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Exclusive: First Interview with the developers of Audio, Video: Disco

Well I’ve adopted a new interview layout.  It was sort of hard to distinguish the interviewer from the interviewee with this new theme.  Hypothetically I could just change the color of the text but I don’t want to. >:|

Anyway the game definitely sounds interesting.

BA: Who are you and what is GameOverStudios?  Who else works at GameOverStudios?

Duncan Boswell: My name is Duncan Boswell, I’m a BA post graduate in video games art and design and a competitor in the 2008 Dare to be digital competition.

Sadly we did’nt win, but we met some legendary industry proffesionals and gained significant interest from Frontier’s David Braben, and after 10 hard weeks we eventually showcased the prototype demo at “Develop 08”, “Edinburgh interactive” and the “London games show”.

GameOverStudios is a micro team of like minded indie developers, artists and piers who are collaboratively working towards developing intuative and innovative playable experiences. We have 10 freelance employees networked across the United Kingdom, spanning all specialities from designers, artists and coders.

BA: What is the concept of Audio, Video: Disco?  What were some of the inspirations?

Duncan Boswell: Firstly: AVD is Latin for “I hear, I see: I learn”, and it refers to the cognitive processes in playable experiences; from audio/visual cues to the resulting learnt and understood rules of play.

For every new emergent gameplay mechanic, players must learn to except and abide by the new rules of play, when players are properly introduced and taught a new mechanic it allows them to interact comfortably and logically as we do in “real life”.

The “Wii” is a great example of successful innovation through education, Nintendo have now drawn in a huge previously untouched demographic of non-gamers to “gesture sensitive controls” by creating a casual genre that reiterates the same simple (and once innovative) gameplay mechanics that the core-games evolved from.

This in itself is the inspiration for AVD…to advance the interactive medium by introducing an innovative mechanic that will transcend into other games, extending the capability of player interaction and logically reinforcing their integration in the experience.

BA: What’s the focus of the game?  Story, gameplay, the experience?

Duncan Boswell: The main focus is our simple new core mechanic: a player controlled avatar centre of gravity.  AVD is essentially a platform-based parkour 3rd-person adventure that allows the player to control the character’s balance and rotation through the use of the 6Axis.  With pitch, yaw and roll controlling the avatar respectively.  The game world and story were built from the bottom-up to emphasis and facilitate this new mechanic.

The game world is a sandbox metropolis called “Heden”, a dynamic interchangeable environment powered by digital technology and capable of shifting layout and location at will.  Perfect for that free-running spirit.

The player assumes the role of one of four main characters; they are educated on the history and function of the city then are let loose to explore Heden.  As the story progress, the characters (and player) learn the secret of this world, changing their quest of simple exploration into a sinister web of deceit which ultimately threatens their existence.

BA: Is this just a concept or is this actually going to go into development?

Duncan Boswell: AVD has finished the proof of concept stage and as with many new game-concepts, we are currently developing a prototype of the mechanic to stir up interest, regrettably we do not yet have a confirmed publisher, date or finished prototype. However I can honestly say…I guarantee you will at one time have the opportunity to play this on your PS3. Please watch this space. : )  

BA: Why did you choose this particular art style?

Duncan Boswell: The proof of concept trailer is just a simple example of some of the desired environments, what isn’t explained in the trailer is the contrast destined for the full game.  Heden is a beautiful organic city, lush with flora and fauna, however beneath the exterior it is run by advanced digital technology which personifies itself as digitally created levels, designed specially to challenge the player/character.

This beautiful lush world is simply too extensive to flesh out and a tad superficial at this “whitebox” stage of development.  It’s truly a shame not to be able to justify the vision fully, but the core gameplay is what we’re trying to establish just now, so we decided to show it in a simple version of these digital levels.

At this stage I should mention that development for AVD did begin before the marketing for “Mirror’s edge” was released, and that blocked colours are as much a conventional design theory in games as they are colour theory in art.  Admittedly, “Mirror’s edge” and AVD look quite similar on the surface but are fundamentally very different experiences, anyway its nice to see that various developers are focused on achieving similar innovations in the industry…I guess it means we’re all on the right track and it certainly helps make the change run smoother.

BA: Why choose the PSN marketplace?

Duncan Boswell: AVD was intentionally designed for the PS3, not just for the functionality of the Sixaxis but also for the network service.  Although we might have delusions of grandia and a paper cased collector’s edition released worldwide to an AAA market, we are actually more realistic.

The PSN is an exceptional opportunity for indie developers to “test the water” and produce games/demos quicker and cheaper which reach an audience that otherwise might not have given them a second glance.

With the average full downloadable game costing just $7 and only about 2 new releases every week, indie developers can undercut the cost and time taken to develop a larger budget title.

And with no hidden subscription fees, it’s almost a “no-brainer”.

BA: How does the game control with the SIXAXIS?

Duncan Boswell: Ok…imagine a conventional action adventure, a nicely laid out world with plenty of ledges, platforms and pitfalls.  The player traverses the world with a simple 3rd person control system (i.e.) run, jump, climb dodge etc.  Now this could soon become mundane and withdraw the player’s interest, simply because non interactive animations are just dead gameplay.(i.e.)Push “climb” button then wait 3 secs for animation to finish before the player is back in control.

Now imagine the same control system (avatar position) with gesture sensitive controls (avatar axis). The player leaps from a roof then tilts the SIXAXIS forwards or backwards to stretch out the arms or feet in preparation for the landing.  They can also flick the pad to perform flips, rolls or spins.  On flat ground simply tilting the controller will lean the avatar forwards or backwards, against walls and round corners.  Players could prepare for jumps and interactions or vault objects from particular directions.

In essence this is the nature of parkour: to explore your surroundings and learn to use the procedural capability of the human body.  This is also the core of AVD; we want to give the player the chance to immerse themselves with a dynamic world through a responsive and logical control scheme.

BA: Some of the feedback hasn’t been the best what could you say to those people who are doubtful?

Duncan Boswell: I’ve had my share of ups and downs as far as feedback goes, but I won’t let it get to me.  Even if everyone raved on about the concept, the implemented game could still come up short and fail to impress.

That the risk with innovation, the end product must be intuitive and fun enough not only to attract players but to keep them engaged in the experience.

The community is right to be skeptical, and we expected it to some degree, but please don’t let early perception or your first impression keep your mind closed to new ideas.  The proof is always in the playtest.

BA: Is there anything more you could say about the game?

Duncan Boswell: I could go on for days but the only thing I would like to add is an apology.  I am sorry if anyone broke their controller trying to twist it like the teaser trailer shows.

This was an early and now benched idea to showcase a new peripheral called the “Reflex pad”.  The new controls it brings could very well be another revolutionary step in the gesture-sensitive field, but for now its just too much innovation for one game to handle.

As such, we are not developing it further so you won’t be seeing it again 🙂 But please remember the way to advance the industry is to take chances, to try new things and to not always play it safe.

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