CounterSpy Interview: Bringing 50s Espionage Back To Video Games

GamingBolt speaks to Dynamighty studios to know all about CounterSpy.

Posted By | On 27th, Aug. 2014 Under Article, Interviews | Follow This Author @Pramath1605


Dynamighty’s CounterSpy is now available on the PlayStation 4 and before the launch of the title, GamingBolt got an opportunity to speak to the studio’s co-founder David Nottingham, visual director Mark Holmes and technical director John to know all about the game. Check out their response below.

Pramath Parijat: To begin with, can you please let us know a bit about yourself and the company you work for?

Sure, I’m David Nottingham, one of the Co-Founders for Dynamighty and a Creative Director here.

Pramath Parijat: One immediate feature that caught my eye is the art style. What was the inspiration behind going for such a unique setting?

I’m going to let Mark Holmes handle this, as he led the Visual Development 🙂

Mark – Both David & I knew from Day One that we wanted to make a strong visual statement with the game. We are both much more aligned creatively to visual stylization in games. Bond is obviously a touchstone for this but we like to go deeper and look at a lot of the other design & art that was part of the culture of that era.

Also, the espionage genre was a huge thing in the 50s, very evident in books, TV & movies so we wanted to draw on the broader pallete to create a feel that was our own. I started with pulling period reference like mid-century modern architecture, graphic design, film & television title design (such as Saul Bass), as well as the architecture, propaganda of the period. As the tone of the game was playful, we also wanted a graphic style that was fun and edgy that could read well on small displays like the Vita.

CounterSpy™_20140819202515

"Our protagonist is an Agent for C.O.U.N.T.E.R, an independent spy agency considered a rogue entity by the world’s nations. He is called into action when the world's superpowers embark on a twisted Space Race."

Pramath Parijat: I really like how the camera switches from side scrolling to third person. Can you explain how does it impact gameplay?

Although the game is a side-scroller, we wanted to make full use of the fact that we built the world in 3D. The switch to 3rd person was a way for us to open up the spaces for combat while keeping the controls accessible. It also allows us to convey some cinematic feel for the game, which was another way we could pay homage to the cinematic roots of 50s espionage.

Pramath Parijat: Tell us about the protagonist of the game? How does he get involved and what is his goal?

Our protagonist is an Agent for C.O.U.N.T.E.R, an independent spy agency considered a rogue entity by the world’s nations. He is called into action when the world’s superpowers embark on a twisted Space Race. Instead of trying to put a moon on the moon, they are racing to be first to destroy it with Nuclear Weapons! That seems a bad idea to C.O.U.N.T.E.R so you have to stop them.

Pramath Parijat: Since the game takes place in an alternate history Cold War. What tweaks have you made to the story to accommodate your alternate vision?

We took great pains to fictionalize the world. We wanted people to enjoy the satirical tone and playful style, without too much of the real world Cold War history getting in the way. The Cold War was a pretty grim time in recent history! But it also gave us an amazing run of awesome espionage thrillers, whether books, TV shows or movies.

We wanted to capture that sense of style & fun.
At the same time, we wanted to use the symbolism of 2 opposing forces facing off against each other, blinded by there ideological fear of the other, to have some resonance for people that like a bit of deeper meaning in there videogames.

CounterSpy™_20140818212849

"We've applied a pretty light touch to the stealth mechanics in CounterSpy. One thing we wanted to avoid, is that feeling when you get spotted, that need to reset the level."

Pramath Parijat: Will the PS4 version run at 1080p and 60fps on the PS4?

We are targeting 60FPS and its running very nicely. It’s really smooth on PS4. We also added a bunch of extra VFX to dress it up. And it runs at 1080p!

Pramath Parijat: Are there plans to support cross buy and cross save across the PS4, PS3 and PS Vita?

Absolutely! The game supports Cross Buy and Cross Save.

Pramath Parijat: How many levels/missions the game has and how many hours it will take to complete all of them?

Hard question to answer. The game uses procedural systems to stitch levels together, so even when you finish and replay, you won’t see the same sequence of rooms and enemies. Also, it’s not a strictly linear game. Your objective is to gather Launch Plans not just go from a to b. Also, even after unlocking the final rocket base, you can keep playing to increase your score!

Pramath Parijat: CounterSpy is a stealth game making enemy AI an important element. What have you learnt from games like Metal Gear Solid and applied to enemy behavior in CounterSpy?

We’ve applied a pretty light touch to the stealth mechanics in CounterSpy. One thing we wanted to avoid, is that feeling when you get spotted, that need to reset the level. In CounterSpy, if you get spotted, you can fight your way out of your immediate situation and when you get into another room the enemies are reset back into stealth mode.

Instead of punishing the player for ‘failing’ at stealth we reward the player with stealth combos. The more you do in a row, the higher the points multiple, and if you don’t care about your high score, pts convert to $$ at the end of the level, which are crucial to buying weapons & ammo.

CounterSpy™_20140818162310

"As you progress in the game, you find blueprints that complete to unlock weapons. There are also formulas that you also unlock the same way."

Pramath Parijat: Are there any plans to add weapon customization and a skill tree?

As you progress in the game, you find blueprints that complete to unlock weapons. There are also formulas that you also unlock the same way. Formulas act like perks, and are active for the next level. As the game gets progressively tougher, formulas are a critical tool to help you combat the tougher enemies and stop the DEFCON getting too high.

Pramath Parijat: How was it like working on the PlayStation 4? Was the development smooth and silky or did you faced any challenges?

I’ll let John (Our Technical Director) answer this! 🙂

John – Getting CounterSpy running on PS4 was actually pretty smooth! The game was already running well on PS3 and Vita which obviously helps, but the power of the PS4 let us go to the next level. We were able to up the resolution to 1080 while keeping a really good framerate. There is always work involved in supporting a new platform but overall it was way easier than other consoles I’ve worked on.

Pramath Parijat: Is there anything else you want to tell us before we take off?

We hope everyone enjoys the game! It’s our first game together as a studio so we are excited to get it into people’s hands.
Oh also follow us on twitter @dynamighty and check out our tumblr http://dynamighty.tumblr.com/ for some more insight into the process of making the game!


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