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TGS 2009: Spyborgs interview

Skrevet af Lukas Skywalker - 24-09-2009 20:53

Tokyo Game Show er allerede i gang for pressen, og her bringer vi et interview med Producer Daryl Allison fra Capcom omkring deres kommende Spyborgs som en lille appetitvækker til Tokyo Game Show 2009. Spyborgs udkommer i morgen.

Den danske udgave af interviewet kommer senere, men her har I den engelske udgave. Hvis du efter at have læst dette interview stadig er i tvivl om noget vedrørende Spyborgs, er der vist noget galt!

Please describe Spyborgs for us as short and precise as possible?

Short and precise: Spyborgs is a two-player cooperative action game, a brawler, made exclusively for the Wii.  Spyborgs pushes the Wii's graphics further than most people have seen and delivers on the action experience Wii gamers expect from their motion controls.
Adding some flavor: Players choose between three heroes – Stinger, Clandestine, and Bouncer – each with unique strengths and ways of complimenting each other, and set out on a journey to avenge the loss of Spyborgs who fell at the hands of Jackal.  Jackal too was once a Spyborg, but let himself be corrupted by the need for greater cybernetic powers and in the procerss lost his humanity.  Spyborgs' characters and story are set in an original universe brought to you by Bionic Games, who is founded by many who worked at Isomniac on the Rachet and Clank and Resistence: Fall of Man games. Last, but certainly not least, Spyborgs fulfills the promise you'd expect of a Capcom game: 1) lots of combos; 2) huge, cinematic boss battles; and 3) high production values that bring more quality and content to the product that you've come to expect. 

How long have you been working on Spyborgs?

I was associated with the project when I first joined Capcom in December 2007. At that time Bionic Games had delivered their first prototype. It wasn't until around August of 2008 that I became closely involved, really working side by side with the development team, and I continued to do so until we submitted to Nintendo.

How many employees are working on Spyborgs?

For a game of this quality you typically expect to see teams the size of 50+ people with a bunch of outsourcing involved. It's really a tribute to how good the team is that they averaged about 22 and never grew larger than about 35, which was right before we did the change in direction over a year ago.

Who was the main designers developing the main fighters of Spyborgs?

I paused when beginnning to answer this question. Yes, all teams have leaders and those leaders deserve credit for keeping a team focused in a certain direction, but the more I think on this question the more people come to mind who deserve credit.  Do I name the designers who developed the original concept?  The concept artist who put a face and body on the character bios?  How about the combat designer and creative director who set the gameplay goals and with the animation lead defined their move sets?
The style with which a character moves says so much about their personality.  Maybe credit goes to the art director and character modelers who took the characters from paper into 3D and the animators who fleshed out the personalities and brought them to life in the game?  We definitely can't omit the gameplay programmers, the real mad scientists who took all these separate parts and brought them together, injectinng life into the Spyborgs, and while doing so often added a”hey, give me this piece of animation and I can make this cool combo happen” or a ”let me spend a couple days seeing if I can implement this crazy idea and then all of our heroes can add it as an upgrade.”
Can you tag any person or two as the main designers when it was such a team effort?

How many of the developers have previous experience in developing games for Wii controls? Will Spyborgs support Wii MotionPlus?

I may be wrong on this, but I believe none of us had previously worked on a Wii game. We read what fans and press had to say, listend to what they've liked and criticized. We played game after game and analyzed, forming our own opinions and fully understanding everyone else's.  We discussed with developers who had tried different solutions and what they considered successess and failures.
More importantly, we spent time really defining what experience players wanted from their Wii motion controls in Spyborgs. Fortunately, with such an experienced development team, we understood the methodologies to go about tackling such a new frontier.  Motion controls are about interacting with the game, not about seeing somethign different on screen; not that the two are exclusive, but this is about where the core value is.  Motion controls are also not simply about replacing button pressing with motion.  Motion for the sake of motion is annoying. How many times have you had to shake your Wii controller because the game designer forced it in out of some assumed obligation because the game was on the Wii, but the motion made no sense and added no value to the gameplay? The real value of motion controls is in connecting players with the gameplay and providing them an experience they haven't enjoyed before.
A slice, a punch, a gesture – action games have had those for years.  The question was how do we craft our version in concert with how we ask players to move to create a fresh, entertaining experience.  I'm confident in saying we achieved what we set out to do.  Having Nintendo of America compliment Spyborgs' implementation of motion controls was very validating for all the team's hard work.
We did take a long, hard look at Wii MotionPlus, but it did not make it into the game.  As we fine tuned our controls, what we were able to do with standard motion was robust enough to provide the experience we wanted.  To do Wii MotionPlus right we'd want to add new modes and new moves designed for it and not just to put a bullet on the back of the box. 
What were the biggest challenges the team met when developing Spyborgs?
If you ask the team they might say their biggest challenge was working with me.  (Yes, I'm kidding.)  I'd have to say the two biggest challenges were shifting away from the original vision and achieving our goals with motion controls.  The original concept was cool. I'd still like to see that game one day (and would love to be part of building it). Part of the challenge was because the concept was so different and with so many new challenges, things just weren't coming together into the experience we wanted.  Moments made you smile and laugh. Moments made you feel immersed in the story or wanting another shot at pummeling your friend.  But something just wasn't working. It was smart for us to do what we did; instead of continuing to thrash at that problem in hopes it would one day work, we stepped back, took the elements that were playing great, and crafted a new design around them. To go full speed to stop to full speed, craft a new and equally compelling direction, and then pull it off above and beyond everyone's expectations is something we can be very proud of. The end result is one all true action gamers can enjoy.
As for motion controls, while we had a clear vision of what we wanted the experience to feel like, getting there was another story.  Action games are about fast-twitch reactions and the game providing immediate feedback.  Swinging your arm is inheretely slower than pressing a button, and that's before considering the slight delay needed to properly interpret the player's motion.  How do you have great motion controls without compromising a fast-action brawler?  Our solution focused motion on enhancing combat, particularly the special moves, while keeping the core combo system button based.
There then is the issue of teaching motions to players – which ones to do, how to do them, and when to do them, and all of this without distracting from the game itself.  We iterated a lot on the game's visual language and we're pretty happy with the end results.  Watching new players pickup Spyborgs, it doesn't take them long before they're succeeding with the motions and pulling off some pretty cool cooperative attack combos.

What is the biggest gift that the team has learned developing Spyborgs?

I know I learned a lot working with such an experienced and talented team.  It was amazing to watch how crafty they were in their solutions.  Whatching how quickly they produced high quality art assets was awesome.  The team had a great understanding of what needed to be built versus what would never be seen (think how a movie set only needs what the camera records) as well as great skill working within their style to maximize what the engine could do.  And speaking of that engine, when you have that kind of an engineering team dedicated to finding a solution to make the best idea happen rather than being afraid and instead choosing the safer and less cool option, well, you can see for yourself what they were able to do with the Wii hardware.
If anything, the team learned what their passion and percervence is capable of.  These guys literally built two games.  That they shifted from one to another, embraced the new direction, creatively repurposed and edited so much from the first, and developed what resulted in a quality product with a significant amount of bonus content is a testament to their ability.  I have no doubt the experience that each of them gained on this product will greatly benefit every game they build in the future.
Will the controls be more similar to the series of Final Fight or to the series of Street Fighter?
The team at Bionic Games was filled with Capcom fans.  It was a pillar of development to build a game that Capcom and Capcom fans would be proud of.  We let ourselves be inspired by as many of our favorite elements of Capcom games as made sense for Spyborgs.  So, my answer is both.  The core combat system bases itself on light and heavy attacks, a bit more Final Fight-esque.  The special attacks though, those enter a bit more into Street Fighter territory.  Most of the special moves are cooperative combos based on timing and motion, and there is a great variety of them – there's actually a unique combo per enemy type per combination of heroes performing the move and that variety of unique moves applies to each of the bosses too.  At its core, Spyborgs is a brawler, so it fits more into the same genre as Final Fight, but I can guarantee fans of all Capcom action games will have fun; and if they pay close attention, they might catch which elements of their favorite Capcom games inspired us.

Flamethrowers are awesome! Will there be flamethrowers in Spyborgs? If not, please make it happen.

Stinger's arm is a Swiss army knife of assault weapons.  We can do whatever we want with it, allowing him to upgrade and allowing it to transform into anything.  For the core combat, we needed him to balance the need for ranged attacks, so while we played with the idea of a flamethrower for him, Voxel didn't get around to giving him that upgrade.  I can say though that Stinger was jealous of the enemies who are equipped with flamethrowers and he is demanding that improvement for the future.

Which audience is your main target?

Spyborgs set out to give Wii gamers a real action game. It is not a collection of mini games or the watered down experience people expect when they hear casual game.  The Wii's userbase is a bit more likely to go see the next Shrek film than the next Saw.  Working with a team who'd developed the Rachet and Clank series already gave us a team experienced in developing with those Pixar sensibiliities. I also haven't seen a Wii in someone's home that didn't have multiple controllers hooked to it. Cooperative play was a big deal from day one. There are few experiences on the market as cool as performing some of those cineamtic attack sequences with a friend.

Do you have an european release date for the game, and will it be available on other platforms than the Wii in the future?

Spyborgs is a Wii exclusive. Development focused all of its efforts to take full advantage of the platform and Wii gamers in Europe will see how much their console is capable of on September 25th.

Are you going casual with Bionic Games and Spyborgs because you are trying to target the broad audience of casual Wii gamers? If so, why are you going more Wii-only instead of going more Facebook-only which is growing fast to have an even greater social impact and casual range within games?

Spyborgs is designed with sensibilities to appeal and be accessible to the boarder audience, but by no means does it fit into the casual games category. The combo system and brawling is as robust as action gamers would expect.  The cinematic attacks and boss battles are epic experiences – think Devil May Cry and God of War. Characters gain power and are able to upgrade their abilities through the game. We have a Medals system that mimics the 360's Achievements and PS3's Trophies. Bonus gameplay modes and cheats to modify and customize thgameplay are unlocked by earning medals along with a lot of other bonus content. Everyone who has had a chance to see the full content in the final product has been pleasantly surprised at how much is on the disc.
Are there any other exclusive Nintendo plans from Capcom in the near future that you can/will give a hint about?
Any that I can hint about?  Hmm, not sure Capcom would like that.  But will I?  See my answer to your next question...

And finally, the million dollar question; has a Wii or DS release of Street Fighter IV been postponed for the benefit of Spyborgs and Tatsunoko vs. Capcom?

– I'm sorry, but my contract with Capcom explicitly states I must remain quiet on all trade secrets unless offered multiple millions of dollars, not just one. If followers of your site wish to put a fund together and collect a couple million more to add to the one your offering, I'll give you the routing info for my offshore bank account and an unmarked envelope will arrive with the answers you seek.

Is there a particular question that you are wondering why we did not ask you?

Since you asked...  One cool thing I've enjoyed with Spyborgs that I haven't seen before is how well we've tied the marketing in with expanding the experience of the product. The game has a collectibles system of hidden audio tapes that when listened to reveal some of the origins of the Spyborgs and even hints at future stoylines. The comicbook we released at ComicCon and the webisodes we're releasing leading up to launch further flesh out the story of their origins and up to where the game begins. It's been great to see some of the stuff that couldn't make it into the game be realized in these other ways. Hopefully, by the time you read this, the comicbook will be digitized and available on www.Spyborgs.com and the first webisode or two will also be available in addition to the rest of the content we have on there. If you can't wait for the game, go check it out and enjoy all the action and backstory.

Vi siger mange tak for interviewet.

1ups givet


#1 - Lepine

Level: 1 (Goomba)

24-09-2009 21:20

Det var godt nok en lang en.... men det lyder da fedt nok.
1ups givet

#2 - Lukas Skywalker

Level: 25 (Kokiri)

24-09-2009 21:24

Ja den ser lidt lang ud - det kan tænkes at den danske udgave bliver afkortet lidt, men nu må vi se Smiley Nu er den oppe i hvert fald Smiley
1ups givet

#3 - Ignorancia

Level: 1 (Goomba)

24-09-2009 21:37

1ups givet

#4 - Lukas Skywalker

Level: 25 (Kokiri)

24-09-2009 21:54

Ærgeligt, for det er ellers et ret fedt interview. De tre sidste spørgsmål er helt klart de bedste, hvis det står til mig Smiley
1ups givet

#5 - @-boy

Level: 15 (Geega)

25-09-2009 00:05

Nice interview, lyder og ser ud som et spil man skal have fat i
1ups givet

#6 - chessr

Level: 31 (ChuChu)

25-09-2009 08:02

Nogen der har en idé om det bliver et 549.- spil eller 349.- oppe i byen Smiley ?
1ups givet