Interview with Duck Block Games on “Forsaken Castle” – A 16-Bit Metroidvania Homage Kickstarter

This weekend, we had the opportunity to interview the fine folks over at Duck Block Games. The developers are currently working on a Kickstarter title called Forsaken Castle, which is heavily influenced on Metroidvania-style gameplay. Brothers Lance and Clint Trahan took the time to provide us some background on the game’s development and history, as well as what the studio has in store.

Marcello: First off, thank you for taking the time for us to interview you guys about Forsaken Castle. So first off, congratulations on Forsaken Castle getting funded! I’m sure that it is a very surreal moment for you guys to see this project coming to fruition.

Lance: Thanks so much for the interview Marcello and yes, it’s been pretty surreal. We couldn’t be happier at the progress we’ve made with the Kickstarter campaign.

Clint: Hello.

Marcello: So tell us a bit about your studio, Duck Block Games?

Lance: We are made up of just myself and my brother Clint. He is the lead designer and artist, while I handle the programming and all the general operations of the company, both online and offline.

Marcello: Forsaken Castle is a Kickstarter project that’s inspired by Metroidvania style. How did the game first come about?

Lance: We’ve played a lot of Castlevania and Metroid games over the years, so we have no shortage of desire to see games from those years come back. We wanted our first project to be something we could faithfully execute on while still giving us some room to do our own thing.

Clint: It was originally planned as a short game for mobile devices with linear levels and limited controls.  We decided last November to expand the project and target a PC/Console release with a focus on the Metroidvania genre.  I’ve always enjoyed the gameplay and setting of the Castlevania series but prefered the level design and upgrade system of Metroid.  We want to create a fun game that combines these ideas in a way that truly fits the “Metroidvania” name.

Marcello: How long has Forsaken Castle been in development for?

Lance: We had our first very basic build of the game that we showed a handful of people on a phone back in September of 2016, with rough prototypes about 3-4 months before that, so probably a little over a year of part-time effort.

Marcello: What engine is currently being used to build Forsaken Castle?

Lance: We are using the Unity3D engine to make the game. It has a bit of a learning curve, but gives us some great flexibility once we started getting the hang of it.

Marcello: Since Forsaken Castle is heavily inspired by Metroid and Castlevania, which installments in those two series are your favorite? Also, were there any other games that helped inspire this project?

Lance: I would have to say Super Metroid for the hauntingly ambient music and level design and Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow for the characters and fun yet sometimes frustrating “Magic Seal” system. Though people may give Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest some flack, I’ll never forget the dread I felt whenever these words came up on the screen: “WHAT A HORRIBLE NIGHT TO HAVE A CURSE.”

Clint: My favorites are Super Metroid and Symphony of the Night.  Also some inspiration from Zelda: Link to the Past and Ys III: Wanderers from Ys.

Marcello: Oh man, that “Magic Seal” system was certainly frustrating in Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow. Moving onward, tell us a bit about the main protagonist, Lily. How did you guys come up with her design?

Lance: She’s a fledgling paladin in her order. When she was sent to investigate reports of monsters and undead plaguing a small village within the kingdom. She’s excited to do her part and prove that she can be a positive force in the world. Her investigation leads her to a once dormant castle where there is more going on under the surface than she at first realizes. She may be in over her head, but she is undeterred in trying to solve the castle’s mysteries and stop the looming danger with her own hands.

Clint: Lily’s design has evolved from previous project ideas we started developing over the last few years, but never saw public release.  At first she was a knight, used a sword, and didn’t even have a name.  When we moved away from the plan for mobile we changed her story to a paladin, gave her the flail/whip, but she doesn’t have shiny paladin armor (yet).  Then Lance thought of the name Lily, he may have been watching Harry Potter at the time.

Marcello: Will players be able to use different weapons with Lily, or is the whip her defining weapon like that of the Belmont Clan in Castlevania? Also, will there be any upgrading system?

Lance: Her primary weapon will be the whip, though I guess it’s more of a ball and chain flail to be a little more specific. As you progress, Lily will gain access to new sub-weapons and abilities. Her weapons, abilities, armor, as well as her health and mana pools will be upgraded throughout the game.

Marcello: How big is this castle players will be exploring? Is there variety in the castle itself?

Lance: It will be fairly large with roughly 10 unique areas to access. There may also be a way to see the castle from a completely different angle.

Marcello: Being a massive 16-bit fan, it’s really cool to see this game sporting that visual style. How did you guys decide on the game’s pixel art style?

Lance: This one is all Clint, so I’ll let him speak to that.

Clint: This is our first game using pixel art and was mostly done to avoid performance issues for mobile.  I’ve always loved pixel art and for this type of game it just seems to fit.  I want the art to be kind of Anime/JRPG style, but there still a lot to improve on my color selection and detail.  While I’m not limiting the art to a 16-bit palette, I am limiting the number of colors per tile or sprite to be similar to SNES/GBA games.

Marcello: In terms of music, the game is sounding great so far. How did you guys come across Zack Parrish as your composer?

Lance: When we first showed our demo at PAX South back in January, we had cards coming out our ears from composers interested in working on the project. It was truly a humbling process. I was aware of Zack because I was a backer of Valdis Story: Abyssal City, for which he had won an award. He has a really great sound that was already in the vain of what we wanted, so I was excited to hear that he was interested in joining the already in-progress audition we were having. We auditioned a number of composers, but ultimately decided to go with Zack when he swiftly produced a rough cut of the “Lower Castle” theme you hear in the demo and official trailer.

Marcello: Now the Kickstarter goal has been reached, but naturally there are more rewarding tiers as funding increases; In particular, bringing the game to PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. Now the PlayStation 4 version has been achieved (congrats on that!) and the Switch version is still a bit away from securing tier-wise. If the funds don’t reach that tier, is there still a chance the game will release on the Switch?

Lance: Absolutely! We want people to experience Forsaken Castle on whatever platform works best for them, so we will definitely be pursuing that. Though it just may take us longer to make those ports happen.

Marcello: There’s no question the game is looking really cool and I personally am very excited for this title to release. Is there any exclusive information you could provide to the readers, backers, and fans?

Lance: Thanks! The greatest reward for me has been to see people excited to enjoy our work. All I can say for now is, you haven’t seen anything yet! We have plenty of surprises planned that we can’t wait to share with everyone!

Marcello: Lance and Clint, thank you so much again for your time. Forsaken Castle is shaping up to be a very cool title that Metroidvania fans should definitely keep on their radar. We cannot wait to see more of what this title has to offer. We wish you guys the best of luck with the remainder of the project’s Kickstarter, as well as the rest of the development cycle.

Lance: Thanks so much for having us!

Clint: Thanks!

At the time of writing, the Kickstarter campaign has achieved over $20,000, double what was initially needed to get the game funded. Additionally, you can even download a demo of the game before even backing it directly from their Kickstarter campaign page. Definitely give the game a look and if it interests you, certainly back this project. The campaign ends on May 24th, 2017 at 11:49 AM EST. Forsaken Castle is targeting a release for October 2017.

A special thank you to Duck Block Games again for taking the time to provide this interview.

Has-Been Heroes Interview: Switch Development “a lot smoother” than Wii U

We had the opportunity to interview Kai over at Frozenbyte about their upcoming release, Has-Been Heroes. In this interview, Kai was able to share their experiences developing for the Switch, what kind of game Has-Been Heroes is, some tips about the game, if the Trine characters would appear, and much more.

Marcello: First off, thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about Has-Been Heroes! Let’s begin with the game’s origins. How did you guys first think of the idea for this game?

Kai: We went with a team-based approach for this, so we initially had a small group that we put together who just wanted to make something totally different from our other games. They had a challenging game in mind, and the roguelike elements started fitting into place very early on. At one point after a few prototypes we really had something click and the gameplay started feeling really addictive.

The story and characters were pretty similar throughout the development, but naturally evolved a bit to the current humoristic setting as we refined the concept. So now we have the old, retired Has-Been Heroes that are sent to take the king’s daughters to school!

Marcello: How long has the game been in development for?

Kai: We started development around 2.5 years ago.

Marcello: Now this game is releasing on multiple platforms, but clearly the Switch version is the one most are intrigued about seeing since it’s in the console’s launch window. What has it been like developing for the Nintendo Switch? Any comparisons to the Wii U when you guys brought Trine to that platform?

Kai: Switch has been a real pleasure to work with, no complaints at all. Nintendo has really learned a lot from the Wii U times and developing for the Switch has been a lot smoother. They’ve changed around a lot of things, and really thought of the whole process from a developer standpoint. Our programmers have loved it.

Marcello: Does this game have any form of co-op multiplayer? It seems like it can get really intense!

Kai: No multiplayer, Has-Been Heroes is single-player only. But with a game like this where every move and decision with items/spells matters, there’s a lot of room for people to shout instructions from the back 🙂

Marcello: The game’s art-style is certainly a departure from that of the Trine series, but it certainly has a clean, smooth art-style nonetheless. How did you guys decide on the game’s art direction?

Kai: The drawn 2D style was something we had in mind from the beginning for Has-Been Heroes. It’s there to give you some comical relief to soften the blow from dying a lot in the game 😉

Marcello: Does the game run at 60 frames-per-second?

Kai: Yep!

Marcello: Can you use the Switch’s touch-screen for any gameplay when playing off-the-dock?

Kai: No, just for the menus.

Marcello: Will the Trine characters make a surprise cameo appearance in the game? Maybe we’ll be able to play as that team in-game?

Kai: No, they are busy fighting evil in another dimension!

Marcello: The Trine games had a very serine soundtrack from composer Ari Pulkkinen. Did he return to compose the soundtrack to Has-Been Heroes?

Kai: Ari will make some tracks for our other game Nine Parchments (which is set in the Trine universe by the way!), but the soundtrack for Has-Been Heroes was composed by our in-house audio team consisting of Sauli Lehtinen and Jori Kemppi.

Marcello: Any tips players should be aware of when starting this game?

Kai: You can pause the game (and you should) at any time with the left bumper on your controller. Use it to your advantage to plan your moves and cast spells when they’re off cooldown. Also try to match your heroes’ melee attacks with enemy stamina counts in order to stun them.

Marcello: Anything you would like to add to the readers of this interview?

Kai: We’re just a couple of weeks away from the launch of Has-Been Heroes, so if you’re into roguelikes and enjoy a challenge, look out for it!  It’s a rare game for Frozenbyte since it becomes so challenging that only a handful of people here have actually beaten the game, but that’s really what makes it so addictive and fresh for a long time 🙂

Marcello: Thank you so much again for your time! We’re excited to get our hands on Has-Been Heroes!

Kai: Thanks!

Has-Been Heroes releases on Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and Steam on March 28th for $19.99. It will release both physically and digitally, with the physical copy being available exclusively at Gamestop for $19.99.

Are you looking forward to this title? Sound off in the comments below!

Interview with Yacht Club Games – Shovel Knight’s Origins, Nintendo Switch Release, and Much More

Yesterday, we had the pleasure of interviewing Ian Flood, one of the founders and gameplay programmers from Yacht Club Games. In this hour long interview, we were able to touch base on insightful background in regards to how the idea of Shovel Knight was conceived, why he has a Shovel for a weapon, previous projects the team worked on that helped with their work on Shovel Knight, their experience with Nintendo Switch, the new Specter of Torment campaign, and so much more! Sit back, grab a cup of coffee, maybe your lunch, and give a listen to this insightful, fun interview.

Interview with Zordix’s Matti Larsson: Aqua Moto Racing Utopia, Nintendo Switch, Exclusive New Game Announcement

We just had the pleasure of interviewing Matti Larsson of Zordix about their team’s latest release, Aqua Moto Racing Utopia. In it, we discuss some details about their new game, their thoughts on the Nintendo Switch, and what new games they are working on.

Marcello: First off, thank you for taking the time to answer some questions on your studio’s latest game, Aqua Moto Racing Utopia. Why don’t you start by talking a bit about the game itself?

Matti: Hi Marcello, nice to meet up with you. Aqua Moto Racing Utopia is a really challenging and modern looking water jet ski racing game for TV consoles. It combines extreme speed, stunts and state-of-the art water simulation into fun gameplay.

Marcello: Now this is a series that started on the mobile platforms (iOS, Android), then jumped forward to the 3DS and now onto the PS4, Wii U and Steam. How does it feel seeing this series evolve over the years?

Matti: It is extremely satisfying that we’re finally up in size and quality for all the major TV consoles. Featuring three main single player Championship campaigns, 4-player Multiplayer, 8-player Online, and lots of additional game modes. Utopia provides the biggest high-quality aquatic racing experience of its kind in our time!

Marcello: Roughly how long did it take to develop AMR Utopia?

Matti: I would say between two to three years, with a long polish phase.

Marcello: In the past, tricks were pulled off using touch-screens, but this installment was designed with consoles specifically in mind. How did you guys come up with implementing a trick system in AMR Utopia?

Matti: We wanted to make a game where you really use the controls of the modern consoles. Extreme equilibristic use of controls has to pay off. Even if a game like this should be easy to get into, there is nothing like being rewarded for your skill.

Marcello: So there is local and online multiplayer for the game. For local, we noticed there is a mode called Party Games that is absent from online multiplayer. Any chance that will be available in the near future? I mean, who doesn’t want to head online doing some Duckling Mama matches?!

Matti: Yes, indeed, I would love online Duckling Mama matches. The Party games can actually be developed further as we will add more online features to the game. It depends a lot on the community around the game what will be most wanted.

Marcello: How did you guys come up with the Party Games idea?

Matti: I like the playfulness of Party game modes and think it is important for the evolution of new fun gameplay. Aqua Moto Hockey comes as a natural idea for Hockey fanatic Swedes. But for Duckling Mama, there was this guy in our test lab that showed his all time favorite game with ducklings in a bath tub and we just snapped at the idea of doing something similar. We tried a lot of different ideas, and the party game modes still in the game were the most fun.

Marcello: Visually, the game is incredibly vibrant and inviting. More importantly, you guys were able to hit 60 frames-per-second on the PS4. Was that a difficult task at all? Were any sacrifices made from initial development to get a smooth framerate in place?

Matti: It was really hard, since we got great artists that want everything to look its best. We had to chose the right level of graphical detail and look into everything that may affect performance.

Marcello: Now the PS4 and Steam versions are currently available, with the Wii U version still in progress. Any time frame for that version’s release? Also, will there be any Wii U-specific functionality?

Matti: We started off the project working on a Wii U version only. Then it became apparent that we needed more funding and also that PS4 was the best seller. It will be hard to do Wii U specific features like 5 local players and keep the same look. We’ll try to give the Wii U version a special feeling, since we can do some more tuning of the game and tweek things in the gameplay even further.

Marcello: Now I have to ask, with the Nintendo Switch releasing in a few months, what are your thoughts on the console? Are you guys going to be (or are currently) developing for it?

Matti: Now we’re aiming to combine our back-to-the Wii U work with preparations for a Switch version. We’re always trying to target new consoles like Switch with interesting games, a bit like a mini Ubisoft.

Marcello: Any chance we will be seeing AMR Utopia releasing on the Nintendo Switch? This way we could be riding the waves anywhere at any time.

Matti: I’m inviting investors and/or publishing partners to come along for that. There are so many things we’d like to do and it would make sense to get what we feel is a great game out to an audience that is so good for it. It has been a tradition for us from the start to support the Nintendo platforms.

Marcello: AMR Utopia has an Easter Egg in Sunshine City’s “Leisure” mode that I won’t ruin for those who care to explore (that of which I found by joking around). Are there Easter Eggs in every level or only that particular one?

Matti: Yes, in every venue there is at least one red Z ball you can jump and grab that will trigger a unique experience. Sometimes things to play around with are dropped from the sky, sometimes a fun joke is made in an interactive scene. Playfulness is again something I think is important; even if this game is serious fun racing to begin with it opens up for a free exploration water world experience.

Marcello: Are there any new projects in the pipeline for you guys at the moment?

Matti: We got a very exciting new game in the pipeline. Snow Moto Racing FREEDOM. A unique snowmobile game where you can race in large open snowy landscapes choosing your own path, of course filled with breath taking stunts, Snow Cross arena competition and lots more. Snowmobiles are huge here in Sweden, and in the north of the U.S. and Canada, and there hasn’t been a snowmobile TV console game for ages.

Marcello: Is there anything you’d like to add as to why all the readers should give Aqua Moto Racing Utopia a look?

Matti: It’s well-tuned with increasing difficulty, and if you like racing games and/or stunting skill games this is certainly a good pick. A lot of content and game modes makes it perfect for parties, and both hardcore and casual players alike.

It’s really easy to pick up and play – and have fun with – and a lifetime to master for the experts!

Marcello: Lastly, is there any exclusive info you can share with us and the readers here on Gamers Xtreme?

Matti: Yes, we’re working on a new online space action in VR game idea that will appear on Kickstarter. I hope enough people will like it, in that case that will be a lot of fun too. 😉

Marcello: Thank you so much again for your time, Matti! We look forward to seeing more from the team at Zordix.

Matti: Thank you so much. Always a pleasure.

Stay tuned for our review for Aqua Moto Racing Utopia in the very near future.

OlliOlli Interview: Vita Exclusivity Garnered It “Extra Coverage”, Developer Working on “Two More Projects”


Recently, we reviewed Roll 7’s latest indie hit on the PS Vita, OlliOlli (which I scored a 9.5 in our review). Today, Tom Hegarty provided us with an interview about how the game was first conceived, how it became a Vita exclusive, and much more behind the premise of the title.

Marcello: When and how did the idea of OlliOlli come about?

Tom: OlliOlli was initially dreamt up by John, our Creative Director. He was 13 at the time and had two main passions, Gaming and Skateboarding, so you can see how the basic idea was formed! This was all happening in the mid 90’s so the fact the game uses a pixel art and a retro vibe is very much related to the kind of games we played whilst growing up! It took us 15 years to do anything with John’s original idea but we’re glad we did!

Marcello: Roughly how long has the game been in development?

Tom: We started development in Feb 2013, thought we had been toying with the prototype or a few months before that. We actually finished development before xmas but had to sit tight to release at the right point and as part of the Vita Play Promotion in North America.

Marcello: When it came down to figuring out which platform you wanted to bring OlliOlli to, how did you make your decision?

Tom: Our first title, Gets To The Exit, was released on the App Store in July 2012, that experience was great for us in terms of taking a game from start to finish and actually releasing it but we realised that the type of games we want to make, (e.g. difficult ‘hardcore’ games) were not really thriving on the app store, and although the user base is huge, the audience is not there. At that point we made the decisions to move to console or steam and move away from the App stores. Once we met with Sony, it was their initial suggestion to take it to Vita, our concept demo was on iOS and seemed like a very natural move to go to a console handheld.

Marcello: There’s no question the PS Vita is a powerful handheld device. How was your experience developing on Sony’s latest handheld?

Tom: We were slightly underprepared to move from app dev to console dev, there is a wide world of new process and technical knowledge to get your head around. Our biggest challenge was loading the entire game in one go so you, the player, can get instant restarts and no in-game loading time. To do this we had to play with the memory allocation which started to become very tricky towards the end.

Marcello: OlliOlli’s control scheme and mechanics are intricate and immensely rewarding, blending that arcade style of Tony Hawk and authentic realism of SKATE, yet differentiating itself by setting a new bar. Where did the idea of the mechanics come about?

Tom: The main difference in our control scheme is pressing X to land. Although that sounds simple in passing, it determines how well you score in the game: Press X too early and get a sloppy landing, press X at the right time and you get a perfect landing that could be the difference of 200,000 points! That idea came from what it’s like to actually skateboard. Landing is the hardest part; most people can get the board to flip in the air but if you ever watch skateboarders live, it’s rare they land the trick. The X mechanic was designed to give you that feeling they get in skateboarding, you’ve not done the trick until you nail your landing!

Marcello: The game’s art style and soundtrack certainly compliment each other nicely. Can you discuss a bit about the visual and audio design of the game?

Tom: It’s interesting as the art and the music were worked on separately, so we’re happy they blend so well. The music was chosen based on what we listen to in the studio. We originally went with punk/skate music and tried some crazy electronica but the game is so intense and all about flow that we found more jazzy/ambient music fitted better and allowed you to focus on the game. The art style was developed over a year and was initially going to be far simpler, but as we progressed the character got more and more shaded!

Marcello: Now the game is a PlayStation Vita exclusive, but is there any chance of bringing it to another Sony platform like the PS3 and/or PS4?

Tom: For the moment, OlliOlli is a Vita exclusive and we want to concentrate on that for now. I think it’s managed to get extra coverage based on the fact it is a Vita Exclusive.

Marcello: There’s already plenty of content in OlliOlli, yet DLC is a big thing nowadays. Have you considered any future DLC for OlliOlli?

Tom: There is no DLC planned at the moment. We didn’t anticipate there being such a big response and audience to the game so it wasn’t in our initial plans. Never say never though!

Marcello: What’s next for Roll 7 after OlliOlli?

Tom: We’re actually working on our next two projects but I can’t reveal any info about them yet, but do watch this space!

Marcello: Any additional info you’d like to share with the readers?

Tom: We’d like to thank everyone who has supported us over the last few weeks by either buying the game, tweeting screenshots etc, OlliOlli wouldn’t be what it is without the people who play it so we’re just super hyped that people are enjoying it!

Marcello: Thank you so much again for your time Tom. We look forward to seeing what’s in store for the future of OlliOlli and the team over at Roll 7.

Developer Interview: Muse Games Talks “Guns of Icarus Online” for PS4, Cross-Platform Play, Adventure Mode and More


Back at Sony’s Gamescom Conference, many indies were mentioned that would be coming to the PlayStation 4. One in particular that hit PC and Mac via Steam back in October 2012 called “Guns of Icarus Online” will be gracing Sony’s highly-anticipated console. I reached out to developer Muse Games to discuss the details and excitement they’re going through about bringing their big title to the PS4. I got to speak with Howard Tsao, the Founder and CEO of Muse Games, as well as Eric Chung, the Lead Designer of GoIO, about what fans and newcomers can expect to see in the PS4 edition of their game.

Marcello: First off, thanks for taking the time to provide us an interview for your upcoming PS4 title, Guns of Icarus Online. Can you describe a bit of what the game is about and how the project all started?

Howard Tsao: Not a problem! In Guns of Icarus Online you and your crew slip into specific roles to steer the ship in and out of combat, hop on big guns to take out enemies, and make desperate repairs in hopes you survive another encounter with airships that approach you from beyond the horizon.

We wanted to take the thrilling moments of using the big mounted turret guns, which were always fleeting in games, and make it the core of the game. We wanted to create the thrill of blowing stuff up with mammoth artillery. To complement the offensive element, we wanted to reference time management games to create a frantic and intense repair, defensive component.
To make teamwork really work, we decided to place players as a crew in an enclosed space, so the crew triumph and perish together as a single entity. The crew as the unit of combat needs to coordinate which guns to man, what needs repairs, with all hell breaking loose on deck as other ships are torn apart

Marcello: Guns of Icarus Online has been out since late October for the PC and Mac, and most recently Linux through Steam. However, the PS4 edition will mark not only the game’s console debut, but for you guys (the developer) as well. How does it feel knowing that you’re bringing a title to a highly-anticipated console?

Eric Chung: We’re super excited. It’s a huge milestone for us as a team, but it also presents us with new opportunities and challenges that we’re going to tackle head on. Since we use Unity3D, we’re hoping that porting to the PS4 will be relatively quicker. However, we’ll need to do a lot of work in terms of the UI and in-match voice communications. As a designer, I’m personally interested in how we can play with the PS4 DualShock controller. In general, it’s an awesome feeling knowing that we’ll hit consoles with the big boys.

Marcello: Guns of Icarus Online is a unique team-based competitive game. However, there was talk of adding an Adventure Mode into the Steam version. What are the odds we may see that coming to the PS4 edition? Also, will there be any specific additions brought to the PS4 version?

Eric Chung: Adventure Mode will still be a team-based game, doing everything through your airship still. What’s been really amazing with working with Sony so far is that it seems that it integrates well with Steam’s account system, and PSN will be able to support our own servers. The servers are important, since we handle all our physics calculations on them when you play the game, but in the future we’ll also be keeping track of all the economic and political changes in Adventure Mode there too. These servers could be the same between desktop and PS4 players. We can optimize player experience without segmenting player base. As for PS4 additions or features, if the thing to keep in mind is to have desktop and PS4 sky pirates playing together and to make sure that things are as balanced as possible; however, we will be looking to do something special for PS4 players as well.


Marcello: What comparisons can you make between developing for the PC and the PS4? Has it been fairly easy to grasp development on the PS4? Are there any noticeable differences to developing on the PS4?

Howard Tsao: With PS4, we are just getting started, but between Unity and PS4’s architecture, the porting work should be pretty straight forward. The controller support, UI, and in game voice support work will require more time and effort, but we’ll get there.

Marcello: I reached out to the community asking them what they would like to know about Guns of Icarus Online, as well as PS4 development. A Twitter user Dan (@_dotero) asked this: “How many GB of RAM can you use for game development?”

Eric Chung: Right now on desktop, we target fairly low powered machines while still having the game look great on them. You will be able to run our game with lower settings on a machine with 2gb of RAM 256mb of VRAM (graphics card) and that’s a very old machine we’re talking about. The PS4 has 8gbs, which opens the door to a lot of pretty things. However, being an indie developer it’s going to be even harder to take advantage of that having a small team. What we can say that when we release GoIO on the PS4, it will melt through frames on max settings.

Marcello: How many players will Guns of Icarus Online support on the PS4? Will there be cross-platform play with Steam users?

Howard Tsao: We’ll have to make sure we scale with more players in game overall. While having cross platform in game voice communications will be a challenge, we are committed in making cross-platform play happen between Steam and PS3 players.

Marcello: Roughly how many maps, ships and modes can players look forward to venturing through?

Eric Chung: For Adventure Mode, that’s still TBD. I want to say a lot because we’re working on advanced tools to help us generate a lot of maps dynamically so our artists don’t have to hand decorate everything like they do now. Ships will still be handcrafted but might be in a more modular fashion to get more variety. For game modes, we’ll also have a good variety. You’ll get a glimpse of these modes when we release Co-op DLC in the near future, probably some time before we land on the PS4. Currently, for the Skirmish pvp game, there are already over 20 maps and 4 distinct game modes. With the Co-op and Adventure Mode DLCs, there will be many more.

Marcello: Now here’s the big question, what’s the target release date as to when PS4 owners can look forward to getting Guns of Icarus Online?

Howard Tsao: Right now, I can only say some time in 2014. There are a few things, such as Unity PS4 license, cross platform in game voice comm, PS4 QA testing, ESRB filing, etc., that we are wading into for the first time, so it’ll take us a bit before we can give better estimates on scope of work and release target.

Marcello: Thanks again for the interview Howard and Eric. We look forward to hearing and seeing more about Guns of Icarus Online!

There’s no denying that the indie momentum is strong for the PS4 and it’s excellent to see indie developers getting their shot at bringing their games to consoles. Are you excited for Guns of Icarus Online? Already a fan? Sound off your thoughts in the comments below!

Developer Interview with Frozenbyte: “Wii U is a truly powerful console”


The Wii U has been out for over half a year now and we’ve seen some truly strong indie titles hit the platform, with many more to come. One of the launch indie titles was Trine 2: Director’s Cut (which was the enhanced and ultimate version of Trine 2) that graced the console day one. I had the opportunity to speak with Julius Fondem, the Marketing Manager over at Frozenbyte, about their experience developing for the Wii U, as well as a bit of info about their new upcoming game, Splot.

Marcello: First off, thanks for taking the time to provide us an interview Julius. It’s been quite some time since Trine 2: Director’s Cut was released for the Wii U. How did you guys go about choosing to bring Trine 2 to the console? Did you guys approach Nintendo or did they approach you?

Julius: No problem, it’s my pleasure! Nintendo approached us before Trine 2 was released and asked us if we were interested in developing something for their upcoming console. We showed them Trine 2 and they definitely wanted to see it on Wii U. We were impressed with the hardware they were planning, and everything went very naturally from there.

Marcello: Trine 2: Director’s Cut is by far, one of the best looking games available on the Wii U. I did notice the visuals were crisper than those on the PS3/360. What was it like developing for the Wii U? Is it more powerful than the public seems to believe?

Julius: We have really enjoyed working with the Wii U hardware. It was rather easy to port our modern proprietary engine to it, and it does pack the punch to bring to life some really awesome visuals. The Wii U is a very modern console with a lot of RAM which helped us out a lot during development. The hardware capabilities have improved quite a lot from the original Wii, and the Wii U is a truly powerful console. The console is definitely more powerful than the Xbox 360 and PS3.

Marcello: Roughly how long did it take to develop Trine 2: Director’s Cut for the Wii U?

Julius: We started developing Trine 2 for Wii U in early 2012 so a bit under a year, all in all.

Marcello: Will we be seeing the three heroes return in the near future for another quest in Trine 3?

Julius: We here at Frozenbyte have great love for the franchise and definitely want to see the three heroes make a return.

Marcello: Were there any differences bringing your game to the Nintendo eShop compared to the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade? If so, what were some of them?

Julius: With the eShop, Nintendo has made it easy to approach and open for indies which is awesome. Nintendo allows us to self publish our games, updating our game is free of charge, and the eShop is still so fresh that we have great visibility there.

With PSN and XBLA, it used to be that you had to have a publisher to publish your games (i.e. no self publishing) and updating the games cost a significant amount. Also, these platforms used to regulate things more than the eShop.

Now however, Sony has changed their game up quite a bit, making self publishing a reality for indies and making the platform a lot more approachable, which we really appreciate. As for XBLA, similar rumors have been circulating around recently but we don’t know enough to comment on that. .

Marcello: Now you guys are currently working on a new title called “Splot”. Could you describe a bit about the upcoming title?

Julius: Splot is a cartoony platformer with emphasis on simple controls and competition. In Splot you control an alien named Splot who has crash landed onto a foreign planet. You guide him through levels by jumping around avoiding perilous obstacles and hazards, while trying to save your lost brethren. Splot is coming out at a later date on iOS, Android, and computer platforms.

Marcello: How was your relationship working with Nintendo? Would you be working to bring future titles to the Wii U (such as Splot)?

Julius: Working with Nintendo is great. They are extremely supportive towards us (and I’ve heard similar words from other indies) and communicating with them is very easy. We appreciate this a lot.

We would definitely want to bring our future titles to the Wii U. With Splot though the situation is a bit more complex as the technology we’re using isn’t the same as for Trine 2: Director’s Cut, so there’s a lot of technical work in getting Splot running on “high end” consoles like the Wii U. We are pushing as hard as we can to get Splot out on iOS, Android and computer platforms first. Depending on Splot’s success, we’ll see about other platforms. So, we haven’t decided on the Wii U for Splot yet, but it is something we’re considering.

Marcello: Thanks for your time Julius. I look forward to seeing more about Splot and other future titles Frozenbyte releases!

Enjoy the interview? Be sure to follow us on Twitter: @GamersXTREME and Facebook!

Developer Interview with Zordix’s CEO: “Aqua Moto Racing 3D”, iOS and 3DS Differences, Wii U Development

Aqua Moto Racing 3D

It’s been quite some time since we’ve seen a great jet-ski game, Nintendo’s Wave Race series being the most notable. However, developer Zordix, known for their iOS title “Aqua Moto Racing”, is looking to fill the gap by bring their latest racing game to the 3DS eShop, Aqua Moto Racing 3D. I caught up with Zordix’s CEO, Matti Larsson, to discuss their upcoming title, the differences on developing for iOS and 3DS, and if there’s any possibility we will see their titles hit the Wii U.

Marcello: First off, thank you for taking the time to provide an interview for the upcoming 3DS eShop title, Aqua Moto Racing 3D. How did this project come about for the 3DS?

Matti: Thank you for both a great site and interest in our new game.

I think this project started the minute we realized that our games, and new games we want to make, are perfectly suited for both the 3DS and the Wii U. When Nintendo opened up the eShop we decided to focus wholeheartedly on the Nintendo platforms. That way we can make even better games, and reach a quality gamer audience.

Marcello: The Aqua Moto Racing series is very well received for the iOS devices. I’ve actually been playing Aqua Moto Racing 2 for my iPhone 4S and have to say I’ve been really enjoying it (and I normally can’t get into iOS games)! What differences will there be for the 3DS installment? Any advantages you were able to harness with the 3DS over the iOS versions?

Matti: There are some really big advantages with the 3DS version like:
1. The analogue control stick that makes all the difference in feeling.
2. A lower screen for a map with race overview.
3. The 3D view is fantastic and I use it myself all the time in a game like this.
4. Making a new version means improvements on all aspects including rider looks and the extreme stunts you can perform and control (again the controls) by using the buttons of a real gaming device.

Marcello: Personally, the game caught my attention immediately upon seeing how it was similar to Wave Race 64. Was that an inspiration for you guys?

Matti: Wave Race has been a huge inspiration and we realized there was a gap to fill in the need for this type of game. I’m not sure it’s fair to compare to an iconic Nintendo TV console launch title with a big budget, but we’re very happy with the result in how fun the game is to play. It should stand its ground well.

A difference worth mentioning is that you get bigger, more varied waves to enjoy in Aqua Moto Racing 3D, which just adds to the fun.

Marcello: Will the game feature local and/or online multiplayer? If so, how many players? Also, will the game utilize the Download Play feature at all?

Matti: It supports up to 6 players, and you can use both the Download Play feature and Street Pass.

Marcello: Now for a non-3DS related question, what do you think of Nintendo’s latest console, Wii U? Would you consider developing any game(s) for it in the near future? If so, any ideas you could share?

Matti: I can’t deny that it would be a dream to realize the Aqua Moto Racing game in a larger format. Possibly with online tournaments, ranking and all that goes with that. Wii U is a natural next step for us and if we decide to do it, I’ll make sure to share some information early on about development.

Marcello: Aqua Moto Racing 3D is out today in Europe. Any ETA for release in North America? Also, what’s the price tag you guys are aiming for?

Matti: A release in North America should be just a month away. We’re looking at a price of around 10 euro in Europe; and we’ll see what that becomes in North America. Not more than 10 USD I think, so a lot cheaper than the boxed games; but with all the fun you might expect.

Marcello: Anything else you’d like to add for our readers?

Matti: We paid attention to all of the important details and it is easy to forget to mention some of them, such as calibration of Sound FX and the original game soundtrack with lots of different songs that give an exciting and varied total experience.

Marcello: Thanks again for your time Matti. I look forward to playing Aqua Moto Racing 3D and other futures titles your studio releases.

Matti: Thank you for the interview.

Enjoy the interview? Be sure to follow us on Twitter: @GamersXTREME and Facebook!

Terraria Creator Andrew Spinks Talks Vita, Future Content


We recently had the chance to talk with Terraria creator Andrew Spinks in advance of the impending Vita port of his wildly-popular side-scrolling adventure game. Terraria has seen a hugely-successful launch on PC and its Xbox 360 / PS3 following is quite strong as well, so it’s only natural that the game makes the leap to mobile platforms next. While we were certainly excited to find out more about the mobile version, Andrew was also gracious enough to give us some insight into Terraria’s origins and where it’s going from here. Check out the interview below!

Jonathan: First off, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for us, Andrew. I’m a big fan of Terraria, both for its 2D action-explorable style as well as the crafting options it features. It’s a really unique experience. What was your inspiration to combine these playstyles into Terraria?

Andrew: My goal with Terraria has always been to make a game that I personally enjoy playing.  Along with that “unique experience” you mentioned, combining these and other styles is just part of what helped me reach that goal!

Jonathan: No doubt that there will be inevitable comparisons between Terraria and Minecraft, both for their explorable worlds and crafting features. Did you come up with the idea for Terraria before Minecraft went public? Was it an inspiration for Terraria? What do you think sets your game apart?

Andrew: Minecraft was a definite inspiration for Terraria.  Starting out, Terraria looks very similar to Minecraft, but as you progress, the differences become more apparent in terms of exploration, combat, and game progression as a whole!  Terraria has its own personality as well that comes to life through the dialog, the soundtrack, as well as the graphics.

Jonathan: Terraria’s been a huge hit on PC, and you’ve said that it’s fan feedback that prompted you to work on a PS Vita version of the game. Did the majority of this feedback come about after Terraria’s release on Xbox 360 and PS3, or was it mostly due to the initial feedback from the PC crowd?

Andrew: I’d say it was initial feedback that prompted the port to the Vita, but there was more and more demand for it after the release of the console versions too.

Jonathan: The Vita sports some unique features not available on other portable platforms, like its rear touch pad and Near social features. What sorts of technologies are you looking to leverage in the Vita version of Terraria? Will the Vita version be an adaptation of the PC/Console version, or are you looking to add some new features to the game that take advantage of the Vita’s unique technology?

Andrew: We’ll have more information for you as we get closer to launch, but I will say that we are going to do our best to take advantage of the system’s unique qualities to make sure the game stays intuitive in this new environment!

Jonathan: Finally, what does the future of Terraria look like? Are you planning to work on a version of the game for iOS and Android platforms, or even other consoles like the DS / 3DS and Wii U? Are there any major additions to the game in the pipe?

Andrew: iOS will be coming out this summer, and we hope to have it for Android devices soon after that!  I’ve also been personally working a great deal on the 1.2 update for PC that will also be ported to XBLA and PSN!  We haven’t made any concrete decisions about Nintendo yet, but we’ll see what happens!

Jonathan: Thanks again for your time Andrew. It’s been great talking to you, and we’re looking forward to playing Terraria on the go on our Vitas!

Andrew: Thanks for the interview and for the kind words!  It’s been fun!

Be sure to look out for Terraria on the Playstation Vita and iOS devices this summer!

Developer Interview with Shin’en: Wii U is “much more powerful than most people think”


Shin’en Multimedia, a developer that has brought us recent titles such as Nano Assault Neo, Jett Rocket and FAST, is no stranger to Nintendo platforms. I first took notice to them during the GBA’s launch with Iridion 3D, which had mind blowing visuals at the time and a killer soundtrack. We reached out to them to ask a few questions and they’ve taken the time to provide us an interview. Shin’en’s Manfred Linzner shares his thoughts and experiences on developing for the 3DS, WiiWare and Wii U.

Marcello: First off, thank you for taking the time to provide us an interview. I’m sure you guys are busy with the titles that are in development, as well as with E3 approaching. When Nano Assault Neo released for the Wii U on November 19th, 2012, in North America, I was blown away at what you guys achieved with the console (and scored it a 9.0 out of 10, which you guys graciously shared on the game’s site). Roughly how long did it take for you guys to develop Nano Assault Neo?

Manfred: It took around 6 months from getting the devkits until the game was finalized. Of course we had a good starting position because we already made Nano Assault for Nintendo 3DS before. Although Nano Assault Neo is no port, it shares the same ideas and universe.

Marcello: A notable thing about your studio is their focus to develop solely for Nintendo consoles. How has your relationship been with Nintendo over the years?

Manfred: I think we got treated very well over the years. We got good support and we got early hands on GBA, DS, Wii, 3DS and Wii U devkits. That gave us a head start on each of the consoles. Besides that, they always have an open ear when we ask for specific things in the SDKs.

Marcello: Aside from Nano Assault, Shin’en also has the Jett Rocket and F.A.S.T. IPs that Wii owners seemed to really love. I will admit, I recently purchased F.A.S.T. and Jett Rocket for the WiiWare to play on my Wii U. I have to say, playing both of those blew my mind that I was playing a WiiWare title. What was it like developing for the WiiWare?

Manfred: It was a very fun time. Coming from the DS, the Wii felt like a complete new world to explore. Instead of one texture, we suddenly had 16 textures at once that we could pack one into a single triangle. Also, the PowerPc CPU was amazing. The Wii was quite a unique system with its new controls and the first digital Nintendo shop. We were very happy at this time to launch smaller projects on WiiWare that had no chance otherwise on the retail channel.

Marcello: Now here’s a question I’m very curious to know. Some viewers, as well as developers, seem to knock the Wii U’s hardware. However, you guys at Shin’en are a prime example of a developer that knows how to showcase visuals on the platform. It’s clear that the Wii U is a powerful console when utilized properly. How has your experience been with the Wii U? Is it more powerful than people have been led to believe?

Manfred: It’s certainly much more powerful than most people think. However, that doesn’t matter so much. A console will always lag behind technology the longer it is on the market. It’s simply games that count. I’m pretty sure we will see amazing games in the next months on Wii U. The hardware allows many new ideas to explore, and this is what matters.

Marcello: Recently, you guys released a trailer for the sequel to Jett Rocket for the 3DS. This now marks your fifth title for the 3DS, the first four being Nano Assault (which was our site’s very first review copy), Art of Balance TOUCH, Fun Fun Minigolf TOUCH and Nano Assault EX. How did you guys come about deciding to bring the sequel to Jett Rocket for the 3DS?

Manfred: Jett Rocket just feels perfect for 3DS and the eShop. We wanted to do a classic action jump’n’run with a lot of different gameplay styles. What could be better suited then the 3DS for such a project.

Marcello: What do you guys think of the Wii U’s Miiverse? Has it been a helpful platform to see what fans of your games are saying?

Manfred: Absolutely. We were totally amazed by the fan feedback to Nano Assault Neo. We also used the Miiverse to learn about what people liked most in the game and what not so much.

Marcello: One feature missing from your titles has been online play; Nano Assault Neo and FAST being the main games that I would’ve loved to play online. Are you guys looking into online play for future projects on the Wii U?

Manfred: For the future, we plan to add online play to more of our games, when there is a real benefit for the gameplay. Games like FAST would be, of course, a perfect candidate for that.

Marcello: What has been the difference(s) bringing games to the WiiWare versus the Nintendo eShop on the Wii U? Is there more flexibility?

Manfred: We enjoy very much that we now have more freedom in pricing and release dates. This is certainly a big plus for gamers and developers.

Marcello: If Nintendo were to approach you guys about developing a title from a specific Nintendo franchise, which would be the one that you would love to work on and why?

Manfred: Of course this would be a very great honor, but I think we will rather realize our own dreams in the future.

Marcello: Thanks again for your time Manfred. I am eager to see your studio’s future titles!

Enjoy the interview? Be sure to follow us on Twitter: @GamersXTREME and Facebook!