Interviews: Mateusz Makowiec & Piotr Łatocha - Heavy Fire: Special Operations
Posted by Sean Aaron
We catch up with Teyon to find out more about its latest WiiWare game
Teyon has been a pretty big supporter of both WiiWare and DSiWare lately and with a new war-themed arcade shooter approaching release we thought we'd find out a bit more about the company, its newest WiiWare game and plans for the future. Mateusz Makowiec, the VP for Sales and Marketing, and Piotr Łatocha, the Project Lead for Heavy Fire: Special Operations were kind enough to answer a few questions for us.
NL: Tell our readers what Teyon is all about: where have you been; where are you going?
MM: Teyon has started as a small development studio a few years ago in Krakow. Since then many things changed for us. We are a fast growing company with studios in two cities and over 40 people engaged in games and technology development. We want to deliver great games to all platforms and become a leading developer and publisher in this part of Europe.
NL: Teyon was founded in Krakow - is the Polish games development community a large one and do you have contact with other Polish developers like Gamelion?
MM: I think we met guys from Gamelion at E3 some time ago, but we don’t really see each other often, they are based far away. We stay in touch with developers from Krakow (like Tate Interactive or Reality Pump), actively cooperating with them and AGH University of Science and Technology in order to teach students how to develop games. Polish games development community is still rather small, but growing each year.
NL: Thus far your WiiWare and DSiWare releases have been exclusively released in North America, yet you're based in Europe - why is this and are there plans to publish your games in Europe?
MM: We will release all of our games in Europe, it’s only a matter of time. Publishing games in Europe is more complicated than in the U.S. (several ratings, translations and more tests). It takes us a lot of time to make our first European DSiWare release, but I’m sure we’ll improve from this experience and new games will be available more quickly. I think one of our DSiWare games has already passed Nintendo of Europe tests so it should be available pretty soon.
NL: You've had multiple games released on the DSi and are preparing your second WiiWare title for publication, Heavy Fire: Special Operations. Have these platforms been successful for you; is there anything you think could be better about the WiiWare and DSiWare services?
MM: The games are successful and there will be more. As always we appreciate all marketing efforts from Nintendo, but I’m sure they could promote the services even more. Also it would be nice if we could have a little bit more freedom with publishing (pricing, release dates, patching etc). Anyway, the services look healthy and we’re happy to support both of them with our line-up.
NL: Heavy Fire: Special Operations appears to be a light gun or "rails" shooter set in a modern military setting against insurgents in the Middle East. What influenced your choice of game style and setting? Given the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq doesn't having a gunfight in front of a mosque (as depicted in the game's debut trailer) seem controversial?
PL: We wanted to use a setting that is related to modern conflicts and looks exotic. The Middle East fits. Iraq and Afghanistan are present in all medias every day, so instead we created an imaginary conflict in Somalia, taking place somewhere in the future. The story is all made up but if you look at the history of this country, you can find similar situations to the one that’s presented in the game. Just take a look at ‘Black Hawk Down’ directed by Ridley Scott, it was one of our inspirations. We never intended to make the game controversial. The scene depicted in the teaser shows in fact a palace not a mosque as many people think. However, we’ve decided to change this scene, so there will be no further doubts about what it is.
NL: With a war-themed shooter, the audio has undoubtedly got to be spot on in order to immerse the player in the experience. What has been your approach to the game's sound design?
PL: In military games sound design is always important. We wanted to show the chaos surrounding real military operations. Shouted radio messages, calls for more ammunition or reinforcements, underscore how operations change dynamically and sometimes against the original mission plans. I think we were able to show this specific atmospherics quite well, especially given the WiiWare limits.
NL: The game features interactive and destructible environments - did this give rise to any coding problems or was development relatively headache-free?
PL: We didn’t have issues with coding, the only problem was to adjust our ideas to the platform limitations. We had to choose which elements should be implemented and which not. It’s always hard to decide, but hopefully you will like our choices. Some elements introduce a bit of strategic planning to the game-play, though it’s still arcade. Also, we added plenty of combos and bonuses allowing players to get additional points for the spectacular destruction.
NL: Will there be key narrative points that players will strive to reach, or will the game primarily be action-based?
PL: There’s a coherent plot throughout the missions, however the story isn’t the most important element. It’s an arcade game, so the accent is on the game-play and action. We used to play the old-school light gun coin machines and we wanted to introduce a bit of this type of game-play.
NL: Are there any unlockables in Heavy Fire that players can look forward to?
PL: Depending on how good you play and how many points you score, you advance in the military hierarchy and unlock new weapons. However, your main goal remains to make the highest score and medal (e.g. for finishing the game without being shot) possible. We will reveal all details before the release date on the game’s official site - which by the way has just been updated with new information.
NL: How close is Heavy Fire to publication? Is there anything that didn't make it into the final product and if so, how come?
PL: Heavy Fire is just a step from being published, it’s already finished. Of course we always want to add as many features as possible but on the other hand we’re limited by the service and the budget so we can only use some of them. But we believe our selection of features, the visual side of the game and most importantly the game-play make a strong product and we hope you will like it as much as we did during the development!
NL: Is the more serious tone of Heavy Fire: Special Operations an indicator of a trend for future projects or are more all-ages titles in the works? Can you reveal anything about your upcoming games (we understand there's another DSiWare puzzle game in the works called Super Swap)?
MM: We will keep a diversified line-up, so there will be titles for various audiences. Heavy Fire indicates that we’re introducing new genres to our line-up. That being said we’re still working on several cool puzzles. Super Swap will be released pretty soon. We all hope you will like Heavy Fire as well as our other games. Greetings to all NL readers!