I am a big fan of Trials 2 by RedLynx, I think it is one of the finest indie games currently on the market. The mix of physics with the desire to go one better than your previous ride is massively appealing to me.
So it was with great pleasure that I got to pose some questions to three of the men who were behind the game. Tero is the CEO of the company, Antti is the co-found and Creative Director and, last but not least, Sebbi is their technology lead programmer. Hit the jump to read the interview and find out much more about Trials 2.
The Reticule – How successful has Trials 2 been? I know the Steam launch was a hit, have you been able to keep it up since?
Tero: Quite well, yes. The tale has been far longer than with many other games in the market, I suspect. There are couple of reasons for that. First one is that we did quite a successful marketing campaign, which lasted for a long time – and spread freely on the web. As a result, the number of downloads for the free demo have been huge, and are still quite significant, every day. That seems to keep the sales on-going for a long time. Secondly, the sales-cycle is pretty long, as our early phase peak was not that steep and high: Trials 2 has been our first self-published “bit bigger title”. We did not have existing distribution channels. Most of them have been built after the launch. Therefore, Steam success also helped us in building new distribution, but due to that delay, the game is just hitting many markets.
The Reticule – The last update back in September was pretty damn big, how did you manage to get people like Brandon DiCamillo and Rake Yohn to do voice overs?
Antti: it was funny thing because was searching videos about our previous game called Warhammer squad command. And I found video made by Art Webb. We talked bit on youtube and since art is Rake’s brother and they have new gaming site called gamacasa we started talking and.. It has been downhill after that.
The Reticule – Again about that last update, you got the game working on the new breed of ‘mini-laptops’. What drove you to make the game work on those machines and how hard was it to do?
Sebbi: The mini-laptops have been a huge success in Finland. Basically you can get a bundled mini laptop with almost every technology purchase imaginable (internet connections, mobile phones, full sized PC computers, TV sets, etc). Our game development tools and engine is developed to be portable and scalable from the beginning. It scales from lowly Nintendo DS and Sony PSP up to the newest high end consoles and PCs. The new mini laptops have pretty comparable CPU and GPU power to Nintendo Wii, so gaming on them is very much possible. The port itself (very low graphics mode support) was easy to do. Basically we just had to implement simplified shaders for the GPU, as our engine has always had very low CPU usage and the game view and the menus have always been resolution independent (we support all resolutions and aspect ratios starting from 640×480).
The Reticule – The game looks utterly beautiful at its highest settings and yet it really scaleable, is this something you strive to achieve in many of your games?
Antti: we aim to do our best in every situation. That includes office wrestling also…
Sebbi: Yes, this is one of the bonuses of having a fully platform independent and scalable technology platform. Optimizing the whole engine to fit and run properly on Nintendo DS and Sony PSP has made the platform independent shared engine code and structures very efficient. On top of these common optimizations we have lots of platform specific optimizations implemented. In the future I would personally like us to release more multi-platform games (Windows, Linux, Mac, various gaming consoles, etc) as our technology is very well suited for this kind of development. But technology only gives us more options. What is economically feasible is a completely different factor.
The Reticule – Trials 2 features some really brutally hard levels, what evil mind was able to conceive these ideas?
Antti: Well harder ones are made by Antti “ANBA” Ilvessuo, Jorma “jorma” Sainio and Sebastian “Sebbbi” Aaltonen. And yep we are all evil. Jorma and Sebbi are better riders than me but it’s just trial (in trials game) and error. For me the Diablo was like 20 hours to make. And then some players passed with 0 faults in 24hours after release.
The Reticule – In most of your updates you have released a whole host of new tracks yet you don’t charge for them, why is this? What do you think of charging people for content like this?
Antti: We want to support community and we hope that helps to attract more people into game. Also we want to keep global hi-scores available to all.
The Reticule – Do you have any more big updates planned for the game?
Antti: More minor bug fixing coming and maybe few more tracks but game is mostly feature complete
Sebbi: v1.09 will contain just compatibility improvements (and at least one new track like every patch before it). This is because the game has already a huge player base and every new feature can break the game on some hardware configuration. When you are developing for PC, every small change needs to go though a ridiculous compatibility testing process, as there are basically endless possible PC hardware configurations (CPU, GPU, memory, chipset, OS version (XP 32bit/64bit, Vista 32bit/64bit), extra peripherals, etc). We have a set of 10 configurable test machines we use for compatibility testing in addition to our development and home computers. The current v1.08 is very stable and has only some minor bugs in it. We are being very careful not to break anything on the new patch (a thing we sadly cannot say for the first two Trials 2 SE patches: v1.05 and v1.06).
The Reticule – What is the inspiration behind the Trials games? Are you all keen trial bikers?
Antti: We developed own physics engine about 8 years ago and thought that trials game could be cool to make to make most of it…. Long story short.
I personally have been free skiing (check my vid) and breaking my brains but now days with kids I prefer just this digital extreme sport.
The Reticule – Are there any plans for a Trials 3? If so what kind of features would you include, and if not what would feature in your ideal follow up to Trials 2?
Antti: trials 3 would be cool. Hope just people buy this so we can make it! Most asked feature has been public level editor so that would be cool to make.
The Reticule – Do you plan on releasing Trials 2 on the consoles?
Antti: We don’t and cannot decide if it comes or not…
The Reticule – Finally, when will Inferno II be released?
Anttii: I kick sebbbi into nuts two times day but he’s too busy to make it now.. hopefully soon.
Sebbi: Inferno II will be released… which year, I cannot yet predict.
Anttii: Have to kick him bit more.