We all know that Twisted Pixel's 'Splosion Man is a great game. But do you know how it was made, what went into it, or what mistakes were made during its development? I didn't either, until I attended Mike Henry and Sean Riley's postmortem on the game at GDC Austin. There, they dished out the story behind it all, with lots of 'splosions and meat throughout.
Hit the jump for a summary of Mike and Sean's thoughts on 'Splosion Man's journey from an unpolished project to one of the most critically acclaimed games on XBLA today.
Mike and Sean's opening slide bore the words, "Making an XBLA game in six months.. what were you thinking?" Looking up at it, the guys laughed and responded, "Just don't try to make a game in six months. But if you have to.." So began the postmortem for Splosion Man, Twisted Pixel's latest and best selling game.
Focus was another thing that they feel they did right making 'Splosion Man. "Think only about what's most important about the game," they told the audience. In their case, the most important thing was polish. Mike and Sean both admitted that having that as their focal point was kind of silly when working on a six month model, but they felt that not having enough polish was the "biggest trap to cause the game to fail".
They also had some problems with networking. They had to retrofit 'Splosion Man into Live online play, and if they had not gotten an expert to help them out, they may not have been able to make the online multiplayer work. Not focusing on that at the beginning was definitely a strike against them, and something they will know better than to do next time around.
Going back to the cuts they had to made, they lamented the fact that they did not know how painful it would be to take things they would have really liked to be in out. Better death animations, better boss functionality, and better tutorials would have been in the game if time were not a factor. But they felt like they would have been unable to polish the game with so muh extra stuff in it, so again, they stripped it down to what really mattered. It seems their biggest regret is making themselves so pressed for time, but they seem to have learned their lesson.
To wrap things up, the guys took a few questions from the audience. The first person asked why the six month schedule was chosen in the first place. Surprisingly, they answered that they wanted the game to be ready for XBLA's Summer of Arcade. Statistically, it's the time of year when Microsoft puts the most effort behind marketing Live games. It's also set during a great time of the year to release a game; it's before the Christmas rush, and in a dead zone where not a lot of other new games are coming out at the same time. Twisted Pixel wanted to get 'Splosion Man in so that it could reach more people.
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