It wasn’t Kingdom Hearts 3 . It wasn’t Syphon Filter 5 . It wasn’t a Final Fantasy VII remake. We’ve kept the secret for so long, some were even thinking it might be Team ICO’s new project at first, but of course, that turned out to be The Last Guardian . Now, after a year and a half of silence, the mammoth PlayStation 3 exclusive we at PSXE have known about for a very long time has hit Sony’s E3 press conference like a thunderbolt .
And in compensation for faithfully keeping our mouths shut, Eat Sleep Play founders David Jaffe and Scott Campbell agreed to an exclusive interview concerning their hot new Twisted Metal project. They should also send us some screenshots within the next few days. The following are responses by both Dave and Scott; these guys were facing an extraordinarily busy day, and we really appreciate them taking the time to talk with us mere hours before storming the stage.
PSXE: This E3 announcement is a surprise, isn’t it?
“Well, not to us. ‘laughs’ Dave- We’ve known for about four months that we’d be announcing it at E3, which means we’ve had to lie…I mean, flat-out lie to the press and everyone. You know, ‘we’re not making the game’ and all that. But E3 is like Christmas for gamers, and you don’t want to spoil the presents before Christmas.”
PSXE: Is this a reboot of the franchise? If so, how much of the Twisted Metal story and character histories can we expect to be preserved or carried over?
“Yeah, I’d call it a reboot. We have the story and fiction; we’re showing the characters and really focusing on the multiplayer experience and the team play. What we’re showing today is only multiplayer but the fiction still exists, there is of course a single-player component. The characters are still there and they’re really cool but right now, we’re talking about the online multiplayer; we’ll get into other aspects later. But it’s absolutely not a multiplayer-only game. We had originally said it would be online-only like Warhawk but then we did focus testing and brought it to Sony, and there was resistance to that idea.
We sort of kicked and screamed about single-player; we thought we were done with stories and we wanted to focus on multiplayer. But a lot of people involved said we’d go down the wrong path if we didn’t bring in the single-player aspect. Now, it’s a full-product idea and we found we were totally jazzed to talk about the stories. You were always kind of locked into a single-player campaign in Twisted Metal, anyway and besides, it’s been years since there’s been one, so we had to give the fans everything.”
PSXE: How long has the game been in development; from concept until now?
“I think it started about six months after the doors [of Eat Sleep Play] opened. We did Head-On and Calling All Cars; cranked those out, and then we started laying down some tech and an online foundation for the multiplayer. We knew we wanted to do a multiplayer game and we were always planning a new Twisted Metal, and asking ourselves what we wanted in the new game.”
PSXE: Has development largely been handled by Eat Sleep Play, or has Sony given additional help?
“For the first two years, it was exclusively just us at Eat Sleep Play, although we outsourced some of the art. Recently, Sony’s been great; they’ve jumped in and have been doing some online and audio support. Dave- Obviously, I worked for Sony for a long time and I was always on the Sony side, so it’s been really amazing to be on the other end of that, and see how much support Sony gives to the studios they hire to make games. They just have really great production support and PR and everything; they’re just a great group to work with. People always ask me, ‘why don’t you guys go multiplatform,’ and I’m not saying we won’t think about that someday, but honestly, we have such a great relationship with Sony. We’d actually be scared to try to find that somewhere else.”
PSXE: What really sets this new Twisted Metal apart from other series installments?
“We’ve asked ourselves that same question a lot. We asked that when we started talking about a new Twisted Metal. Scott- Obviously, there are lots of new modes and we’re focusing on the whole team aspect and multiplayer, which we haven’t really exploited in the past. It just turned out to be a really fun way to play the game. There’s more variety in the vehicles, there are more weapons, more characters, and all that. Today, we’re going to talk about one particular mode; it’s called Nuke and it’s like a Twisted Metal take on Capture the Flag. In that mode, you get two Factions – the Clowns and the Dolls [a nod to Sweettooth and Dollface, of course] – and there are two huge statues being carried around by helicopter transports. You have to kidnap the Faction leader and then earn a missile to launch; there are also exterminator vans and other new stuff. So you keep the team play but you still have that fast, frenetic pace.
Dave- The biggest thing is that when we first started, we said, ‘here’s what we want do do:’ Scott and I have always loved split-screen gaming; all that camaraderie and trash-talking and everything, but when you go online, you lost that ‘sitting next to your buddy’ vibe. Two or three hits and it’s all over; you can’t really build any sort of relationship with each other. It happens so quick. So one of the things we wanted to do was bring that ‘sitting next to your buddy on the couch’ feeling into the game.”
PSXE: What kinds of weapons and abilities can we expect? Will we see Specials from the old games?
“Scott- Yeah, we’ve refined old specials from past entries but now there’s also an Alt-Fire to the Special. Every special weapon will have two attacks; one is more strategic-based and the other one requires a little more skill but is – not sure how to say it – a little more aggressive, I guess. Dave- But also, this is the first time cars will have both a driver and a gunner; the gunner actually leans out of the car with a sniper rifle or missile launcher. And you can’t get out of the car like in GTA; we actually tried a version where you could get out of the car, but we just couldn’t reconcile the speeds [between driving and being on foot]. And we really wanted to stay true to vehicle combat. You’re driving a car at 160mph and fighting against a person an foot, and it just never lined up and was never satisfying.
Also, remember that GTA has a little more realistic physics. And that doesn’t work in Twisted Metal; we always go back to more arcade-style physics because it’s really hard to do car combat when you have to wait six seconds to get to a fun speed. We’re still looking at maybe getting out of the car down the road, but that would mean an adjustment to the physics. Oh, and we also added the helicopter so that has opened up a whole new element…lower a magnet and pick up buddies, use the Gatling Gun; you can even do straight-up air combat! Furthermore, because we’re using Factions in this one, characters can use any of the vehicles; the characters and vehicles aren’t linked like they used to be.”
PSXE: Do you think this is a game that caters to both veteran fans and newcomers to the series?
“When we first sat down to talk about what the next TM would be, we didn’t want to only cater to the hardcore gamers. We wanted to create a version that was more accessible to the masses; bring in new players and let them just ‘pick-up-and-play.’ At first, we weren’t sure if we should keep the default control system; so many people are used to the gas being one of the shoulder buttons. And because we use every button on the controller, it’s not like walking into a GameStop kiosk and giving Burnout a try, but the classic control setup makes it significantly better. The pacing is so intense and there’s a lot of firepower so the hardcore can always make those quick decisions, but we spent a lot of time playing around with the controls. We found we can keep that high tempo while keeping it accessible, and we’ve done a lot more with awareness. We’ve added radar, damage indicators (where missiles are coming from); you know, simple FPS stuff we never had.”
The only question is whether or not we can bring all the excitement and fun to everyone…we really don’t know. I guess you never know. But I think we’re confident we’ll deliver a really fun game.”
Again, we want to thank Dave and Scott for remembering us and offering to do this interview; everyone was true to their word throughout this whole secret-keeping process. Wouldn’t it be great if the entire world worked this way…? Well, anyway, we couldn’t possibly be more excited about the new Twisted Metal ; some of these details just had me grinning like crazy…a gunner and a driver, characters getting in any of the vehicles, helicopters, new Specials and weapon options, the totally sick multiplayer facet; it all sounds exactly like the next-gen TM we’ve always wanted. It'll be out some time next year.
E3 gameplay video Part I:
And here's Part II: