Is it on rails, or do you control your motion? Controlling motion seems very difficult. What people have tried to do has been pretty rough.
DT: I think we've done it pretty well. We've got a little bit of on rails in the game, but mostly you're free to navigate as you please.
Rise of Nightmares, if you've gotten a chance to play it, the Sega game, has a lot of trouble in particular.
DT: Yeah, yeah. Well, they took a very different approach to us, so. We're pretty confident in our approach, and it's not going to be everyone's cup of tea. But again, considering it's an XBLA title I think we've done an amazing job of bringing something new to the market in such a short period of time on new hardware. Hopefully it's as fun, too.
How did you come up with the navigation and maneuvering methods? Did you try other things first? How did you settle upon what you settled upon?
DT: This is actually the original scheme we proposed back when we pitched the project. But yeah, we did due diligence on a whole bunch of other ones, like where you just point where you want to go and the avatar goes forward. And we talked about doing one similar to Rise of Nightmares as well, though we really felt it was important that player movement drove the gameplay.
We wanted to avoid any kind of auto movement, because if you're in a scary atmosphere, it has to be your decision, a physical decision, if you're moving forward. And it took a lot of calibrating to get stuff like the height to the floor to a place where it's not so high that it's exhausting, but it's not so low that the camera can't see the movement properly and comes up with lots of false positives. So that was the walking side. And then on the flashlight side, we implemented that scheme early, and everyone seemed to like it, so we just locked in on that one.
That seems relatively straightforward, because Kinect has its hand tracking stuff.
DT: We tried putting in body twisting, for turning, as well, but we found that people would start getting confused and would start facing sideways. So it's important that you define boundaries and keep things tight. We have to keep them tight, and give freedom where you can.
It seems like you've kept most of the action to kind of specific points to where you're in a battle or you're not, or you're dodging something when you're on rails. It seems like you don't have to like look around for the guy that's trying to attack you. Or do you have to do that?
DT: There is a bit of that in the game, but you have to be very clever about how you break things up, with Kinect. As you may have noticed, you're locked in place when you're doing the ghost battles, because we found if people could run around the room and hide and attack and stuff like that, then it would just get too messy. And people would go where they don't want to go, and stuff like that. Also, doing it this way makes it much easier to test the game, if we can break things down into these little modules.
It's just way more difficult to have movement and attacking happening in the same space when you have to remember all these specific rules about how your body works in the game, as well.
DT: Exactly, yeah. Because you're moving in the game world, where in the real world you're not -- otherwise you'd run through the TV.
Indeed. And your flashlight does not pan very quickly, so if I had to look at someone behind me it would be quite difficult.
DT: Right, yeah. I think the speed does go faster as you go wider. I think it's maybe because you're scared of it as well, but... [laughs] Well, it's something that obviously we could tweak, but for new players -- obviously you're an experienced game player that wanted probably more fine-tuned control -- but we found some like more casual players would panic if the camera would spin around too quickly.
So one of the reasons Microsoft came to us, was they wanted a title which would appeal more to families and younger players, and stuff. Unfortunately, we had to take a decision there to make it more casual-friendly.
Yeah, well I don't think it's a problem, per se, and moving the camera too quickly can be disorienting for some players. There's the option of having a kind of quick swipe, that would do a 180, or something like that, but people would probably wind up doing it by accident.
DT: Exactly. Yeah, we did have it in the build at one point, but what would happen is people would do it by accident, and when people wanted to do it it wouldn't happen, and then they get frustrated. So we just designed the game where you don't really need to do a quick 180 spin.