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And Yet It Moves - WiiWare Interview

During E3, Nintendo's official list of upcoming WiiWare games published on their press website revealed a previously unheard of title for the download service: And Yet It Moves. I had already heard of this as a PC indie game after downloading a demo not so long ago to test out, and it played pretty good, however I was intrigued why the developers wanted to bring this game to WiiWare, and how they were planning on doing so...

Hi, who are you, and what do you do at Broken Rules?
My name is Felix and I'm CEO and Project Lead at Broken Rules, which doesn't mean much in a three person team as we are doing everything very democratic. Still, we decided to divide responsibilities and I am responsible for ensuring that we keep a timeframe, that the game is of the high quality we want to achieve and that everything comes together nicely.

How and when did Broken Rules start up?

Basically, everything evolved naturally during the development of And Yet It Moves, which started off as a student project. The more serious we got, the more we realized that a company will be necessary. We had deals to sign, money to organize and so on, so we decided to take the step and found our own company. It's also a commitment from our side to really do professional game design and development and move on from our student status.

And Yet It Moves was your first game to be released. Was there any reasoning behind this?
No, there was not much reasoning why we started with that, it was more chance. As I said before, And Yet It Moves really started as a game concept for a computer science course, held by the Department for Design and Assessment of Technology at the Vienna University of Technology.
    We were actually quite lucky, because the four of us didn’t know each other before, but from the beginning we had a certain connection. We were all new to game designing but really interested in it and motivated to build something to be proud of. During that university course we finished a prototype with two levels and submitted that to the IGF 2007. We were part of the Student Showcase back then and could show our prototype to all the people at GDC which was great and gave us a big boost in press coverage and motivation. We realized that many people really liked our game mechanics and enjoyed playing that prototype so we decided to take our chances and build a full version of And Yet It Moves and try to sell it.

What makes your game so special is the way that the player can change the gravity in a level by 90 degrees at any time. How did you think of this idea, and why did you choose to implement it in a puzzle/platform game?
As I mentioned, And Yet It Moves started as a proof of concept for a university course. Our supervisors constricted us to make a 2D game, which really helped a lot because we could focus on game design rather then technical challenges. So we posed the question of how can we give the player more abilities in a 2D space and that's basically where And Yet It Moves came from. The ability to rotate the world gives the player more freedom and possibilities in a 2D environment as it basically removes vertical limits. We still kept the basic character control of a standard platformer as players know how to deal with this and can give more thoughts to the actual challenges of turning the world.
    While coming up with ideas of what we can do with this mechanic, it quickly became clear that a lot of the challenges will be very puzzle-y, as many of them resolve around maneuvering the character or other objects through rotating the world. We liked that combination and during user testing players seemed to like it as well, as it alternated between reaction/timing challenges and puzzle elements where the player needs to think more carefully.

Why did you choose to name the game "And Yet It Moves"? Did you want to have some ambiguity about the game?
When we finished our prototype and had shown it to everyone of the game design course it originated in, we started thinking about a name and also asked our colleagues, who suggested E Pur Si Muove. We like the name mainly because rotation of the world is the main game mechanic of And Yet It Moves and that name had a nice indirect reference to it.
    
And yes, we also like its ambiguity - who is the center of what, what rotates around what, etc. - as that keeps the player's mind open and unsure what to expect of the game.

Another noticeable feature of your game is the fantastic design, which looks as though it's been made out of paper. Why did you choose this design?
That design mostly arose out of necessity. We are a team of four computer science students, so our team lacked a specialized visual game artist. We looked for a style we liked that we would be able to produce. The roughness and analog feel of a world set in a paper collage provided just what we wanted, without the necessity of artists building it.
    At first we just wanted to go with a pencil on paper look, but that seemed too empty and boring. We looked for ways to make it more interesting and came up with the idea of using ripped-up photos to make the levels more vibrant. Trying to emulate an analogue look is quite tedious though, making the levels look good took a lot of effort. Next time we might go for a more digital and procedural look :)

And Yet It Moves started out as a PC game. Why did you choose to release a WiiWare version?

We launched And Yet It Moves for PC and Mac as that's where we started to develop for and also where it was easiest to distribute the game on. Of course we always thought about a possible console launch and at the end of the development cycle we started contacting the console manufacturers. We didn't have a contact to Nintendo and were not sure if the Wii was the right platform for our game though so we never had high hopes for WiiWare. Luckily, we were also part of the Indiecade 2008 Showcase and a Nintendo Representative saw our game there at Open Satellite. He seemed to like it so he asked us if we wanted to make a version for WiiWare. That was quite some great news for us and from there on we became Licensed Nintendo Developers.

How will players control their character and the direction of the gravity with the Wii remote?

We want to provide the players with different control schemes, depending on if they want to play it more casually or if they want more direct and finer control and go for speed runs. The latter control scheme will probably be a direct mapping to buttons on the classic controller and a control scheme in between casual and hardcore might involve controlling the character with the analog stick on the Nunchuck and using the Wiimote for rotating the world. Rotation could be with buttons or maybe a simple gesture.
    For the newcomers and casual gamers we want to use the pointer to rotate the world. A lot of people always have a problem to anticipate how the world will actually turn when they press the button and many are frustrated at the beginning that they usually rotate the wrong direction. We would like them to be able to grab the screen anywhere with the pointer of the Wiimote by pressing and holding the A button. Everything will freeze and players can move the pointer to rotate the world freely. This way they can see a preview of how the world will look like when they rotate. Once they release the A button the world will snap into one of the four possible 90 degree variations.

That's sounds ace, but one question that fans of the original will want answering is whether or not you will be featuring any new content in the upcoming WiiWare version? Will the level design remain the same, or will it all be brand new? Any chance of seeing some extra modes in this edition?

The levels will most likely be a 1:1 translation of what people can now play in the PC and Mac version. We might have to split them up a bit and make the longer ones shorter, but if we do that then it will be out of a technical necessity. Our main focus for us is to implement good ways to control the game using the Wiimote. Still, we hope that we will find some time to make a few more bonus challenge levels and include them in the WiiWare verison.

Have you considered implementing any other Wii specific support, such as through the Balance Board or WiiConnect24?
We will probably support the classic controller but haven't yet thought about using the balance board or WiiConnect24. We do want to have online highscores and ghost competitions, so we might find some use for that.

We understand that Nintendo has the final say on these matters, but how much would you guys like the game to sell for, and when do you hope it will be released?

Although we haven't talked about pricing with Nintendo yet we would like it to sell for the same as on PC and Mac which is $9.99. We hope that we can make a release Fall/Winter 2009, but as this is our first console release we are a bit unsure how long the approval process will take.

Other than And Yet It Moves, do you have any other ideas for future Broken Rules games?
Not yet. We do want to start a new project soon as we haven't done much game design lately and we would love to use our brains for coming up with fresh ideas. We want our next project to be smaller though because we would like to have quicker development cycles to be able to work on more and more different projects. Next to WiiWare, the iPhone is also a very interesting platform for these kind of projects which we would like to take a closer look at. Right now we have to focus our resources on the WiiWare version though. Once we can see an end for that process, we will start thinking about future projects :)

Thanks for your time. Do you have any last words to say to our readers?
Check out indie games, there's such a wealth of great, innovative and surprising little games out there, and it would be a shame if they were to get missed!

Again, thanks for the interview, guys, we look forward to seeing the game on WiiWare later this year. For more information on the PC version of And Yet It Moves, including a free demo, go to www.andyetitmoves.net.


Felix Bohatsch was talking to Billy White
DISCLAIMER: All screenshots used here are for the original PC version of the game.
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