Transformers Revenge Of The Fallen game: Joby Otero interview

We track down Joby Otero, the man leading the upcoming tie-in videogame to Transformers 2...

With the release of Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen on the horizon, it’s no surprise that there will be a tie-in video game will be be released as well. However, we recently had the chance to sit and chat with Joby Otero, Chief Creative Officer at Luxoflux, the team behind such games as the True Crime and Vigilante 8 series, about how Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: The Game offers many surprises for sceptics and fanboys alike.

Let’s start from the ground up. How did you approach this game? Of course, this is a movie licence, but also it is the second movie in the series, and also the second game in the series (the first Transformers movie game was developed by Traveller’s Tales, the Cheshire-based studio who are known for the popular Lego game series).

Most of our crew have been life-long fans of Transformers, so we’ve had an idea of what we would do with a Transformers game for a long, long time. Actually, we wanted to do the first film game, but our studio was moving onto next-gen technology when the first film was going to be coming out, so the time-frame just wasn’t right for us back then. So when we heard about the second film coming up, and that Activision were going to be doing it again, we jumped at the chance to be doing it!

As soon as we started talking to Activision about it being a real possibility, we started scouring the Internet, all of the forums, hearing all the fans, and seeing what kind of game they wanted. And that’s always kind of a scary prospect, because when you’ve got something with 25 years of franchise history behind it, there’s a lot of opinions out there. But the top issues that fans were saying that they wanted addressed, or things that they’d never got to see so far in a Transformers game, were the same things that we wanted to deliver anyway. So it gave us a lot of confidence, and made us feel that we were going in the right direction. What kind of things did you focus on?

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We had three main pillars that we wanted to focus on, so that, whatever else we did with the game, we would address these three things. So, one was player choice. We have a game where we have a more hub-based mission system, where in between each of the 5-10 minute crescendos of action, the player comes back to the war room, where they’ll have a conversation with the other ‘bots in their faction. But, more importantly, from the war room the game branches out, so the further you get in the campaign, the more optional missions you can go off on. Also, the further you get in the campaign, the more playable characters you unlock on previous missions. So you might play three or four missions into the campaign as Iron Hide, and he was the only available character. He’s a ground character, very tank-like. And then maybe two missions later, the game will tell you that you’ve unlocked more playable characters, so you can go back and see. You can imagine that, on the Autobots side, you’ve got a character like Breakaway, who’s a flying jet sniper character, so playing the same mission that you’d previously played as Iron Hide, a ground vehicle, you can totally change the dynamics of that mission. So there’s a lot of replay value there.

The second thing was the transformation system itself. We wanted to make a transformation system where transformation wasn’t just a gimmick that you would do once or twice in a mission, and only when the mission was really forcing you to do it, and instead, we wanted something where you were doing it constantly, and where transformation is how you jump higher, you move faster, you hit harder. So we devised this system where transformation is really an active thing – if you’re not holding down any buttons at all on the controller, you’re in your robot form. From robot form, you can do your melee, you can jump, you can climb, you can run. In weapon form, where you hold down the left trigger, that’s where you can fire your primary or secondary weapon. When you hold down the right trigger, you go into vehicle form, that’s where you’re getting from point A to point B fast, or building up momentum. Another critical part about transformation is you hold onto your momentum; so, for example, you might see a bunch of enemies down the road, and you want to get at them quickly before they can get a lot of shots off at you, so you transform into vehicle form, race towards them. Then, you release the left trigger either when holding A or B button, and you’ll do a different type of melee strike – so you’ll hit them with these crushing blows. So transformation is an integral part of the moment-to-moment gameplay experience. And it’s called Transformers, after all, and that’s what’s made them unique as toys and characters all along, so we thought that the transformation should be our focus.

The third thing is multiplayer. We wanted to make sure that this would be the first time that players would be able to take their favourite characters online in intense online action. So we’ve got the biggest selection of playable Transformers ever, with some characters unique to multiplayer. It’s definitely something different.

Certainly sounds interesting! OK, I’d like to broach the subject of movie licence games. Luxoflux’s last movie tie-in game, Kung Fu Panda, was well received both in terms of reviews and sales, but do you think there’s a lot of pressure on developers working on licences like this?

It’s absolutely a double edged sword, and folks think that you just put crap in a box and people will buy it, because it’s got this amazing film attached to it. We don’t look at it that way, but we know that people are going to be sceptical. But ultimately, we’re confident in our own fanboy-ness, and we’re confident in our development abilities, and we’ve done several movie licences, and we know that there’s a lot of fun to be had in there. Our art is an interactive one, and that sets it apart from the film art. And the studios know that. Michael Bay was very clear, saying ‘hey man, I make films, you guys make games, here’s what I’m doing with the film, but do your own thing’. And that’s fantastic!

It’s quite a liberating thing, being able to work with this franchise, where the characters are so well defined, and we can just focus on gameplay. We know it’s a double-edged sword, when you’re making these licensed games, from a hardcore gamer’s perspective, because they think that you’re just taking advantage of it. But we’re confident that we’re putting everything we can into this thing, we’re confident in our ideas, that we’re bringing something different to the market. And time will tell. Once it actually ships, then hopefully a lot of players will give it a shot, and will find out that we weren’t just effin’ around!

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Great stuff! Thanks for chatting with us, Joby.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: The Game is out on the 26th of June in various multiplatform iterations, with Luxoflux handling the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions.