Interview: Rock Pocket Games (Oliver & Spike Dimension Jumpers)
Nintendo Feed: The tagline for Oliver and Spike is “Ratchet and Clank meets Zelda meets Uncharted” which most would agree is pretty ambitious. Does the development team feel they are achieving/have achieved that goal?
Röösli: It does sound over-ambitions doesn’t it The fact is that it’s more in terms of inspirations. We would never put us on the same level as the studios who created those games but our team has some really big fans of said IPs.
She went on to explain what aspects of each of those titles Rock Pocket is hoping to capture in Oliver & Spike...
Ratchet & Clank has those quirky fun characters and cut-scenes we really love. The characters in Oliver & Spike, especially everyone around Oliver and the inhabitants of the different Dimensions, are supposed to be memorable and a bit over the top, much like in the Ratchet & Clank Series. We do try, however, to keep Oliver more grounded to not tired the player out.
Zelda manages to create this magic environment without being “in your face” with magic aspects. It manages to create emotion with its atmosphere without actively trying or using it as a key aspect of the game. It’s just something that works with the rest of the gameplay. We also took ideas from how to progress during the story-line without actually leveling up the character. Instead you find (or get) items and extend and upgrade them, much like in the Zelda series.
The Uncharted series is a big inspiration when it comes to how to do story-telling in a game. Not only due to the tongue in cheek approach, but also the importance to ground any kind of story, no matter how fantastic it may seem, in reality to not lose your audience in the process.
So in that regard at least we know we are trying our best to achieve those goals. If we succeed is up to the players. We are definitely looking forward to collect feedback from testers during the process and make adjustments accordingly.
|Climbing in the Firma Dimension|
Röösli: That is actually one of the toughest elements to deal with when it comes to the puzzles and dimension jumping. The dimension jumping mechanic is very open so there needs to be a way to limit it while still keeping room for creativity. The special areas where you do not have to use any crystals to jump are the best examples for said creativity but we also try to add puzzles for which you are limited crystal wise but where we actively design several ways to solve them.
We also try to minimize the twitch based challenges so the difficulty lies more in figuring out what to do rather than to get a jump timed and angled right. That gives us the option to have a hint system that will adjust the challenge according to the players needs.
Nintendo Feed: Because the game is explained as being an exploration/adventure/puzzle title, do you feel you have been able to maintain a balance between all three genres?
Röösli: At this point we can’t be sure but we think the design balance is going to be quite even between them. Whether this works remains to be seen. Hopefully we won’t alienate the puzzle enthusiasts, the platform fans, or the adventure crowd. Instead of making a game that is just super puzzle heavy we try to make sure you encounter another game mechanic once you spent some time on a puzzle aspect. But yeah, it can be a bit different at times since it’s easier to just sit for hours and design puzzles or platform levels - in our case though it’s really important for us that the puzzles are integrated in the lore and story-line.
Röösli: This is still on track and very much still the initial design we had in mind for the co-op. Spike is already a fan favorite and we think that the co-op, where one player plays Oliver and another Spike, is important to keep Spike an integral part to the game-play. We really do think that the thirty-something gamer who grew up with old school adventures or Ratchet & Clank would like something to play with his/her family and for now there are a lot of fps (first person shooters) and action games to choose from and not so many adventures/platformers.
|Possible Co-Op Play Tera Dimension|
Röösli: We see a challenging opportunity to try to show how the WiiU is different than the other consoles. It’s not about pushing graphics but it’s about trying to find new uses for the TV other than being a pure output device. That’s of course not something every gamer wants and tastes are different but we like to experiment.
We are also excited to use the Gamepad as an actual device linked to the story-line. To give the player something the Professor could have invented so-to-speak, something they can actually hold in their hands. For example we see the Gamepad as a device Oliver gets from the Professor to help him get around and through the story-line. So the Gamepad can change its mechanics according to the gamers needs at that moment in the story.
We are also really excited about the NFC possibility but the technology is still a bit scary to most indies. We will see where that leads us. That needs a bit more research on our part first.
Nintendo Feed: The Wii U Gamepad appears to have serious potential to be integrated as a major element of the storyline. Do you feel that a Wii U release highly likely?
Röösli: We would really like to 100% confirm a WiiU version but at this point we simply can't. We are still looking for partners to help us fund the rest of development and depending on who that partner is a WiiU version might be a problem due to possible exclusivity. However, if we get the funding sorted and there is no exclusivity which binds us there is a strong possibility for a WiiU version.
Nintendo Feed: Would you care to suggest when we might see an official trailer for game?
Röösli: Well, if you mean trailer as in showing game-play mechanics and show a bit more what the game is like: We are working on that and will have a more telling video for the Game Developers Conference ready. After all we are keen to prove once and for all that Oliver & Spike is a well-rounded game with many more mechanics than just platforming.
Nintendo Feed would like to thank Ms. Röösli for spending some time with us as well as providing some additional screenshots from Oliver & Spike.
Did the information she gave whet your appetite for title that gives a little bit of everything? Drop us a comment or jump over to the Chat Room dimension and let us know.