Developer Retrospective: Twisted Pixel

Developer Retrospective: Twisted Pixel

Written by Charles Husemann on 3/19/2012 for 360   3DS   AV   Cell   PC   PS3   PSP   Vita   Wii   WiiU  

 A retrospective is an agile development term for a team meeting at the end of a development cycle where the team determines what things were done well, what things could have been better, and what things they were going to try to do better in the next cycle. It's a great way for teams to celebrate what they did correctly and identify the things that they need to improve on. 

Given the state of flux that the video game industry is in right now I thought it would be an interesting idea to do several small retrospective with folks from around the industry with the end goal is to develop a holistic view of the state of the video game.

The format is fairly simple. We've asked each company the same four questions about what they did great last year, what they could have done better, and what they plan to do in the coming year. We then asked them how they thought the entire industry answered those questions. To keep things interesting we also asked a few company specific questions too.

We've got a nice variety of opinions ranging from game developers to publishers to hardware manufactures and everyone in between. This is one of the more ambitious projects we've ever done and we think you'll enjoy seeing the wide spectrum of opinions on the industry. You can see our previous retrospectives here.

Today we are talking to Dan Teasdale, Design Lead for Twisted Pixel.  The Twisted Pixel folks had a most excellent 2011 as they released Gunslinger and were purchased by Microsoft.  Here are Dan's answers to our questions.

Looking back at the last year what were the things that Twisted Pixel did right? What things could you have done better?
 Last year was pretty incredible for us: we grew to a size that lets us make two games at once, released two great games in Ms. Splosion Man and The Gunstringer, then topped it off by joining forces with Microsoft.

There’s not much that I think we’d do over, to be honest. If I could change one thing, it’d be making sure we pitched multiple DLC titles in the vein of The Wavy Tube Man Chronicles. Deep down, I think we all know that a Night Trap/New Orleans Madam crossover would quite possibly have put us in the running for GOTY.


What do you think went well for the game industry in 2011? What do you think the industry could have done better in 2011?
 I think the whole “making great games” thing went pretty well for us last year. My bank account still hasn’t recovered from the holiday season.

In terms of what we can do better, I think it’s now long past due for us to treat what we do with some respect. For the longest time, we’ve basically been the eager under-confident kid in high school who’ll do anything to impress the cool kids and who’s easily taken advantage of by sleazebags.

I hope that in 2012 we’ll finally grow a spine. Stuff like Spry Fox suing 6waves for plagiarising their entire game is a great first step that shows the things we make have real value, and we’re not going to sit idly by while other people profit off the things we make.

Looking ahead, what are you most excited about from Twisted Pixel in 2012?
Oh, that’s sneaky! I’m not going to just tell you what our next awesome game is, but I have to give you credit for trying.

Besides the whole “new games” thing, I’m excited for the inevitable day when programmer Adam Starks finally decides to join 2007 and get a smartphone. I mean, he’s a huge nerd who proposed to his soon to be wife with an adventure game and wears Minecraft shirts, yet he doesn’t want a cool smartphone?! My only real explanation is that he’s some crazy deep multifaceted man, and needs all of his spare time he would be twittering in order to build cool wooden octagons for the scorpions in his backyard.

What’s the one thing you’re planning on doing now that you weren’t doing in 2011?
I think the big thing is that with the Microsoft deal, we can now spend a little more time making our games awesome instead of always rushing to get games out and pitch new ones. It’s a pretty huge relief to finally have enough time to prototype and fine tune things like gameplay mechanics instead of building a cool game in a crazy amount of time.

The downside is that I’ll probably get lazy because of this, causing my game development career and my waistline to mirror Elvis’ later years.


What are you looking forward to most in 2012 from an industry standpoint? What should the industry do better in 2012?
There’s a lot of really cool designery stuff that’s being exposed in games coming out this year, but it’s super inside baseball and probably really boring to anyone reading this. You know, unless you’re like me and are legitimately excited by talk about drop in/drop out synchronous multiplayer feeding into asynchronous metagames, in which case, HOLY CRAP SSX AM I RIGHT?

For stuff that impacts gamers directly though, I think we’re on the threshold of ripping some bandaids off to fix some tough problems that have been around for a while. Things like finding a fair solution to the used game problem that doesn’t hurt gamers, transitioning our business models to make piracy irrelevant, and get games into an “always on” mindset are all cresting issues right now, and I wouldn’t be surprised if 2012 is when some of these issues break.

What impact has the Microsoft acquisition had on your plans for 2012?
The biggest thing personally is that I will finally graduate from this folding table that I have been using as a desk for the past 18 months. While I will miss its supreme portability and slim profile, I think it’s the right time in my career to graduate to a real desk with features like “permanent legs”.
Developer Retrospective: Twisted Pixel Developer Retrospective: Twisted Pixel Developer Retrospective: Twisted Pixel

About Author

Hi, my name is Charles Husemann and I've been gaming for longer than I care to admit. For me it's always been about competing and a burning off stress. It started off simply enough with Choplifter and Lode Runner on the Apple //e, then it was the curse of Tank and Yars Revenge on the 2600. The addiction subsided somewhat until I went to college where dramatic decreases in my GPA could be traced to the release of X:Com and Doom.   I have been a Microsoft Xbox MVP since 2009.
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