Twisted Pixel’s highly anticipated debut title, The Maw, arrives on Xbox Live Arcade today.
Captivated by the game’s distinctive characters, epic music and vibrant enemies, El33tonline caught up with Josh Bear, Twisted Pixel’s Chief Creative Officer, to find out a bit more about The Maw and the ideas behind the game.
We get more detail about the inspiration for the game, pricing as well as thoughts about downloadable content and a bit of information about the developer’s next title.
To bring you up to speed, The Maw is a 3D action-adventure where players take control of Frank, a simple alien, who partners with The Maw, a glowing blob with an insatiable appetite that has helped earn him the rather unfortunate reputation of “The Deadliest Organism in the Universe.”
Sound interesting? Then read on for more information about The Maw in our Q and A or head over to our previous coverage of the game.
– El33tonline: The Maw is Twisted Pixel’s debut title and you have been working on the game for a long time now (development started in October 2007) ‒ are you nervous about how the game will be received, whether it will live up to people’s expectations, or excited about the game’s launch given that it has already won various awards including The Pax 10 2008 Audience Choice Award.
All. The whole team is really excited that the game is going to finally be released and that everyone will have a chance to play it. At the same time I think we are all a little bit nervous…we are very proud of what we created with The Maw, but there is always that little feeling in your gut that people won’t enjoy it and that is where that nervousness comes from. I really think once the game comes out though that nervous feeling will go away, lol!
– El33tonline: Are you happy with the price point of the game and do you think 800 Microsoft Points is reasonable?
Josh Bear: I am very happy with the price point of the game. The game is definitely worth more than 800 MS Points, but we wanted to give players a great deal and some incentive to give our game a chance, being that it is our first original IP. “Paul Blartt: Mall Cop” costs $10 to go see, and I know our game is better than that movie. So yeah, I think The Maw is a great deal for players.
– El33tonline: Twisted Pixel has previously stated that you hope to appeal to both the casual and core gamers. Do you think The Maw will succeed in this goal and, if so, in what way will it appeal to both groups?
Josh Bear: I hope so, it is a very fine line. We have tried to incorporate gameplay mechanics that I consider “core” (the plasma leash, Maw powers, platforming) that many players have enjoyed on other platforms and genres for many years. And then the more non-core elements (personality, not being able to die, etc.) are added in to help more casual players get acquainted with the core elements, and show them why we and other players love those mechanics so much.
– El33tonline: Did you draw inspiration from any other games when developing The Maw?
Josh Bear: Lots of great games:ICO, Super Mario World, Ratchet and Clank, A Boy and his Blob, Wild 9:little bits and pieces of memorable games that we always remembered and thought would be great to put into The Maw. I think all the games I mentioned above have great personality, and that was the core idea of our game.
– El33tonline: You have chosen console digital distribution ‒ why did you make this choice and will you consider making games for the PS3’s PlayStation Network or Wii’s Virtual Console service in the future?
Josh Bear: Console digital distribution is still relatively new but it is very exciting. It is also a great way for a company of our size to make console games, as the alternative is going with a publisher and then you begin to lose control and lots of other things. It is also very hard to convince somebody to give you millions of dollars on an unproven or new IP. That is why there are so many terrible licensed games. It is about the bottom line most of the time. I do think that situation is improving however. As for other platforms, I am a huge fan of PSN and WiiWare and those are distribution channels that Twisted Pixel would definitely be interested in for future games.
– El33tonline: Award winning composer Winifred Phillips has composed music for well-known games including God of War and Speed Racer. Why did you choose to collaborate with her and what helped to inspire the vibrant jazz soundtrack?
Josh Bear: Winifred is not only a great composer but she is a great person. I met her at GDC before we had even started The Maw. I went up to her at a party and pitched her the game, and she took the time to hear me out even though I was a nobody, lol. Once we had a demo ready, I met Winifred and her producing partner Winnie Waldron and they agreed to do the game on the spot. I love the sound that Winifred brings to her game compositions:lots of instrument layering and great vocals. She is passionate about her work and really gives each game she works on its own personality. I knew she would be perfect for The Maw, and I think her soundtrack is incredible for the game.
– El33tonline: It is clear that an incredible amount of effort has gone into creating the characters, ranging from their unique names to their detailed backgrounds. It was your aim from the start to create characters with more personality and humour than other games ‒ why did you decide to do this and do you think you have succeeded?
Josh Bear: Personality was decided on because it is what we love in a lot of the games we play. As much as I love originality and gameplay, it was characters and personality that brought me into the world of games when I was younger. A lot of games have gotten away from that, and I hope The Maw takes a step forward again in getting people interested. I think we succeeded in getting people interested in Frank and Maw (our two main characters) and wanting the chance to control them and see what they are all about. Even if the game bombs, that still means success to me.
– El33tonline: We know that the game will feature a lengthy single player experience. Any chance of a multiplayer aspect appearing in the game or being added at a later stage?
Josh Bear: The game will remain single player. We love multiplayer games but The Maw’s focus is the single player experience, and I would hate to muck that up by trying to throw in a multiplayer component that doesn’t fit. Multiplayer would be great for our next game though…
– El33tonline: Are there any plans to release downloadable content for The Maw?
Josh Bear: We always have plans…plans for conquering the world, plans for making more awesome games, and I have a plan to buy a new car since mine just died. Plans for downloadable content though? I have to think about that one, lol. I will get back to you on it.
– El33tonline: We are still eagerly waiting to see what you have under wraps for the ‘Store’ and ‘Contest’ tabs on The Maw website. Any clues about what we can expect? Could it possibly be cool T-shirts or more Mawquette figurines?
Josh Bear: Awesome, I’m glad you noticed that on the site. We will be unveiling what we are doing with those two tabs very soon. I think players will be pleased with some of the cool stuff we will have. I definitely think someone needs to own one of our Mawquettes, they are pretty awesome. So stayed tuned and check out the website.
– El33tonline: Are you currently working on any other titles and, if so, when can we expect an announcement and more details?
Josh Bear: We are currently working on our next original IP and we are very excited about it. I think people will really enjoy it once we announce it. No other details than that right now, but I am looking forward to telling you more about it!
– El33tonline: Any last words for the fans?
Josh Bear: You guys are awesome. We really hope you enjoy The Maw, and all of Twisted Pixel looks forward to making more cool games for you.