An Interview With Creat And Tik

TheSixthAxis recently got the chance to chat with Mitzi McGilvray, VP Casual Games at TikGames, and Scott Hyman, Director of Business Development at Creat Studio, the team behind recent PSN exclusives like Cuboid and Magic Ball, and the promising upcoming Smash Cars.

TSA: Hi guys, thanks for speaking with us today. So, Smash Cars is your fourth PSN title.

Mitzi: Yeah, our teams are having a great time working on the platform. Smash Cars has taken the next leap in terms of depth and quality as it is indeed a 2nd generation game for PSN.

TSA: We personally feel that the three already available ramped up in quality considerably, with Mahjong the weakest and Cuboid probably the most enjoyable.

Mitzi: Just wait to see what we have coming later this year!

TSA: Has publishing the titles in Europe so close to their US debut had any associated issues or problems?

Mitzi: It’s obviously a bit more challenging in the fact that in addition to having a great game, we have to make sure it is localized properly against numerous languages, supported across different groups in Sony, and so on. Regardless, Sony has been a great partner and does their best to keep this process as seamless as possible.

TSA: There have been rumours of downloadable content for Magic Ball, with the obvious “compare Trophies” method giving the game away before any official announcement. Can you tell us what this DLC will consist of, and whether you’ve decided on a price yet.

Scott: Be patient. What’s coming is really cool! You will be pleased, I promise, and the official announcement is coming very soon.

TSA: Can you tell us more about the relationship between Tik Games and Creat Studios?

Scott: Tik and Creat work together to evaluate possible games – what makes them work, what will sell, and most importantly, what is the most fun. We then determine how to allocate our resources to make the best game possible. Everyone at Creat has been nothing short of thrilled with our partners at Tik.

TSA: So what was the inspiration for Smash Cars?

Scott: The initial inspiration was our previous PS2 version. While our team did a great job back then, there were plenty of ideas that couldn’t be implemented due to time or technology.

TSA: What are the main differences between the PSN version and the PS2 version then?

Scott: Everything from the old version is turned up a few notches: the bumping and grinding, the jumps and stunts, the details of the cars and the environment. And online multi-player allows for six players to race simultaneously. It’s fast paced, and very addictive!

TSA: How does digital distribution compare with traditional retail methods? Which do you prefer?

Mitzi: Digital Distribution is so much more flexible than typical retail. We have the ability to not only create games and get them to market faster, but we have the added benefit of creating more downloadable content after the game has released. For example, our first 3 games each have new add on packs that are releasing shortly. Had these been retail products, we’d have never been able to get the word to EVERY customer that we have new content available.

TSA: How important to you as a development team was the inclusion of Trophies by Sony?

Mitzi: We LOVE trophies! We have a lot of fun brainstorming fun new trophies for our games. We try to make them part of the core experience and not just an after-thought based on the existing game.

TSA: How long do you spend coming up with the Trophies for your games, and what sort of standards must you adhere to in terms of difficulty, number etc?

Mitzi: We try to divide up the trophies based on difficulty, etc. Sometimes this gets moved around after the game gets tuned, as we realise that something we may have anticipated would be very easy, is harder than we thought… or visa versa.

TSA: How did Smash Cars go down at GDC?

Scott: The response was great! The best reactions were those little moments when people would just glance by, see the game in action, and say aloud, “Oh wow, that’s cool!” The expectations for downloadable games are rising, but many are still surprised at the level of graphics and gameplay. When people sat down on the couch at the Sony booth, grabbed a controller and started playing, that’s when they were really impressed.

TSA: The first batch of screens for Smash Cars look incredibly sharp and colourful, with great image quality for a downloadable title, somewhat reminiscent of the PS3 launch title Gripshift in terms of scale and scope. What pressure are you under to make your games as attractive as possible when first shown, given the rapid spread of opinion the Internet provides?

Scott: Pressure? The pressure came from us! Nobody is harder on our team than themselves. They set out to make a PSN title that would equal the experience of a full boxed title, and they’ve done it.

TSA: The game appears to run at 720p, will it upscale to 1080p?

Scott: Smash Cars will be presented in 720p.

TSA: Can you tell us when Smash Cars is aiming for release?

Scott: We hope to release it by the end of this quarter.

TSA: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about the game?

Scott: Get ready to have fun! We appreciate everyone’s interest in the game, and all the support we’ve received over the years from gamers, and from media like TheSixthAxis.

Cheers guys, thanks again for your time.  For more on Smash Cars, please click here.