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Red Octane Interview April 27, 2007

Posted by dpcough in Live Gamer Interviews.
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Guitar Hero II has been released and the Xbox 360 owners have spoken with tons of titles being sold every day. There has been some controversy over high prices in downloadable content and even a petition for it. Unfortunately those questions about how much it costs to license games and they won’t talk about high prices (it makes sense they don’t talk about it, can’t give away inside secrets!) but I think the community made their voice heard loud enough about loud prices. But there’s still a lot to address with Guitar Hero III, wireless controllers, Rock Band, and more. So here’s the interview with Red Octane, the developers of the Guitar Hero Franchise.

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Thanks for your time today for this interview Red Octane. I just wanted to say I’ve only played Guitar Hero a few times and know that I own it can agree with a lot of other people that it’s great. With the move to Xbox 360 you made some changes to the game by changing the guitar style to the Gibson X-Plorer, what was the reason for this change as the old model was fine?
Everyone enjoys variety and having different options, and with Xbox 360 being our initial entry onto next-plan platforms, it made perfect sense for us to have the X-Plorer shaped guitar. It’s another classic shape that a lot of fans are familiar with, and we added all the standard Xbox button features, along with other ports as well that we’re looking to integrate into the game play.

What’s in store for the next set of downloadable content?
We’ll likely see additional songs from the original Guitar Hero, though fans will also be excited to hear that we’ll have new exclusive songs available shortly as well. While we have yet to make an announcement on what bands and tracks we have lined up, it’s always been our intention to provide fresh new music and other fun content such as cool gamer themes and picture packs available on a consistent basis.

What are your plans for the future of the Guitar Hero franchise?
With Guitar Hero, the core game play will likely not change, though we have plans to integrate additional new exciting features, offer a variety of different shaped guitars, a multitude online options and exclusive content, and most importantly, continuing to secure the top bands/artists and songs to offer the most authentic game play experince possible to unleash that inner rock star.

Is there any differences now that the development of Guitar Hero has been shifted to Neversoft?
We can’t confirm any specifics at the moment, though it’s great to be working with Neversoft. They’re an extremely talented group of developers, and their experience working on blockbuster titles, music licensing, and knowledge of our culture only adds to their passion for working on our next title.

What’s your reaction to Harmonix’s upcoming title Rock Band. That title will feature four instruments contrary to your one.
We’re definitely excited to see how it all comes together, and in general, it’s great for the overall genre of rhythm–action titles as it’s only continuing to exponentially grow. Other than that, we can’t speak on behalf of other products outside of RedOctane.

How long does it take to re-record some of these songs in Guitar Hero?
It definitely depends. WaveGroup Sound is the group that re-records and tracks all of the songs for Guitar Hero. They have done a tremendous job for us, as they have a strict selection process for who they choose to do the tracking for each particular song. A lot of different efforts goes into the final product such as mixing, tracking, length of song, finding the right artists, specific model of instruments, etc. all to replicate the song as best they can. There is no set method to the madness. It’s just pure appreciation after it’s done and ready to play.

How’s the situation going in getting a wireless Guitar controller for Xbox 360?
Without giving away too much before we make an official announcement, we’re looking to have all of our guitars wireless for the next iteration of Guitar Hero. More specific details beyond that, you’ll just have to wait and see.

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This is more of a personal question for me but when are AC/DC songs going to get put into the game?
That I can not say either, though we do have a lot of bands that we’ve been trying to go after for quite some time that will be in Guitar Hero III. Who are they? You’ll have to continue playing the guessing game for now, though it’s going to make our fans jaw drop for sure and will be be our hottest set list thus far.

With Activision now controlling you is there any difference?
RedOctane still fully operates as a videogame publisher, though we are now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Activision. We are continuing to do what we’ve always done, which is make great games, and now with much more added support.

A title Boom Boom Rocket released on Xbox Live Arcade this week, will you ever make a way to get the Guitar Hero controller compatible with it?
We haven’t tested our controller with that title, and have no plans to. When we begin our hardware production, we’re focused on designing and making the best products available for our fans and playable only on our titles, not worrying about anyone elses. The rest falls into place.

Once again thanks for your time today. Any closing comments?
Keep rockin’!

Thanks for the interview Red Octane, look for many more to come.

Guitar Hero II Interview March 19, 2007

Posted by dpcough in Live Gamer Interviews.
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Hey everyone, I got an interview it looks like with Red Octane, one of the forces behind the platinum selling PS2 title and 360 title in 2 weeks Guitar Hero II. So do you have any questions for the developers of Guitar Hero? What’s on your mind about the game, downloadable content, a wireless guitar, what? Leave your question in the comments or e-mail it to dpradio365@gmail.com.

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Roboblitz Developer Interview February 23, 2007

Posted by dpcough in Live Gamer Interviews.
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I had the chance to talk to Naked Sky Entertainment on their title for Xbox Live Arcade Roboblitz. Roboblitz was a title released back in December for 1200 Microsoft Points. The developer Naked Sky Entertainment talks about Roboblitz, Xbox Live Arcade, and more. Read the interview after the break.

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Live Gamer Interview: Team 17 – Worms February 16, 2007

Posted by dpcough in Live Gamer Interviews.
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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.

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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.

Ninja Bee Interview February 10, 2007

Posted by dpcough in Live Gamer Interviews.
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I told you all Live Gamer would have an amazing 2007! 2007 will also be developer interviews this year! I interviewed Jeremy, the lead designer on Band of Bugs, and Steve, the president of Ninja Bee, on their title for Xbox Live Arcade Band of Bugs. If titles are released weekly it will release within nine weeks. Here’s the interview.

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1. Tell us about Ninja Bee.
[ Steve ] NinjaBee is an independent developer focused on making high quality original downloadable games. We started using the NinjaBee name when we decided to release Outpost Kaloki on our own. Since then, we’ve released Outpost Kaloki X and Cloning Clyde for Live Arcade. Band of Bugs is our third title for Live Arcade. We also sell other games we like (but which we didn’t make) from our web site ninjabee.com, like Eets and Void War. NinjaBee is the “indie” side of a traditional contract development company, Wahoo Studios.

2. Band of Bugs is your next Xbox Live Arcade game, please explain the game to us.

[Jeremy] Band of Bugs is a tactical strategy game designed with the Live Arcade environment in mind. We’ve made a strategy game that can be enjoyed by players from all walks of life, and doesn’t require large chunks of time to play. The low time commitment is especially important in multiplayer games.

3. How long has Band of Bugs been in development for?

[Jeremy] 10 months and counting. The battle’s just about done.

4. Will there be any multiplayer in the game or leaderboards?
[Jeremy] Multiplayer was a big part of our development. It was particularly important to us to provide players with a game they could play with their friends without having to set aside a whole afternoon. There will be Leaderboards.


5. What will the price and release date be of the game?
[Sorry, we can’t answer this one]

6. Will the game have extra content or gamerpics and themes?
[Steve] We’re big fans of downloadable content. Outpost Kaloki X, for instance, has a bunch of extra content including new levels and campaigns. Unfortunately, any extra content plans for Band of Bugs are still not public.


7. Most strategy games are mainly for the hardcore crowd, what is this game’s audience?
[Jeremy] Everyone we can get to play it. More specifically, we wanted to pull in the more casual gamers that might be put off by other strategy games. We designed the game to be very accessible it terms of gameplay, setting, and art style. Of course this doesn’t mean the game doesn’t have any depth. The quick-playing, arcade bursts of strategy gameplay should appeal to the hardcore as well as the casual player.

8. According to your site the game will feature a level editor, tell us about that.
[Jeremy] Band of Bugs will ship with a feature rich level editor. We put a great deal of our development resources towards the editor, and it’s one that we used ourselves during the development of the game. We are very excited to see players from the community create levels, and then battle it out online.


9. What are your plans after this game?
[Steve] Simply put, we’ll continue to make cool and interesting downloadable games! We have a real passion for Live Arcade, and we’ll keep doing Live Arcade development for as long as Microsoft lets us. In addition, Wahoo Studios (the traditional work-for-hire side of the company) will keep doing work for bigger publishers on various platforms.

10. Has Xbox Live Arcade has been a success for you with Outpost Kaloki X and Cloning Clyde?
[ Steve ] Yes! Outpost Kaloki X and Cloning Clyde were big successes for us in several ways, including the simple but gratifying fact that we have been able to release our own unique games in our own way for a very powerful modern console system. That by itself is some pretty fantastic success as far as we’re concerned. 🙂

11. Ever consider a Cloning Clyde sequel, the first one was pretty good. With a few innovations here and there you have a close to retail title for the DS and a fantastic Xbox Live Arcade game.
[ Steve ] Thanks. We’ve had great positive feedback from Clyde, and we’re tremendously proud of the game. One thing I can say is that if we did another game like Cloning Clyde, it wouldn’t be a straight sequel – it would be a high quality title that stands on its own.

12.Is the Xbox Live Arcade limit still 50 MB or has it been raised to 250 MB? Are there any advantages for you with more space?
[ Steve ] We can’t comment on Microsoft’s policies. But I can say personally that I like a smaller limit. I like the quick downloads, and I’d rather focus on the gameplay as much as possible and not worry so much about cinematics and crazy-high-res textures.

13. How many people were on your team to develop Band of Bugs?
[Steve] It’s hard to say because the team has changed a lot over time. At the start it was just 3 or 4 people. At peak we’ve had maybe 12, but some of those were part-time, and that doesn’t include an outside test team working on QA or people at Microsoft helping with the Live Arcade side of things.

14. Thanks for your time for this interview, any closing comments?
[ Jeremy ] Thank you for the opportunity to talk about our game. We hope everyone checks it out when it ships.

I’d like to thank Steve and Jeremy for their time on this interv

Interview: Intendo’s Rollin November 12, 2006

Posted by dpcough in Live Gamer Interviews.
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Today I’d like to announce a new form of media for you. It is called the Live Gamer Interviews. To start it off we welcome Intendo’s own Rollin to discuss the Wii and Xbox 360 in gaming. He’s got a pretty cool mind that bounces around. Enjoy the interview, we’ll have more in the future. Here’s a Wii and 360 Compared! The first two questions are listed, click more for the full interview. Comment away

Dpcough: Hey Rollin, welcome to Live Gamer as we’re being called now, but with the way I’ve been the name I’ll be changed in a week. How’s it going?

Rollin: So-so, been hangin in there. Site’s doing well.

Dpcough: Yeah, I can understand where you are coming from – same here. First start off by telling us about your blog Intendo.

Rollin: Well, Intendo’s tagline is “the anti-fansite”. And what we mean by that is we want our site to be the place for those gamers who get embarrassed by others of similar interests when they run their mouths. In other words, we want the non-fanboy Nintendo lovers to have somewhere they can discuss and dissect Nintendo’s dealings without getting yelled at by some troll on a forum – which is the way we feel elsewhere.

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