Conducted by Derek Szeto
With only six guys, Planet Moon Studios has been developing the one of the hottest games of next year. Giants: Citizen Kabuto looks to stand out from the crowd by offering originality, lush environments and most importantly interesting gameplay. We are delighted to have had the opportunity to ask Nick Bruty and Tim Williams some questions on this masterpiece in the making.
Thanks for agreeing to the interview.
Giants: Citizen Kabuto has been receiving great a response throughout the gaming press. What is Giants and what makes it special?
Nick Bruty/Tim Williams:
Giants is a huge step forward from MDK. I think (hope!) people are finally getting tired of seeing games using the same engine, which in turn leads to much of the same game play.
Our games have never been engine upgrades, from EWJ to MDK and now GIANTS we have always made a big leap forward not only in technology but in our gaming philosophy and concepts.
There is a level of originality throughout all aspects of Giants that people are reacting to. From the engine to the graphics and game mechanics, everything has a fresh feel to it.
Who are the team members and what are their roles?
Nick Bruty, President Co Art/Design Director
Bob Stevenson, VP Art/Design Director
Andy Astor, CFO Programming Director
Tim Williams, Creative Director
Shawn Nelson, Lead Animator
Scott Guest, Principle Software Engineer
What development stage are you in now? Are you on track for a spring release date?
We're at the stage where we're finalizing the shape of the game. This means putting all our ideas and concepts through the sanity sieve. While we plan to finish the major production by early spring we want to insure the game gets plenty of testing, not just debugging but what makes the game accessible to players.
MDK suffered from a lack of this attention and while many people loved the game there was an equal number who were frustrated with some of the concepts.
Cut scenes, either through the engine or CG, have almost become a standard. What will Giants use to tell its ongoing story?
We haven't fully decided yet, although I think we would favor a strong narrative voice accompanied by live engine scenes. Giants will have more storytelling than any of our previous games.
The controls are supposed to be easy to learn hard to master, what are they exactly? What's so hard to master? Will Giants offer tutorials or just start straight into the game?
The controls will be easy to learn in that for each character there will be a familiarity -- it won't be like starting a whole new game. The part that will be hard to master is how you decide to play the game. Depending on which character you play, you will ultimately end up coming to a decision on how you want to proceed. Do you go face-to-face with the giant, or do you set a decoy, then sneak into his base and destroy all his resources, weakening him. And as you progress in the game you'll find yourself with new traps, weapons, and many other different items, which add to this level of decision making.
I don't like tutorials just for tutorials sake. They need to be part of the world you are creating. Therefore, the "tutorials" in our game will all be within the context of the character you are playing. They'll ease you not only into how to play the game, but also the world where you will be playing.
How about the build up and food supply elements of the game? How much time is spent managing these elements?
This is more of the strategy section of our game, which is completely secondary to what you're really doing: hunting, killing, sneaking up on the enemy and having fun. You are out in the field, while the Smarties are in the base doing their own thing: partying and having fun! You just have to keep them this happy, and one of the ways to do this is get them food. At the same time, if you massacre a herd of creatures, that means less food for your opponent, so, all the better for you!
In the screenshots thus far we have been able to see part of the games' interface. But what exactly is the purpose of each of the gauges/icons on the screen?
Of the icons you see in the game are under constant change as we refine the design. The main ones consist of your energy level (bottom right), Smartie Counter (top right), your currently selected weapon (one for each hand, bottom middle), and meat counter (to feed Smarties with, bottom left).
One of the really cool features is landscape manipulation. Can you tell us about it and give us some specific examples of how players will be able to us it to their advantage?
Each character has their own unique way of manipulating the landscape. The Reapers are the ones we're concentrating on right now. They have a small boat with a revolving blade that can cut channels out of the island. The faster the boat goes the deeper the cut however it can only cut through soft low level land.
As Kabuto is far too heavy to swim you can use this technique to isolate him from his food source (for a while!).
With landscape manipulation, the use of spells, Smarties, Shepherds, etc., environmental/character interaction is obviously a high priority. With that in mind, is there any part of the environment you can't really interact with?
It depends which character you choose, in general Kabuto dominates the land, Meccs the sky and Reapers the sea.
What are the Meccaryns', Sea Reapers' and Giant's strengths and weaknesses?
As mentioned before, Kabuto can't swim or fly (at least not yet..), so he is restricted to the land. His strengths lie in his hunting, ability to sniff you out, and enormous physical strength!
Kabuto was created by the Reapers out of the island itself, and in turn Kabuto can create lesser creatures (i.e. the Mud Shepherds) with the aid of the Smarties. Theses, he'll be able to send off and guard his much-needed herds (food source).
The Reapers start out as the weakest race being under constant attack from other sea creatures, and its not until they can gather enough strength to be able to control the minds of these creatures that they can create a safe haven for themselves far out at sea. With some of their longer-range weapons they can mount a serious attack without risking themselves too much. At some point though, they have to mount a land based assault, and this will put them on the front lines!
Being able to fly and traverse the land with guns in each hand and your buddies at your side makes the Meccs one of the easiest characters to start with -- although in a three-way battle they will be caught on both sides. With Kabuto dominating the central landmass the Meccs could be pushed to the outer edges of the island where they fall under the threat of the Reapers. The Meccs are trained soldiers though and have special stealth modes for sneak ambushes.
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