Interview With Wicked Games

What are your future plans for SpyCorp now that it’s been so heavily overhauled – will you take a break to work on upcoming projects, or do you think you’ll be revisiting SpyCorp yet again in the near future? Are we likely to ever see the “Duet” multiplayer mode that you had in mind long ago, or might that idea be reserved for future games?

We have other projects in the works, but SpyCorp isn’t done. It’s headed to the Mac app store, and the iOS version is getting an update for iCloud support, physics tweaks, new animations for our female spy, and a few other things. We also plan to bring it to PC as a standalone game, and Android is on the horizon.

We have toyed with adding “daily missions” that are procedurally generated every 24 hours, and of course multiplayer co-op, which is the duet mode you mentioned. These things may appear in SpyCorp if the game does well enough to warrant the investment, or we may use them in other games. The decision will be made more or less in collaboration with our players, in the same way we executed the previous updates to the game.

I’m aware of two titles Wicked Games has in the pipeline, the first being Word Ninja. What’s that going to be like, and do you have a release date in mind yet?

Word Ninja is a hybrid of endless-runner and word game. After the level design experience and depth of SpyCorp, Kris and I both wanted to do something a bit smaller and lighter with procedurally generated levels instead of hand-crafted levels. Word Ninja is that game. It should be released this winter, though we’re currently balancing its development against a couple of contracts we’ve taken on for other studios, so we can’t pin it to a specific release date yet.

And there’s another game you’ve described as interacting with whatever music track the player is running on his or her iDevice. What can you tell us about that so far, and how awesome is this for you to be working on, considering you’re a musically inclined programmer to begin with?

I know a great many coders who are also musicians, so I don’t think it’s quite as rare as people might think. There are some deep system similarities. Thinking in terms of scales of eight notes and thinking vertically and linearly across a musical staff is similar to thinking in terms of octal and hex and a program’s multithreaded flow of execution over time, and building up from there to a structural and compositional level. But those similarities are a subject for a whole other article by someone more lucid than me.

As for the game, I don’t want to say a lot just yet, not because it’s some big secret but because staying relatively quiet at this point is a motivator for me to keep working on it. It’s a 3D music game but not a rhythm game, and it’s one I’ve had in mind for quite some time. It’s a procedurally generated game in which the visuals are created based on characteristics of the music, so each level is generated by a song. It uses audio fingerprinting to work with any audio track on your device – or even nearby over-air, playing on a television, for example – instead of relying only on canned pre-sequenced tracks.

I’m very excited about it, though there are some interesting technical challenges for me to resolve first. When a reasonable beta version exists, you’ll be among the first to know!

As for future titles: I love games that tell stories. As a kid, my favorites were the old Looking Glass titles, and I’m a big BioWare fan. Though games with stories have fallen out of vogue in favor of games that are pure mechanics, I still expect to focus on story-driven experiences because that’s what draws me in, and I expect the art will focus on character design and animation because that is Kris’ great talent and strength. We can’t count on having that elusive hit, but the advantage of being an indie is getting to make games we care about without chasing business models.

Huge thanks to Sean Neville for taking the time out for an in-depth chat with us about the doings at Wicked Games! Check out the Wicked Games website, Facebook page, and Twitter account for the latest news, and let’s leave you with Sean’s and Kristopher’s personal websites so you can find out more about what each is up to.

And don’t forget that Spycorp is being featured in one of this week’s giveaways!