A little while ago, our attention was grabbed by a neat project at the DigiPen Institute of Technology called Perspective. Perspective is a very cool amalgam of 2D and 3D gaming that has to be seen to be fully understood. We had the chance to chat briefly with a few members of the development team about their game. Meet: Eddie Peters (Artist), Pohung Chen (Producer) and Jason Meisel (Design Lead)…
TT: In the trailer, the avatar looks a little Mega Man-esque, and by “a little”, we mean “that’s totally Mega Man, right?”. Is this a placeholder graphic or was the intent to pay homage to one of the most enduring platformers of all time?
EP: In the design phase, very little inspiration was actually drawn from the blue bomber. Looking at the animation however, the jump pose in its current iteration is absolutely influenced by Mega Man’s iconic hop. A lot about Perspective’s avatar sprite is still subject to change. I wouldn’t call it a placeholder, but it’s evolving.
Games that make the jump from 2D to 3D typically have a rough go of it; for every Duke Nukem, there’s a Paper Mario, a Rayman and a Sonic. How do you feel your game will avoid the pitfalls of other 2D/3D shifts?
PC: Some of the 2D/3D shifting games we’ve been compared to require the player to think in dimensional slices. Both Fez and Crush are very orthogonal in their use of the 3D camera. Perspective takes a more direct approach when going between 2D and 3D. What you see is what you get. What your eyes perceive is how the world behaves.
Teaching the rules of moving between 2D and 3D to the player is a challenge that Perspective shares with many of the games we’ve been compared to. We’ve put a lot of time and effort into teaching new players exactly how our world behaves and the trick is to lead the player to the right place and make every moment feel like an intentional discovery.
So where, then, did you draw your inspiration from? We have mentioned other games that have dealt with the mixing of 2D and 3D concepts like Super Paper Mario; another one is Echochrome. What sets yours apart?
PC: Games like Fez and Echochrome explore the 2D platforming space with a twist of using camera movements to change up the game-play. Perspective really isn’t a platformer in the traditional sense. The platforming elements in Perspective aren’t and shouldn’t be difficult. It is more of a first person puzzle game where you try to figure out how you can line up your Perspective to allow your 2D avatar buddy to traverse through the level.
Another game that has similar mechanics to Perspective is Shadow Physics. One thing we noticed from watching videos of Shadow Physics is that it’s not always clear how the 2D character is going to interact with the world. It is playful and sometimes surprising. One decision we made from the start when making Perspective was we wanted to make sure the rules of the game are clear. The tricks you use to get through the level shouldn’t be arbitrarily defined. It really should just be direct consequences of the core base mechanic.
How worried are you that the open-ended nature of Perspective might lead to some unintentional solutions? Or is that the point? Will you be at all disappointed if some enterprising gamer blows through the whole thing in an hour thanks to some clever camera tricks?
JM: Making levels for this game is a very iterative process. The first step, just designing the intended solution, is easy. The hard part is having people solve it in other ways and figuring out how to prevent them from doing so (unless the new solution is just as rewarding, in which case we keep it in).
That all said, I’m sure people will be posting videos of their triumphs over our designs. I’m fact, we plan on encouraging it. The most important thing is that people have fun with the game, and we’ve already seen that for a lot of players that means breaking it.
How far are you hoping to take this?
PC: We’re not entirely sure yet. There are still a lot of exploratory areas of the game that we are trying. We really look forward to seeing how people respond to the new ideas we’ve been coming up with.
What platforms will you make this for?
PC: This will be a PC-only release.
Would you ever consider a motion-detecting hand-held platform for this game?
Thanks for talking to us! Our readers can check out Perspective here! »