Capsule Computers recently interviewed Tero Virtala, CEO, and Antti Ilvessuo, Creative Director at RedLynx the creators of TRIALS HD on Xbox Live Arcade. One of the most addictive, action packed games to be released on Xbox Live Arcade.
Enjoy the interview
A little information on TRIALS HD
Trials HD is a full-featured, physics-based motorcycle racing game with over 50 mind-boggling tracks in two unique game modes. Race Mode emphasizes balance, skill, and control as you tackle indoor obstacle tracks. Skill Mode features extreme stunt tracks in which explosions, crashes, and injuries cannot be avoided. A level editor enables players to create, share and download an unlimited number of free tracks. The game features stunning full HD graphics, rider customization, unlockable bikes, global rankings, all new in-game friend scores, and many other fun features.
Interview With Tero Virtala
Capsule Computers : When was the RedLynx Studio founded ? And what is the history behind the name RedLynx ?
Tero Virtala : The studio was founded year 2000. An almost poetic background for the name RedLynx could be: “The name links to the founders of the company, Ilvessuo-brothers. Red is a powerful, energetic colour, which can be related to many emotions and aims – which suits number of games. Lynx on the other hand, is an interesting animal, that travels its own paths – and the Finnish word Ilves, also means Lynx.”
But to cut to the real reason. Last name of us founders, Ilvessuo, means “Lynxswamp”. And that’s wasn’t such a great name for the company in our opinion. So we cut part and just added Red at the front.
Capsule Computers : How many dedicated men and women were involved in creating Trials HD
Tero Virtala : A team of 10 people worked hard for 12 months.
Capsule Computers : What’s were the biggest challenges encountered by the development team in creating Trials HD.
Tero Virtala : There actually were no major problems. We have been making bigger game projects for mobile devices, PSP and NDS, so developing larger games was not such a new thing to us. In addition, our focus and related core tech has been always targeted for multiplatform.
Of course there always are something small, new learning’s, things you have to trial and error, when you change the target device – but nothing major. Tools for Xbox 360 turned out to be really handy and well-made, so they were definitely of assistance for XBLA “newcomers”.
Having said that, as Trials HD still is our first game on Xbox, so naturally had to pay extra attention to learning the platform capabilities and requirements and porting our graphics engine and tools to work on Xbox 360.
The game itself (even though we had made Trials 2 for PC) was actually written again almost from scratch, only the base idea and playability was taken from Trials 2. And as Trials HD overall is far bigger game so there were many important overall improvements and new features, that all took lot of development and provided good challenges. We wanted to make the game easier for new comers to get in, makes the progress more fluent, the game is more responsive and rewarding. And at the same time the game is both faster to play (if the player enjoys that) and it has more depth and challenge for those seeking that at some point. Then there was a whole new game mode, skill games, which we hadn’t done before. And naturally level editor and level sharing…so many new things, and new things always include some challenges – be they small or big ones.
Capsule Computers : Who’s idea/inspiration was it to create a game such as Trials HD ?
Tero Virtala : Trials actually got its start already in early 1999 from a simple question: “We have good 2D physics engine so what would be a good game to properly utilize physics?” From there, we came up with idea that you could ride a motorcycle in a cool new way where your posture controls the bike. So the biggest innovation of the Trials game isn’t actually the ‘riding bike over obstacles’ part, but rather the unique natural rider controlling mechanism which we implemented a number of times in smaller Trials-games over the years – and it is still found even in the most recent Trials HD game. We were able to test the highly appraised Trials-control mechanism and physics model number of times, and think if the features that would link well with this game mechanics. And Trials HD is the resulting big diamond at the current development phase we are at.
Capsule Computers : What was the development process like in creating Trials HD ? What sort of research was done in creating a realistic as possible physics engine.
Tero Virtala : Realistic physics, twisted in the right way to make the game play experience great, that is quite key thing in many games we have developed. It’s not that we’ve done any systematic research in that area, it’s more the fact that we have for a long time done games like that and been interested in this sort of games.
In relation to the more detailed question, the physics engine used: We used a modified version of an open source physics engine called Bullet Physics Library to calculate our physics simulation and collision inside the game. We have in-house optimized it for Xbox 360 CPU and vector units. Our game engine is designed to be fully multithreaded, and we are simulating physics at the same time we are processing game logic, graphics, sound and particles in other Xbox 360 hardware threads. With extensive optimization we have achieved very good balance, and all the six CPU hardware threads are constantly working under heavy load.
Capsule Computers : How long did it take to develop Trials HD ? Were there any strict deadlines/Timeframe that needed to be taken to get Trials HD to the Xbox 360.
Tero Virtala : It was quite close to 12 months. The Microsoft & Xbox Live Arcade people did not actually push us, they are gamers themselves, and the primary criteria for everyone was to have an excellent game. And once that had been reached, prepare for publishing it. At the end of the development, when everything started to be in place quite well and it was a matter of polishing and bug fixing, we faced an excellent opportunity to be part of XBLA’s summer campaign, Summer of Arcade. It was fantastic to be selected as one of the five great games for the campaign. And that naturally at the end put some strict time-schedules, that we simply had to reach. But as said, at that point, the key elements of the game were already in place, and we did not have to make compromises due to the schedules.
Capsule Computers : What type of game is Trials HD ? What can players expect when playing this game.
Tero Virtala : You could say that Trials HD is a combination of a racing game and platformer. Based on a very realistic and highly-developed physics-system, the game let’s you in easily, and once you are there, you’re trapped. With this physics system, the true control of the game is on player’s hands. All the time you play, all the time you develop, your skills. Not the skills of your avatar or game character, but your own skills. And that is fun, its rewarding, its challenging – and it surely is addictive. Especially with the leaderboard systems and friend scores. All this is utilized in over 50 tracks in two very different game modes. Race Mode emphasizes balance, skill, and control as you tackle indoor obstacle tracks. Skill Mode features extreme stunt tracks in which explosions, crashes, and injuries cannot be avoided – levels having bit different sorts of objectives. Then there us level editor which enables players to create, share and download an unlimited number of free tracks between friends.
Capsule Computers : How complicated is Trials HD to play ? Can anyone enjoy it, or is it for the more veteran gamer ?
Tero Virtala : We think it’s a very solid package – also in relation to easiness, difficulty. Some people say it’s truly a game to be fully enjoyed by gamers. But that is only part of the truth. The core gameplay, the fun, the challenge, the addictiveness is really built around the extremely simple control mechanism combined into the highly developed and quite realistic physics model of the game. There are only gas, break, lean forward and backward. And with easy to approach tracks at first, anyone can start playing the gam quite simply – and get quite a good feeling of really controlling the ride, as the physics model doesn’t make exceptions: It rewards, punishes, teaches, and whether you notice it or not, makes you learn all the time.
We think Trials HD is a game which is fairly easy for newcomers to get in, while it at the same time provides challenges for the “veterans” and really skilled players. We know, based on our experiences with the earlier Trials 2 SE for PC, that we’ll see hundreds of gameplay hours for many players. Huge amounts.
Capsule Computers : There is no multiplayer in Trials HD ? Was it considered and what benefits does Trials HD have without it.
Tero Virtala : With Trials HD we decided to focus on making the core game as good as possible. The combination of simple control mechanics and highly developed physics model, linked with the aim of trying to pass the tracks / proceed as far as possible in these tracks. And the around that, build features that fit with this core-play the best. In relation to “multiplayer”, we felt that for this game, the best “multiplayer”-feature is a leaderboard-system, which let’s you compare and compete immediately both against friends and anyone else. The friends – system actually then developed even further, as you see in the very new type of in-game-friend-scores in the skill games.
Capsule Computers : How many kind of game modes are there in Trials HD. And how many levels are associated to each mode
Tero Virtala : Over 50 different types of tracks in varying difficulty levels: There are 39 tracks in Race mode, 12 tracks in Skill games, and in addition to these – as a new sort of game mode – there are 8 different tournaments in which the tracks are combined in different ways.
Capsule Computers : What can the players expect from Trials HD on the Xbox Live Arcade, will there be any Downloadable Content.
Tero Virtala : Yes, there’s gonna be DLC. Can’t say yet what it’s gonna be… more info coming soon.
Capsule Computers : Trials HD can be easy to learn but hard to master. What kind of tips can you suggest to players to bear in mind when playing the game.
Tero Virtala : In order to improve, spend enough time on easier and medium tracks. Do not be satisfied with just passing the tracks. Aim for better medals, higher in the leaderboards. That is fun and rewarding, but it also all the times teaches you to ride better. It’s a physics based game, so you really improve your own skills, not the skills of your avatar or rider. This skill is needed in harder tracks, and they are much more fun, when you have enough skills. Also, if you get stuck, use the replay-function: You can replay the rides of the best players and see what they do with the pad and when. That teaches good tricks. Game almost reads your playing hours from direct, telekinetic, neural connection. So the more you have playtime, the better you will become! J Also if you want to discover some of the hidden stuff before finding them all by yourself…youtube will most likely be a good source for learning some secrets. And those secrets are many.
Capsule Computers : From the Trials HD Leader boards, gamers can download and watch the top players and how they have achieved the fastest times, allowing everyone to see the control and button presses as well that the leaders have done. This is a great way to learn. Was this fantastic feature hard to implement into the game ?
Tero Virtala : There are some tricks that need to be done right. And naturally some work needed. But it’s fully doable. We had been doing similar features to some of our earlier games, so this was an area that was familiar to us already. But as you say, in some games like Trials HD, both leaderboards and replay – options fit exceptionally well. And answer the question. Yep it was hard. BUT We knew how to do it so it was not. J
Capsule Computers : Talking Xbox 360 Achievements for Trials HD, how hard are they to obtain. Can players get an easy 200/200 or will there be a lot of work involved.
We did use some time to balance it all so that there’s both achievable and rewarding achievements for players at different skill-levels, and that there’s also enough challenge at the far end. In addition, as the players will see, there are also achievements that are quite different. That reward the player for doing / discovering something very different than what they would be normally doing when playing the game. This provides also new type of gameplay experiences and challenges. Like not only passing the track as fast as possible without faults, but pass the track without changing your posture, or pass the track full-throttle on, or discover the secret bowling hall and….it’s been fun doing these! In relation to whether players can get 200 easy or not – well it’s not too easy, but it’s achievable. There actually there is one achievement (Marathon), that’s maybe been too hard.
Capsule Computers : What design/physics engine did you use in developing Trials HD ?
Tero Virtala : We’ve had that question actually quite often. Many people have noticed that the engines behind the game are rather developed and sophisticated. The graphics engine, like almost all the other technology it our own. We have systematically been developing it, and know exactly how it can used in different games to bring in the best gameplay experience. However, we are not locked into using only our own tech. When we run into exceptionally good 3rd party engines or tools, and if we find them doing something really well, we typically go for those. Use those parts of our own tech that are the best for the game, and those parts from the other techs (available) that are best for the game. Always aim only at the best possible game, that’s the objective, engines, tools, technology are there just to help in achieving that goal. So in physics part we are using some parts of our tech/engine, and we are also using a modified version of an open source physics engine called Bullet Physics Library to calculate our physics simulation and collision inside the game. We have in-house optimized it for Xbox 360 and to work in the best way for Trials HD. As said, always aim the best possible game. Everything else is just a means to get there
Capsule Computers : What can fans expect in the future from RedLynx Studios ? What game(s) are next in development.
Tero Virtala : Aim is to first make Trials HD first as good as it can get. So let’s see about DLC first.
But in relation to other games, there are some smaller games that we have done years ago. They were really addictive, and always had something unique. But back in those days we were mainly making bigger game projects for publishers and did not focus on making those smaller own games into polished sellable games. Planning some of them further, making them bit bigger and really polished, that sounds one interesting thing (among many interesting opportunities there are). But anything that we’ll do, we’ll focus on the one core game play things that we know is great and is also different. And make that as good as it can be. And make it for online distribution. So let’s see. And of course we’ll be thinking how Trials could evolve further.
Capsule Computers would once again like to thank Tero for his time in answering these questions for all the fans of TRIALS HD on Xbox live Arcade around the world.
I have included some of the links to TRIALS HD.Official Website www.xbox.com/en-US/games/t/trialshdxboxl… RedLynx Website www.redlynx.com/
Download Trials HD from Xbox Live Market Place–
NOW THE EXTRA COOL STUFF !!!
Tero has been very generous in donating some Xbox Live Arcade Codes for : TRIALS HD
How to win >> Do 2 things :
1 # Simply start following Capsule Computers on Twitter
2 # And tell us in 25 words of less What do you LOVE most about TRIALS HD
The most creative answers will win. Tero might also chose a winner so make them as creative and interesting as possible.
Thank You 🙂
–Capsule Computers www.capsulecomputers.com.au/