New details on the highly anticipated WiiWare title Gravitronix were revealed in a recent developer interview by Radio Ninty.
“We’ve actually written our own highly conservative engine to ensure that our games are as compact as possible. This was in direct response to the concerns being voiced by players all over the internet.”
You can read the interview here.
Radio Ninty : What attracted you to the WiiWare service?
Jesse Lowther : First and foremost, it was the Wii’s controller which grabbed us, but it was also the fact that Wiiware made it possible for us to move into the market. A similar situation of the barrier to entry being so vastly reduced would be enticing, but I just don’t have ideas that revolve around the standard controller or would really even work with it.
RN : Did you have plans for a release on the 360 Arcade service before WiiWare, is it still something you’d consider?
JL : We never made any plans for it. Had we been forced to go with a different platform, it would’ve been the PC since it has the best chance of working with Gravitronix’s controls outside of the Wii. Even then, the twisting action of the Wii controllers is intrinsic to Gravitronix’s gameplay and attempting it on a mouse would be cumbersome.
RN : Does the fact that the Wii has no hard drive bother you or concern you when it comes down to deciding your games filesize?
JL : We’ve actually written our own highly conservative engine to ensure that our games are as compact as possible. This was in direct response to the concerns being voiced by players all over the internet. I can’t seem to find a discussion on Wiiware anywhere which hasn’t turned into a discussion about storage.
RN : Has the development of Gravitronix gone smoothly? Is the Wii easy to develop for?
JL : Yes, it’s been relatively smooth. I’m not a programmer so I don’t know the gritty details, but it’s a solid development platform.
RN : The game seems very much wrapped up in secrecy at the moment, is this because you’re scared people might steal your ideas?
JL : The reason we haven’t unveiled the concept yet is because it’s a concept that needs to be delivered all at once, and that’s exactly what we plan to do with a detailed movie introduction around a month before the game’s release. Once people see the movie, it’ll all be clear, and it’ll be much clearer than either screenshots or description could ever hope to make it. I have been concerned about the idea being lifted, but that’s just my natural paranoia getting the better of me.
RN : Explain the mechanics of the game to us, how do we play it and does it use any of the Wii’s unique control options?
JL : The game revolves around twisting either a remote or nunchuk and pressing two buttons. That’s the entire control scheme. You twist to move your gravity platform back and forth within your territory and use the two buttons (A and B or C and Z) to fire one of two gravity beams which will either capture projectiles or launch them away. The goal is to break through your opponents’ defenses and send a projectile into their territory to defeat them. It sounds simple, but there’s an immense amount of depth regarding how your energy beams function and advanced techniques when using each unique projectile.
RN : Is there online multiplayer? Do you have ideas why Wii games so rarely include online features?
JL : We had hoped to have online multiplayer, but it just wasn’t going to be an option for our first game. As for why most games don’t include it, I’m guessing it stems from resources and time constraints. Online multiplayer demands additional time and testing because once a game needs to run across multiple systems simultaneously, there’s a whole mountain of issues which can arise and more testing that needs to be done as a result. You have to worry about players using packet shapers to cheat, latency issues messing with your physics system, client or server side prediction, etc. I’m a HUGE fan of online gaming myself and we have plenty of plans for future online experiences, but we just don’t have the resources to go through a full online testing cycle for Gravitronix.
RN : What are you and your team playing at the moment?
JL : I’m playing lots of online Brawl myself, and I typically play Team Fortress 2 with my girlfriend on a regular basis. We just finished Professor Layton and the Curious Village and we get in occasional games of Mario Party DS.
RN : What are your favourite games?
JL : If you’re talking all-time favorites, that’s when I have to start digging. I loved the arcade version of Rampage from WAY back when. As a kid, playing as a giant monster pummeling cities into the ground was just about the best thing ever. After that, I was a Sega kid and loved Sonic, and my favorite of those was probably Sonic CD, mainly because the blend of music and gameplay was so spot-on that it created the best atmosphere for what I felt Sonic games were supposed to be. Toejam and Earl is also one of my favorite games of all time, and it aged fantastically if you want to grab it on the VC. Around that time, I started playing Marathon, one of Bungie’s earlier games, and that’s actually how I met my lead programmer and lead artist: we needed more players for our weekend Marathon nights and these guys played the game as well.
I bounced back and forth from PC to console gaming back then, and my next real console after the Genesis was the N64 where I was blown away by Mario 64 and later Ocarina of Time. Then came SSB, which wasn’t a game for my circle of friends so much as an event. We logged 700+ hours of gameplay on that little cartridge. In the GC era, two of my favorites were Eternal Darkness and MGS: Twin Snakes. These were the kinds of games which could grab other people in the room with both storyline and atmosphere. I’ve been gaming in one way or another since I was five years old and I even wanted to make games back then. I’ve basically grown up with alongside the gaming industry so trying to break into it doesn’t seem terribly far-fetched for me.
RN : and finally can you tell us a secret about the game that you haven’t told anyone else.
JL : Honestly, the game is as straightforward as it sounds which makes the only secret how it looks and plays. I will say this: the Gravitronix video we release will be “hosted” by one of the characters on the Gravitronix roster (possibly two). How we plan to handle that is still up in the air so I can’t say anything beyond that.