Ole Teglbjærg from Press Play was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer a few of our questions in an interview regarding their upcoming WiiWare platformer Max & the Magic Marker. You can check out the full interview below to find out what he had to say to Nintendo Life.
Nintendo Life: Can you tell us a little bit about your company to kick things off?
Ole Teglbjærg: Press Play was founded by Mikkel Thorsted and Rune Dittmer in 2006 when they graduated from the university. Now the Copenhagen-based studio employs nine people full time and a few freelancers and is engaged in a number of projects. Most importantly, right now is of course the final development of Max and the Magic Marker.
NL: How long has Max & the Magic Marker been in development?
OT: The early prototype of the basic drawing mechanic was made in early 2008 and was made in Flash. So all and all it has now been 1½ years. However, this is mainly due to the fact that we have had to focus on making money on client projects to keep the development of Max running.
NL: How did you come up with the idea for the game initially?
OT: The idea of combining a drawing mechanic with platforming is a result of what was going on in the world of gaming and must importantly a lot experimenting. Looking back, we can see our influences must have lay in two main trends in gaming at the time. The first trailers of Little Big Planet had been released and we all thought it looked awesome. Also a number of games relying on a drawing had success e.g. Crayon Physics and Line Rider. And we are also fans of those.
Then we had just bought a Wii, and the combination just seemed obvious. At the time we had been working with the Box2D physics engine in Flash and had a pretty good idea of how to implement a drawing mechanic. It was immediately fun to play around with and a number of iterations made it so good that we decided to move on with this project.
NL: Can you tell us a little bit about the actual gameplay in Max & the Magic Marker?
OT: The objective is to defeat the monster Max created himself using the magic marker. In order to do so, the player must overcome enemies and obstacles through a number of worlds and levels.
The magic marker is of course what makes the game unique. Everything you draw with the marker becomes physical objects. That means they will fall to the ground when you let go of them. So very often you have to construct some sort of device utilizing the laws of physics, in order to get from A to B – taking advantage of what is already in the level. The only thing is, that in order to draw, you must first pick up the ink, which is scattered around the levels as pickups.
Also the game incorporates a freeze mode, where everything is frozen (Max’s motion and gravity in general). This feature resembles the notion of taking a step back from your drawing and going out of the imagination of Max. When you are in freeze mode all graphics are converted to childish doodles the way Max drew them (and not how he perceives them). This allows for the player to be extra precise with the drawing and provides the time to think extra hard when that is needed.
NL: How much freedom will the player actually have when using the Magic Marker?
OT: The freedom is complete. It has been a goal from the very beginning not to rely on pattern recognition, but to allow for the player to draw anything.
NL: Was it difficult to develop a game that allows the player so much interaction with the actual gaming environment?
OT: No I’d rather call it a premise for the concept. The intention all along has been to allow the players to come up with their own solutions to our puzzles, and that has been why we’ve needed such a free drawing mechanic. And this has proven to come through. When designing a puzzle, we typically have one solution in mind, but when we test it, it very often turns out that there are a number of other ways to succeed, and that is very rewarding.
NL: What controllers are supported with the game?
OT: Right now our full focus is on the Wii. The nunchuk will be used to control Max, while the Wii remote controls the marker.
NL: Will there be any online features or possibly downloadable content for the game?
OT: No, not in this version. This is mainly due to the maximum size of WiiWare games.
NL: Is there one particular aspect of the game that you're especially proud of?
OT: There are a few things which I think sets this game apart from others. First off there is the freeze mode as described above. The whole conversion to childlike drawings, the change of music and the “stepping out of imagination”, just works so beautifully. And it allows players find their own style – some people like to be very precise and take their time solving the puzzles. Others just want to get from A to B and rely more on their fine motor skills and reflexes.
Secondly I have a pleasure in the secrects which are hidden in all levels. Certain objects can be interacted with in different ways, and if handled correctly they will give the player a reward. People seem to value this exploration of the physical environment immensely.
NL: Did you find it difficult to stay within the 40MB file size limitation of the WiiWare service?
OT: Yes, it is a limit, and with a game like ours, with such extensive graphics, it has been a challenge.
NL: Any idea when we might expect to see the game released on the WiiWare service?
OT: I know it is a boring answer, but all I can say right now is that hopefully this fall (if everything goes well)
NL: Do you have a price point in place yet?
OT: No, this is on the todo-list…
NL: Are there any WiiWare titles that have really impressed you?
OT: As many others I’m a big fan of World of Goo, which I’m proud to be compared to. Also I’m a huge fan of Swords and Soldiers – it’s a beautiful and well balanced game that works extremely well with multiple players.
NL: Do you have any other projects currently planned for the WiiWare or DSiWare services?
OT: We have a few, which might end up on the Wii, but the platforms have not been decided yet. We keep it open as long as we can.
NL: In closing, is there anything you would like to tell our readers about Max & the Magic Marker?
OT: Get your Wii online! There are too many people who bought a Wii and have never played anything but Wii Sports and it’s a shame. There are a lot of good titles available especially on WiiWare, and the prices are fair. So if you are the kind of person who like quirky and innovative titles you should take advantage of this.
And also remember to check out www.maxandthemagicmarker.com. We will keep you updated on the development and the progress, and as soon as we have a release date or other important information we’ll share it.
NL: Thanks you for taking time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview with us.
OT: You are welcome. Best regards!