Interviews// Martyn Brown - Team 17

Posted 29 Jul 2009 17:41 by
SPOnG: Break Out on iPh...

Martyn Brown: … there's potentially a percentage of new people to the brand, and we think so. And the iPhone version is a full console game it's not a light mobile game.

SPOnG: That's a port of?

Martyn Brown: We've taken over an established edition of a game. In this case we've used the very, very recent code-base of the PS3 (the most recent console version) for the starting point and then spent the last three or fourth months ensuring it's a comfortable iPhone version in terms of control and the mechanisms and how it works.

SPOnG: And then go through a bunch of stuff with Apple?

Martyn Brown: Apple have been great. They've been really hands off, which I think is how they generally are anyway. I think they trust us, after being around for years, to get on and get the job done properly. And I think we've done that.

SPOnG: What's the one I remember? Trying to get Worms through Sony?

Martyn Brown: Yeah, on the original PlayStation version they weren't particularly keen on it because it was 2D and its looked a bit cheap-ass and all that. The fact that it went onto outsell bloody Tomb Raider and FIFA and stuff like that was irrelevant.

I think we kind of got past that 2D/3D thing.

SPOnG: Back then though, that was Worms via Ocean and then via Sony?

Martyn Brown: Yeah, but I don't – I couldn't put any blame at Ocean, I think that was a case of just Sony wanted – because it was one of the first consoles with 3D capability - they wanted to push the new technology.

Sony tend to do that with the first wave of every new hardware, they want to show off what the silicon can do.

SPOnG: What I meant was the change back then from the old Amiga days (of publishing) then to console; and now it's a bit Wild West; for you it's going back to how it was.

Martyn Brown: The thing for us is that we're having the conversations now. It's purely in our control. It's for us to make those presentations. After so many years we have got good relationships with all the platform holders, we can approach them and be extremely honest and frank; there's no bullshit or anything.

I think we have got over all this has to be 2D, it has to be 3D. That has been the benefit particularly of the DS and the Wii, and the growth of causal games. It's kind of re-educated people to what was fun, what's immediate. Maybe we'd all got carried away with how complex games were getting and all the rest of it.

SPOnG: We were going through a period of Emerson, Lake and Palmer; or 'blockbuster movie' video games. Whereby the majority of the chat was about the graphics rather than about the game.

Martyn Brown: I think the whole thing about the Wii's controller – you know, somebody's mother can pick it up and play the game, things like that... I think it's been a kind of re-awakening. And maybe we don't get so excited about super-context-sensitive stuff, and menus coming out your arse when you play the game, and shifted-analog/3D controls and all the rest of it. It should be just about immediacy, for me anyway.

There's certainly space for complex titles but pretty much everything was complicated I think. I think we're getting back to where there's some sort of middle ground at least.

The things we're doing are a bit more casual, a bit more immediate.

SPOnG: What's your definition of casual? For example with Alien Breed earlier, I asked “How does the the player get killed?” and you said, “You don't”. How does that tie-in?

Martyn Brown: In casual games we don't try to punish the player too much. In Alien Breed, that's coming along, very rarely does your player die. What we've learnt is there's no point in spending months and years developing rich content, environments and storyline, if we're going to punish the player because it's so bloody difficult that they never see any of it. We were certainly guilty of that in the Amiga days.

What we want to do is that if you've done six or seven hours of play-through for a single player is let them enjoy it, and not be pissed off and not miss all this stuff.

And certainly for casual games there's very rarely time penalties, very rarely do you die; you get a lot of time to explore and find your own way around – and hopefully it's entertaining whilst you're doing that; there's no real pressure.

We've looked at a lot of children playing games; even looked at my own kids playing games – and they get very upset when they die or get punished...

SPOnG: Kids today though, eh?

Martyn Brown: … Yeah I know! But we've seen that with the older groups playing games as well. I think it's only the people who've grown up with games who are a little bit more hardy. The 'hardcore' (they're) used to playing the old coin-ops where it was all about getting the another 20 pence or whatever – two shillings in your day whenever it was...
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Zoyd Wheeler 29 Jul 2009 17:22
Nice one, sir! Can we see more of these please? :)
King Ranko 29 Jul 2009 18:21
Man, Team 17 - now there's a proper games company - remember back in the 90's when every game they did was just the best thing in the genre by miles!! Overdrive, ATR, Project X, Alien Breed, Body Blows; they were all Amiga perfection, and all were tough as nails...
Those were the good old days eh?
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