Geometry Wars: Galaxies Interview
Modojo was recently given an opportunity to speak with Roger Carpenter, Sierra Entertainment's producer for the Geometry Wars Galaxies project.
We recently had the opportunity to talk at length about the upcoming Geometry Wars: Galaxies for the Nintendo DS and Wii, with Producer Roger Carpenter. Check out the following to get an idea of the design philosophy the team is embracing, as well as the truth that sometimes you CAN beat the guys who made the game.
Modojo: Yo - What's your highscore?
Roger Carpenter: On Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved XBLA? I'm just a lowly 200k-er...I can live with that. :)
MO: The Wii version offers connectivity with the Nintendo DS in downloading a trial version of the game for the system. Is this a first, as far as you know?
RC: Yeah, you can download a full version of Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved to your DS (and the DS version can do the same to another DS). As far as we know, no one else has done this before, it's very cool.
MO: The original title was praised for it's purity in terms of features as much as it's frantic fast paced action. Was a lot of restraint required when designing new mechanics for a packaged release? How was the balance struck between expanding a $5 game into a $30-40 one, without mucking up the formula?
RC: There was no question the formula had to be kept. It was about adding a few new big twists to enable the depth of game to exist (Geoms and Drone) whilst also adding to the familiar formula in other ways (grid shapes and enemies). We've always been very aware that there's a big perception gap between $5 and $30-40, but there's never been any shortage of cool ideas to allow Kuju to create a massively bigger game within the formula. The DS version hasn't had be a poor cousin in the process either, it's going to get more multiplayer action than the Wii version!
MO: What was Bizarre Creation's involvement in the development process if any? Do you know their thoughts on the new additions to the series?
RC: The guys at Bizarre are 100% involved; it's their IP. The initial ideas came from them, and Kuju have run with it. Everything in the game is approved by Bizarre. They're very excited about what is being created.
MO: In order to create a full-fledged title out of Geometry Wars it pretty much needs added depth, and that generally amounts to added length as well. How do you add something like stages or length to a game (specifically a game designed to be portable), without offering the player a chance to pause or save their progress? If you are offering a chance to save in Geometry Wars, how do you do that without removing the difficulty?
RC: It's quite well publicized now but we've created a Galaxy, full of solar systems and planets. Each planet is an infinitely playable battle, equivalent to the original Retro Evolved if you like. Saving happens every time a game state changes, usually at the end of a battle or when you get a high score. The currency system in the game determines how the game unlocks before you, so difficulty is handled through that. You can replay any battle as many times as you like, thats part of the Geometry Wars formula. If you're worried about save points on a short journey or such like with the DS, typical games last minutes or 10's of minutes rather than hours. Of course we hope that some players will last hours on battles but we'd be honestly impressed if they did that on tram ride. :)
MO: With the addition of stages and bosses, are you removing the focus of the game from the score, and replacing it with progression through these levels?
RC: Not at all, it's all about score still. With the different battles we're just introducing a huge variety into how the game delivers fun.
MO: What do you think of Geometry Wars being mostly responsible for the resurgence of the mainstream shooter genre, but now facing large amounts of competition? There's Everyday Shooter, Blast Factor, and Super Stardust HD on the PSN network alone; not to mention Blastworks on Wii. The DS is the last iteration of the game that isn't looking at a crowded field.
RC: Well I can only comment from my own opinion, GW:RE does seem to have had a positive effect on the shooter genre, which is really great, I think there was a upsurge of interest in retro gaming going on at the same time though. As for the competition, that's got to be healthy but we're pretty confident that GWG is the 'daddy', it's lost none of its charm and gameplay prowess but it's got a whole stack more to give. On the DS it's just plain stunning, and it can hold its head up high as something quite special on that platform.
MO: Any chance of an easy mode for those of us that dig Geometry Wars, but suck?
RC: I need that too :).....we promise to be gentle(r) with you in the beginning.