Stealth Inc. 2 Interview: Send In The Clones
Curve Digital discusses its Metroidvania-style stealth puzzle sequel.
Curve Digital’s Stealth Inc. 2: A Game of Clones is currently available for a number of platforms including the Wii U, Xbox One, PS4, PS3, PS Vita and PC. The April 2015 release of other platforms excluding the Wii U is interesting since it offers platform holders a chance to experience the puzzles, platforming, and challenge that have made Stealth Inc. famous. There’s more to the sequel than meets the stealth goggle-cased eye though so GamingBolt spoke to Curve Digital’s Rob Clarke, senior marketing manager, and Hamish Lockwood, designer, on the experience.
Along with talking about the shift in platforming style to a more Metroidvania approach, Clarke and Lockwood also discuss difficulties (or lack thereof) in translating the game to other platforms from the Wii U.
"Our intention was for the game to eventually reach that challenging level but to have a far more smooth difficulty curve compared to the first game. As previously mentioned, the exploratory world aims to ease the player in."
Rashid K. Sayed: Stealth Inc. 2’s story feels more involved and personal than the first game. What influenced the plot and overall atmosphere of the sequel?
While the first game doesn’t end on a cliff-hanger, it does raise certain questions about the facility the game takes place in. What kind of person runs this place? Why are they so cruel and uncaring towards all the clones? The larger Metroidvania world allowed us to spend more time answering those questions. Having that extra space allows the player to develop more of a fondness for the trapped clones, and we can do that by showing how poorly treated they are rather than just telling the player about it. I think this creates more of a rich atmosphere and personal story.
Rashid K. Sayed: What was it like to shift from a platforming style game to the Metroidvania genre with Stealth Inc. 2? What kind of different mechanics did it allow for within the story’s context?
Stealth Inc. 2 still has those puzzling, platforming levels spread throughout the world, so we knew what we were getting ourselves into for that part of the game. The Metroidvania world was challenging to design because we hadn’t made such a large continuous world before and it also had to serve a different function to the levels. The Metroidvania world is more about exploration and storytelling than hardcore puzzle-platforming and stealth so it became the “downtime” between levels. I think it makes for a more enjoyable game because the game isn’t constantly stressful.
Rashid K. Sayed: What are your thoughts on criticisms of the game relying too much on trial and error? Was the intention to keep it incredibly challenging, even with the new exploration elements?
Our intention was for the game to eventually reach that challenging level but to have a far more smooth difficulty curve compared to the first game. As previously mentioned, the exploratory world aims to ease the player in. In addition to that, as soon as the game begins we try to create the expectation that you will see many clones die, including yourself, but there isn’t a penalty for it. You have infinite lives and we try to be as generous as possible with checkpoints which we hope will encourage players to test traps without the fear of punishment for dying. The trial and error is intended to be a learning process which is vital to the game.
"The editor has been simplified for use with a controller, but really the only differences between it and our version are things like triggers to control NPCs, cut scenes, music and other things for the campaign."
Rashid K. Sayed: Did you face any trouble in translating the control and gameplay settings to the other platforms, given the Wii U’s unique set-up?
No, that was all very straight forward. The Wii U gamepad capabilities were mostly used for co-op so that couldn’t be included on the other platforms. The clone player was always just being controlled using the regular method of sticks and buttons so it worked right away on the other platforms.
Rashid K. Sayed: How will the level editor’s toolset be expanded upon in the coming months given the game’s availability on a larger number of platforms?
The editor was finished for launch so that won’t change in the future. The editor has been simplified for use with a controller, but really the only differences between it and our version are things like triggers to control NPCs, cut scenes, music and other things for the campaign. We’d often make levels that were too weird to be an official level and didn’t make it in, so there’s definitely enough in there to create never before seen ideas. It’s always exciting to see what the players create though and new levels are always being added to the community.
Rashid K. Sayed: Thanks for your time. Is there anything else you want to tell us before we let you go?
That just about covers it! I would encourage players to try out the level editor and the community levels. It’s very interesting to watch a friend play your level after you’ve made one – you’ll learn a lot about level design that way! Here’s a video tutorial to help you get started.