My first exposure to Trine was reading about how great it was from Nick "Bapenguin" Puleo over at Co-Optimus
. The game sounded interesting and after playing through the demo of the game I was hooked. I immediately dialed up the PR at Frozenbyte and secured the following interview to learn more about this interesting and innovative game that had snuck onto my radar.
Can you introduce yourself, talk about your role on the project? How did you get into game development and what's one thing that you love about the industry?
I'm Lauri Hyvärinen, designer of Trine and CEO of Frozenbyte. My professional game development started in 2001 when I was one of the founders of Frozenbyte. What I love most in the industry is that everything is possible if you believe in your dreams and work very hard for it (what a cliché!). What I love about my work is the freedom to create new things which hopefully bring amusement to many, many gamers.
Could you describe Trine in two sentences?
Yes but I must warn you, I’m not too good at this! But here goes: Trine is a fairytale platformer with three characters using their various physics-based abilities to overcome challenges and hazards while saving the fantasy kingdom.
Why did you decide to go with three characters instead of two or four? Where there ever other thoughts about other characters or was it always the warrior, thief, and wizard?
Trine could not hold more characters because the Knight took the space of two. :) Originally, we had some thoughts of having a summoner instead of the Thief, but the summoner lacked some fun abilities and would have taken too much time to create, so instead we added the grappling hook to the game and created the Thief. I think there’s also something about a trio of characters that just feels better than two or four.
Trine has some pretty fantastic co-op gameplay as well as physics based gameplay. Which of these was harder to design around and why?
Physics-based gameplay was something that hadn’t been done in too many games to this extent before, so we actually had to invent some of the things ourselves. Co-op came together with the solid single player experience, which was the main goal originally. We designed each level to support each of the characters (in most cases) so co-op didn’t actually add much to the design burden.
Why no fireball spell to start with? Will Amadeus ever reach his true potential?
Who knows – perhaps if he starts focusing more on his magic than on wooing girls… but I don’t want to spoil too much for the uninitiated! I think we’ll have to wait a little bit to find out what really happens to him, so stay tuned. :)
One of the cool things about the game is the wizards ability to conjure things based on mouse gestures, how are you going to translate that to the PS3 version? Are there any other changes you have to make to the PS3 version?
We were actually very surprised how well the gestures work on the PS3. Before we started working on it, we had thought of having the face buttons create objects – the square button for a box and so on, but then we just tested the gesture system as it was and it was great. Basically the PS3 version is very close to the PC version, accessing co-op is a bit easier thanks to drop-in drop-out style of multiplayer and the controllers, but that’s pretty much the only major difference. Maybe someone could say that a platformer is more natural on a console in general, although we feel that it works quite nicely on a keyboard and a mouse too – and you can of course plug in a gamepad on PC as well.
Any update as to when we can expect to see the PS3 version? Can you talk about what the holdup has been? Any chance this will make it's way to Xbox Live Arcade in the future or not?
There were a few bugs in the game which had to be fixed, and this was totally our fault. There’s also been some issues out of our control – but finally it looks like the game is soon being released on PSN. And while we have an Xbox 360 version more or less running on our development tools, at this point an XBLA release looks a bit unlikely. We’d love to do it though, and if I have learned anything from the past it would be “never say never”. If it happens, then that’s great, and if not, we’ll just have to be happy about the PC and PSN versions.
It seems like a game like Trine would be the perfect candidate for DLC, any chance we'll see some in the future in the form of new levels or characters?
There will be more Trine, but in what form, I can't comment yet.
What were the biggest lessons you learned during the development of Trine? Is there anything you'd do differently if you could go back and do it over?
We would do everything differently except the game itself. Well maybe we would change the last level a little bit, as it’s a little bit too different from the rest of the game and it’s also slightly more difficult (although we addressed this with a patch, so hopefully it won’t be a problem to new gamers). But everything else we’d do differently - the production was a huge mess and the launch had multiple problems, and the missing online features and price and platform hassles haven’t helped either.
Any tips or tricks for players who have picked up the game or are going to pick it up in the future?
The best way to enjoy Trine is to take your time and explore even the wildest of possibilities. Use the physics to your advantage. And don’t overlook the Knight – he’s a very handy character and he has the ability to throw around objects, so he can fill in for the Wizard at times. Of course, the infamous last level asks the player to think outside the box a little bit, but at least with the Easy difficulty level it shouldn’t be too hard anymore after the patches (you can change difficulty when you die, so don’t worry about it in the beginning – we generally recommend Normal difficulty for most players).
Is there more than one ending to the game?
Well, that depends. But if you don't count your screen flying out the window due to frustration, there isn't. :)
For a smaller studio what's the hardest part about developing a game in this market?
Getting a quality game finished is always a huge challenge. Usually this means a lot of cuts to the original plans, and after that it’s always a small miracle when you deliver a solid experience.
Anything we missed that you think is important?
I think we’ve covered it all. Maybe I should mention that we’re working on a new patch for the game (1.05 for those keeping track) and it’ll hopefully be released within a couple of weeks. And also, keep your eye out for the PSN version, and let the spells be with you!
As always we'd like to thank Lauri for taking the time to answer our questions.