Gaming

The Making of Machine Strike – PlayStation.Blog

When creating Horizon Forbidden West, the Guerrilla team paid great attention to making the world feel alive and authentic. To create the feeling of a living world, we offered the player more ways to interact with it than ever before. This meant moving beyond mere thrilling action and adventure, as well as incorporating small moments that revealed the culture of the tribes living in the Forbidden West, adding an extra layer of realism.

Please note that this article contains some spoilers for Horizon Forbidden West.

Exploring these new frontiers, Aloy finds many interesting things to do: melee pits in settlements, wilderness rescue contracts, outposts and camps infested with rebels, cauldrons, ancient ruins, and, of course, machine strike.

tactical approach

Machine Strike is a board game that Aloy can play against characters in the Forbidden West. In this tactical game, players move miniature figures representing the legendary Horizon machines around the board while ‘fighting’ against each other. The goal of Machine Strike, invented by the warlike Tenakt, is to clear the playing field of enemy machines. To qualify for victory, the player must not only hold the strongest pieces, but also apply a strong strategy. And the further west you go, the more difficult your opponents become.

Bart van Oosten, world lead designer at Guerrilla, is one of the inspirations for this mini-game, which is new to the sequel. “We started prototyping right after Frozen Wilds! Many open world RPGs use these types of activities to create an immersive world that always speaks to a group of players, so we decided to flesh out the concept from there.”

“Originally it was just random dice with random rules, but we wanted to include per-car stats, which meant the board had to be scalable to fit those ideas. This is how we arrived at the tile system. Each tile has an assigned value that affects the stats of any vehicle part that lands on them, such as the attack boost from the Meadow tile. Next, we created a paper prototype of a game that was played a lot! This helped us understand the set of rules and reasoning. It took us almost a year to complete the entire mini-game.”

“We have simplified the design as much as possible. This kept the view of the board clear and allowed the players to create their own strategy,” Barth says. “Readability was important, so with art direction we tried everything from simple discs to ornate artwork, and settled somewhere in between: the game seems to have been created—and played—by the masters of the Forbidden West.”

Truly crafted in the Forbidden West

Implementing Machine Strike into the game itself was a collaborative effort from various teams, from AI and visual design to storytelling and user interface. Concept artist Christian Auer was part of the team that helped define the look of Machine Strike. “All parts had to look attractive, but not be too attached to any particular tribe, since this game is played by a wide variety of inhabitants of the Forbidden West, whether it be the Ozeram repairman or the battle-hardened Tenakt. We also wanted each item to be special, like a collectible, so the design had to be upmarket.”

“The scale of the pieces made it a fun challenge for us. The metal components on each piece were much smaller than anything else we normally see on our props, so we decided to use simpler pieces that improved the overall design. The wood material has become much rougher to showcase the marks left by the craft tools that have carved every detail. However, we later decided that the hand-finishing was distracting from the main design, so we ended up doing a more polished finish. It better reflected our overall goals for the works.”

“We also introduced part wear so that the wood gradient isn’t so monotonous. You can see this by how the carvings become lighter where there is dust and darker at the bottom where the wood has been fired or waxed. These details help establish the true craftsmanship that would be put into each piece by the artisans of the Forbidden West.”

learning curve

Before Aloy enters the Forbidden West, one of the first settlements she explores is the mining town of Ozeram Chainscraper. Inside the bustling brewery at its center, Aloy can meet Salma, the friendly and optimistic Auxeram, who is more than willing to explain the rules of the game. “The tutorial was critical to get people interested in Machine Strike,” Barth says. “We wanted to make it as casual as possible, like a friend sharing their latest hobby with you over a drink. Our storytelling team did an amazing job of conveying the information in a warm and understandable way.”

“Like any board game, there is still a lot of information here, although the basics are pretty simple. Some people may not want to explain for a long time, so we have broken the guide into several parts. The most basic concepts are explained ahead of time, and the rest are learned during the game, glossary, or additional tutorial sessions – you can even press L3 during Machine Strike for easy access to all this information.”

Ready for a challenge?

Machine Strike is one of the many activities you can encounter in the Forbidden West, but Bart and Christian are especially proud of it. “It’s nice to see that people are enjoying the game,” says Bart. “I’m very pleased with what we’ve been able to do and I hope that many more people will like it in the future. We knew that Machine Strike might not be for everyone, so we tried to make it as unobtrusive as possible.”

“And if you’re stuck against a certain character, my main advice is to always look for the best position for your units, whether that’s high ground or getting your pieces out of range. And don’t be afraid to recharge. As Salma said, “This is often the best way to turn the game in your favor.”

Christian agrees that it’s been great to see our community’s reaction to the game. “As artists, trying to make something as believable as possible was the best reaction we could hope for. I’m just glad that players are enjoying the game as much as we enjoyed creating it!”

Many denizens of the Forbidden West are eager to test Aloy’s skills. Are you ready to take on the challenge?


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