Awesomenauts, upcoming 2D MOBA game from Ronimo Games, is paving the way to an entirely new way to play MOBA games without abandoning all the things we love. However, with a change of dimension comes several other things. Arguably games like League of Legends are actually pretty simple to understand and can be very accessible. However, getting good, or passing the “barrier of competency”, is a very long, uphill battle requiring either tons of gameplay experience or a lot of research. Awesomenauts seeks to simplify and streamline the mechanics surrounding the depth that MOBA games are known for without removing any of it. In that effort, Ronimo Games has employed a simple, understandable and customizeable “item”, or rather upgrade, structure and shop system into Awesomenauts. How exactly that lofty goal will be achieved is, in short, explained below and after the jump.

Q: Awesomenauts features MOBA style gameplay on a 2D plane, and amongst a myriad of things featured in MOBA style games,Awesomenauts employs a shop feature. How does it work?
A: The shop in Awesomenauts is a simple 3×4 grid containing items specific to the class you’re playing. Each row of items represents a category of upgrades for a specific part of your character. The categories are as follows: special skill 1, special skill 2, shots and passives. The special skills need to be bought first, before they can be upgraded. Apart from the shop you can access during the match, there’s also a loadout system outside the game. There you can customize which 12 items will be available to you during matches. These loadouts are custom per class.
Q: Does Awesomenauts have general upgrades for every character to access and recipes to make and stack on top of each other sort of likeLeague of Legends?
A: The fourth row/category  of items (passives) is not class specific and is the same for all classes. There are no recipes as in League of Legends, but all items stack with each other so you  can make your own interesting combinations.
Q: Other MOBA games have hundreds of general items that can vastly alter stats and use a leveling system to alter the character, how doesAwesomenauts differ in that respect?
A: In Awesomenauts we’ve combined the two systems into one. There are some items that simply improve your stats, but you must also buy your skills or health improvements at the shop. Things you’d traditionally gain from levelling are now interesting choices. But even more interesting are items that actually add extra functions to you skills, like a blinding effect to the dynamite of Sheriff Lonestar. Or the ability to extract currency from your enemies when using the tongue as Leon Chameleon. So even though we’ve merged and streamlined the two systems into one, it offers more tactical depth. Characters in Awesomenauts usually change a lot more over the course of a match compared to characters in traditional MOBA games.

Q: How many upgrades will each character have access to? How many (if any) will be general?
A: There are 12 item slots in each characters’ shop. But some items are multi staged, these can be bought multiple times. But in a normal match you’ll only be able to buy about half of the items available to you, so you’ll have choose wisely.

Q: Do “item builds” or “upgrade builds” play a heavy role in playing a character in Awesomenauts?
A: They play a very important role, it’s where most of the tactical depth comes from. There are so many builds and tactics to try out and we’ve made sure that all of them are a viable way to victory.

We’ve also made sure that each character has enough flexibility through the upgrades to kind of lean out its basic role and fullfil roles that might be missing in your current team setup. So when your team members die a lot you can start focusing on support and more tank-y upgrades. Or if your teammates are great player killers but can’t be bothered to take down the enemy turrets, each character has a few tricks to make them very effective against turrets. All this ensures that no Awesomenauts match is the same, even when you’re playing the same teams.

Q: There is an experience system in Awesomenauts along with levels, do either play a part in the way the store works or vice versa?
A: In Awesomenauts, there is no experience system at all. It’s all based on the currency, called Solar. The number next to your name is actually the amount of Solar divided by 100. In the game it’s used as a strength indicator since it shows how much upgrades you or your enemies could have bought.

Q: Can players mix and match upgrades in their shop? For example, can players have four upgrades that help their Y attack, and several general character buffs, and only a couple for their other attacks rather than three for each?
A: That’s the idea. You can even ignore your special skills altogether and focus on your basic shot. You will have no utility, bursting or escaping skills, but you’ll blast through everything pretty quickly.

Q: What actions in game contribute to the persistent progression of player rank/level?
A: At the end of the match your gathered currency will be added to your persistent player account. Apart from your base currency, you can also get bonuses for winning, playing in splitscreen and picking a random character. Based on this currency, your account will level up. Levelling up will unlock characters, levels for practice mode and more items for your loadout. You can see what level you need to reach to unlock a specific item.
Q: Are there unlockable upgrades that require specific actions or completion of challenges, or are they purchased through an in-game currency?
A: All the items are unlockable through Solar. Be it in the shop or unlocking them for your loadout, it’s all based on this currency.
Q: Will all upgrades be a passive bonus of some sort, or will some of them have an active usage or a one-time use?
A: All items are permanent upgrades, but as stated before, some of them give you new active skills. But since they are always tied to your character, they will always be the same. Sheriff Lonestar will always have the Dynamite and Bull as his upgradable skills, for instance.
Q: Can you view your own, your team mates, or your enemies builds during the game?
A: Yes, you can view the in game leaderboard at any time. By highlighting a character in the list, you can see what upgrades he bought.
Q: Any secrets about upgrades you’re itching to throw our way? How close are we to release?
A: I have already said too much, you’ll have figure out the rest when the game launches near the end of this year.
That wraps up the item/upgrade section of the interview, but here are two afterthought questions Ronimo Games was kind enough to answer.
Q: Have you guys considered alternate skins (ala League of Legends)
A: We sure have, and we’d love to do those at some point. But for now all our energies are invested in finishing the game as it currently is.

Q: Why did you decide not to have a tower defending the core? (e.g. a fifth tower)
A: We’ve tried many different options here, but in the end we decided to give the defending team no extra help. Any form of help resulted in a stalemate that’s hard to break, because the defending team would generate more income than the attackers. In a some the of cases it would even result in a reversal. At the end all the turrets on the map would be destroyed and the outcome would become relatively random.

As you can see, there’s tons of awesome depth to the upgrade mechanic of Awesomenauts without having the massive number of items to deal with in each match. It’s a fair assumption that there are twelve upgrades unlocked for each character at the start, and from the look of the screen there are 12 more to unlock per character (unless the general ones are unlocked universally), so there will be plenty of unlocking to do as a reward for all the grinding players will likely do before venturing online. Awesomenauts will feature six characters at start, three of which have been announced (Froggy G, Sheriff Lonestar and Leon Chameleon), along with three maps to be played online or local, which is pretty much the best thing about any Xbox Live Arcade game. Keep your eyes on this one.