Below is an interview with Chelsea Blasko, the Senior Producer on Wreckateer. Really have to commend Iron Galaxy for their coorporation with us, there are some great people making great games at that company.
1. What was the pitch behind Wreckateer when you guys were proposing the idea to one another?
Basically, we threw a bunch of ideas around in the initial stages of Wreckateer. We thought it was a Burnout meets Trials HD meets Angry Birds meets Toy Soldiers meets Boom Blox kind of game.
2. What made you guys want to do a Kinect game instead of using a controller?
We really thought that this title leant itself to Kinect. We had some experience working on Kinect Adventures and another unnamed Kinect title and we saw the potential of the platform and how using gesture based controls could really work.
3. What made you guys select a 10 dollar pricetag instead of a 15 dollar pricetag like everyone else in the Summer of Arcade chose?
Microsoft made the call on the price. I think it was a good decision. Since it is a Kinect title, the lower price gives people some incentive to just go ahead and pick it up. A lower price point appeals to everyone, too: mom’s and core gamers alike.
4. How many people are on the Iron Galaxy development team?
At the peak of Wreckateer development, we had about 12 core team members. We also used quite a few outsourcing partners to help us with art, animations, and music.
5. How much testing went into attempting to perfect the Kinect controls in your game?
We did A LOT of testing. Basically, we made the game with Kinect from the ground up, so any time we were playing the game and creating new levels, we were testing the gestures and motions. We started early on using a clapping gesture for activation rather than the Y, but aside from all that noise getting annoying in the studio, it ultimately wasn’t as precise as using the Y. We could differentiate the Y gesture from the general waving much better than we could the clap.
6. You guys seem to have some of the best controls I’ve seen in a Kinect game, why do you think that is?
This goes back to the testing. We were constantly playing our own game and making iterations on the gestures until we got it right and it felt good to us. We also realized that using pure gesture-based recognition, that looks for a specific pose, didn’t feel as natural or give us as good of results as using real-time skeletal data did, so we moved to that and it proved to be much more responsive. We also brought in tons of focus testers and made sure they felt as good about the controls as we did because we recognized that sometimes you can get so close to something that you can’t see the flaws anymore. At one point, we changed the waving a bit. At first I couldn’t stand it, but then people new to the game were doing much better using the new technique and I got used to it after a bit. So, I had to admit this change was definitely for the best.
7. Was adding more modes to the multiplayer ever discussed during development?
We discussed adding all kinds of features during development. Ultimately, though it came down to time and polishing what we thought was most important, which was the core gameplay and Single Player experience. We wanted to make sure we really got that right.
8. How long did you guys work on Wreckateer? Any good/bad cases of having to rush to complete something within a certain timeframe? Or feeling scared because you thought you may have just broke something in the game?
We worked on Wreckateer for about a year. When we started, we thought we only had five months to do the title, so we started out with a smaller scope in mind. Then Microsoft saw the potential in the game and asked us to add to it. So, we started to add more levels and personality elements to just make the game more fun. We had probably a hundred different times when we needed to get something done in a rush, but then we had a decent amount of polish time to get those rushed things hammered out a bit more. One day, we really needed to send animation reference over to the animators right away, so Jen got out her camera phone and just recorded me dancing around the office like an idiot doing some of the goblin moves. I sure hope she erased those movies.
9. Do you plan on working with the Kinect in the future?
We definitely plan on working on Kinect again in the future. At Iron Galaxy, we take on all kinds of projects. It’s one of the things I really like about working here.
10. Where does Iron Galaxy go from here?
We will keep making games, whether that’s new IP, ports, or helping other teams, whether console, mobile, or PC. I think we plan to keep to keep the projects we work on diverse and see what opportunities come up.