Los Angeles-based Titmouse, the animation studio "creative force" behind Adult Swim's Metalocalypse animated series, has started its own game studio, Titmouse Games -- and Gamasutra had a chance to talk to Titmouse Games creative director Aaron Habibipour about its plans.
Animators at the studio have worked on series like Avatar: The Last Airbender, Afro Samurai and the Amazing Screw on Head, but this won't be their first outing into the game world. Titmouse also created the cartoon rock cinematics for the last four Guitar Hero
series, and most recently finished work on the upcoming Guitar Hero: Metallica
As Neversoft veteran Habibipour is announced as the new division's creative director, Titmouse also announces its first project: Seven Haunted Seas
, an original console action-RPG.
Described as "...a mixture of steam-punk and graphic novel-like artwork", the game is a dark comedic tale about an undead pirate, Scurvy Pete, that "returns from hell to find a dark, post-apocalyptic future where he must right all his wrongs to restore the world."
Gamasutra sat down with Habibipour to discuss the forming of the division, their first title, and whether a Metalocalypse game might possibly be on the horizon:
Why set up a new studio division now? What opportunities for smaller developers really excited you?
Aaron: Well, for me, It was time to break out on my own. As much as Guitar Hero
is a great property to be attached to, I was looking for something quite different.
I left before the holidays to take some time and figure out a plan of attack, and the Titmouse guys told me that they had been looking to work on games for a while. it seemed like fate honestly, to combine what we were wanting to do and make something that had a much stronger chance of coming together.
The best thing about being a small developer is the ability to stretch your imagination and really try new things, and not have some massive corporation hanging over your every move -- and telling you what can and can't be done, because you have demographic A and retailer B to appease.
Let's make something that we will love to play, and hope that others will enjoy it as well.
Is your new RPG title planned for retail or digital download release?
Aaron: Seven Haunted Seas
is going to be a console game, so we're working within the confines of how those games are currently distributed. If there was a way to get the whole game to folks via the Internet, I'm all for it. If we can only do retail, then I would love to look into ways of getting more content to players after a retail purchase.
The scope of the game will totally support having new content piped into it, and that's one thing that I'm really excited about with where games are going. Episodic content.
Given the company's background in rockin' Cartoon Network series and animations for the Guitar Hero series, are you at all tempted to try a music game?
Aaron: Music games are fun. I like to play Rock Band
and I like to play Guitar Hero
. And while I wouldn't rule out an opportunity to make a rhythm game or something with rhythm elements, I just don't see us making a music game.
I believe that game mechanics need to serve the theme of the game. If some fantastic idea comes along and a rhythm/music based mechanic is what best suits the situation, then I'm all for it. But there's already a Rock Band
and there's already a Guitar Hero
. It would have to be one hell of an idea.
Do you think you have advantages in terms of art direction compared to game studios, having worked on complex animation projects?
Aaron: Having worked at it from both ends, I would have to say there is a lot that the game industry still needs to learn about story telling and presentation. It's still very much a fledgling medium that needs people breaking new ground to truly come into its own.
The great thing is we've already heard a lot of interest from non-game oriented writers/creators that want to work with us in an interactive format to create something altogether different, and that's what we would love to do.
I'm completely stoked that we're one of the first hybrid studios out there that's going to be doing both - and I'm tremendously excited about cross-media immersion.
Any chance of a Metalocalypse game? Who owns the rights?
Aaron: Brendan [Small, co-creator] is down for it, Chris [Prynoski, Titmouse CEO] is down for it, and I'm certainly down for it. Beyond that there's not much we can really talk about here at this time.