Catch & Release is a game development company that is the result of a partnership between brothers James Tillman and Matthew Taylor. The company’s first release was 2015's “Star Billions” for iOS and Android, which they quickly followed with with two additional seasons of content.
On Tuesday, 1/30/18, Catch & Release released their second title, Cold Iron (here is our review). This time, the brothers took on the challenge of developing a VR title for all three major VR platforms. Catch & Release’s Matthew Taylor was kind enough to answer a few questions for Gaming Nexus regarding the conception and development of Cold Iron, and where in the in-game environments the team hid those pesky chickens.
How did Catch and Release form?
I visited James who was going to UNC and crashed at his apartment for the evening. We've always had a great relationship and collaborated on creative projects, but up until that point they had all been music related. I saw an open notebook with some sketches for what would become “Star Billions”, and I convinced him we should pursue making a game together. That's how it all began. I think we're a good team because James supplies the talent and I supply the drive! The both of us have always dreamed of being game developers, and I am so thankful that we've gotten this far.
How long has Cold Iron been in development, from idea to release?
A year and a half. Originally the project had a different name and a fairly different story. The constants have always been our puzzle-shooter gameplay and our talented voice actor, Dylan McKinnon.
Was it a difficult decision to develop for VR platforms?
I think in a lot of instances people just have a pile of ideas and when one finally excites them or the stars align just right, they pick one and go. For us, we knew we wanted to make something for VR because we felt that it was where a lot of innovation was happening, and also a good opportunity for a young team because even experienced developers are still learning what works and what doesn't. Once we decided to make a VR game, we spent weeks coming up with a game that deserved to be in VR, as opposed to shoehorning an old idea.
What was it like developing for three platforms simultaneously? Did you encounter any unexpected challenges?
Tiring! Each company has been very generous with their time and knowledge, but there were plenty of days where I was literally running back and forth between PlayStation, Oculus and Vive versions and testing, testing testing.
What prompted the idea for a virtual reality gunfighting game? How do you feel VR enhances the experience?
I think VR enhances the pressure that players feel. The game is very challenging of course, but the sheer weight of staring your opponent down, feeling the heartbeat in the controller, and being completely immersed can take a situation that's already heated and set it on fire.
The mashup of genres results in something that feels very new and original. What was the thinking behind adding puzzle elements to gunfighting?
I think our instinct was that there had to be a twist at some point, because as much fun as straight up western dueling is, you wouldn't want to do that for 4 or 5 hours. So the puzzle elements were a nice way to change things up and say “okay, now that you're fast and you can aim, can you think at the same speed?” It's a fun balancing act to have players using all their skills at once.
Dylan McKinnon, the voice actor narrating Cold Iron, brings a lot of character and flavor to the game. Were there specific inspirations that you had him look at before recording?
I have to give big credit to Dylan because he's been with us almost since the beginning, and as the game's development and story evolved, he kept refining his character and digging a little deeper with each revision. As a result, a request that started as simply as “Can you do Matthew McConaughey as a cowboy?” quickly evolved into something completely original.
Without spoiling the story, it is safe to say that the game takes some unexpected turns, narratively. How early was the decision made to move beyond a standard Western motif? What was involved in that decision?
That decision was made literally minutes after the idea for a dueling VR game came about. We knew we wanted these crazy situations like dueling a tank, and so the story had to follow suit to get us to those moments. Again, we knew we'd need the extra variety to keep things fresh.
Was it difficult to fine-tune the game’s difficulty? Were there concerns that perhaps players would be unable to ramp up enough to beat the game? Were there any challenges that you removed from the game or toned down due to difficulty?
It was probably the single biggest development challenge. We knew we wanted something that hearkened back to “old school” difficulty, but at the same time wasn't just trial and error like some of those old games could be. We spent months adjusting difficulty curve to make sure players start from humble beginnings and end as lightning-fast gunslingers. There's a real sense of satisfaction when you finally overcome each challenge.
Do you have any plans for a sequel or DLC with additional opponents?
My personal hope is that the game is successful (shocking, I know!) and it allows us to do a lot of free DLC. More opponents would be great. I've also got an idea for an extra game mode using all the existing duels, and that's not to mention all the cool suggestions I'm sure we'll get from players.
What does the future hold for Catch & Release?
More content for Cold Iron and new games after that! We're living our dream at the moment and hoping no one pinches us.
Beyond the first world, where are the chickens?
Chickens love to roost in high places! In fact, now that I think about it, each chicken might be higher than the last...
Thanks again to Matthew Taylor for taking the time to participate in this interview.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
Howdy. My name is Eric Hauter, and I am a 45-year-old dad with four kids, ranging in age from 1 through 17. During my non-existent spare time, I like to play a wide variety of games, including JRPGs, strategy and action games (with the occasional trip into the black hole of MMOs). I was an early adopter of PSVR (I had one delivered on release day), and I’ve enjoyed trying out the variety of games that have released since day one. I’m intrigued by the possibilities presented by VR multi-player, and I try almost every multi-player game that gets released.
My first system was a Commodore 64, and I’ve owned countless systems since then. I was a manager at a toy store for the release of PS1, PS2, N64 and Dreamcast, so my nostalgia that era of gaming runs pretty deep. Currently, I play on PS4, PSVR, PS Vita, 3DS, Wii U and a janky PC. While I lean towards Sony products, I don’t have any brand loyalty, and am perfectly willing to play game on other systems.
When I’m not playing games or wrangling my gaggle of children, I enjoy watching horror movies and doing all the other geeky activities one might expect.View Profile