I've been following the development of one of the most impressive third-party games coming out for the Nintendo Wii: Mushroom Men. However, there hasn't been much information regarding the original title. I'm in a unique position now, though, that when I'm curious about a game, I can just ask the developer. I thought it would be a nice treat to share with you guys a gift that was bestowed upon me this week. Here, just for you loyal SE readers out there is an exclusive interview the the lead designer for Red Fly Studio (the developer behind Mushroom Men), Ryan Mattson.
Vyse the Bold: Greetings Ryan! I've been a huge fan of Mushroom Men ever since I first saw it. The first thing that catches my eye is the art style. What was the major influence for it?
Ryan: Dan and Kris, the founders of Red Fly Studio, weren’t originally envisioning the particular art style you’ve seen in our concepts. But Frank Teran, our concept artist, applied his personal touch (which is nothing short of amazing), and the team ran with it. We’re not too cartoony, we’re not hyper realistic—and because we don’t adopt an extreme, we’re afforded much more leeway to simplify or exaggerate, and render the game and create gameplay that serves the vision and the player. As for material inspirations, they range from all over. The Oddworld Inhabitants’ works, 1950s monster movies, even the strange microcosm of our own back yards. (No, really, have you seen Microcosms? It’s pretty cool.)
From what I've seen, Mushroom Men is an intensely action driven game and the combat seems to be the cornerstone of the game. How are you going to incorporate the unique controls of the Wii remote into frantic gameplay?
The Wii Remote and Nunchuck need to be a usable interface to the game and, more specifically, to the combat. We’re really trying to get players to move away from waggling the Wii Remote to attack. So while you can waggle, and the character reacts to the waggle, there is much more incentive not to with a system we’re working on which allows attacks to be primed (for increased damage, and combos) before they’re executed. The attacks become deliberate. Combat, at a higher level, involves more strategy. And we’re having a lot of fun with this right now.
I saw that there's melee combat as well as gun combat. Does the melee combat have any sort of combo system? How does the melee combat differ from that of Twilight Princess's?
We’re working on combos that are much more about player action and intention in given situations. The similarity to Twilight Princess is that sequentially executed moves can chain together. The difference, the bulk of the combo system, lies in the choice players have of which moves they want to chain.
I saw that you can create new weapons from junk lying around the levels. This sort of mechanic sounds like it encourages the player to explore the levels thoroughly for these items. How important is this adventure aspect to the game?
Exploration is a huge component, especially given the rich world we’re creating. Which is the real world, but we still get to take a lot of liberties with the environments, because it’s not our real world, it’s the mushroom tribes take on our world. You’re right about the mechanic encouraging players to explore the levels more thoroughly, though, and that’s a nice side effect to having the Scav system. The more players explore, the more items they can utilize. The environments look amazing, though, so players who naturally want to explore will end up collecting the Scav items anyway, and players who just want to collect Scav items will have a nice view while they’re collecting. It’s a win-win.
Lately gamers have been loving the concept of the Xbox Live Achievements they can unlock by completing certain tasks in games. Even Metroid Prime 3 had its own achievement system. Have you considered adding a similar system to get players to explore your game further?
We’ve considered an achievement-like system. If we do it, it’s something we want to spend time on as we polish our levels and systems to make sure we get the most bang for the buck. Our game would certainly lend itself to this kind of system.
Multi-player modes seem tacked-on in certain action titles. How does Mushroom Men stand out from the pack? What do you have planned to hook players on the game and make it a must play at gatherings?
If we’re tacking on multiplayer, we’re doing a disservice to players. Why not just focus on a single-player experience, right? Multiplayer in Mushroom Men is about experiencing the systems and environments competitively against friends. The Wii is a social platform, and we aim to use it.
Are you incorporating Nintendo Wi-Fi into the game?
Too early to tell, right now. I think we’d love to, but Wi-Fi’s something we want to do right if we do it at all.
I've seen that you wanted to create a totally different game for the DS version instead of a port. How exactly does the DS version of the game relate story-wise to the Wii version?
Mushroom Men for the DS is a prequel to the Wii version. The DS version is more about the early evolution of the mushroom tribes, while the Wii version focuses on the emerging war between the poisonous and edible mushrooms.
Does the DS version employ the system's unique control options as well? What can you do specifically with these control options?
The DS has a balance between the buttons and stylus. Most of the gameplay control is done with the buttons, but the stylus is used for things like inventory, as well as more advanced features like using certain weapons and player tools.
I'm assuming that you have some sort of connectivity between the two versions of the game. What sort of things can we expect from that?
We’re concentrating on the individual games themselves, at this point. But it’s still early. Everyone here likes the idea of connectivity, though. Stay tuned.