PAX East 2011: Gunstringer Preview
While I was at PAX East , I got to take a look at Twisted Pixel’s newest title, Gunstringer for the Kinect, which has a lot of unique gameplay mechanics. I interviewed Jay Stuckwisch, one of producers showcasing the game.
Jay Stuckwisch (JS): So, we’ve got Gunstringer here.
Tyler Thomas (TT): And that’s a Kinect title, correct?
JS: That’s right.
TT: So, what’s the backstory behind this marionette here?
JS: So, you control an undead marionette cowboy–you’re actually the puppeteer controlling him–in a play. We set up the beginning to show you everybody coming to see you. We actually added a lot of live-action sequences–people responding to how you do as you play the game. You run around the game–it’s a shooter-on-rails, and basically you paint over the enemies with your right hand, and with a recoil gesture over your solider, you hit all of the targets. With your left hand you control his left-to-right movement and move your hand up to jump. It takes a bit of coordination but…you pick it up really quick.
TT: So, is the humor in this game similar to Splosion Man/Ms. Splosion Man?
JS: Yeah, it’s kinda Twisted Pixel’s thing; we like to bring a lot of humor into each of our games. While this game looks a bit more serious, there’s still a lot of humor in this game.
TT: Like the human hands and feet that I just saw?
JS: (Laughs) Yeah, yeah, we’re always trying to break that fourth wall; it’s the developers, they’re in there . They can help you or hinder you–you can’t really tell; you have to feel it out. But yeah, we have a lot of fun with all of that full-motion stuff.
TT: I’ve gotta say, this is very cool. I love the marionette character.
JS: Yeah, we designed him after a real marionette we made for modeling when we shot our live action stuff that we had help from Jim Henson’s [Studio].
TT: Oh, wow! So you’ve got a Muppet, basically, who’s shooting bad guys.
JS: Yeah, they’re dolls and puppets; the whole game is set to have that homemade look: cardboard trees, backdrops, characters made out of straw, out of yarn, and some Henson-looking faces, even. It’s got a unique look and feel to it.
TT: Now, I just saw this ‘Texas Fisherman’ pop-up. What’s that all about?
JS: Well, when an enemy like that appears, there’s a slo-mo pan that shows a little blurb about them, about who you’re shooting at.
TT: And now I see that taco there.
JS: Yeah, that’s one of the power-ups you can get. the taco fires him up and makes him run faster and doubles your points as long as you keep hitting targets.
TT: When is this game coming out?
JS: It’s still a work in progress yet, but we’re going to have a release date this spring.
I then got to play a round. Like Jay said, it was tricky to start playing, but I got used to the controls quickly. Another part I liked was that there was a narrator that actually announced your actions–painting six (the maximum) targets would make the narrator say something like, “He lined up all six of his targets,” in an old, Western style of talking. It was a good touch of humor and personality; I’m really excited for this game, and I hope to play it again soon!