Live Gamer Interview: Team 17 – Worms February 16, 2007Posted by dpcough in Live Gamer Interviews.
So how do you follow up to the Ninja Bee Band of Bugs interview? I said I planned on a Roboblitz one today but I’m having format issues with that interview which I will fix so it can go up next week.
So who’s the interview then? I sat down and talked with Martyn Brown of Team 17, the team behind the upcoming Xbox Live Arcade game Worms. The game keeps getting delayed week after week and there is a bit of a cry from some fans to release it and every weeks more fans groan with retro titles being released. In this interview I discuss with Martyn Brown downloadable content, Worms, and more.
1. First off, introduce yourself and what’s your position at Team 17?
I’m Martyn Brown, Studio Director at Team17. I manage the studio in general terms and spend a lot of time working on business development. I spent a long time working with the Worms series too, since the early days and have done much of the press for the title.
2. Hey, thanks for your time today. Tell us about your upcoming game Worms for Xbox Live Arcade.
I’m sure many people are familiar with Worms, which is a turn-based strategy title featuring battling teams of Worms and explosive armaments. We couldn’t resist the opportunity to bring this well loved title to XBLA, which is perhaps an ideal format given the fantastic Live service and all that it offers.
3. This game has been criticized for not including as much as previous Worms games, why?
Firstly, we have to consider that not everyone has played the game, this is an opportunity for us to introduce the game to a new audience and because of that, we’ve presented a weapon set that we feel best describes the strategic balance of the game. Having a lot of super-weapons was good fun, but ultimately it watered down the strategic play that was so strong in say the original game and Worms 2. With so many weapons and options it can become unwieldy for new players and given we believe this is almost a fresh start for the series, we wanted people to enjoy the core game. When you play online you also want to know what type of game you’re playing and that wasn’t always the case with the expanded series, where users would configure very different schemes and again, if you were a new player, it was very difficult to feel your way around. Microsoft cites XBLA as a casual, fun place and we’ve kept things reasonably quick, easy and clear because of that. In terms of overall content, we’ve been buffered by an overall limit of 50mb which didn’t go too far given the amount of data in the game.
4. What can we expect for downloadable content on this title?
You can expect themes, gamerpics, level-packs for the game (we could only squeeze a few in our 50mb, since they are all high-def and 3d), many extra voice banks, new audio tracks.
5. What will the multiplayer features of this game be?
2 to 4 teams, voice support and a host of leaderboards.
6. Has there been any disadvantages to the 50 MB limit on Xbox Live Arcade?
The only real disadvantage is that we’ve had to cut up the content somewhat. We’ve tried to ensure that the initial download offers great replayability (especially with random levels) but the other content will all come through marketplace.
7. An upcoming Xbox Live Arcade title Castlevania exceeds the 50 MB limit, why didn’t Worms?
It depends how far you wish to go. I imagine the decision for Castlevania was that it was just a little over and felt it was much a better game for the extra. With Worms, the whole data is perhaps 500Mb+ (Considering all visual themes, audio, music) and that certainly wouldn’t be allowed!
8. How is this game different than other Xbox Live Arcade titles?
Well, it’s the first turn-based strategy title for a start, which encourages voice chat during the game. It’s also a social game, best played with buddies offline or online. I think also, it’s perhaps one of the first XBLA titles that really offers intensive, prolonged play and hence incredible value for money.
9. How long was this game in development for?
The codebase was developed for about a year and we spent a further 6-7 months adding the XBLA feature set, most of which is to do with the multiplayer, controllers and such. It’s spent about 5 months in the various test loops too.
10. Did the departure of Greg Canessa from Microsoft have any effects on you?
Not at all. We’ve had tremendous support from the XBLA time right from the off. Greg’s departure wasn’t key at all in terms of our title.
11. On Gamertagradio you said you finished development in September 2006, why does it take so long to get it out there?
Because the testing procedures are intensive and protracted. There’s also 7 independent localisations to perform, age-ratings required for each territory etc. When you go into test, if anything’s found then the process starts again. Unfortunately some problems were spotted late in the loop and mean several re-submissions.
12. What’s your favorite weapon?
I like the rope and you can’t beat a well thrown grenade – the skill stuff. It’s fun to send a sheep or banana in there, but there’s a certain satisfaction of timing and setting off some extravagant sequence of events where a worm flies through the air, lands, explodes and then sets off another chain reaction.
13. You have discussed sounds, graphics, and more in the game that will come in downloadable content. Lumines Live launched with a downloadable content pack and received a lot of criticism and had lower sales than expected. What do you think the community’s response will be to the Worms downloadable content?
We certainly don’t wish to achieve similar criticisms. For a start our title is cheaper and the whole game is playable. Additional data will be a mixture of both free and cheap download options.
14. Will there be any extra achievements in downloadable content as you are now allowed to add 50 extra points?
No, it’s too late for that! If we make further changes again then the whole process will begin again and we’d like to ship during 2007!!!
15. Do you know when the game will release and its pricepoint?
I can’t discuss either until it’s approved (which we don’t know until it’s out of the certification loop and green-flagged). The price has been well discussed on the net [Editors Note: 800 Microsoft Points for core game] 🙂
16. Thanks a lot for your time today, any closing comments?
I just hope everyone enjoys it and gets the subtle, strategic play on offer. This is a high skill game than can be played by many and mastered by few. See you on the leaderboards!
I’d like to thank Martyn Brown for his time for this interview. Worms release in less than eight weeks and who knows – maybe tommorow if the process of certification finishes over night.