Twisted Pixel’s Jay Stuckwisch took time out of his schedule to discuss Gunstringer, Ms. ‘Splosion Man and beards. For this we are grateful.
So, a couple of weeks out from Ms. Splosion Man making its way to market, is the office pleased with the generally positive critical reception thus far or did you expect a different reaction? Were there any sticking points?
Yes! The response for Ms. Splosion Man has been great, better than we hoped! We were happy to see a pretty high score on Metacritic, and a lot of people saying that in making a sequel we “did it right.” Pretty nice response for the little lady.
How did the idea for the character come to fruition, and who stuck their hand up in a meeting and suggested a wise-cracking, macarena-dancing, tip-toeing teenage girl with a preference for horrible song lyrics?
Well, the idea for Splosion man came from a brainstorming session and was basically thrown out there as a joke. Keeping the momentum of that joke going the joke rolled on for more of the meeting and before we knew it a game idea emerged. After completion of Splosion Man we again joked it would be funny to do a Ms. Splosion Man, ala Ms. PacMan and again, an idea was formed out of clowning around. However, we knew she couldn’t be a carbon copy of Splosion Man, so we worked to give her an identity of her own, built on the identity of horrible 80’s and 90’s pop icons, of course.
The abundance of movie and videogame references seems to have increased in Ms. Splosion Man, but has anybody ever complained about you lampooning any specific franchises? Were there any that were cut for fear of repurcussions?
Yeah, we are all a bunch of movie buffs here, with a soft spot for 80’s and Arnie. So far no one has complained about it. In fact, some people like hunting for the references and sending them into us when they find them. Others make drinking games out of them, which I thought was interesting.
Is this the last time we’ll ‘splode on the Xbox? Or is there a Splosion Man Jr. in the works somewhere?
We actually get asked that a lot. No plans for a Jr. at this time, but personally I would love to see a whole family of splosions, the more dysfunctional the better.
On a seperate note, Twisted Pixel is fast becoming known for shipping high quality titles with impressive frequency. With such a seemingly accelerated development process, how has the team managed to maintain the quality and refinement necessary to make each one a success?
A lot of coffee and massive amounts of alcohol really help fuel this office. As long as that flows, so will the games. Seriously though, we have an amazing team of super dedicated and passionate game developers. Everyone here puts in a lot of time on these games, and being able to split the team onto 2 games seems to have worked out pretty well. That is a cadence we hope to keep up.
Has there been any internal or external pressure on the studio to deliver such a high quantity of titles, or does everything you do stem from internal ambition?
Nope, everything we do is based on what we want to do for the most part. That’s what is nice about being an independent developer. We have so many cool ideas for games, that we decided to try for 2 a year. Microsoft is a great publisher, and they trust us…. at least we think they do!
In the wake of Ms. ‘Splosion Man, some critics have questioned whether your specific platforming template can carry another game in a similar style. Is Gunstringer more of an exit strategy on that front or do you harbour any ambitions to further iterate on the ‘Splosion Man and Comic Jumper front?
I wouldn’t say Gunstringer is an exit strategy, but definitely a departure from what we have done in the past. We don’t want to be pigeon holed into any one game style, so Gunstringer just adds to the breadth of what we can do. We are always looking into alternate and unique gameplay styles mixed with more traditional styles so we can keep things fresh.
Finally, beards. Is facial growth a requirement to work at Twisted Pixel, and what happens if anybody breaks that clause in their contract?
It is, and they told me I had 6 months to grow mine or I’m out, but I just can’t get it past a stubble. You guys aren’t hiring, are ya?