Interviews// Martyn Brown - Team 17

Posted 29 Jul 2009 17:41 by
SPOnG: Yeah, the arcade mentality (or pinball) that strikes me more as the hardcore mentality: value for your coin.

Martyn Brown: You've got to look at our early Amiga games. They were, based on our experiences, very, very hardcore; really difficult. That's probably down to the amount of testing the games didn't have (laughs). We tested them ourselves, which was probably a really bad thing to do... judging by how difficult things like Project X was.

SPOnG: So, I guess that a criticism from the hardcore would be that this is just pandering; that this is, “Let's just make money by bashing stuff out that people won't actually find challening...”

Martyn Brown: Oh, well, I certainly take exception to the phrase 'bashing it out'. What we've tried to do... with Alien Breed for example. (Pauses) Actually Worms is little bit of a different case in that it kind of caters for whatever audience is playing it. If a casual audience is playing it, you can play it in a casual way; a hardcore can play it in their own type of way. It's kind of a suits-all.

It's a little bit more difficult with something like Alien Breed where it's probably a little bit more linear in the way that the story and the narrative is done.

SPOnG: You mean you don't have to make 'moral choices'?

Martyn Brown: Well... no. We've not gone the down line of having all of this sort of adaptive difficulty levels or all the rest of it. Just tell us how hard or intense you want the game and that's it. So, if the hardcore find it a little bit too easy on the Normal level, then they can play it a bit harder, and that's fine really.

Again, we do want people to experience all of it. We get so many old jokes from the past about people who've only seen one level out of six of Alien Breed and Project X and stuff. So we said, “Fair comment”.

SPOnG: On one part you're back to where you were at the start: in terms of distribution, in terms of being your own boss.

Martyn Brown: I think that's the thing. We've had probably a decade where we've been “leveraged” for one reason or another by third-party publishers; be it time, be it money, be it their whims within the project, their view of the marketplace.

We've worked on projects with publishers who told us to pull features, then we get the criticism then from the user-base, which is no fun at all.

The latest example was the Wii version of Worms: A Space Oddity and we were told to pull the online way before release and that was purely because they didn't believe that they could test it on time. Rather than the fact that it was actually working.

Obviously the end users just don't understand that sort of stuff and we get all the flak, even though we were told we'd be looked after in terms of who made that decision.

SPOnG: But now you're in a position to communicate that sort of thing.

Martyn Brown: Absolutely, anything we do now, we've done it. We're responsible for it. We're on Facebook, you can tell us – that's how direct this thing is.

We take a lot on board from people like Microsoft, Sony, and Apple. They'll offer guidance on what they believe is best for their system.

Usability is a big issue with Microsoft, so they really want to make the thing as richly rewarding and comfortable on their system as possible, they're very active on that. We spend a lot of time with them on that. But we do a lot of usability studies ourselves.

SPOnG: So, how would Sony differ?

Martyn Brown: (Pauses) Whether Sony are quite as focused on that deliverable as Microsoft, I don't know. They're just a little bit behind on that compared to where they are... but I think that's because (Xbox) Live has got a two-year start on them really. So, the (Microsoft) people are just a little bit more mature in terms of processes really. It's just one of those things. I certainly think they're catching up, it's just that the Microsoft guys seem to be really switched on right now.
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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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