Trine – The Meta Interview
This obviously comes as little surprise considering we’re press in this crazy industry, but the amount and variety is truly astounding.
Some are great and offer new insights into a game we’re really looking forward to. These we shamelessly butcher; picking off the best morsels like media vultures to regurgitate here for your haughty consumption.
Others we skip for reasons we won’t go into. Then there are those that surprise the hell out of us for other various reasons. Like the one we just got about upcoming PSN title Trine for example.
Normally we have to painstakingly research a game before sitting down with developers to ask our pointed questions. But, as a magnanimous gesture, David Costarigot, Project Manager at Nobilis, the company publishing the game, sat down with Lauri HyvÃ¤rinen, the Designer at Frozenbyte and makers of Trine, and have done the interview for us.
David: How did you come up with the idea for Trine?
Lauri: Trine has been a team effort and the idea has changed a few times during the development process. It was originally initiated by our lead gameplay programmer, before evolving a great deal in a short space of time and becoming the game that we now know. The relationship between us designers and the artists has been critical to the whole project. Designers can inspire artists with ideas and artists in turn create such fantastic art that it motivates designers to create great gameplay, and so on. We also have regular design evenings with the team. This usually results in good ideas being presented at the start of the evening and more wild ideas developing as the night goes on. Ultimately, the programmers are the ones who have to implement all the suggestions, so our producer works hard to eliminate the not-so-good ideas.
David: What exactly is the â€˜Trineâ€™?
Lauri: The â€˜Trineâ€™ is an old artefact which has been placed in the Astral Academy and is protected by powerful spells. However, the peace of the kingdom is disturbed as the undead armies begin to march and the protection around the â€˜Trineâ€™ weakens. Whilst this is happening, our character the Thief has a cunning plan to steal it and makes her way to find it, where she also happens upon the other characters, the Wizard and the Knight. This causes a commotion that ends up binding their souls to the â€˜Trineâ€™ and changing the course of history. Now only one character can be outside the â€˜Trineâ€™ at the same time and our gameâ€™s heroes begin their journey looking for clues as to what the â€˜Trineâ€™ might be, why they have been trapped inside and what they must do to get out.
David: What are the most important and entertaining features of Trine?
Lauri: I think the most fun element in Trine is the creative and clever use of the three characters. Players can use any one of the characters to crack any puzzle, although with some characters solving certain puzzles is much harder than with others. Our level design team worked really hard to improve each level and make it challenging enough whilst still keeping the fun and the flow of the game. There are multiple solutions for each puzzle, some more difficult than others, and often the easiest solution is the hardest to carry out. Test players have also solved puzzles in ways that we never thought of which is simply fascinating.
David: What inspired the choices of characters and the gameplay in Trine?
Lauri: The characters are based on our art team’s vision and there must be a dozen different images for each part of each character, making a total of hundreds of images to create just one character. The gameplay is based around the idea â€œwhat if the player could freely create and bring physical objects into the worldâ€ and this is mostly displayed through the abilities of the Wizard. With regards to the other characters, we had numerous very good gameplay ideas and we split these between them. Eventually we had created three totally different characters, not just by their personality and looks, but also their individual abilities and this is the core of the game.
David: Considering the Trine graphics engine, what specific things can players do in Trine?
Lauri: Trine has almost all of the latest visual effects and new ones can also be added easily. However, the best part of the game comes from the solid attachment to the PhysX engine for the physics element in the game. Unlike normal games, we use physics as a major gameplay feature and players can freely create and bring physical objects into the game. In other words, physics is not just seen as â€˜eye candyâ€™ because players simply cannot advance in the game if they don’t use the physics simulated objects or machinery to their advantage.
David: Playing in co-operative mode is not that common in a platform-based game, what made you come up with this idea?
Lauri: We had some sort of co-operative gameplay in one of our previous titles Shadowgrounds and thought it would also be perfect for Trine. Of course, given that the game has only three characters that is also the maximum number of players that can play in co-op. Players can invent hilarious solutions to puzzles, for example, using the Knight to throw a box in the air whilst the other players use a different character to stand on the box. In our test sessions the co-op has proven to be really popular with all testers.
David: Finally, can you tell us a little bit about Frozenbyte?
Lauri: Frozenbyte consists of a team of 20 game enthusiasts, located in Helsinki, Finland. We are most known for our Shadowgrounds action game series, although behind the scenes we have also helped other developers with their games. Finland is home to a lot of high technology expertise and the gaming business is increasing at a tremendous pace. For example, when Frozenbyte was founded in 2001 there were only a handful of game companies and there are now over 50.
Our thanks to David for doing all the hard work. You can also check out the gallery below for some new Trine imagery.