yea, after reading about it and watching the trailer I'm signed on for it. Mostly interested to see how the Wii Remote will work out being used to draw.
johnnyv2003's forum posts
Yesterday I mentioned a game coming out that piqued my interest by the name of Max & The Magic Marker. The gameplay mechanic of puzzle solving mixed with the drawing of custom objects had me intrigued. Luckily one of the people, Lasse Outzen, behind the development of Max & The Magic Marker was kind enough to answer some questions about the game. Enjoy.
First off, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions about the game.
After reading the site and learning about the history of the game I can't help but be intrigued by your development team. There's only 10 people working on the game, and for awhile there was 8. How has it been like working with a small core of developers?
Actually the team has been way smaller in long periods during the last year. We are currently 11 people in the company but we are working on multiple projects to keep the company afloat financially, so at the moment we are 6 people working on the game itself and 1-2 people handling PR and other administrative tasks. But to answer your question: working in a small team of course has it advantages and disadvantages. On the design level being few means that decisions can be made fast and without any considerable controversies. It is easy to keep work focused and on a straight path. Everybody knows what everybody is doing. On the other hand straight paths are not always the most fun. A small team on a tight budget has less possibilities of exploring new mechanics and ideas simply because of time- and money-limitations but we have developed some simple methods to ensure that we don't lose creativity on that account. Basically we have been forced to be able to identify whether an idea is good or bad very early so we don't waste time straying down too many dead ends.
When it comes to production being few can be quite straining on the team as some areas require more work than others - especially the graphical side of the game has suffered at times but is now picking up after we hired more people. So I guess our experience has been that it is optimal to have a small design team and and larger production team.
I saw a post on your site where you had a 2nd grade ****come in and draw some potential level ideas. Besides being pretty cool for allowing kids to come into your studio and help out, did any of their ideas make it through the cutting room floor? (I'd personally love to see a level concerning the resurrection of Tupac)
We brought in the kids because we really want to give the game a feel of childish imagination. The way kids perceive the world is very hard (or even impossible) to recreate straight out of an adult mind, so we had to have some sort of basis to build on. The kids were great and they gave some excellent input to the game. Especially their take on the environment has been used as inspiration for our design of the different game worlds. So even if their ideas has not made it straight into the game they have contributed largely to the soul of it.
There will not be a dedicated Tupac level but I am sure we will find a way to get the reference in there somewhere :)
Moving onto the actual game. Can you mention what inspired you to create this game from a gameplay perspective regarding the drawing mechanic? Because very few puzzle based games have used drawing for solving puzzles up to this point.
The initial idea for Max & the Magic Marker was coined in early January 2008 and was partly inspired by what was going on in the industry, but also a result of a lot of experiments. At the time we were working a lot with the Box2d physics-engine, which was about the same time the demo of Crayon physics came out. Everybody at Press Play liked Crayon Physics, but we all agreed that the concept of drawing physical object could be used for a lot more than pushing a circle from a to b. We wanted to make something that was more action-packed and less technical.
So the awesome demo of Crayon physics inspired us to experiment with drawing mechanics and we wanted to make a mechanic that allowed for completely free drawing instead of shape recognition. Everybody in the studio liked playing around with the early prototype and naturally ended up discussing how this could be used in a new game. We decided on a platforming puzzler because we had always wanted to do a platform game but definitely also inspired by the awesome early videos of Little Big Planet. We came up with the character Max (in the beginning only referred to as "the boy") because we saw a natural connection between drawing, imagination and a kid like Max. A kid that age is the quintessence of imagination.
After a couple of weeks we had a prototype running in Flash. The prototype did exactly as intended, it was a lot of fun and made us very confident that the mixture of platforming and drawing was right. During the development of the prototype Mike (Mikhail Akopyan / game designer), worked on the concept and made a bunch of sketches exploring the possibilities of the puzzles and mechanics. This made us realise that we were on to something here.
With something like a drawing mechanic, how do you balance the dexterity that it requires? Meaning, how much drawing skill will some of the puzzles require you to have?
Fine tuning the drawing mechanic has been a great part of the early development of the game. Making a game is essentially a question of balancing. If you get that right chances are higher that you end up with a good game, so a lot of time has been spent working on the drawing mechanic. The game doesn't require any complex drawing skills - of course precision is key in certain puzzles but a good imagination will be way more rewarding in order to solve puzzles than being able to draw perfect circles.
In your FAQ you mention that the game will have 15 levels. Will there be multiple paths to beating the levels, i.e different elements to draw in certain areas? Or any other additions to really drive the replay value of the title?
The game is open to any solutions you as a player may come up with. A key design principle for us has been to keep it simple and transparent - everything in the game is constrained by the physics engine only, so whether you choose to climb a volcano using a see-saw, a staircase, a stack of boxes or any other invention you come up with is entirely up to you. We want Max and the Magic Marker to be a game you can play with - not only play.
If you'd like to add anything about the game feel free to do so.
Another very important aspect of the game is the music, created by the awesome Danish band Analogik. When doing the prototype we were impressed by the quirky and cosy music that created such a fine atmosphere in Matt Hamill's praised indie-title "Gesundheit". So we started looking around for smaller bands or musicians that we felt could bring the right atmosphere to Max and the Magic Marker.
The first time we heard Analogik we knew we had a winner. We invited the band over to Copenhagen from Jutland (the large lump of Denmark that's connected to Germany) and found them to be the nicest people imaginable, and they were happy to join in on the project. We stroke a deal with them to make a proper soundtrack for the game and as a bonus it turned out that Asger Strandby (DJ, composer and melodica-player in Analogik) was very interested in computer games and looking for a place to do his internship from Kolding Design School. Since then Asger has been a key member of the team and has been handling all sounds in the game along with doing level and puzzle design.
I just want to say this was a fun and awesome interview. Usually developers give a short or safe answer. Lasse really put some effort into it.
Been awhile since I've seen a movie with such mixed reviews...for every 2 people that didn't like, seems like there's 2 more who do...I'm a pretty big Michael Mann fan minus Miami Vice, hope it turns out good.
I recently bought COD4 for the PC, and originally had it on the Xbox 360. Can't play FPS's with a dual analog, but when the game first came out i didn't have a PC to run it. So anyway, I was waiting until the price of the PC game dropped and I was able to pick it up for a reasonable price.
I took my old 360 copy up to Ol' Buddys. It's a gaming store where I live that offers insane trade-in values. They also sell vintage games, and was able to pick up some great titles, for my COD4 trade-in...
Samurai Shodown (SNES)
Perfect Dark (N64)
Star Fox (N64)
Wrestlemania 2000 (N64)
Thoughts on my bounty?