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Exclusive: Getting Into Sync With Dead Pixel Entertainment's Wii U Exclusive First Person Shooter

Posted by Damien McFerran

"The GamePad is a highly flexible piece of equipment"

If you're trying to get the attention of the average Nintendo fan, mentioning Metroid usually has the desired effect. When Dead Pixel Entertainment announced Sync for the Wii U eShop earlier this year, that particular tactic worked wonderfully; of course, the Wii U exclusivity, intriguing storyline and attractive prototype screens didn't hurt, either.

The game has now moved from the design phase into full production, and we caught up with Dead Pixel's Ravi Jayant and Wesley Kwang to talk a little more about the game, as well as the studio's other title, Starbeast.

Nintendo Life: Can you give us a little bit of background information on the talent you have at Dead Pixel? What titles have your team members previously worked on?

Ravi Jayant: Dead Pixel is comprised of a very passionate team of people who haven’t finished a game before, but have immense experience in design, 3D art, concept art, music, writing, business development and programming. Many of us have gained a lot of experience working with one another through various other projects. We have met with various successful game developers and companies who have offered great words of wisdom which helped us move forward with this company. Once we became official Nintendo developers, it helped us gain some solid footing and helped everyone focus towards a common goal.

What's the storyline behind Sync? Will it be your typical run-and-gun FPS title, or are you aiming for something a little more cerebral?

Ravi Jayant: Since we first announced Sync, some major changes have been made to the storyline. Unfortunately, we can't talk too much about it because everything is changing as development moves forward. In terms of gameplay, Sync is a very unique kind of game portrayed through the first person perspective. Players could go guns blazing and power through the game — if they want to lose. The focus of the game is exploration and discovery. We want players to think with their head and find the best way out of the situation they might be in, instead of just using their gun.

Wesley Kwang: We tried to steer away from your typical first person shoot ‘em up type of game. I thought it would be refreshing to have your gun be a tool first, rather than an offensive weapon. Oh, and keep in mind there will be a lot of puzzle elements built into the gameplay. We want the players to adapt to different situations and styles of gameplay.

You've already mentioned Metroid Prime being an inspiration for Sync. Can you elaborate on this a little? What elements are you looking to borrow from that series?

Ravi Jayant: Honestly, the game was initially inspired by Metroid Prime specifically in terms of progression and storytelling as well as a little bit of gameplay. Now, the game has evolved into something that is much more unique. However, through the platforming mechanics, HUD design and weapon mechanics, players will feel a hint of Prime, while enjoying a very unique game.

Wesley Kwang: Originally, it was supposed to be a very simple game with no story, and it was supposed to be completed within a month. But after constantly revising the game, a story got added, weapon mechanics got added, and it just blew up there. I think in reality, the game started to write itself.

Have any other games or movies influenced the design or gameplay seen in Sync?

Wesley Kwang: Portal really influenced the environment. It had a very minimalistic, futuristic look to it that was very elegant. The gameplay was initially influenced by Adam West’s portrayal of Batman. I’ll just leave it at that, I don’t want to give too much away yet.

Ravi Jayant: Wesley is right. When he had told me his idea, I knew we could create something extremely special in terms of gameplay and progression. Obviously, I was inspired by Prime, but it goes beyond just Prime. Metroid as a series was a huge influence on the way players progress through the game. I was also influenced by Tron and its hyper-technological world. 2001: A Space Odyssey also influenced the design of the visual style.

How do you plan to make use of the Wii U GamePad? Will we see any unexpected innovations?

Ravi Jayant: This is an interesting question, because our ideas include some very unique features that haven't really been implemented in any game to date. One of these features include the use of the touch screen on the Wii U GamePad as an alternative control scheme. We don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll just leave it at that.

Wesley Kwang: Well, with the introduction of the Wii U GamePad and all of its functions, we honestly came up with too many ideas. The GamePad is a highly flexible piece of equipment and the possibilities are seemingly endless right now. The problem we are facing is choosing which mechanics to implement to make the gameplay intuitive, and seamless.

What aspect of Sync do you think gamers are going to be most impressed by?

Wesley Kwang: Hopefully the entire atmosphere of the game. We are focusing more on the feel of the game, more in terms of design and gameplay. We hope these elements come together to make a very immersive experience. We really want players to be completely sucked into the world.

Ravi Jayant: I believe that today's technological advancements have allowed groups of people — indie developers and even AAA developers — to create some exceptional gaming experiences. I hope that players will feel like the character they play. I want players to talk and think about the game even after they have played it fifteen times over. I want this game to be an extremely immersive experience.

You've mentioned previously that you intend to be quite aggressive when it comes to pricing the game. I know it's possibly too early to say, but what kind of price point do you expect to launch Sync at?

Ravi Jayant: Unfortunately, it is very early to say, but when the game launches, we are planning on having a special "early bird" price for gamers who decide buy within the first week of the game's launch.

What has it been like working with Nintendo so far? Has the company given you any input or feedback?

Ravi Jayant: Working with Nintendo has been fantastic. Honestly, it's a dream come true for me. They are very responsive. Very supportive. They have, in fact, recently given input regarding the project and it was epic. Let's just say, they are impressed with our work. Comments like these really help motivate the team and pushes us to work harder to get more compliments!

The Wii U's commercial struggles are well documented. Have the slow sales of the system given you any reason to reconsider making Sync exclusive for the console?

Wesley Kwang: No. Although there are commercial struggles, the Wii U eShop is still quite new, and we see this as an opportunity. Besides, Nintendo has been known to release very unique games that no other companies are willing to even attempt; that and their history for making awesome games such as Zelda, Earthbound and Mario Kart gives us a lot of confidence in Nintendo’s vision of what games can be, not what they should be.

What's the estimated release window for Sync?

Wesley Kwang: Everything is extremely organized and moving along smoothly, so we are predicting an early Spring release in 2015.

Can you tell us a little about Starbeast, your other project? What kind of game will that be?

Ravi Jayant: We are being extremely tight-lipped on the basic premise of Starbeast. Everything about the game is evolving at such an alarming rate, we would prefer to not give out information about the project that will become outdated. I will say that we hold meetings and focus our efforts towards the early design of Starbeast, frequently.

How does Starbeast fit into your plans, giving the ongoing production of Sync?

Ravi Jayant: Honestly, it feels really good to take a break from Sync, from time to time, and talk Starbeast. We are all very passionate about it and believe it will become special, but we don't want rush it, which is why we are focusing our efforts on Sync while the early planning and concept phase for Starbeast slowly moves forward in the background.

Wesley Kwang: We’re basically taking it slow with Starbeast.

You seem to be pretty passionate about supporting the Wii U, but what about the 3DS? Are you tempted to work on that system as well, given its unique hardware and massive audience?

Wesley Kwang: Absolutely, I love the 3DS and what it has to offer. Unfortunately Sync’s design was created with the Wii U in mind, but hopefully we have a chance to design games for the 3DS in the future.

Ravi Jayant: We have a few ideas, but nothing concrete. That being said, one aspect of the 3DS Wesley and I both love is the connectivity the system offers. Expect Dead Pixel to utilize that to its fullest.

What's the biggest challenge when it comes to running a small indie studio? And what's the biggest benefit?

Wesley Kwang: Not having the resources that established companies have and lack of experience. It is a huge struggle everyday to just keep track of everything and to keep progressing at a steady pace. Plus as a start-up, we were completely new to a lot of business practices, and we didn't know our strengths and weaknesses. It took a lot of trial, error and research, but it is starting to pay off. Also, working with an awesome team, meeting new people and having a lot of creative freedom is something that drives us to put in so much effort.

Ravi Jayant: The biggest challenge for us has always been the funds. However, everything in the industry is changing and development is getting cheaper. I’d have to say our biggest challenge has to be the small team, which I believe isn't really a challenge at all. Since there is a small amount of people assigned to do multiple tasks, we struggle to stay on schedule. However, our team is comprised of people we trust and are motivated to work with us because they believe in our projects.

Looking beyond these two titles, where do you see Dead Pixel in five years time? Will you continue to support Nintendo platforms exclusively?

Wesley Kwang: I can’t say for certain. In all honesty, we are only focusing on Sync right now, and there are too many uncertainties to plan that far into the future. Not that we don’t have a plan, but a lot is riding on the success of Sync. Nintendo’s platforms offer such potential that some games can only be released exclusively on them.

Ravi Jayant: We have a bunch of ideas that would only work on a Nintendo console. Obviously, those would be exclusives. So yeah, in our near future, we are planning on supporting Nintendo greatly. We believe that if Sync is successful, this is just the beginning of Dead Pixel's journey.

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User Comments (59)

sinalefa

#5

sinalefa said:

Wow, they really took the "FPS have no colors" thing very seriously ;)

But color me interested!

ClockworkMario

#6

ClockworkMario said:

@MrV4ltor
Those pictures have a sterile feel bit a kin to the first Portal game, but other than that, yeah I haven't seen many similarities either.

It'll be interesting to see how this develops. It's not a insta-buy yet, but that might change when they start to release proper trailers.

DBPirate

#7

DBPirate said:

Too bad. Wii U eShop only. Wii U needs retail games. Oh well. As long as its enjoyable. Hope it's given a good score!

WanderingPB

#9

WanderingPB said:

It has this futuristic space vibe…im very interested to learn more about the game and early adopter discount too? SWEET!

Shambo

#15

Shambo said:

Seems very interesting. I love how everyone who ACTUALLY tried to work with Nintendo is nothing but positive about them these days, while big companies still milk that same dead cow of lame excuses.

True, Nintendo has obviously learned a lot too the past few years, but they actually learned from it, instead of swiping it under the carpet, and blaming consumers with false arguments. Their introspective E3 event humour, the awareness shown of what people over the internet say and want, the new and old IP's shown, the actual gameplay over boring and lengthy press conferences with pre-rendered movie clips and teasers, the third party games they revived with so much love and care put into them and freedom given to the original developers,...

If they lose the soul of gaming they are currently holding so high, I quit this hobby, since they're the last console developers that still understand gaming. They can ask me to 'please understand' any delay, any day, since I know the product will benefit, and so will the gamers, in the end.

OneBagTravel

#18

OneBagTravel said:

Speaking of Portal, why didn't Valve ever release it on the Wii U? Seems like it would be a perfect match.

FragRed

#19

FragRed said:

@OneBagTravel I would say because those games have been out for a few years now, so pretty much most people already own it either on PC or Xbox and PS3. Also I don't see Valve taking any real interest in selling on a Nintendo system for some reason.

Gerbwmu

#21

Gerbwmu said:

I'll hope for the best and wait on a review in 2015. Variety is good and I hope we see more different and unique experiences on the eShop. The more games the better chance each of us have to find a game we can't put down.

eaglebob345

#24

eaglebob345 said:

@kereke12 What's wrong with it looking like Portal? Except for the big budget, generic, cookie cutter FPS', the smaller ones seem to have unique gameplay.

I am interested in this, Q.U.B.E., and Portal. I should get Portal when I get a PS3.

Kirk

#25

Kirk said:

The other consoles get absolutely world class stunning looking fps games like Battlefield Hardline, Call of Duty: Advance Warfare, Evolve, Titanfall, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege, Alien: Isolation, Destiny etc and Wii U owners have to settle for some random indie fps title that may or may not be half decent.

AyeHaley

#26

AyeHaley said:

This sure looks promising! I love Wii U and I try to buy every game that looks interesting to play on it. That includes this game and several other amazing indie titles.

eaglebob345

#27

eaglebob345 said:

@Kirk With a little luck, it may just be as good as or better (gameplay-wise) than most of the big budget snorefests out there.

SecondServing

#29

SecondServing said:

@accc

Why? If anything no Wiimote support, day one buy. The Wiimote was a horrible piece of kit. I'm glad it's in the past now.

Dpishere

#30

Dpishere said:

All you have to do is say that it has gameplay similar to Prime and I am super interested!

Dpishere

#31

Dpishere said:

@Kirk I am not a big shooter fan, though I LOVE the Rainbow Six series of games and Tom Clancy games in general. Can't say I have very much interest in the others, and seeing as most of the Wii U fanbase isn't into shooters either it makes since that those other consoles get them since that is where the market is at. I do plan on getting one of those consoles in order to satisfy my third party craving for games like Elder Scrolls, the next Splinter Cell, and many more.

eaglebob345

#32

eaglebob345 said:

@Kirk I can't speak for anyone else, but I am about tired of staring down the barrel of yet another cod/bf/halo/kz shooter-esque shooter. The only this Destiny has that is ok is aliens, which they wasted (imo) on yet another FPS.

ricklongo

#33

ricklongo said:

@SecondServing Amen to that, brother. I never owned a Wii, and keep wanting to play that console's best games on my Wii U's Wii mode... but the wiimote requirement is always a dealbreaker. I hate it with a passion, and I'm glad it's more of a peripheral now than a required element of Nintendo games.

accc

#34

accc said:

@SecondServing If you played any shooters on the Wii and failed to notice the massive increase in control accuracy versus dual analog, you're about as perceptive as Helen Keller.

ricklongo

#35

ricklongo said:

@Kirk Which is why you should go with the other consoles if you enjoy first-person shooters, and that's totally okay. We should be glad that, with the current setup between major console manufacturers, there's something for everyone in the market. Two twin consoles at one given time is more than enough, thank you very much; the last thing I'd want is for my Nintendo home console to go with the flow and become just another box dedicated to gritty, brown-and-grey testosterone fests.

Sean_Aaron

#37

Sean_Aaron said:

I think the Gamepad can work very well for first-person games - just use the motion control aspect rather than twin sticks. That way Wii Remote fans like me will be happy!

Looks like an interesting game and they seem like an excited bunch with the right attitude.

brandonbwii

#39

brandonbwii said:

@Kirk
You're opinion is valid, but honestly, do you have to buzz kill EVERY possible announcement. You have very respectable opinions and great insight. I just wish you would let people ride their own hype train once in awhile and let even the fanboys have their fun without resorting to "well Sony/MS gives us this, this and that while Nintendo only does this."

TTGlider

#40

TTGlider said:

All I can say is: 'wow' This appears to be one of the absolute must-watch third-party Nintendo games of 2015. I'd like to hear more about the actual gameplay, but so far this sounds outstanding.

BoltedArc

#41

BoltedArc said:

@Kirk wait we got CoD right? We didnt get BF4 and we don't need hardline that game is trash or a reskin of bf4 and honestly the fps genre is stale , titanfall failed big time and other shooters like em are just the same old story over and over same gameplay over and over, but we are getting devils third which looks awesome especially the multiplayer!

BoltedArc

#42

BoltedArc said:

You know what we need another madworld or tatsunoko vs capcom, I would love those or a new red steel hd version hmm maybe a viewtiful joe ! yeah I played that like no tomorrow hmm onimusha would be nice, you know so many great games came out yet no one wants to do hd versions causr now would be a great time to release them or updated versions of them!

AndyWARbear

#44

AndyWARbear said:

How anyone can write off a game at this stage of development is beyond my comprehension. I look forward to seeing the games progression... And the implementation of the gamepad.

LightSuitGuy

#45

LightSuitGuy said:

Looks fairly interesting! All the Metroid talk has me hoping we hear of a new title in the works before Sync's release date. (Fingers crossed!)

@SecondServing You're kidding right? The Wii remote made playing games like Metroid Prime Trilogy, Red Steel 2, Resident Evil 4, and most FPSs released on Wii MUCH more intuitive, unique, and precise than traditional analog controls.

SecondServing

#47

SecondServing said:

@accc
I always appreciate the demeaning comments, thanks. And yes I have played many shooters on the Wii. Awful experience.

@Austroid
I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that point a controller at a screen, and using it to control a camera is not only very, very irritating, but also very tiring. I prefer using a joystick, and I can't see that changing in the near future.

TheLilK98

#48

TheLilK98 said:

@SecondServing I completely agree, but there's no point in trying to reason it out with them. In my experience I've found that most people who swear the wiimote was the perfect controller aren't going to listen to anything to the contrary.

erv

#49

erv said:

Lol at the "we don't know the gameplay yet but we need a suchandsuch control system!" comments.

By the way, don't be silly launching against the splatoon timeframe. So many games are published at time frames that hurt them.

brandonbwii

#50

brandonbwii said:

@SecondServing
Just because it's tiring doesn't make it bad IMO. There was some great motion controlled stuff and it was the ONLY thing that made Wii standout from it's competitors. It also brought magic back to games by focusing on the joy of physicality instead of competition.

jariw

#51

jariw said:

I can't see how holding the Wiimote could be tiring, since the device is pretty lightweight (unless you play for hours at a time without break). I play Pikmin 3 pointing at the screen with the Wiimote for fairly long sessions without any problems.

element187

#55

element187 said:

@TheLilK98 or maybe you are just terrible at adapting to different control schemes, and that is fine, most gamers aren't skilled enough to adapt. It's why Wonderful 101 got some really lousy reviews complaining about the controls...... A skilled gamer can adapt to the situation instead of throwing their hands up and giving up because it isn't a traditional twin stick game.

Using the Wiimote in a first person game requires a faster reaction time and some practice. It's quick and precise. Something that twin sticks lack...... Do you see any PC gamer giving up the mouse/kb in a first person game for the twin sticks? Probably not often, you can find those twin stick PC gamers at the bottom of the leaderboards at the end of every match.

Like I said some gamers cannot adapt to new control schemes. Since they have played twin stick controls for so long that any new idea that comes along and challenges that they flip out because they cannot adapt. But don't let lack of skill force you to say the Wiimote sucks for fps when it's almost as good as a mouse/kb, but certainly better than twin sticks by a mile in a first person game.

Don't believe me? Why does every shooter on consoles have auto assist aiming turned on by default? Because twin stick controls are imprecise, console gamers would never land a shot, which wouldn't be any fun which means no console gamer would ever purchase a shooter that didn't have this option enabled whether they understood the point of this option enabled or not. Yes that's right all of your console shooters use the CPU aim for you, all you have to do is get the recitical near your target and the computer does the rest.....

Call of Duty still to this date will not open up online play between PC gamers and consoles because console gamers would be utterly destroyed as virtually all PC servers running this game force all clients to disable this option when they connect because it is cheating, making players feel like they are good at something they are actually pretty terrible at.

Kirk

#56

Kirk said:

@brandonbwii

Unfortunately I feel compelled to do so.

:-o

I know it's brutal for you guys who just want to enjoy what you've got but I feel like if people like me don't repeatedly make these relevant points then it's never going to filter back through the Internet to some random person at Nintendo and then it's never going to get fixed. At least if I keep banging on and on about these things every chance I get, on multiple sites, then there's some chance with the Internet being what it is that it might eventually gather some traction. It may really annoy you guys and I get that but this is the only [simple day to day] way I can think to make Nintendo maybe eventually hear people like me and maybe finally give us what we want too.

I don't think it's fair that only the most loyal Nintendo fans, who are far more easily satiated than people like me it seems, should get to be happy with the console when I'd absolutely love to be too. I used to totally love and adore Nintendo, back in the NES, SNES and even the N64 days for the most part (despite a couple of issues with the ole N64), and all I want is that Nintendo back again and it's well within Nintendo's power to achieve that imo. So, I keep banging on about all the things Nintendo is doing wrong as I see it (when an appropriate opportunity arises) in the hope that one day someone in a position of influence and power at Nintendo will hear "me" [all the tens of millions of people like me] and one day they'll do it right again.

Hey, when I'm happy I can guarantee you we'll pretty much all be happy as a matter of default* but until then...

*Yup, that's me presuming I know what would ultimately be best for most of us and I'm not afraid to say so because I've spent 20+ years [Note: I'm well older than 20] playing, pondering, studying, reading about, watching, working in and creating this stuff, that I believe I do actually know.

ACK

#58

ACK said:

@TheLilK98 Not even a little bit. Dual analog are casual FPS controls to me. Auto-aim, low precision, slow turning, sloppy button layout, etc. I was raised on mouse + keyboard and I've never viewed DA as anything other than a necessary evil. Playing with DA controls is like playing on a Gameboy to me. It's functional but poorly optimized.

That said, I like to play on the couch and the Wiimote is the best alternative so far. Similar to M+K, it requires significant customization to find your sweet spot and ideal configuration, but once I find it, there is no comparison. The Wiimote gives me the speed and precision to play how I want. Dual analog always feels as if I'm coping with the clumsy accuracy (auto-aim always goes off for me) and struggling to find the fluidity I desire in an FPS.

EDIT: It's not tiring in the least. I pivot the Wiimote on my thigh. So comfy. I never, ever hold it suspended in the air when aiming. Fix the bounding boxes, crank up turning speed, etc... Once I set it up properly, all I need are small wrist movements (knowing your own preferences is crucial). It's less tiring than DA (sore thumbs) over long stretches.

TheLilK98

#59

TheLilK98 said:

@element187 Lol ok, so because I don't like the wiimote its a given that I can't adapt? I find that pretty ironic personally considering you brought up The Wonderful 101, one of my favorite games on the system (which, by the way, uses twin stick controls anyway. Yes I know it isn't an FPS but that doesn't exactly drive your point home regardless) I have no trouble adapting to anything, I simply, like many others, don't like the wiimote. It doesn't have anything to do with adaptation. You like the wiimote? Cool, that's fantastic for you. But demanding the wiimote be supported on a console with a completely different controller is contradictory to your twin sticks vs wiimote argument. While I also prefer keyboard and mouse, and agree that it is the superior control method, I don't play many fps in general, so insinuating that I'm a dudebro who think's they're amazing with twin sticks isn't exactly an apt description. Also, wiimote by no means needs fast reaction times. My eight-year-old cousin has no problem with the wiimote, and his reflexes are terrible. But let's just agree to disagree.

TL:DR I don't have any problem using the wiimote. I just don't like to.

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