If a picture is worth more than a thousand words, Snapshot just caused an inflation. To talk about this we sat down with David Carrigg from Retro Affect to discuss their upcoming PS3/Vita game Snapshot.
PSM: For people who aren’t familiar with your studio Retro Affect, can you say something about your work previous to Snapshot and about your team in general? Does everyone do a little bit of everything, or do you have specific areas to work with?
David Carigg: I’m David Carrigg, Software Neurosurgeon, and together with Kyle Pulver, Master Gentleman of Design, we are Retro Affect. Generally, we both do a bit of everything, but we also have some specific roles. I handle everything when it comes to the technical aspects of the game, or any of the programming. Kyle handles art and level design. Anything that doesn’t fall into one of those categories is sort of split up just by whoever wants to do it, or whoever has the extra time available.
Additionally, we’re also collaborating with some other awesome people. WiL Whitlark is composing all of our music, Jordan Fehr is creating sound effects for the game, Jim Buck from Twitchy Thumbs Entertainment is helping with the PS3 and Vita versions, Jonathan Grzybowski is providing additional art, and we have a janitor who cleans up a lot of the messes I make.
PSM: What is the story behind Snapshot and portraying the protagonist as a robot?
David Carigg: I don’t want to ruin the game too much. I’ll give you with this really short teaser: The game starts with PIC, the robot character you play in Snapshot, turning on for the first time in an old dusty lab. As you venture out into the surrounding forest, you wonder why you were built. You’ll slowly learn about the world around you, and the role you, and your camera, play in it.
PSM: How did the gameplay mechanics evolve and were there ever alternatives you considered at some point?
David Carigg: The core mechanics have always been the same. The basic idea is you can take a photograph of an object in the world and it’ll be captured in the picture. You can then paste the picture you took back into the world and all the objects will fall back out.
We started with this core mechanic and worked on it over time to see how it would interact with different elements of the world. For example, we really loved how it interacted with physics. When you capture an object in a photograph, and of it’s physics properties (velocity, momentum, etc) are all retained. When you paste the photo back into the world, the object will fly out in the direction it was previously moving in. Coupled with being able to rotate the photographs when you paste them, you’re able to send objects flying all over the levels.
There were definitely a lot of ideas that we considered but just couldn’t make work in the end. One part in designing the game is that as we create new mechanics, we wanted to make sure the game would still be an interesting challenge. A lot of our ideas seemed to make the game incredibly easy, or incredibly hard.
PSM: How closely does the final game compare to the original idea, and how many different iterations did it go through before it was finalized?
David Carigg: The original game was a short prototype made back in 2009. After the prototype was nominated for Excellence in Design at the IGF, the game was recreated from the ground up. Aside from the core mechanic being the same.
The main idea behind the game is the same, capturing objects within a picture, but a ton has changed. Now the game has a stunning new look, way more levels and puzzles, story, acheivements, different environments, and a whole bunch more.
PSM: Did you ever contemplate using the built-in camera of the Vita in any way?
David Carigg: We’ve thought about it, and haven’t completely ruled out the idea. It seems like a natural fit because our game is about photography, but our big challenge is what could we use it for that would be fun and interesting without feeling too much like a gimmick.
PSM: Where did you find the inspiration and influences behind the art and presentation?
David Carigg: The original art for the prototype was heavily influenced by games like Yoshi’s Island. When we started to remake the game, we wanted to take that art style and modernize it. What we have now is a beautiful high resolution, which looks absolutely fantastic on a high-definition television, or the screen of the Vita.
PSM: How long do you expect the campaign to last for an average player?
David Carigg: From our playtests it’s taken anywhere between 5 to 8 hours to complete all 100+ levels of the game. That time totally depends on how fast you solve the puzzles, and if you’re trying to get all of the collectibles hidden in all the levels.
PSM: Did you ever think about including Co-op in the game?
David Carigg: It was an idea at one point, but we decided not to pursue it. Multiplayer is definitely something I want to include in our next game.
PSM: Since the game will release on both PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita, will there be any cross-platform features?
David Carigg: Saved games will be shared between the two systems. If you own both copies, you’ll be able to save a game on your PS3 and continue playing it on your Vita.
PSM: Are the trophies platform dependent, or will they unlock on both systems when you earn them?
David Carigg: That’s entirely up in the air at this point. We haven’t solidified what the trophies will be yet, so we’ll need to wait and see.
PSM: Now that Snapshot is almost finished, what other fun game ideas does Retro Affect have for the future?
David Carigg: The ideas are definitely flowing. Unfortunately, we’re still super busy trying to finish up Snapshot so we can’t start creating prototypes quite yet.