SPLOSION MAN – Interview with CEO of Twisted Pixel Games Michael Wilford

Xbox 360 Microsoft Interviews Action

Capsule Computers (MasterAbbott) had the pleasure to speak to CEO of Twisted Pixed Games Michael Wilford about their smash hit SPLOSION MAN for the Xbox 360.  We have a total of 18 questions that Michael was very kind enough to answer.  Capsule Computers would like to thank Michael for his time and we hope you enjoy the interview.

 

Capsule Computers : Thank you for taking the time to answer a few short questions about Twisted Pixel Games and Splosion Man.  Your time and answers are greatly appreciated.

Michael Wilford : Anytime!  Thanks for the interview.

Capsule Computers Question 1 : When was the Twisted Pixel Games Studio founded ? And what is the history behind the name Twisted Pixel Games ?

Michael Wilford : The company was founded in March of 2006 by Josh Bear, Frank Wilson and myself with the goal of making the best downloadable console games.  We chose the name “Twisted Pixel” because it was better than “Metal Guitars” which was our second favorite.

Capsule Computers Question 2 : How many dedicated men and women were involved in creating Splosion Man ?

Michael Wilford : The core Splosion Man team was 8 full time developers, plus a bunch of outsourcing for art, network programming, sound, music, QA, translations, etc.

Capsule Computers Question 3 : What’s were the biggest challenges encountered by the development team in creating Splosion Man ?

Michael Wilford : Honestly, our biggest challenge was just trying to get the game done in time.  We had to make 100 levels, 4 player co-op local and online, three big boss battles, free content like themes and avatar accessory awards, and everything else in just 6 months.  And we released three DLC packs for The Maw during that time too.  So it was a pretty busy time for Twisted Pixel.

Capsule Computers Question 4 : Who’s idea/inspiration was it to create a character as whacky but so lovable as Splosion Man ? And what was the most fun part in this process ? 

Michael Wilford : The idea for Splosion Man was a team effort, but I think it was our Lead Designer Sean Riley that initially got the ball rolling on making a game about a 2 hour old lab experiment gone wrong that only wants to have fun and hug people, but they splode into hunks of meats.  Everyone kept adding onto the concept until it was pretty insane, but thankfully Microsoft believed in our vision and let us make it.  The most fun part was probably once 4 player multiplayer started coming together.  Splosion Man was our first multiplayer game, so it was a big worry point for us, but when we first saw it working and could splode around the levels with each other, it was a huge relief to see how fun it could be.

Capsule Computers Question 5 : What was the development process like in creating a game such as Splosion Man ? What sort of research was done in designing the amazing platform puzzles, story lines, characters and bosses .

Michael Wilford : We always do research before starting development on a new game – we play lots of old games for reference, we throw around ideas, bring up cheesy 80’s action movies, etc.  Splosion Man drew inspiration from the early Sonic games, and Earthworm Jim for just being so memorable and funny.  For the level design, there really wasn’t a lot of time for research.  Our amazing level designers just took it upon themselves to do what makes sense for the type of game it is.  At times, they had to crank out a level a day, so they had to get things right on the first try.  They did an outstanding job.

Capsule Computers Question 6 :  How long did it take to develop Splosion Man ? Were there any strict deadlines/Timeframe that needed to be taken to get Splosion Man to the Xbox Live Arcade.

Michael Wilford : We had a self-imposed deadline of 6 months.  We wanted to get it done early enough so that if Microsoft wanted to include it in the 2009 Summer of Arcade we’d be ready.  When we started development, we had no idea they’d be doing another Summer of Arcade, but it was worth it to us to assume they would be and it worked out.

Capsule Computers Question 7 : What type of game is Splosion Man ? What can players expect when playing this game ?

Michael Wilford : Splosion Man is an action-platformer.  We won some Best of E3 awards, including best downloadable title and best platformer.  The game was built to be simple to play – all the face buttons do the same thing: splode.  And sploding is just like jumping, except you blow up everything around you.  You can splode three times in the air before you need to land and recharge.  By sploding off of walls you need to traverse each level as fast as you can, earning bonus points for causing as much destruction as possible.  It doesn’t take long before you’re tearing through levels pretty quickly with the feeling of those old Sonic games.  With 4 players, you actually have to work together by sploding off of each other to propel each other up to platforms and ledges.  It’s pretty crazy.

Capsule Computers Question 8 : How complicated is Splosion Man to play ?  Can anyone enjoy it, or is it for the more veteran gamer ?

Michael Wilford :  We went out of our way to make Splosion Man as accessible as possible.  You only need to move the stick and press one of the face buttons to play.  You can even earn the “Master of Controls” achievement by going into the controls settings and changing the controller mapping for one of the buttons from “splode” to “splode”.  We also put in “Way of the Coward” as a way for players to skip a level that is too challenging for them so that they’re not stuck forever.  This way, everyone should be able to get to the end and see the crazy ending that we made for everyone to see.

Capsule Computers Question 9 : Explain to the readers what features are included in Splosion Man multiplayer, how many players can play together and what style of gameplay modes are there available.

Michael Wilford : We have a single player campaign with 50 levels and three boss fights, plus a separate multiplayer campaign with 50 co-op levels and three boss fights.  You can play multiplayer locally or online, and it gets pretty intense.  Splosion Man is also the first Xbox 360 game to support avatar accessory awards, which we give to players for free, as well as free gamerpics and a premium dashboard theme.  Right now Xbox is running an Omaha Sweepsteaks where winners will have Splosion Man send them top cut filets from Omaha Steaks.

Capsule Computers Question 10 : How many levels are associated with both story mode and multiplayer mode ? Are they the same on both modes ? And roughly how many hours of gameplay is in each mode (Story & Multi-player).

Michael Wilford : There are 50 levels for single player and 50 levels for multiplayer.  They are separate because the gameplay in multiplayer requires you to work together and splode off of each other.  I would say the average first-time player will find roughly 6 hours of single player and 9 hours of multiplayer gameplay.

Capsule Computers Question 11 : What can the players expect from Splosion Man on the Xbox Live Arcade, will there be any Downloadable Content in the future ?

Michael Wilford : The game definitely supports DLC, but we haven’t made any announcements yet.

Capsule Computers Question 12: For the casual and also hardcore gamer playing Splosion man for the first time.  What kind of tips can you suggest to players to keep in mind when playing the game.

Michael Wilford : There are a lot of tricks for the hardcore player to learn.  For instance, if you’re really good you can walk off a ledge, flick the controller towards the ledge and back again while you press splode so that you are actually sploding off the wall below the ledge, which will propel you much farther than you could otherwise.  This trick can be used especially in multiplayer to get significantly faster times.

Capsule Computers Question 13: What the story with Splosion man’s obsession with cake ? Please explain 🙂

Michael Wilford : Since Splosion Man is only a few hours old, he likes celebrating his birthday.  So in each level you’ll find a secret birthday cake that you must find.  Doesn’t everyone like birthday cake?

Capsule Computers Question 14: Talking Xbox 360 Achievements for Splosion Man,  tell us a little bit about how hard are they to obtain ?  Can players get an easy 200/200 or will there be a lot of work involved.  What do you believe is the easiest and the hardest achievements to unlock. 

Michael Wilford : We tried to make it balanced so that some achievements are easy and some are more challenging.  Certainly our easiest one is the one you get for breaking your first pane of glass, which nets you a free avatar accessory.  Our most challenging one is probably beating the game on Hardcore mode.

Capsule Computers Question 15: Also what can players expect in terms of unlockable rewards from Splosion Man.  What must players do to receive the cool stuff locked away in the game ? And once unlocked how do they find and use it ?

Michael Wilford : We have two male avatar awards, two female avatar awards, a premium dashboard theme, and several gamerpics.  We make it clear to you when these things are unlocked, and you can install them instantly.

Capsule Computers Question 16: What design/physics engine did you use in developing Splosion Man ?

Michael Wilford : We have our own internal engine and toolset called BEARD+RAZOR.

Capsule Computers Question 17: Twisted Pixel Games have developed a number of successful titles over the years.  Which one do you believe has been the most successful and why ?

Michael Wilford : We try to make each game better than the last, and I think that has been reflected in the response we’ve gotten from our games so far.  Splosion Man is our last game and it seems to have generated the most response.  I think our new game, Comic Jumper, will be even bigger because of how much more we’re putting into it.

Capsule Computers Question 18: What can fans expect in the future from Twisted Pixel Games ? What game(s) are next in development ? Give us a sneak peak  .. come on we have Cake 😉

Michael Wilford : Comic Jumper is our next game which we announced at PAX.  We’re going to take longer than 6 months with this one, so it’s going to be really amazing.  We’ll have more details coming very soon.

There you have it.  Thank you once again to Micahel for taking the time from his busy schedule to sit down and talk to us and share all this great information on Splosion Man and also keep an eye out for Comic Jumper.   Check out our article on Comic Jumper here.  We might have some more information on Comic Jumper soon.  So make sure you check back regularly here at Capsule Computers.

For now Thank you once again to Michael and we hope you all enjoyed the interview.  Let us know what you thought of it.  All comments are appreciated.

Thanks

MasterAbbott
Capsule Computers
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