Frozenbyte’s Trine 3: Artifacts of Power has proven to be a real test for the series. After releasing on PC, it was subjected to criticism regarding its length. It’s now available on PlayStation 4 and this wasn’t without its own set of obstacles. GamingBolt got in touch with Frozenbyte marketing manager Kai Tuovinen about the same along with discussing the team’s next big project Shadwen. What should you expect if you pick up Trine 3 on PS4? Read on to find out.
Note: This interview was conducted before the launch of the game.
"Despite the criticisms about the length, I still think it’s a good price for the content, and porting to PS4 was quite easy due to our past experiences with Trine 2: Complete Story and Trine Enchanted Edition."
The Trine series has always been well-regarded in the industry but also well-known for its 2D gameplay. What made you decide to implement 3D gameplay into the series for the first time?
Kai Tuovinen: After we wrapped up Trine 2, the Goblin Menace DLC and Wii U version, we started working on another IP in early 2013. We wanted to do something else than Trine for a change, as generally people get fatigued if they work on the same thing for too long.
The new game which was named “Arena” was eventually dropped because we didn’t make good enough progress on it, and we started working on Trine 3, and it was initially more of the same as the previous Trine games, so 2D, but with more skills, different types of enemies, more environments and so on. But it still felt too familiar…
At some point, we had an internal pitch (a video made by our artists) for a 3D Trine 3, and it pretty much blew our minds – It looked like Trine but it felt really fresh, and it had that new feel to it that a lot of us had been longing for after nearly 5 years of working on the same series.
We held a few long meetings and ended up thinking “It will be challenging to do 3D, but not impossible”, and that’s pretty much how we decided to go for 3D.
Can you tell us some of the challenges of going with 3D gameplay and how it served as a drain of resources?
Kai Tuovinen: There were a lot of challenges in all areas due to the 3D, but you could divide those into design challenges, art challenges and performance/technical challenges.
- Design challenges:
- Controls need to work with Keyboard & Mouse and Controllers
- Cameras need to work with LOCAL co-op (same screen) with up three players
- Zoya (Thief): Aiming and shooting a bow and arrow in 3D, grappling hook in 3D
- Amadeus (Wizard): How to create, move and select objects in 3D
- Art Challenges
- Making everything look from all angles, as opposed to just from the side
- Assets, animations, and level art took far longer to complete
- Performance and Technical challenges
- 3D was much more demanding on hardware, so we had to do a lot of optimization work and new rendering solutions like LOD, occlusion culling etc.
- Online multiplayer was also a big problem because of physics heavy gameplay and 3D, so it was e.g. left out of the PS4 version because it simply wasn’t working well enough.
And finally also the communication aspect, where we did some mistakes there on how we communicated about the length and story of the game.
Overall all of our resources were exhausted trying to complete Trine 3: TAOP, because everything needed a lot more than when we were making the 2D Trines.
Trine 3: Artifacts of Power has had a rough time on PC with high development costs and criticism of its length. What was the motivation for bringing the title to the PS4?
Kai Tuovinen: Despite the criticisms about the length, I still think it’s a good price for the content, and porting to PS4 was quite easy due to our past experiences with Trine 2: Complete Story and Trine Enchanted Edition. The 3D controls work really well on a gamepad, so the game is very well suited for consoles, and we did not have any issues with performance on PS4.
"No plans for any post-launch content at this point. If you have a 3D TV, stereo 3D support is worth checking out as with the previous Trine games!"
Given your experience developing on PlayStation platforms, what challenges did you face in porting a brand new title over to the PS4?
Kai Tuovinen: Online co-op was something we decided to leave out because it was not working well enough, so we wanted to rather say that up front than to have a lot of dissatisfied players playing a glitchy game online right now.
Will the game be in 1080p resolution and run at 60 FPS on PS4?
Kai Tuovinen: Yes.
Last we heard the future of the series is “in doubt”. Could you update us on the situation and whether we’ll ever see another Trine game?
Kai Tuovinen: For now the series is on hold, we’re focusing on a stealth title called Shadwen. If our next projects do well, a return to the Trine series might be an option, but because of the many ifs, I can’t make any promises yet. We’ll see how it goes!
Will Trine 3 on the PS4 feature any post-launch content? What additional features can PS4 fans look forward to?
Kai Tuovinen: No plans for any post-launch content at this point. If you have a 3D TV, stereo 3D support is worth checking out as with the previous Trine games!
Will Trine 3: Artifacts of Power release on the Xbox One at any point?
Kai Tuovinen: No Xbox news to report, it’s not in development at the moment.
What can you tell us about Shadwen, the current project Frozenbyte is working on?
Kai Tuovinen: Old school stealth games will be making a return! With a twist of course. In Shadwen, the stealth will be absolutely pivotal, but players will be given choice between different methods to complete levels. You can opt to use violence or take a super-sneaky peaceful route as well, but the game is instantly over if you are detected, so stealth is not optional.
The story in Shadwen revolves around two strangers whose fates become intertwined by chance when they meet: Shadwen, an assassin on a quest to kill the King, and an orphan girl called Lily. The core of the game boils down to what way people opt to play – the violent or non-violent way. Players are faced with the moral consequences of killing, and the story will change according to what methods you choose.
"Shadwen has very free movement based on jumping, running and sneaking, and a rope that will have a lot of utility. You’ll also be able to create loads of different traps like poison traps, smoke bombs and other gadgets to aid you on the way."
A key feature is frozen time. When you’re not controlling Shadwen, time stays still, and that lets you plan your movements and actions very precisely. There’s also an instantaneous time-rewind that lets you revert what you’ve done and try a different approach if you fail at doing something.
Shadwen has very free movement based on jumping, running and sneaking, and a rope that will have a lot of utility. You’ll also be able to create loads of different traps like poison traps, smoke bombs and other gadgets to aid you on the way. Our main focus with the game is to make it really fun to play for all play styles- You can decide if you want to be the murdering psycho or the peaceful stealth goddess.
Aside from Shadwen, what other plans does Frozenbyte have in the coming year?
Kai Tuovinen: We’ll look to announce/release a few games, explore new tech like VR and do a lot of cool things in general that we think people will enjoy. With new IP’s there’s a lot more design freedom, so that’s something we’re enjoying at the moment!
What are your thoughts on the ongoing resolution and frame rate debate on the PS4 and Xbox One platforms?
Kai Tuovinen: From what I’ve seen, games on both consoles look really good and there aren’t too many differences generally, but if possible I’d always look to optimize for 60fps and 1080p or better.
What are your thoughts on PS2 emulation on PS4? Do you think Sony made the right choice by making people buy those digital games even if they own then?
Kai Tuovinen: I think it’s only fair not to charge people for something that they’ve already bought, but since I don’t know much about this subject, there could be some technical things making the verification difficult.
Is there anything else you want to tell us before we let you go?
Kai Tuovinen: We’ll probably run another demo/beta test run of Shadwen fairly soon, so if you’re into stealth games and would like to try something new, follow @ShadwenGame on Twitter for some news!