Check out Part 2 of the developer interview for 'Escape Plan' where we learn "was the game always black and white?"
"It was always kind of black and white," Millar answered. He described the original idea as sterile white rooms with "very gimmicky one-offs" for each puzzle. But they wanted to do more, and the project began to evolve with Vita's help. "We realized we have more opportunities on the Vita than originally what we were thinking, to just interact with so many different things in a cool way, especially multi-touch." Deborah Mars concluded later in our conversation that "one of our main goals is to leverage the unique aspects of the Vita."
The characters evolved, too. Millar originally had them designed as simple stick men, but now they're so much more. "[With] stick men, you really didn't get a satisfying splat out of them" when they failed a puzzle, which left much to be desired and didn't help to further the game's comedic undertones. So two individual characters, the rotund Laarg (pronounced "Large") and the tiny Lil were born.
Each has different skills that help them solve puzzles both together and individually. But they weren't originally meant to be friends. Millar explains further. "Originally, Lil kept screwing over Laarg. Laarg would just be this happy victim to all the accidents that would happen in the puzzle rooms, but they really work well together, you know?"
Thus, Escape Plan was born as we now know it, using both characters to complement one another. Laarg can use brute strength to get through obstacles and obstructions that Lil couldn't deal with, while Lil's spry nature and speed helps with other parts of the puzzles. Throwing them together gives gamers the true Escape Plan experience, because figuring out how they interact with one another and their respective environments is essentially the key to the game. One can't survive without the other.
Millar also spoke to me about how important a trade show setting is for figuring out how people are playing a game, how they're interacting with it, and how they're responding to it. "I love focus testing the hell out of the gameplay to see what rises to the top... we're not kind of like 'I designed it this way, it has to be this way.' I'd rather put it in people's hands and see what feels most comfortable, what people enjoy doing... One thing we don't want to do is just go down one path and like, this is a fixed control scheme and if you don't like it then you're not getting the experience."
Deborah Mars told me more, both on the importance of play-testing and accessibility. "On our most recent play test we had people [with] no exposure or anything to the Vita and every single person got through all the levels within a fairly decent amount of time and adjust with very minimal coaching... even though [Vita] may seem like it's a hardcore device, in the same way with Fat Princess where we wanted something that was fun, accessible, pick up and play." Millar expounded on this notion, telling me that while Vita already has "Uncharted and Resistance" there's a need for Escape Plan-like games too, ones you can easily pick up and put down.
Millar and Mars were mum on further details about Escape Plan. They promised that they were focusing on the single-player experience, while not confirming outright that it wouldn't have multiplayer functionality. They had no release date or pricing details. Moreover, they expressed an interest in not making the game overly hard -- at least not initially -- but rather making death instructive as a device that teaches you what you're doing wrong.
And like Fat Princess, they want the game to be instantly recognizable. "If you see an image of Fat Princess -- boom, you know that that is that game," Mars said, "Same thing with [Escape Plan]... our goal is if you see just anything of the room or even just some of the collectables... [you'll have this] iconic association immediately with the game, so it's certainly one of the goals."
And after having seen and played the game, I think they're successfully nearing that goal.
Stay Tuned for the second part of the interview, where they discuss the initial design of the game. Be sure to check out www.psvitahub.com often for all the PS VITA news.
Source: Article courtesy of IGN
Source: Article courtesy of IGN