Interviews// Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts

Posted 10 Sep 2008 18:18 by
There's a big trend at the moment towards handing over a lot of the creation of the game-play experience to users. What's that like for developers?

Elissa Miller: It's quite a big task. Testing wise, it's a big challenge because there are so many outcomes and variables that you need to test. Like we said before, it's not linear, where you go from A to B and test everything along it. It's A, B, C, D, here, there and everywhere. So, you've really got to go along and test every problem that may arise. Logistically, that can be a nightmare, but we have a massive testing department, so hopefully (it's all been checked) and we won't come across any massive problems when we get the game out.

Neill Harrison: It's a challenge for the designers as well, obviously, to balance it and to make sure that there isn't one component that makes it go faster than the others. But, it's a good challenge, we like to be challenged.

We really look forward to see what people are going to do with it, to watching the leaderboards on Xbox Live and seeing people doing stuff. It's going to be really cool to see what they actually come up with.

We know full well that no matter how much we test it, within a week there'll be some kid, somewhere around the world who's done something we didn't think was possible and has maybe flashed all the scores with some crazy vehicle.

I think the whole YouTube generation, as well, you get people recording what they've done in games and sticking it on YouTube. That's quite a big part of it, I think. Being able to go on these leaderboards and see how people have done stuff.

You mentioned a challenge earlier where there was a maximum number of points on a challenge, but you're sat there at Rare and you didn't know how to reach that. Are you seeing a lot of things where you think, “Oh, I didn't know it could do that”? Much emergent game-play?

Neill Harrison: Yeah, a bit. Quite regularly, someone will come up with a new vehicle that gives you a completely different approach, that pushes the boundaries. We thought, “This is the maximum score”, then someone's done this. There's quite a lot of... that, and I think it's quite a major part of the game, and that's what we're really looking forward to seeing.

Would you still call this game a platformer?

Neill Harrison: It is at its heart.

Elissa Miller: The way we look at it is as an evolution of the platformer. There are certain elements, like in Showdown Town, where you're collecting and all the platform stuff like that. It's just the fact that we've moved it on a bit in the direction we felt we should go in with Banjo.

Neill Harrison: The way we explain it is that at its heart, it's still a platform game and still very much a Banjo-Kazooie game. It's just that, instead of giving the player the moves and telling them that, “This is how you will do the levels”, we've given them the vehicle pieces and the editor so they can choose their own abilities.
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