Ryan Rigney of Odyssey Interactive Talks Inspirations and Teamwork for Omega Strikers

feature image for our omega strikers interview, the image features a screenshot from the animated music video of Juliette as she furrows her eyebrows

I had the pleasure of sitting down virtually with Ryan Rigney, the Marketing Director at Odyssey Interactive, for an in-depth discussion about its upcoming release, Omega Strikers. Rigney has a ton of experience within the gaming industry, having worked as a Communications Lead and writer for League of Legends and Teamfight Tactics. He’s even worked on the popular battle royale shooter, PUBG, and as a Director of Communications for Apex Legends between seasons six and 12. 

As someone who adores anime-style imagery in video games, and in media in general, my interest was piqued prior to the interview. After talking with Rigney, it was clear to see how passionate he and the rest of the team are about their first game.

The Initial Development Process

So, what was it like at the beginning of the development process for Omega Strikers? Well, the proof of concept, or the first draft, was actually called Hook City. It was a top-down game, much like Omega Strikers, but the team decided to modify the hook with a ball instead. Thus, the first pitch of the game as we know it was produced.

Rigney told me that the pitch wasn’t overly clear at first, but that’s exactly what has made the entire development experience magical. The entire team felt through the process and was eventually able to ask students at the University of Waterloo to take part in one of the first playtests. At Odyssey Interactive, player validation is of major importance to the company.

Communication Within the Game

Firstly, I was curious about how the studio plans to avoid the toxicity of competitive online gaming. Odyssey Interactive states that it wants to stray away from the usual toxic interactions between players. To do this, it’s integrated a ping system that allows you to communicate with your teammates in a safer, kinder way. Think Apex Legends, which has a similar ping system to help with teamwork.

Rigney how the team has worked hard to create a range of emotes that cover a ton of emotions. This allows you to express how you feel at all points in the game while sprinkling a little humour into it too. 

However, all forms of communication in video games can be used negatively, which is why you have the ability to mute people if you choose to do so – especially if a pesky player is spamming emotes. Inclusivity is incredibly important to Odyssey Interactive, and it feels that the ping and emote system allows every player to communicate their feelings effectively no matter the platform they’re using.

Upcoming Events

Next up, I was curious about how Omega Strikers will implement events. As a live-service game, these will naturally be held throughout the year, and there are already quite a few lined up. Skins and cosmetics will also launch consistently, similarly to other live-service titles.

Ryan explained that the team plans to have a Seasonal event every three or so months, bringing new content modes and updates to the table. Odyssey also hopes to have a brand-new event every month to keep things fresh. In fact, it has an event called Summer Splash in the works that features a visual novel, allowing you to interact with your favourite characters alongside exciting missions. 

With regards to balance patches, Odyssey Interactive is aiming towards updating the game every two-three weeks. The team also wants to introduce at least 26 new Strikers by the end of 2023, expanding the roster considerably.

The Art Design 

As an artist myself, I was quite interested in the overall design of each character – both aesthetically, and in terms of abilities. I asked Ryan if there were any main influences behind the design process for the characters, and his passion during this answer was infectious.

He explains how David Capurro, a founder, and designer at Odyssey Interactive, was a Lead Champion Designer for League of Legends. He uses his MOBA expertise when creating the Strikers in the upcoming title. The team took what it’s learned from working on MOBAs over the years when cooking up the initial archetypes.

Firstly, it started with the kit and then built the character around it to design its aesthetic. Once the creator knew how the character would play, it was easy for the design team to envision how it would look. It was important to have the character’s appearance match their personality and abilities.

Like the rest of us, the art team for Omega Strikers loves anime, thus leading to the characters following the art style. At the time of writing, the game now has a brilliant music video animated by the one and only Studio Trigger, behind popular anime series such as Kill La Kill, Cyberpunk Edgerunners, and Beastars. The style of Omega Strikers fits Studio Trigger perfectly. 

While the art team wanted to primarily focus on an anime style for each character, they also wanted to make sure that they blend it in with Western influences too – Rigney specifically told me that the rule they follow is 75% anime and 25% Western. 

The World Building

In terms of the overall aesthetic, Odyssey Interactive decided to go with an optimistic and colourful world. After all, Omega Strikers is set in a future where the world is a much better place. The energy crisis has been solved, and Omega is the one who helped save the planet. 

Rigney made a specific statement that really stood out, which was that the characters can now work toward their passions now that the world has been saved. This translates into their happy-go-lucky personalities and vibrant style choices. Each character has their own aspirations and they have the confidence to reach their dreams. A big part of the design process was to make sure that you can see yourself within the roster, whether emotionally or physically. 

The Music

Before the interview, I checked out the character trailers, and I noticed that each one had a different soundtrack. It’s no secret that music is a super important part of video games, and Omega Strikers has ticked all the boxes. Like the art design, I wanted to find out if there were any influences when composing the soundtrack.

Ryan was extremely happy to answer this question, as the team has really honed in on the music direction for Omega Strikers. It wanted to make sure that each character has their own genre space, and that their songs matched who they are. If you’re a fan of the music from the game, you’ll be glad to know that Odyssey plans to release a full album that contains 23-24 songs! 

The Creator Program

As an avid fan of games myself, I do tend to watch quite a lot of streamers. So, when I found out via the Odyssey Interactive website that it plans to work hand-in-hand with creators, I was intrigued. 

I asked Rigney to expand on this more. He first explained that the team wants to offer content creators the chance to get a checkmark and a link to their respective channels in the game. For instance, if you have a Twitch channel, your page is accessible to other players. Odyssey also wants to implement a red pip icon to display when creators are live at that moment in time. 

Rigney did clarify that this program was restrictive during the beta tests, but with the launch just around the corner, we’ll be sure to see how the creator program actually works in real-time. He also mentioned a fun event that will release in due time, focusing on the communities of content creators. 

Each creator gets their own emotes, and members of your team/community will also gain access to them too. Your community must work together to climb up the leaderboard and compete against other teams.

Finishing off with the creator program topic, Ryan made sure to mention that Odyssey Interactive feels strongly about supporting smaller creators too. Content creators who don’t have large communities or followings are usually left out, but Odyssey want these small creators to know that they can also join in!

More About the Company

Odyssey Interactive wants to build games in genres that don’t exist yet. When I asked Rigney about this, he said that Omega Strikers is a mash-up of different genres inspired by Dota, Rocket League, and even the iconic Pong. It’s hard for a genre to only have one game within it, as other games will always follow suit. 

However, Rigney likes to go with “foot brawler” or “knockout striker”, but the team isn’t strict with how people refer to the game. In general, Odyssey Interactive wants to create a brand-new space for Omega Strikers, with it being a top-down hero-based game that features impactful knockouts – it’s certainly a blend of genres and gameplay elements, and we love that.

The founders opted for the name “Odyssey Interactive” as it aligned with it’s universal mindset for the company. The definition of Odyssey is a “long and eventful journey or experience”, which is what Odyssey Interactive has embarked on. Talented and experienced individuals have come together to create something brand-new for gamers – and Rigney is incredibly grateful that people are able to acknowledge that this game is doing something fantastically different. 

Platforms – What’s the Plan?

Toward the end of my interview with Rigney, we talked a little bit about the game’s platforms. The Switch port was part of the Nintendo Indie Showcase at GDC, and Odyssey believes that versatility is crucial when designing a video game. The team doesn’t want people to miss out just because they don’t have a specific platform, such as a PC, or an expensive console.

In short, Odyssey Interactive is passionate about providing games to players no matter what their income is. When talking about Omega Strikers, Ryan adores the idea of being able to switch between platforms when on the go. For example, taking part in a match on PC, and then continuing the battle on mobile. From an outsider’s perspective, it’s certainly succeeded in developing a competitive cross-platform game – and I’m sure that a lot of gamers will appreciate that.

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