Tag Archives: interview
A couple of days ago we published the first part of an interview made by the guys at Drinkingcoffeecola. Our champion, Rochard‘s Lead Level Designer Samuli V., was challenged with some unusually tricky questions.
Let’s see how that story continues…
Sony’s ads on PSN have described Rochard as an “anti-hero”. Personally, I don’t see how the term fits. He’s an unlikely hero perhaps, but not an anti-hero. How do you feel about this ad campaign?
We decided to play a bit with the words when making this ad. John Rochard is not your usual hero, he is your ordinary guy in an extraordinary situation. His daily work around anti-gravity machines oppose his down-to-earth character. Just like his appearance might oppose many people’s perception of the mighty hero that sets out to face the gravest threats in order to protect the people he cares for.
In the gaming world of space marines and elite warriors, John represents very much the polar opposite by remaining a regular, chubby dude. He’s the antithesis to pop culture’s portrayal of heroism, hence his anti-hero title.
John Rochard seems to be a person of Southern US origin. How did your team come to choose this characterization, and how did you (since you’re based in Finland) characterize him in your own country? Is he still Southern to Finnish gamers?
Finland is such a northern country (no, there are no polar bears walking around) that we wanted to contradict that with something that is very far from us, but still similar in a sense. Only a few decades ago Finland was heavily dependent on agriculture just as the southern US states, and we wanted to pay homage to that.
Read it ’till the end from this link.
We really love it when people ask us about our choices on Rochard, because as you can imagine we really enjoy talking about them, even when the questions are brutally honest.
Today, we are proud to point you to one of most challenging interviews we have given until now. The one answering is Samuli V., our Lead Level Designer and all around epic guy.
Here a sneak peek.
So Samuli, Rochard is Recoil’s first title… What can you tell us about the team that put it together? Who are the people of Recoil Games?
Recoil Games is led by Samuli Syvähuoko, who in the past has been involved in creation of such companies as Remedy Entertainment, Futuremark and Fathammer. The Rochard project was directed by Kalle Kaivola, our producer who previously worked in press and TV, and Creative Director Burt Kane of Futuremark fame. Most of the remaining team members have backgrounds in many leading Finnish game development studios, including Remedy, Bugbear, Farmind, Housemarque and Frozenbyte.
Most of the guards have a very effeminate voice, and talk about getting pedicures and such. What’s behind this, or where did these characterizations come from?
These guys are very passionate about their personal well being and care highly for their appearance, but have taken a bit of an over-the-top turn for the effeminate at that. It’s a bit of a jab at the artificially caring environment instated in over-managed work environments. Another take on not creating the standard burly videogame characters, but trying to reach for something very different instead. Obviously they are a comic relief, and should be treated as such.
For the whole piece, just head to Drinkingcoffeecola. We don’t doubt you’ll enjoy it.
This is the last blogpost in the series of our interviews from VideoGameWriters, but before we proceed, let’s do a fast recap of the last two parts.
In the first part of the interview we discussed why Rochard is a PSN title and most importantly how it became the first Unity-powered game for PS3.
In the second, we took an in-depth look at how well Unity fits into the design philosophy and then discussed the main ideas behind Rochard‘s funny one-liners and cartoony aesthetics.
But we all know you are not here just for the pretty pictures so…let’s go on with the last part of this excellent article!
Was the gravity mechanic a core part of Rochard from the beginning? How has the game itself changed from inception to its current form?
The concept of gravity (or lack of it) was there from the very beginning. In the very early prototype phase we tested various mechanics, like the very elegant idea of moving with your guns recoil, but it was soon obvious that the concept of controlling the amount of gravity (generated by the gravity generators) was the hook that suited our purposes the best.
What stages did the overall theme of the game go through? Was it always a space miner sort of scenario?
After coming up with the idea of being able to reduce the amount of gravity, the idea of an extra atmospheric mining in asteroids was a given. We are all big fans of sci-fi and that felt like the perfect setting for a story where the protagonist is the average Joe, a space miner and not a space marine or an ex-commando. The space mine also provides a perfect playground for an underdog, who has only his wits and his everyday mining tools against an army enemies armed to the teeth. A mine can be a quite unhealthy place to an outsider…
Did you approach Sony with Rochard’s concept, or did they approach you to develop for their platform?
We approached a number of publishers with an early demonstration version of Rochard, and Sony Online Entertainment turned out to be the best partner for us. The platform choice came naturally after that.
Assuming that Rochard garners success for your studio, what can we expect out of future endeavors? Have team members been working on any side projects that could influence future titles?
The obvious choice would be the sequel, as Rochard’s story has been designed to span through multiple games right from the start. Extending the Rochard IP to other platforms beyond games is a possibility and something we are looking for in the future. We have also been concepting and prototyping new IPs on the side, so you can expect numerous new original games and possibly even products in other forms of entertainment coming from Recoil in the future.
This was the last entry for this specific developer interview, courtesy of VideoGameWriters.
Today we will first have an in-depth look at how well Unity fits into our design philosophy, and then discuss the main ideas behind Rochard‘s funny one-liners and its cartoony aesthetics.
What advantages/disadvantages does the Unity engine have compared to other engines your team has worked with in the past?
The strong point of Unity is the speed of the iteration cycle when developing the game. Some of the previous engines required us to shutdown the editor for compiling scripts, but in Unity the changes are immediately applied to the engine. This keeps the flow of development going instead of interrupting your work. Extending the editor was also really easy, and we ended up doing quite a lot of tools and small scripts to get rid of some of the laborious repetitive work.
Another feature is the use of so-called prefabs, which stands for “prefabricated game objects”. This allows you to build a palette of game objects that can be easily maintained and placed in the game world. This feature was found in the previous engines too, but they were far more clunky and error-prone.
Unity is not packed with rendering and animation features out-of-the-box. You can always go under the hood and implement things the way you want – that’s the whole purpose. For the games that we are making, it’s just perfect.
How has the Unity engine worked between the different parts of the development team (artists, programmers, level designers)? Do certain aspects of the engine work better with certain specialties, or does the engine work well with everyones position?
Unity is an all-around engine, and it caters to everybody in the team. Because it’s so expandable, you can improve the work flow for any discipline if such need should arise. For example, we ended up doing our custom prefab browser for the editor as our requirements for levels in our game were quite specific. We were originally using the industry standard Perforce for version control, but the built-in Asset Server in Unity had better integration to the engine so we ended up using that instead even though it was not as feature-complete as Perforce is.
Thematically, what is your reason for giving Rochard a sort of quirky, comedic approach as opposed to something a little more “serious” or straight forward? Do you believe that the quirkiness gives better life to the story, characters and sense of immersion?
We wanted to create a story in the spirit of the old Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies which have a bit serious themes but with fun and lighthearted overtones. The quirkiness in Rochard’s case not only helped us to write more catchy characters and story but it is also good for the suspension of disbelief – It’s easier to accept and not question the world of John which may seem a bit odd sometimes. Although the characters seem funny to the player John and all the other characters in the Rochard’s world take themselves quite seriously and the humor is often based on that. And of course the game is filled with witty one liners.
There are certain elements, like John’s Rock Blaster that suggest Rochard could be a purebred shooter game, but what makes Rochard stand out is of course the gravity control which coupled with nice physics bring a whole new level of control to the player. The G-lifter, John’s handhold gravity tool, is another highlight. It allows him to grab and shoot objects in game world. When we started the creation of Rochard we wanted a very solid gameplay based on something familiar, but with an unforgettable twist. You know: something old (platformer), something new (gravity control), something borrowed (G-Lifter) and something blue (gravity is blue)
Check back for the third and last part, or read the whole article on VideoGameWriters.
A few days ago VideoGameWriters presented a terrific interview with Samuli Viikinen (Lead Level Designer), Juhana Virtanen (Lead Designer) and Sampsa Lehtonen (Programmer) detailing Rochard‘s development, from prototyping to release.
Today we will re-publish the first part of it, focusing on PSN and how Rochard became the first Unity-powered game on PS3.
Why did you select Sony’s PSN platform? Did you know before hand that you were the first developer to use the engine on that platform?
When we got a publishing deal, it was PSN exclusive. Unity didn’t have support for PS3 yet but it was in the works. So we knew what we were getting ourselves into.
You’re the first developer to use the Unity engine on the PSN. What was the engine’s appeal to your team?
When we started working on Rochard, we didn’t yet have target platform for it. The beauty of Unity is that the game can be published on any of the supported platforms with relative ease. Unity is also really fast and easy to use, making prototyping and implementing new features a breeze. Often when any of our designers had new tech requirements, a programmer just sat next to the designer and implemented the new feature right there on spot together with the designer. This was not possible with the previous engines we had used because of the lengthy iteration cycles.
What did you discover about developing with the Unity engine on Sony’s console? Specifically, what were the major challenges you faced during development?
As Unity was not yet perfected for PS3, obviously there were some growing pains. It took collaboration between us, Unity and Sony to make it happen. We’re glad we were able to help in the process, as now we possess some in-depth knowledge that should give us some competitive advantage in the future. During the development the major challenge was running out of memory on PS3.
It’s was not about Unity nor PS3 but us using a bit too much resources as the game was being developed on PC where limitations are quite different from those on console. Interestingly even though Unity is heavily utilizing C# (Mono), we didn’t actually have that much problems with script performance. And those few bottlenecks we had were easily pinpointed by the profiling tools found in Unity.
Did you always have Rochard’s main mechanics in mind before you started developing with the Unity engine? Did certain features of the engine change certain aspects of the game from its concept?
No, we didn’t have the main mechanics ready but instead the game grew up from prototyping and iteration. Obviously we had decided to do a platformer, but the gameplay itself was done iteratively. Unity did not impose any strict limitations to us, quite the contrary actually.
For instance, originally we didn’t have such a strong physics-based gameplay, but after seeing what Unity was capable of and learning what was possible with its physics engine we gradually implemented a more and more elaborate physics system for the game.
Stay tuned for more or read the whole thing on VideoGameWriters.