Yar’s Revenge: interview


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Once he’d tracked down Larry Charles Jr. – level designer at Killspace Entertainment – Steven felt a little foolish. It soon became obvious that he’d misunderstood the title; his eyepatch, pegleg, and carefully rehearsed pirate jokes would not be appreciated.

CG: Many on the Killspace team have come from developers known for AAA games. Has scaling to an XBLA / PSN release been problematic, or a great opportunity?

Larry: Working on a downloadable title doesn’t take as long as developing a AAA box title, but it’s no cake walk either. A lot of the same stresses in developing for boxed titles happen when developing for DLC as well. Lucky for us, we did have a very knowledgeable team and were able to deliver a high quality downloadable title. Overall it was a good opportunity for Killspace to work with Atari on the Yars reboot as our studio’s first shipped title.

CG: How hard is it to take such an old game and drag it into 2011?

Larry: Ha, well I don’t think we did much dragging when it came to the reboot, but it was a process. Yars’ Revenge was of the best selling Atari 2600 games so we had a good game to start from, I’ll say that for sure. The thing is, when trying to modernize gameplay there is only so much you can borrow. We couldn’t just make a 3D version of the original Yars and add achievements and high score, and expect people to pay $10 or $15 for it. What we decided to do was make the reboot a rail shooter that takes place in the Yar Universe. We gave Yars’ look quite an upgrade as she’s a humanoid insect in rocket powered battle armor. We made the game a rail shooter so that we could give the player a breath taking cinematic experience while they play a very tight and refined arcade shooter with an addictive and very challenging combo multiplier meta game. While making Yar’s we did pretty well with our prototype, and essentially kept adding to it until we shipped. Though our environments did get an overhaul once or twice, we didn’t ever need to redesign the entire package.

CG: How long does a game like this take to make, from initial design to delivery?

Larry: 10 months give or take.

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CG: The style of gameplay seems similar to Nintendo’s Sin and Punishment franchise. Is that a fair comparison? Is it twin stick only, or are there motion controls such as with the Wii’s Sin and Punishment 2?

Larry: Yes, Yar’s Revenge and Sin and Punishment are similar as much as NBA 2k11 and NBA Jam are related. As a rail shooter, you have expectations for the gameplay that both games would satisfy. Yars is a twin stick shooter and yes, we even thought about how we could implement some of the successes that S&P2 had into Yars. The key difference is, Yar’s being on PS3 and Xbox 360 allowed us to make a more beautiful game with more onscreen enemies, more detailed environments, and just as much if not more fun as S&P2 for 1/5 of the retail cost

CG: Is there a multiplayer option to the game?

Larry: Yes actually, two players can compete against each other playing through the Yar’s levels.

CG: Online leaderboards and DLC?

Larry: Though we do have a nice online leaderboard system, we do not currently have any plans for Yar’s DLC, the game itself is DLC and given the price for the value, it’s a fair trade.
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CG: Are there plans to bring the game to the 3DS? It would seem to be a perfect fit with the controls and 3D perspective.

Larry: I’d love to see a 3DS version of a Yar’s continuation game, and yes it would be a perfect fit. The future of Yar’s depends on how well this first version does on the Xbox 360 and PS3 and Atari’s interest in continuing the franchise. If both signs say yes, I would be all for working on another Yar’s title. It really was fun watching this project come to life.

CG: Can a casual player pick up and play this game or is it pretty hardcore?

Larry: This game is designed to challenge everyone. Each stage has 3 levels of difficulty and for the real experts we have challenge modes for each stage as well. If you beat one of the challenge modes, you’ll probably not feel like you’ve won, but survived.

CG: Can the player unlock the original Yars’ Revenge with the game?

Larry: This was also something we thought about doing, but we feel pretty fair about the amount of content we produced in the time allowed for making this game. We did put in some original Yars’ content, but you’ll just have to discover it on your own.

CG: Will the PSN version be 3D enabled?

Larry: No.

CG: How long till Yar’s Revenge 2?

Larry: This is currently unknown… but the better Yar’s sells, the sooner we’d get a sequel.

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Written by Steven G

Steven Gurevitz is the CEO of 2002 Studios Media LTD and a founder of gaming accessory company Asiiya. 2002 Studios started off as a music production company, but produces a range of content from videos to videogames. The company specialises in localizing content for global brands.

He also owns the Urban Sound Label, a small niche e-label. He is a freelance music tech writer, having co-written the Music Technology Workbook and is a regular contributor and co-owner CriticalGamer.co.uk. He enjoys FPS, Third person ‘free world’, narrative driven and portable gaming.
He is a freelance music tech writer, having co-written the Music Technology Workbook and is a regular contributor to CriticalGamer.co.uk.

One comment

  1. Mondayding /

    I’ve been playing this. It’s a bit poop.

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