Twisted Pixel’s marketing manager Jay Stuckwisch talks about the Xbox One, SmartGlass and upcoming launch title LocoCycle.
LocoCycle’s reveal trailer is as deceptive as its gameplay is varied – and by varied, we mean “bat-sh*t crazy”. It’s not everyday you play as a self-aware, technologically advanced motorcycle that knows kung-fu and literally spin-kicks enemies out of mid-air. But if the game proves anything, it’s that there’s still room in the next-generation for unorthodox, insane titles like this.
GamingBolt had a chance to talk to Twisted Pixel Games’ marketing manager Jay Stuckwisch about everything and anything related to LocoCycle. We also get to hear about plans for SmartGlass, exclusivity to Xbox 360 and Xbox One and much more.
Ravi Sinha: When we look at LocoCycle, we immediately think Tron meets Knight Rider. Did either of those properties have anything to do with the idea for the game?
Jay Stuckwisch: Most definitely! Don’t forget Short Circuit, Torque, Road Rash, Spy Hunter, Bayonetta, and many others. In fact, our Creative Director, Josh Bear, originally came up with the idea for the game after he watched Torque for the first time and had a bunch of really weird dreams.
"It helps to not think of LocoCycle as a racing game but as an action / brawler instead. You just happen to be moving at 200mph while you’re punching and kicking enemies with your tires."
Ravi Sinha: What can you tell us about the story for the game? Surely there’s a reason this sentient motorcycle is dragging along this poor Spanish gentleman.
Jay Stuckwisch: The game opens with the unveiling of two artificially intelligent assassin motorcycles, I.R.I.S. and S.P.I.K.E., at a secret weapons auction put on by the nefarious Big Arms in Nicaragua. As I.R.I.S. is being wheeled back to her garage she gets struck by lightning. The surge damages I.R.I.S. but also makes her self-aware. While being worked on by her head engineer, Pablo, she sees a TV commercial for a biker rally taking place in Scottsburg, Indiana.
Suddenly, attending the biker rally becomes really important to I.R.I.S. and she takes off down the highway while Pablo’s pant leg is still caught on her chassis. Together they are on this adventure to “live free, ride alive” but encounter all kinds of resistance along the way. The rest you’ll have to see for yourself. 😉
Ravi Sinha: LocoCycle’s gameplay is indeed unlike any car combat game we’ve come across. Can you outline some of the things that players will be able to do, besides firing machine guns and executing stunt-like attacks?
Jay Stuckwisch: It helps to not think of LocoCycle as a racing game but as an action / brawler instead. You just happen to be moving at 200mph while you’re punching and kicking enemies with your tires. You’ll encounter lots of different enemy types that each have their own method for taking them down.
There’s also action set-pieces that seamlessly blend from gameplay to interactive cut-scenes back to gameplay. And due to I.R.I.S.’s lightning strike, she will occasionally break down and you’ll have to take control of Pablo to figure out how to repair her before it’s too late. There’s definitely a lot of different things going on to make every level new and fresh.
"The game is essentially an action-packed buddy-comedy story that we’re telling, and that experience will be the same on both Xbox One and Xbox 360. The only differences are graphical fidelity. On Xbox One the game runs in 1080p and has “uprezzed” assets to take more advantage of the increased performance."
Ravi Sinha: I.R.I.S. can speak over 50 langauages and perform 40 different combat moves. What more can you tell us about this sentient motorcycle?
Jay Stuckwisch: When the game starts I.R.I.S. has a lot of attacks and counters at your disposal, but as you progress you unlock new moves and powerups including fire, ice, and electrical enhancements. You’ll also have situational weapons that you can use depending on the circumstances and what’s going on in the story.
Ravi Sinha: LocoCycle is exclusive to the Xbox 360 and Xbox One. What motivated the desire to develop for a singular platform?
Jay Stuckwisch: Twisted Pixel has a long history of developing games for Xbox and in 2011 we were acquired by Microsoft to exclusively focus on creating new IP for their platforms.
Ravi Sinha: How will LocoCycle on the Xbox One differ from the Xbox 360 version? Will it take advantage of the more powerful architecture or any other features like Cloud computing and the ability to Snap programs together?
Jay Stuckwisch: The game is essentially an action-packed buddy-comedy story that we’re telling, and that experience will be the same on both Xbox One and Xbox 360. The only differences are graphical fidelity. On Xbox One the game runs in 1080p and has “uprezzed” assets to take more advantage of the increased performance.
Ravi Sinha: What are your thougths on Kinect and SmartGlass on the Xbox One, along with their potential for use indie titles? Will LocoCyle use Kinect or SmartGlass in any way?
Jay Stuckwisch: Kinect and SmartGlass are both very interesting technologies. I think we can expect to see a lot of cool uses of those technologies over time. LocoCycle was envisioned as an old-school arcade action game so it does not use SmartGlass or Kinect.
"Back when we started working on BEARD during development of The Maw we decided to optimize for usability by our team of artists and designers as opposed to squeezing every last ounce of performance out of a device. It’s a tradeoff that every engine makes and more often than not other engines tend to choose performance over usability."
Ravi Sinha: In terms of control, from your own experiences developing LocoCycle, could you outline how the Xbox One controller differs from the Xbox 360’s controller?
Jay Stuckwisch: Microsoft would be the better person to ask since they designed the new controller. All I know is that I love it and think it’s a great evolution. The haptic feedback triggers are pretty awesome.
Ravi Sinha: There’s a ton of hype regarding next-gen engines, but LocoCyle will be using its own proprietary engine BEARD, which is used in conjunction with Razor. How does this benefit the overall style and presentation of the game?
Jay Stuckwisch: Back when we started working on BEARD during development of The Maw we decided to optimize for usability by our team of artists and designers as opposed to squeezing every last ounce of performance out of a device. It’s a tradeoff that every engine makes and more often than not other engines tend to choose performance over usability. But by prioritizing empowerment of our team above everything else we’re able to get to the important part of game-making earlier, which is making it fun.
Ravi Sinha: LocoCycle will be launching with the Xbox One. It will be competing not only with other platforms, like the PS4, but also with AAA titles like Ryse: Son of Rome, Forza Motorsport 5 and Dead Rising 3. What are your thoughts on being featured in the launch line-up and on how LocoCyle will distinguish itself from other launch exclusives?
Jay Stuckwisch: It’s a really cool and fun accomplishment to ship a launch title for a new console. None of us at Twisted Pixel have done that before and it’s a challenging but rewarding experience. The cool thing about LocoCycle is that we’re clearly not trying to offer the best graphics you can find. There are other talented game teams doing a great job of scratching that itch. We’re trying to provide something different with our wacky, over-the-top, non-stop action game that doesn’t take itself too seriously and will keep you entertained in a different way.
Ravi Sinha: Microsoft recently stated in an article [reference here] that eventhough their on board memory has a bandwidth of just 68GB/s, it is more or less offsetted by by on-chip ESRAM, which tops out at 204GB/s. How is this helped in the development of the Xbox One version of the game?
Jay Stuckwisch: The Xbox One’s increased performance was a huge help to development and made life a lot easier. It’s an extremely powerful device that opens the door to a lot more art heavy games.
"LocoCycle will run at 1080p/30FPS on Xbox One."
Ravi Sinha: What are your thoughts on the Xbox One’s GPU and 8GB of RAM? Furthermore how has it made development easier on the Xbox One?
Jay Stuckwisch: In the short term, having more horsepower allows you to solve a lot of your technical challenges with brute force. But in the long term, with any platform, you will eventually run up against the performance wall again and need to commit to understanding the platform as deeply as possible. Getting our first Xbox One game running on the new hardware and looking better than it did on Xbox 360 was an easy thing to do.
Ravi Sinha: Furthermore, will LocoCycle run at 1080P/60FPS on the Xbox One?
Jay Stuckwisch: LocoCycle will run at 1080p/30FPS on Xbox One.
Ravi Sinha: One last question: How long will the game last and how are you planning to encourage the replay value of the game?
Jay Stuckwisch: The amount of gameplay time really depends on the player, but there is a good amount of content there. We don’t have any announcements at this time for added play or DLC. We’ll keep you posted on that.