Q&A: Fuzzyeyes on Edge of Twilight
Fuzzyeyes Studio CEO Wei-Yao Lu chats with GameSpot AU about its upcoming next-gen game and the state of the Australian games industry.
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Edge of Twilight is an upcoming futuristic action-adventure game from Queensland-based developer Fuzzyeyes Studio. GameSpot AU recently caught up with Wei-Yao Lu, CEO of the company, and asked him to go into a bit of detail about their upcoming game. Anyone keeping an eye on the local industry would also be aware that the GDAA have made some progress in regard to federal government incentives. In light of this, we ask Wei-Yao about his thoughts on the state of the local industry.
GameSpot AU: There's limited information available on Fuzzyeyes' upcoming game, Edge of Twilight. Can you explain to us what it's about?
Wei-Yao Lu: Edge of Twilight is an action adventure game set in a steampunk alternate fantasy world that has been split into separate realms of day and night. The story revolves around the clash between two very different civilizations: the industrial Atherns and the spiritual Lithern. Players will take the role of Lex, an outcast bounty hunter who happens to be the only remaining halfbreed in the world and thus holds the unique ability of transferring between the two realms.
We are aiming for a more thought-provoking and mature storyline with Edge of Twilight. During his journey through this bizarre world, Lex will confront a number of complex situations that may distort his, and the player's, view of right and wrong. The storyline avoids the clichéd "good vs. evil" direction and instead presents more topical themes such as greed, genocide, oppression, and loneliness, drawing parallels to today's societies. Players will not be forced into deciding what is right or wrong; instead, they will be left to think for themselves about where they stand in the endless grey area between the two.
Gameplay in Edge of Twilight will involve and even split between action and adventure elements. It is primarily based on the two parallel realms and how Lex's abilities change between the two (and how best the player will use them to progress). For combat situations, we are introducing a sense of life-and-death struggle in every encounter. During the day realm, Lex is much more brutal and forceful, whereas in the night realm he is more swift and agile. The way in which players interact with the environment and tackle enemies will depend on the realm they are in and the nature of these enemies, forcing them to think on their feet and decide what is best for each encounter.
GS AU: What sort of, if any, multiplayer features will Edge of Twilight feature?
WL: Edge of Twilight has been designed as an immersive and original single-player experience since day one. We felt that multiplayer would have not suited the goals we set out to achieve and would have definitely taken focus away from the single-player portion.
GS AU: Edge of Twilight is being developed for the Xbox 360 and PC. How come you aren't developing a PlayStation 3 version as well?
WL: A PS3 version is definitely within the plans, but at the moment we are focusing all our efforts on making sure the game performs as best as possible on the Xbox 360 and PC platforms.
GS AU: How big is the team working locally on this?
WL: We have 35 people located in our Brisbane studio as well as our second studio based in Taiwan. We also have a very strong external team supporting us with production.
GS AU: Which publishers are you looking to work with?
WL: Our publisher will be officially announced soon.
GS AU: How far away is the game before release?
WL: Currently, I cannot comment on this. However, preproduction began in late 2005, and we have been in full production for a while now.
GS AU: How have you found it developing games in Australia?
WL: It's really difficult to find a financial institution that supports game development in Australia. We were lucky to get seed funding nearly seven years ago when we first began, and with that we were able to release a few titles, including our latest, called HotDogs HotGals (Hot Dog King in North America). Nowadays we are getting a stable income e from our previous sales, but like every other Australian game studio, we just have to spend wisely. Every dollar counts.
GS AU: How easy is it for someone straight out of university to get into the local games industry?
WL: It's still rather difficult; however, Fuzzyeyes is one of the few studios that aren't afraid to hire graduates. For all those interested in getting into the industry, my best advice would be to build a strong and unique (very important) portfolio and also try to get some kind of work experience, whatever it may be, even as a volunteer tester. Every little thing helps in finally getting that job position.
GS AU: We noticed that Fuzzyeyes has founded an organisation called FSEC, with the goal of training people in game development. Can you explain to us exactly how it works?
WL: Yes. FSEC stands for Fuzzyeyes Skill Enhancement Centre and is mainly used to recruit talented graduates from overseas. Once an applicant at FSEC is successful, they are placed in an educational institute, and meanwhile we provide them with work experience. If they do well, we simply hire them, sometimes even before they finish their studies. They can then choose whether they want to work for the Brisbane studio or one of our overseas studios.
GS AU: How would someone interested in applying for FSEC go about it?
WL: FSEC is an overseas (non-Australian) resident service. If anyone would like to know more about it, they can contact one of our FSEC consultants (email@example.com) where they will be provided with all the necessary information.
GS AU: Where do you see the local games industry in five years' time?
WL: I think it's obvious the Australian game industry employs a large number of talented people that have shown their ability in creating great games for international markets. I think, with more government support (for example, removing the payroll tax) and easier access to grants for startup companies, the industry may be able to grow further and sustain itself.
The Aussie dollar is really strong now. Unfortunately, this is not all good news for local developers. Our income is mostly in US dollars. Overseas buyers (especially those seeking for OEM/ODM) will start to move away from Australia. We need to produce our own IP and export it to international markets. And we need support from both federal and state governments to achieve this.
If we don't act soon and conditions remain unchanged, we will find ourselves in a very tough situation going forward, having lost most of the advantages we held initially. We can still turn this around but change is needed sooner rather than later.
GS AU: Wei-Yao Lu, thanks for your time.