If you haven't heard of FairyTale Fights then you're in for a treat, wel a bizarre treat as the folks at PlayLogic are combining classic fairy tales with a level of violence that would make Quentin Tarantino cringe. Of course we had to find out more about the game and managed to score this interview.
Can you introduce yourself and talk about your role on the project?
I am Martin
Janse, Executive Producer. I oversee all aspects regarding the development of Fairytale Fights and I make sure the game is on par with our quality requirements.
Fairytale characters with chainsaws and other implements of death and destruction is a pretty twisted concept, how did you come up with it? Are there things that you came up with in meetings that you thought would be a little too extreme for the game and had to take out of the game?
We started with a concept 3 years ago. A couple of guys from Playlogic Game Factory thought it would be cool to do something with fairytale characters. Our main influences were western fairytales and cartoons like Ren & Stimpy, Itchy & Scratchy from the Simpsons and Happy Tree friends. We made a little CGI movie to pitch the project to our mother company (Playlogic International). They were blown away and gave us the green light on the project. We started with a skeleton crew prototyping game elements and creating the art-style. Soon after, the project team grew rapidly. Now we work with over 90 people in Breda, The Netherlands (where our studio is based) and we have outsourced most of the games’ animations to Sparx Animations which you may well know from the MGM movie Igor. In total we have nearly 200 people working on the game.
Why is it so appealing for audiences, and artists, to take beloved fairy tales and warp them into something sinister and, most times, flatulent?
Well fairytales are quite sinister aren’t they? What we have basically done is put known fairytale characters and story elements in a blender and we have created our own narrative from it. Players will recognize stuff from their favorite fairytales but it will be presented in a completely different way. Because everyone knows these fairytales it is very easy for people to relate to the characters and the storyline. This allows us to tell the story in a very visual way. I wouldn’t call our violence sinister though, as it is so over-the-top that it becomes funny.
Given all the characters in all the various fairy tales, how did you settle on the four that you did? Any chance there will be more characters available as DLC?
We started with little Red Riding Hood…We liked the idea of making such an innocent girl in to a killing maniac. The other characters followed shortly after. Our version of Snow White walks like a princess but is a bit crazy and has this twitchy eye. You just know that she is capable of doing some real damage if she doesn’t get her way. The Naked Emperor is very vain and everyone who is laughing about his birthday suit will be in for a big violent surprise. Our Jack (from Jack and the Beanstalk) has grown up a little and doesn’t just kill giants anymore!
In terms of DLC, we have great ideas, but we are not telling…yet! :D
FairyTale Fights is using the Unreal engine, can you talk about why you decided to go with the engine over building one yourself? The color palette of the game is much different than every other Unreal game out there, did you have to modify the engine to include colors other than brown and gray?
Unreal Engine 3 is a very handy tool for making games. It supports multiplatform development and artists like its accessibility. In addition, it has a great level design tool. Development pipelines are easy to track and it is just great for editing different game aspects together. Unreal Engine 3 is just a very efficient tool to work with. We have looked at other engines as well, but Unreal Engine 3 checked all the boxes for what we wanted to achieve.
With Fairytale Fights we are showing that you can do other things with the engine than creating a gritty shooter. To create the look we have used filters already in Unreal Engine 3, but we have also imposed our own. On top of the Unreal Engine 3 we have developed in-house technology. We have created a system that we call Real-Time Dynamic Slicing, which basically allows players to slice and dice through a 3D polygon model in real time. Dynamic bone crushing allows players to break the bones of your enemies in real-time. Also we are very proud of our propriety volumetric liquid system. It makes fluids interactive. Our characters can skate or slide through the blood of fallen enemies, leaving streaks of blood across this very cute and colorful fairytale world. Basically if you are skilled enough, you can write your name in blood!
From what we've read the game has a fairly unique control system, can you talk about how the system works and how you came up with it?
Our goal has always been to create a game that can be played by everyone, from the hardcore to the more casual players. The intuitive control system allows for this.
The game can be played by using just four buttons on the controller. You need two analog sticks and the RB or R2 button to pick up weapons (or throw them). The A or X button is used for jumping just like any of the known platformers. Finally the left analog stick is used for movement. The right analog stick is where it gets interesting as it is used for the attacks you pull off. The right arm of your character is controlled by it and it allows for the real time dynamic slicing. You can cut enemies diagonally, vertically, horizontally and all the variations in between.
The more hardcore players will be pleased to know that at harder difficulties they need to pull off combos in order to defeat enemies. They need more variation in the way they use weapons and the environment. The B button or O button allows you to push enemies in traps such as fire, spinning blades and booby traps. The right trigger unleashes your glory attack and X or square makes you drink potions.
This is the type of game you want to enjoy with your friends and I am sure it will unite different types of players together. At Gamescom for instance we have had playable code for the public for the first time. To our surprise we saw that a lot of girls, couples as well as hardcore players came to our stand to play the game. Even more surprising was the fact that a lot of them returned to the 2-hour waiting line so they could play through the second level.
There was a bit of controversy out of GamesCom about an achievement for killing 1,000 children...is that still in the game and do you expect it to make it into the final game? Can you talk about how you came up with that particular achievement and preview some of the other achievements in the game?
Sorry I can’t talk about achievements yet…Ok I’ll give you one…You will get an achievement for sliding continuously through 500 yards of blood!
One of your char dfacters is the Naked Emperor...how do you keep him decent enough to get past the ESRB?
We had to castrate him, so he now is like Barbie’s Ken!
What various implements of death and destruction are in the game and what are the three weapons that you find yourself using time and time again?
Three weapons? We have over 140 different weapons in the game ranging from blunt, sharp and ranged weapons. Furthermore we have magical wands and potions you can use. You can even use hand to hand combat when you are not holding a weapon. Each weapon type can be used in three different ways so you can experiment a lot with your options.
There is even a glory attack mode. When making combos your glory meter charges and once it is full you can do a glory attack, which results in an over-the-top display of violence. When a blunt or sharp weapon is used in glory mode, a picture in picture screen pops up that basically enlarges the action on the battle field. The picture in picture screen shows you in gruesome detail the effects of our dynamic slicing and dynamic bone crushing systems. If you use a blunt weapon you will see your enemy as an X-ray and while you are swinging your weapon, you can see your victim’s bones break in real-time. When you are using a knife you can chop up your enemy like a gourmet chef would do with an onion.
Sharp weapons can also be thrown at enemies and they will stick in their heads or bodies. You can even reclaim your weapon by pulling it out of your enemy!
My favorite weapons are the magical potions though. There is an acid potion for instance that you can throw at enemies (like a grenade). Enemies that come in contact with the acid will melt, just revealing their modeled skeletons. You can also drink the poison and carry out a puke attack! But the best is the glory attack mode of this weapon. When your bar is full you can create magical acid rain that fills the screen and melts all your foes (and co-op players) instantly!
Four player side scrolling games tend to lead to friendly fire, can you kill your fellow players in FairyTale Fights? What controls are in place to ensure people play together rather than just hacking each other to bits?
Our original thought was to integrate this friendly fire so that while you are playing co-op there is also a competitive element to the game. However after focus testing and reading several forum posts we have decided that it is best to leave this decision to the player, rather then enforcing it. So you can decide for yourself how to play it. You can switch friendly fire on and off but I recommend everyone to play with friendly fire as it is the funniest way to experience the game. Also there are true PvP pockets where you can hack ‘n slash each other indefinitely.
Anything we missed that you think people should know about the game?
I don’t know where to start. With Fairytale Fights we have something very special. I mean there is nothing quite like it. The art style is very unique and the dark humor distinct. There are weapons we haven’t even talked about yet. Apart from the violence there are also puzzles and platform sections in the game so you can enjoy this beautiful fairytale world to the max! Will Fairytale Fights have a happy ending? ….I am afraid that you just have to play Fairytale Fights to find out!
We'd like to thank Martin for taking the time to answer our questions as well as Abby for helping to coordinate the interview.