitely the case, and we added a lot more to her since the early days.
And the next new gods after her are only going to benefit further from these lessons and raise our bar even higher."

"And as we're getting our tools and our schedule all figured out more, we'll just be able to push, push, push as we keep going.
I can imagine it's not the easiest task to keep innovating after you've had 130 or so gods already available in the game."

"So, you know, there's always going to be hits and misses, I can imagine.
But talking about, you know, the future.
Is there any gods, I'm not saying, you know, whether this is like rumored information or not, but is there any gods that you're interested in bringing to Smite 2 eventually?
Perhaps, you know, like a companion for Cthulhu and the old gods at all, something like that."

"We generally don't want to confirm anyone in this manner just because it could lock us in.
I think, you know, to think of it, you can think of it more general archetypes or goals or styles."

"So, like, I think there's a couple things that we talked about here frequently with community.
And one is that we try to find a good balance between community requested gods and surprises."

"Some of the surprises have been some of our most successful gods.
Some of the ones that part of the community has even actively tried to dissuade us from doing, like Cthulhu, have been some of our most successful gods."

"So we need room to explore, to experiment, and to try to surprise our players.
We appreciate the community feedback, but sometimes there's a little bit of friction there."

"But we want to clarify here with Smite 2 and with your audience that we're going to continue to try to explore and experiment and try new things and some crazy things.
But we're not going to do only that."

"We're going to keep a very close eye on the community pulse, see what are the more traditional classic mythology-type characters people are excited for, and we're going to make sure we do something awesome for them too."

"Yeah.
I would say one of the fun things that we were able to do towards the last year, two years of Smite 1, was we had a lot of pantheons that had, like, a single god in them."

"And most of those, our core community was like, we need another god in all these pantheons.
There need to be at least two.
And in almost all cases, except for Cthulhu, we did that."

"But I think as we're heading into Smite 2, we're thinking now, okay, well, is it more okay, again, to have a single character from a pantheon, or we're just going to introduce one character from a pantheon, and maybe we'll get back to it eventually."

"But we want to do this one character so badly, let's do it, right?
So I think talks like that go towards the future of what could be in store.
We're willing to take some risks and do some fun things, but also pay attention to what the community wants and not just do crazy stuff."

"If anything, I feel like the community has gotten a little bit less obsessed with individual pantheon count, which we think is a good thing, because that gives us a little bit more room to explore."

"But I think over time, you know, the players have really seen that any god can be amazing.
The one you never expected, Dan Saburo is one of my favorite examples for just, like, who asked for this?
No, no one ever asked for a small, little, funny, tanuki creature in the rocket launcher."

"That was not anything anyone expected to come to Smite, but he's been an extremely successful character, super fun, and he still feels at home in the mythology.
Like, it really can work."

"So I'm just excited to do more stuff like that, and I'm excited to find more unique artistic and gameplay twists on your more classical mythological characters as well.
And you mentioned there as well, you know, taking these sort of risks and doing some sort of unique sort of elements now that you're working on this engine that no doubt allows you to do more things that you couldn't do previously."

"Is that also going to be...
Is that something you're also looking to explore in, like, a gameplay perspective?
You know, sort of new crazy ideas, game modes, and stuff like that that you previously couldn't do in Smite, or the original Smite, should I say?
Yeah, I think our focus for..."

"Yes, but I would say our focus first is making...
Smite needs to feel...
Smite 2 needs to feel good in the core game modes that people loved in Smite, right?
So it needs to feel great when you're playing Conquest."

"It's the traditional three-lane MOBA mode.
It's what most people spend most of their time playing Smite in.
And we need to make sure that we nail the way that feels for the people that want to play kind of a competitive thing."

"So this first version of Conquest that people are playing in Alpha right now has some gameplay iterations.
There's some new things that we're trying, but it's not maybe as far as eventually one day we'll push it."

"Right.
Because we want to start with, OK, what's a base that we can make sure the gameplay feels great on?
In the same way, you know, I think we've said that our next map is probably going to be Arena, which is the second most popular Smite game mode, which is just two teams of five people fighting in the middle of an arena."

"And there's more complex rules to it that if you're a hardcore arena player like myself, you love.
But, you know, for Arena to feel good, the core bit of that is that five-on-five god combat needs to feel good for 15 minutes straight."

"And a lot of games, like, feel good for smaller encounters, but when it's just constant team fighting, I'm done, you know?
So we need to make sure that the core of the game is great, and then we can start to explore other modes."

"I will say with, I don't know, five, we have been able to set up things a lot quicker.
We've been able to experiment a lot more.
We don't need to spend as much time doing certain things."

"Other things take more time, because that's how the world works.
But I think that it definitely opens the door for once we have the foundation really, like, solid, we could do more fun, experimentive modes that don't take a team of 20 people working for six months to ship something that's going to live for a week, right?
Which is oftentimes the way it's been in the past with our Smite limited time modes."

"Everybody loves Smite Kart, you know?
It was a fun, there was a kart racing mode in Smite for a month.
But people played it for about three days, and it was a lot of work to build, you know?
So it's like, okay, we would love to do more of that kind of stuff and have these fun modes that we know people are only going to play for a few days."

"If they didn't take us so long to do it, it's hard for us to say that time wouldn't have been better spent making the core game better, right?
So once we get that core game in a solid place, then I think we'll explore stuff."

"The engine upgrade is a blessing in many ways, and it sure improves our development process in a huge amount of ways.
But it is still bound by all the same challenges that game development is as a whole."

"You know, when you see any developer talking to their community trying to reassure people that, like, that sounds like a small feature, but it takes a little bit longer than it may seem.
There's a lot more variables to account for than it may seem."

"The new engine allows us to prototype a new mode very quickly.
But if you're still talking about making brand new environment art for that entire mode, making brand new UI for that entire mode, doing the whole marketing release plan, there's like, those are things that are still consistent with any game."

"The tools behind it don't necessarily make it easier to ship something of that scale.
The things we've really realized immediately are, you know, graphical improvements are the most obvious one."

"And the other one is just the ability to prototype and test things.
So the way that the players will recognize that is things like new items or god changes.
Now that we have a lot more robust tools, game designers can make changes to gods more easily."

"They can test out more abilities.
You know, we can have a new goddess like Hecate where we try a whole kit and then change it all again without having to do that much rework."

"One of her abilities was completely reworked by me in Blueprint in a day.
Like from change it from one ability to a completely different ability."

"Now you have a lot of polish and bug fixing bouncing on top of that, but the core, you can do. And then for new items, we're adding, I think, five or six new items from Alpha 1 to Alpha 2."

"And because we're using icon art and temporary particle effects and some stuff like that from Smite 1, we can prototype out and design and ship these new things really quickly in a way that we never could in the old engine."

"If you talk about trying to get those things to completion with full art, you start to add on a little bit more time.
But the prototyping phase, the whole Alpha spirit of it all, with both our plan to involve the community and working on the new engine, working really well together, I think, to let us do some really fun stuff where every Alpha test, we're going to have new stuff to play."

"Some stuff, if we don't like it, we can just cut it and try again.
Stuff that we really like, we go, okay, we love that, we're going to keep it, let's polish up the art as we go forward."

"And in the past, or as of late, should we say, in current Smite, let's call it, there's been lots of different ways that you've incorporated sort of environmental changes into the maps."

"And also various different sort of gameplay elements as well that have affected how game modes work as a whole.
I'm not just talking about the, you know, vines and whatnot affecting the Conquest map, but things like having specific band gods already in place for Duel, reducing Slash from a 5v5 to a 4v4 mode."

"Have you taken any learnings from those experiences that maybe we'll see an impact in Smite 2 from the beginning, almost?
Yeah, I would say that almost every experiment that we have done over the past two years has reaffirmed that the initial way we were doing things was better."

"We figured things out really well the first time, and these other twists that we try generally have not performed as well, I would say, as going back in the days."

"But the reason why we've run a lot of these experiments is kind of twofold.
First one is just to try and learn.
You know, a lot of times there is a subset of the community that says, man, if Slash was 4v4, this game would be so much better."

"Let's just try it. Let's see what happens, right?
Going off the experimentative nature of how we do development, it's like, if it's something that we can do in a short period of time to get feedback on, cool, let's do it. Let's see how it goes."

"In that case, the feedback we got was, well, we thought it would be better as a 4v4, but actually it's better as a 5v5, so we'll put it back."

"Then I think the other reason is like I said, we're trying to learn do people like the level of change that we are capable of doing, I guess."

"I didn't want to say that perfectly.
We've done a lot of these kind of seasonal conquest changes over the years, and I think there are pros and cons to that approach. I think that the reason why we have done it is because it's important to players that the game always feels fresh. It feels like there's something new. There's a lot of different ways to accomplish that goal, and I think we've been trying to see over the years what is the best way to make Smite always feel fresh."

"It's like every few months when I log into Conquest, it's something new, but it's still something that I don't feel like I have to completely relearn the game every time. I think that that's the balance that we're trying to walk with going forward."

"Every design change is also an experiment and a learning point. Even ones that we feel very strongly about just being exciting, we're going to analyze objectively, see who did engage with it, who didn't, what was liked about it, what was disliked about it."

"Everything, in some ways, is an experiment and has some learnings that we're internalizing, keeping track of, and using to apply to Smite 2."

"The other part is just, like Alex said, keeping it fresh.
There's a lot of different ways to do that. One way is to disrupt patterns."

"If people know that Conquest is only ever going to change in January each year, that starts to get less exciting.
We were like, one year, it's going to change four times this year."

"Just trying to disrupt those patterns is really good.
Even if the new pattern is not as effective as the old one, at least introducing something new has a tangible benefit to a lot of people, different timing, different pacing, and different learning for us."

"We're going to keep that experimental philosophy and spirit in Smite 2.
Of course, we're always going to be seeing what our community feels about these things, seeing what people are engaging with, talking about, and learning just from there."

"In spirit, yes.
To say that Slash is 4D Horror or 5D 5, that very specific example might not apply to Smite 2 at that level of specificity."

"I think we did learn some other unique things there about what makes for a fun, casual game mode that's not Conquest or Arena.
What effect does team size have?
I always felt like this is a bit of a rant, but there was always players who said, we need a 4v4 mode and a 2v2 mode."

"There needs to be a mode for every team size.
There's just no data to support that. There's no data we've ever tested that says there needs to be those types of numbers for players."

"Generally, the 5v5 modes do the best.
It's not particularly close.
Joust being the only exception, and only during a peak early console years was Joust more popular."

"That Slash was a good test, though.
The game has been going for a long time, so it's good to even retest things we've already tested because so many other variables have changed."

"Our community has changed. The industry as a whole has changed. It's good to double-check those things.
Maybe something we wouldn't have wanted to test in the past is something we're really excited to test now."

"As much as we can, we calculate, predetermine, try to find stuff that we have strong hypotheses for. People are going to like this. People want this. This solves this problem."

"But everything is also an experiment and a learning process.
It's interesting, Ajax, that you mentioned there that the industry as a whole is changing because Smite 2 is a game that is going to launch specifically on PC and current-gen systems, i.e. PS5, Xbox Series, X and S consoles."

"But Smite 1 isn't going away at all. It's staying.
You're going to continue supporting it. That won't be in the form of new gods and whatnot, but that will be in the form of updates and balance changes and whatnot like that. But do you have an internal timeline in mind for how long you intend to continue supporting Smite 1? And I only ask this for the simple reason that I think we're in this weird sort of era where due to the fact that there's a lot of live games out these days, last-gen consoles like PS4 and Xbox 1 are more relevant than they possibly have ever been compared to other console generations."

"Does that affect your decision with how long you intend to keep Smite 1 supported?
Definitely.
Yeah, I would say, so I don't know if this is, if I should share this or not, but I'm going to say it. We see at least three-quarters of players have already migrated to the next-gen current-gen consoles for Smite."

"So I don't think that too many people will stay on Smite 1 just because of the old-gen consoles.
But we definitely will support it for what we keep saying is a foreseeable future."

"Really, as far out as we have planned a calendar, there are Smite 1 updates on it.
That's a good way of saying it.
If once we release Smite 2 and if the player base goes to 10 people, not like 10%, like 10 people, then maybe there's a world where the updates slow down or stop because there won't be people there to enjoy it, right? But as long as there's a player base there, I think that we plan to continue updating it at some level."

"The servers are still up for a lot of old high-res games, and the only reason why they get shut down is when there aren't enough people to fill a queue, basically."

"So I think that we would expect the same for Smite 1 for the foreseeable future.
Yeah.
And as a final question, then, let's talk very, very, very briefly about the competitive side of things, because Smite's competitive scene is one of the biggest elements to enjoy with Smite, and you guys have been doing it for so long and doing it so well."

"When are we going to see the jump to Smite 2 is basically what I want to know. Have you got that planned out when that's going to happen?
We do."

"Just this upcoming Alpha weekend, we're going to be running our first...
I hesitate to call it a tournament.
In the same way that we're Alpha testing the game, we're Alpha testing esports for the game."

"Right.
There will be an open bracket with, I think, $5,000 in pricing, with a bracket running in Europe and a bracket running in the Americas."

"If you're not from those regions, you can still play, just on higher ping, but those are the two places we have servers really right now.
The reason why we're running a tournament at this early stage is because it's kind of threefold. Number one is we believe that Smite is a competitive game. We know it's a competitive game. It's important that we start rebuilding the competitive community for the new game from an early stage, even when the game's not really ready for it yet. Number two is the game isn't really ready for it yet, and we know that, but we don't know how not ready for it is until we start testing it. We have a very Alpha version of a Spectator client that we're going to be testing to run a broadcast this weekend, and it could blow up in flames, and we end up watching just from player perspectives or something. We aren't sure, but we need to run a test to see how it actually does in a live environment."

"The third reason is more from a design perspective. We need to see what the game looks like played at the highest level with ultra-competitive people. You can kind of get that from watching the top-end streamers and their custom lobbies in the last Alpha Playdesk, but we feel like with just a little bit of money on the line, we're already seeing some super teams form from fast-smite pros, and it's like, okay, well, let's see what they can do. Where does the game break down when it's played at a really high level, and where is it really fun?
Knowing that can help inform how we keep developing the game going forward to make sure that we are inclusive and aware of the high-end competitive mindset while hopefully not losing the more casual, fun fighting that is part of what helps smite be so successful for so long."

"Like I said, that's the first thing that we have this coming weekend.
Very excited. And then that's kind of like the kickoff for Smite 2 Esports, and we're going to build it from there."

"The other thing, which we're going to be announcing tomorrow?
Yeah.
Today, this is the week.
It's like, what day is it?
That we'll be announcing on the 29th is that we'll be having our first kickoff LAN for Smite 2 Esports at the HyperX Esports Arena Las Vegas I think I got the full name of that correct at the Luxor in January, I believe."

"It's the first of many LAN majors that we'll be doing for Smite 2, and we're just kind of getting the scene started.
It's not like we can snap our fingers and go from Smite 1 to Smite 2."

"We needed to rebuild the game, we needed to rebuild the Esports scene as well, and rebuild Spectator and all that.
But I feel very positive about where the scene's going from here."

"Esports is extremely interconnected with Smite in just every possible way, right?
As a community-driven studio and a community-driven game, Esports is a very centralized part for that community."

"It's where they meet each other, you know.
SWC is just as much a reunion of online friends as it is a Spectator event.
And both of those things are incredibly important, and they feed into each other. Something to do together to watch the game, to enjoy the game, and to meet new people, to make new friends. And then from the gameplay and the design direction, it's incredibly important to us. A lot of the main changes we've made from Smite to Smite 2, in how we're adding roles and classes, adding active items, changing the core stats, so more build diversity. Those are features that we want to continue to drive the competitive side of Smite. And in some cases, you know, when there's more competitive builds, there's also going to be more meme builds."

"So that's more for the content and the fun side, too.
So a lot of the stuff we did for Smite 2 was specifically for that competitive player base."

"So of course we want to go ahead and realize that as soon as possible.
And we also, like, there's no other way to learn that type of information about your game than to put some stakes on the line and get those players playing for it."

"I just, I don't believe there is any simulation for it. Like, you can get the best 10 players in the studio and tell them to try their hardest."

"It's just not the same as a live competition in front of spectators.
And there needs to be some stakes involved, right?
If it's just someone trying to break the game for the game state, it just isn't quite the same as really trying to win for those stakes, for those prizes, whether it be glory or money or whatever. It matters a lot, and we learn something every time, and I'm really excited to see what does win this weekend. Is it a traditional Smite 1 comp and some similar builds, or is it some new experimental things?
You know, obviously as a designer, I'd like to see some experimental things, but I think generally players will stick to what they know."

"But I think we'll find some exciting surprises mixed in there. So, overall, it's really important to the game, to the studio. It's something we're going to continue investing and designing for."

"Well, there you have it. A lot to look forward to. Esports, new gods, development changes, a whole bunch of everything. Really exciting things happening for Smite 2. You can check out some parts of it at the Alpha weekend that's coming up, and then most likely some other new things in the future."

"I believe the game is set for, is it a full release or are you doing a beta launch in late July? Yeah, so currently we're targeting 24-7 servers in July."

"We aren't sure if we're going to call it Alpha, if we're going to call it Beta, but you'll be able to play it around the clock, and the game will be far enough along where we think it'll give you enough content to be able to play 24-7."

"So, we're very careful about what we call the game, because if we mistakenly call it one thing and it's not ready, the community is going to skewer us, and rightfully so, right? Because we know the state the game is, we should be truthful about that when we're talking to the community."

"So, stay tuned for that. Either way, you'll be able to play the game whenever you want. We don't have to wait for Alpha Weekends to launch in late July, so stay tuned for that."

"Otherwise, Alex, Ajax, thanks for talking to me again today. It's been a pleasure.
No doubt we'll be chatting again sometime in the future, so I'll stay tuned for that. And otherwise, go play SMITE 2. Tell everyone what you think about it, and yeah, we'll be back with another interview in the future."

"So, thanks all for watching.
Take care. Thank you."

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