How does the development process differ in making a downloadable / digitally distributed title versus a full fledged retail release? I know it's early but which do you prefer?
Gabe: We spent 4+ years making Brütal Legend and less than a year on Costume Quest. A smaller team size makes you more efficient, and a smaller schedule forces you to trim the fat in the design early. On the flip side, it reduces your ability to make any major direction changes mid-project if you come up with a better way to do things. There’s a lot less people involved and almost no wiggle room. I think overall I still prefer doing smaller games because the effort is more proportional to the time that the game is getting public attention… and it’s nice to cleanse your creative palette more frequently. I would still love to work on another epic game if the idea was right though.
Tasha: Yeah, the main difference is the length of time you’re working on it- it’s pretty cool to think that about a year ago I pitched the game to THQ and now it’s out, and people are playing it! It’s also cool working with a smaller team because people get the opportunity to try things they might not have on a larger project. For example, a couple of our animators helped out with design, and one of our environment artists got to build a couple characters. The downside is that you don’t get as much time to experiment and try different approaches to things. There was no real “pre-production” time. So if you have an idea, you just have to run with it!
Costume Quest seems like it would be perfectly suited for what many in the industry call the “Wii” audience, why only a PSN / XBLA release? Was the Nintendo Wii ever considered as a viable platform for the game's release?
Gabe: When this idea was hatched, we knew the scope of it would be suited for a downloadable title. Ultimately, the people who invest the money decide which platforms make the most financial sense. Internally, we want to release our games on as many platforms as possible. I think the question we get the most is, “Are you guys doing a PC version for <insert excellent Double Fine game here>?”. We’d love to! We just need someone to float it! We’d have done a Game & Watch version of Costume Quest if it was economically viable.
Tasha: I would love to make a Wii version. And a DS version, and a PC version, and an iphone version, etc etc…it just takes some engineering time to port the game to those platforms (and UI changes to account for different control schemes), and someone just needs to give us money to do that.
Can you speak a little bit on what gamers can expect from the upcoming “Grubbins on Ice” DLC for Costume Quest?
Gabe: For Grubbins, the timeline is roughly real time with the release of the game, so Halloween is over and things are more wintery. Without giving too many spoilers, the kids find themselves in the monster world, Repugia (ree-PYOO-gee-ah), actually working with the monsters this time to overthrow their oppressive ruler, Araxia. They’ve got new enemies to face, but they’ve got some awesome new costumes and battle stamps to counter them. We also put a spin on the Halloween-centric gameplay, finding new motivations for the CQ mechanics. Size wise, I’d say that Grubbins on Ice is at least another 33% more (like one of those King Sized Snickers)! There’s also a patch that will release alongside Grubbins that has some features to address some player feedback. We’ve added save spots so the player can save at will, and the ability to pause cutscenes if the dialog text is moving too fast for you. We also optimized the performance a bit more.
Tasha: Basically it’s a whole new level to explore, with all that entails- a new storyline, new costumes, new enemies, etc. I think players are really going to like the new costumes- they were super fun to animate and our VFX artists did some really amazing stuff for them in combat mode. And the writing is just as funny as the core game. There are also a few new achievements/trophies if you’re into that sort of thing.
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