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Interview: Actress Paula Garces talks about bringing Aluna to Heroes of Newerth

heroes of newerth paula garces
Heroes of Newerth may not have gotten the publicty of a lot of better known PC game franchises but the downloadable multiplayer action-RPG from S2 Games has been doing pretty well, selling 400,000 copies since the game officially launched in May 2010. The game has also received constant content updates and improvements (including a major free update, dubbed Heroes of Newerth 2.0, last December).

Later today the game will receive its latest official content update and this one is a bit different. It will add a new hero to the game, Aluna, that's actually co-created and voiced by movie and TV actress Paula Garces who has appeared in The Shield, the Harold and Kumar movies and Warehouse 13, among many other credits. The character of Aluna was originally created for a comic book and soon Heroes of Newerth players will be able to check out Garces' alter ago in the game.

Big Download got a chance to ask some questions to Garces about bringing her character to Heroes of Newerth. We also asked S2 Games' senior game designer Pu Liu about current and upcoming plans for the game itself.
Paula Garces

First how did you come up with the character of Aluna?

My Husband and I came up with the character together because we wanted to create an a strong Latina lead action hero. Since we both love history we started to read about the discovery of Latin America and in doing so we found incredibly interesting mysticism and great stories surrounding the ancient civilizations of what we know now as Latin America.

How did the idea come about to have Aluna added as a hero in Heroes of Newerth?

We met the HoN team member Sashi, part of the S2 Games team, at San Diego Comic Con last year. I was in the elevator on my way to do an autograph signing and Sashi recognized me and told me about his involvement with the gaming world. It immediately sparked my interest, and the timing worked out perfectly for both parties. We decided that Aluna would be great on multiple platforms and HoN turned out to be a great fit. Basically, we just started talking and one thing led to another!

What was it like seeing your character come to three dimensional life?

It was amazing! Very exciting and really cool to see the character come to life. She is more kickass than I thought she would be :)

You also did the voice for the character in the game. Is that your first experience with voice acting in a game and if so how different is it from doing acting in TV shows and movies?

Yes, it was my first experience doing a voice for a game. It's something I always wanted to do and this was especially a dream come true because Aluna, which just started as an idea, is near and dear to my heart. To actually put a voice in action and sound to the 3D animation was a really cool experience.

Overall how do you feel about how the collaboration turned out?

I think S2 Games' Heroes of Newerth is the perfect way for Aluna to drop into the gaming world and kick butt. I love the way the game hero turned out and hope all gamers love Aluna too. The S2 Games team did an amazing job of replicating the character Aluna from my comic book for their game. I love the way she looks, as well as her weapons and her powers!

Are you a gamer yourself and can we expect you to be playing Aluna online in Heroes of Nerewth matches?

Yes, I'm a gamer and yes, you better believe I'm going to playing Aluna perfecting my Macana Stick skills!

Finally what upcoming movies and TV shows can we expect to see you in next?

In a couple of weeks I will be guest starring on a new A&E show called "Breakout Kings," the second season of my show "The mun2 Look" premieres March 5th at 3 p.m. on mun2 and this Christmas the third installment to Harold & Kumar will finally hit theaters in 3D.

Pu Liu, Senior Games Designer

Heroes of Newerth has been offically released for nearly a year now..so far how many copies of the game have been sold and are you happy with the numbers?

We are incredibly happy with how well HoN has done over the past year. We have sold 400,000 copies and have over 3.3 million accounts registered. We are very happy with the numbers sold, but more importantly we're happy with the sustained sales HoN has received. People are still flocking to HoN and the player base continues to grow, which has us pretty excited.

The game also gets revenue from sales of in-game items. How has that business model worked so far?

It's been very successful for us. Working with this business model can like navigating unchartered waters at times, so we tend to experiment and try things like running sales or timed sales. In general, we're excited about what the store is allowing us to do for our player base. The extra revenue goes directly back into the game, to help us develop better game servers, more features, and more heroes. A flexible, dynamic approach works out for us and our players as we can learn best practices as we go along.

The action-RTS genre has exploded in the past year or so. Why do you think this genre generated so much attention so quickly?

Put simply, companies see the success of games in this genre and naturally want to emulate it. Not many companies were willing to take a risk on turning a mod like DotA into a full-blown game, but once HoN and other titles were released, it became less of a risk to try to emulate that game type.

Last December you launched the 2.0 version of the game. What's the reaction been like so far?

Very positive. The 2.0 patch really showed our players that we're very committed to making HoN the best it can be and we're not even close to done with the game yet. There's been a very tangible buzz of excitement about "what's next" since 2.0 was released. The matchmaking we released with 2.0, in particular, has been very successful.

What upcoming features and content has S2 Games got in the works for the game?

Not much we want to reveal just yet, but I can say we're definitely interested in both opening up HoN to a wider audience, and improving the capabilities HoN has to support a competitive player base. We're looking into features that will help HoN thrive as a competitive multiplayer title.

Finally you are hiring for yet another unnamed game project. Can you give us any hints about what that future game will be like?

Nope, we have to keep some secrets under wraps.

(Editor's Note: Paula Garces and members of the S2 Games team will be at the Nvidia booth during GDC next week from Wednesday from 11-12 and 2-3 and on Thursday from 11-1)

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