Interview / Chris Stockman of Blazing Lizard

One is a battle that has raged for ages a few years across the globe internet. The other is a sport that’s destroyed empires elementary school friendships and decided the fate of mankind a student’s popularity. One is Pirates vs. Ninjas. The other, dodgeball. And once Blazing Lizard’s Pirates vs. Ninjas Dodgeball (PVN) is released later this year on Xbox LIVE Arcade, the two strangely popular phenomenons will come together at last. But how did this great meeting of two of the 21st century’s earliest subculture jokes come to be the subject matter for a game and more importantly how the hell will it play?

Chris Stockman of Blazing Lizard and one of the creators of the game has the inside scoop on all of this and more. That VideoGame Blog spoke with him about coming up with the game, his favorite Ninja attacks and just why Pirates and Ninjas (not to mention Zombies and Robots) are duking it out in the first place.

That VideoGame Blog’s Matthew Razak (TVGB): Pirates, Ninjas, Robots and Aliens playing dodgeball…How did this game come about, let alone get a green light?

Chris Stockman (CS): It was more or less an idea that sort of sprouted up inside of my head one day and I had messaged one of my partners and said what if we did this as a joke. We sort of slept on it for a day or so and realized that it was definitely an out there idea but one that sort of strangely made sense. No one had actually made a game about the internet phenomenon of Pirates vs. Ninjas and no one had made a video game about dodgeball in a while either. But yea, it started out as a joke.

As for getting it done, we started Blazing Lizard, created the demo and then shopped the demo around and got a deal fairly quickly. A lot of publishers were actually pretty keen on the idea. They saw an instant recognition from the idea. All of the internet would know about it instantly and no one had done anything like that. We actually trademarked Pirates vs. Ninjas for videogames.

TVGB: Dodgeball is a pretty ancient sport full of ridicule and embarrassment. How are you upping the ante?

CS: Our first thought for the quick and dirty prototype was a Super Dodgeball clone but something that we realized is that we really wanted to create an eight player sort of party game and Super Dodgeball is not an 8 player game, it’s a two player game and when you add 8 players into the mix it isn’t much fun. There’s only one ball and there wasn’t enough going on. So we switched up gears and scrapped Super Dodgeball as a blueprint and came up with what we call combat dodgeball which is what you see in the main game.

For this we scrapped the idea of sides and allowed players to move all around the court and gave players melee abilities and special abilities. Each player has special maneuvers that allows for avoiding getting hit or doing more damage. But it’s still dodgeball in that you’re throwing balls; just now there are more options to play with.

Then we started getting complaints about where was the original dodgeball. You call yourself dodgeball but you don’t have real dodgeball. So we delayed the game and put in different modes one being where it’s straight up dodgeball, not one hit out games, that would end too fast, but normal dodgeball rules. Then we have a combination game with a bit of each. Then finally we added up to up to five balls in play for any given match. That creates a little it more chaos but it’s a bit more fun because instead of fighting for one ball they fight for five.

TVGB: So you delayed the game for a bit to add in this extra content. Why exactly did you think it was needed?

CS: We know we can’t please everyone but I think the consumers have a point. You looked at it and it wasn’t straight up dodgeball. I can counter and say that dodgeball has many rules but people think of dodgeball and they think Super Dodgeball so changing it shakes it up and sometimes people don’t like that. You sort of get yelled at if you don’t play like the classic games but you also get yelled at if you don’t innovate. Kind of a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. But I think adding those modes brings more value to the title and more value is never a bad thing in my eyes.