Open yourself up to the magic of Frozenbyte's fantasy action and puzzler, Trine, with this interview with the game's Designer and CEO, Lauri Hyvärinen.
Can you introduce Trine and what the game is about?
Trine is a fantasy action game where the player can create and use physics-based objects to beat hazardous puzzles and threatening enemies. The game is set in a world of great castles and strange machinery, where three heroes are bound to a mysterious device called the Trine in a quest to save the kingdom from evil. The core of the game is built around three different characters and their abilities to interact with the game world.
Where did the original idea for Trine come from?
Trine has been a team effort, everyone has pitched in with their ideas. The original idea came from the producer who wanted to create a modern run'n'jump game set in a magical world. Since the beginning, though, Trine has changed a lot in every aspect. It's been a very iterative process - design has inspired artists, who have created fantastic art that in turn has inspired level designers who've created great gameplay - and the cycle starts again. Somewhere in-between, the programmers do some fancy magic of their own and make the game run smoother and have more features. And although there has to be a producer who ultimately makes decisions about what goes into the game and what doesn't, I think it's fair to say that the whole team has given a lot of great ideas to the game.
How long has Trine been in development and what were the main challenges you had to overcome?
While the original pre-production took 14 months and ended in March 2008, we wanted to improve the game and redesigned all the major features in early 2008. Proper production with the whole Frozenbyte team started in late March 2008, so it's been a little over a year now that the game has been in full production. The number of obstacles we've had during development is so great that sometimes it's a wonder that the game has turned out so great - for each accomplished feature we've made at least ten mistakes. We could say that the development process of Trine is a fairy tale of its own, with a bit of magic involved!
Were there any particular fairy tales which inspired the storyline of Trine?
The storyline of Trine has been made with fairy tales in mind but there's no particular tale above others. We have also focused a lot on the general feeling and atmosphere of the game, so that the player could enjoy the evolving story and feel all the beautiful aspects of the game.
Can you expand on each of the characters' abilities?
The gameplay is based on fully interactive physics - each character's different abilities help the player battle the army of undead and defeat hazardous contraptions. The player can at any time freely choose whoever is best suited for the upcoming challenge or puzzle: the Wizard is able to summon objects to help solve puzzles and create new ways to overcome obstacles, the Thief uses her agility and dead-on accuracy to swiftly surprise the monsters, and the Knight unleashes mayhem and physical destruction wherever he goes.
Can you expand a bit more on the co-operative mode?
We've always been fans of co-operative gaming and we felt it would be perfect addition to Trine. Because there's three characters in the game, that's also the maximum number of players in co-op. The co-op mode allows players to invent super hilarious and inventive solutions to puzzles; for example the Knight can throw a box into the air while other players stand on the box, allowing them to reach high ledges easily. In our test sessions, co-op has proven to be awesome fun, and we expect gamers to have a lot of fun with it too!
What was the inspiration for the art style and music direction?
The art style has been greatly influenced by a general feeling of fairy tales. We wanted to have a lot of colour in the game and our artists have put all their talent behind the game.
For music, the goal was the same - to capture the spirit of the fairy tale-like fantasy adventure, with some twisted moments thrown in. We believe music is one of the greatest ways of bringing emotion into games. Each level of the game has a unique music track, like a chapter from a story book. There is over one hour of original music in the game! We have also used live performances by talented musicians to strengthen the music and sounds in Trine.
How did Trine end up on PlayStation Network?
For us, the most important thing is to make great games. PS3 is a great system that allows us to fully realize our vision. We had no previous experience on developing for PS3 (or even PlayStation 2 for that matter) but we had the game running on PS3 in just five weeks.
We are very excited that Trine is going to be released on PSN, because it's a great service that makes gaming even more accessible. We are strong believers in digital content delivery, because it gives developers more choices and hopefully means better and more innovative and unique games.
What makes Trine the ideal PSN title?
Trine is a game of great passion. The overall look, feel and gaming experience is not just what we developers want to play but what we want every player to experience. The diversity of the game offers a lot of options, and we do not limit the player's creativity - we encourage it! We want players to invent brilliant solutions to the challenges.
We hope they enjoy playing Trine as much as we enjoyed creating it!