YAGER blends genres to create PVPVE shooter The Cycle
Developed by YAGER, The Cycle features a unique, simultaneous blend of “PVPVE” gameplay that forces players to fight dangerous monsters on an alien planet, while also tasking them to complete contracts and escape a devastating weather anomaly.
To see how the Berlin-based studio is continually evolving the competitive online game, we interviewed YAGER Creative Director Torkel Forner and Executive Producer Jonathan Lindsay. The two share their inspirations behind The Cycle and delve into the tools that helped the team materialize their game. The Cycle features a very unique premise that has players duking it out for resources on an alien planet. What inspired this concept?
The original gameplay inspiration came from old memories playing World of Warcraft–in particular, going to the first PVP areas. The added tension of other hostile players made an already fantastic experience all the more memorable. As for the universe, setting, and feeling that we’re trying to get to, we’ve drawn inspiration from westerns and science fiction in our pursuit of creating a world that players continuously want to come back to. Another inspiration is the main loop of a typical MOBA game, [which requires you] to start every match from zero, level up your character and gear rapidly, and join a competitive endgame that has you fighting other players. We’ve strived to achieve a similar loop in a shooter game, creating a tactical and intense experience.
What do you hope for The Cycle and what kind of audience would you like to attract?
We’re looking to create a game and an experience for players who want to be free to experiment, explore, and express freedom–within a competitive match. We want to create a game that allows players to play in many different ways, and we believe that we can do this best by creating, essentially, a competitive sandbox game. Of course, we are looking for experienced players as the competitive elements in our game are quite strong; having smarts and developed shooter skills will definitely help you win matches.
What was a key moment in the game’s development or conceptualization that made the team think they stumbled onto something promising?
There were a lot of different moments during development like that–we playtest the game every day with the entire team and even early on, we had moments and matches where it felt like we were hitting the mark. However, we strive to constantly improve the game, and whenever we feel that we’re hitting that sweet spot, we try to aim higher and make it even sweeter.
How big is the team?
We are comprised of approximately 60 developers and all work together in our Kreuzberg studio based in Berlin, Germany.
Can you speak to the team’s experience using Unreal?
We initially switched from our in-house engine to Unreal 3 back in 2004. Later, we became early adopters of UE4. The reason we stayed with Unreal was due to the engine’s incredible high usability, which allows us to iterate incredibly quickly.
Why was Unreal a good fit for The Cycle?
We really value the usability of the editor and the ability for everyone on the team to create gameplay. Also, the wide range of visual possibilities that the engine offers is unmatched in the industry. Over the years, this has helped us deliver experiences to players and customers in a broad variety of ways. We are able to look back at more than 15 years of strong and knowledgeable support from Epic’s Unreal team. Now, we have such a high level of Unreal expertise in our studio that it’s become pointless for us to look for alternative engines as we’re able to develop much faster and better with Unreal.
Does the team have any favorite Unreal Engine tools?
A major boost for us was the Blueprint scripting. It allows us to experiment way faster as it empowers our whole team to create gameplay experiences. Also, the introduction of live coding greatly helped our gameplay engineering team.
Being an ever-evolving game, are there any helpful tools that empower the team to create a regular cadence of content?
With [Unreal’s] streamlined import pipeline, which includes automatic LOD generation, texture management/streaming, and the ease of using the material editor, we are able to add content on a constant basis without needing to create a [custom] pipeline as one is [already] available out of the box.
Was there a difficult concept to execute on that Unreal assisted with?
Without Unreal’s online subsystems, the features that we are currently developing: friends, clans, and leaderboards, would be much harder, especially as we plan to take The Cycle to multiple platforms.
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