The original Trine took 2D platforming visuals to a new level with its beautiful aesthetics and wonderful sound. Now that Trine 2 is on its way, we ask CEO and game designer Lauri Hyvarinen from Frozenbyte about the game and what to expect in the follow-up. Trine was a visually splendid adventure that let you play cooperatively with up to three people, working together to overcome obstacles. When playing alone, you could quickly switch between the game's three characters--the knight, the thief, and the wizard--to solve the puzzles on your own. The sequel, Trine 2, is set to be released on Xbox Live Arcade, the PlayStation Network, and the PC in spring 2011.
GameSpot: How did the idea of Trine originally come about? Were you always hoping for a sequel?
Lauri Hyvarinen: The original Trine was initially a very small project by one of our programmers and a couple of trainees. Back in 2008, our then-big project got canned, and we decided to focus solely on Trine. That resulted in a lot of changes.
It wasn't an easy ride, and there were a lot of difficulties along the way, but at the end of the day we were quite happy with how Trine turned out. You could say that we were happy enough but not totally satisfied, so when we knew the game was good and would get some good sales too, we decided to start working on a sequel and put all of our new ideas and visions to use. This happened right around the time the original game was finished, in June 2009. It's been great, knowing that there's a lot of support out there and that a lot of people are waiting for Trine 2!
GS: What's the story behind Trine 2? Could you tell us about the characters? Has the gameplay changed much?
LH: Trine 2 brings back the familiar trio--the wizard, the thief, and the knight--in a new quest to restore the balance of the world. This time the heroes are thrust into the kingdom's old territory, where a new threat has emerged. The story goes a lot deeper than it did with the original Trine; we're really focusing on telling a great fantasy tale with Trine 2.
On the gameplay side, there are a lot of improvements: the heroes get new abilities, there's a lot more enemy variety and all-new unique puzzles, plus many more additions big and small. Last but not least, we have rewritten our whole gameplay engine, which means that cooperative multiplayer is available both off- and online, so players all over the world can now join up and play with their friends no matter if they're in the same room or 10,000 miles away.
GS: The striking visuals and soothing music are what stood out in the first game. Can we expect the same in the second?
LH: We've got our aim much higher this time around. Trine is a beautiful game, but Trine 2 takes things up a notch. We have rewritten our engine, added better shadows and lighting, written all-new shaders, redone all the particle effects, and in general we are using totally new art models, textures, and animations. We've also paid more attention to the levels and the environment to make the world feel more alive.
In short, Trine 2 is going to be one of the most beautiful games out there!
GS: What things did you learn from developing the first game that you will apply toward the sequel?
LH: There are a lot of tiny lessons learned, simple stuff that is easy to overlook during development. Things like not introducing the player to water elements with a huge chasm that looks like a death trap if you jump into it, like in the fifth level of Trine, Crystal Caverns.
That said, most of the bigger lessons are related to the business and production side. Trine was a very tough project to get to completion. We definitely want to make Trine 2 not only a better game but also a better project. Early signs are good; for example, signing Trine 2 with Atlus was a match made in gaming heaven, and we're already seeing the benefits!
GS: Could you describe what is still the same in Trine 2 and which features have changed?
LH: The basic idea of three characters solving puzzles with each character's unique abilities remains the same--yet of course online and offline co-op spices things up a bit, and we're making the game even more enjoyable as a co-op experience, with more focus on character balance. We have added some cool new abilities to make each character have even better puzzle-solving and fighting skills and in general to make the characters more balanced. Some of the puzzles are now way bigger and more complex, but at the same time there's a wide variety of solutions to each puzzle, and each character and character combination has their own solutions they can use, so no one should get stuck or feel useless. When you're playing Trine 2 in co-op, you're going to have a lot of fun no matter which character you're controlling.
We have also done some tweaking to the RPG-ish elements of Trine 2, mainly the character upgrades. We have always wanted upgrades to really mean something in the game--for example, add a new element to the game--and we're sticking to it. The new upgrade system will feel familiar, but it's much more usable and enjoyable.
There's also a wide range of improvements on the technical side, thanks to the rewriting of the whole engine, and this has allowed us to do some changes on the gameplay side, too. For example, players can now save their game at any time in a level, and the game will continue from that very spot. In addition to all the visual improvements, the game should also run at a much smoother frame rate.
GS: What can we expect in terms of the music in the sequel?
LH: Music plays an important part in Trine 2, just like it did in the original game. Trine 2 is going to sound familiar but better. At the end of the day, nothing we can say will accurately describe the music of Trine 2; it's meant to be heard, so check out the trailers and other videos. We'll be announcing more details on the music of Trine 2 in the coming months, so stay tuned!
GS: Cooperative play is always a welcome feature. Have you made any adjustments to this?
LH: Trine 2 is built with three characters and their abilities in mind, whether it's single-player or co-op, offline or online. Trine 2 has a full online co-op mode, and this will be the major difference for most gamers, but we have also paid a lot of attention to make sure that the actual experience is as smooth and fun as it can be. In co-op, players can approach many of the puzzles in a different way, and this provides a lot of fun and replayability for the game. There's also a bunch of tricks that are really hard or impossible to pull off in single-player, but in co-op they become more accessible.
GS: Do players need to have played the first in order to enjoy the sequel?
LH: We'd recommend everyone to play Trine, because it's a great game and we're proud of it, but Trine 2 is a completely new adventure and a great experience even if you haven't played the original. Fans of the original will be right at home with the characters, but the game as a whole is very accessible to new players as well.
GS: Thanks for your time!