Max and the Magic Marker Developer Interview
Press Play is a developer based in Copenhagen, Denmark. They are working on a WiiWare title expected to be released later this year entitled Max and the Magic Marker. Ole Teglbjærg, a member of their development team, sat down with us to discuss this title, the plans they have for the future, and what other titles inspired the development of Max.
But first, the trailer...
And now, the interview...
Can you tell us a bit about Press Play and how you became involved with WiiWare?
Press Play is a small indie studio based in central Copenhagen Denmark. We are eight people working on different projects, with Max and the Magic Marker being the main focus at the moment.
WiiWare is, in our opinion, a perfect fit for Max and the Magic Marker. Partly because the main mechanic relies on a pointer device, but also because we believe that there is a market for this exact kind of game on Wii. We've seen games like Lost Winds do quite well on WiiWare, not to mention World of Goo, and I guess that also led us on.
There is a set of children's books entitled Harold and the Purple Crayon where the main character can draw and interact with anything he can imagine. Was this any inspiration behind this game at all? Where did the idea come from?
None of us had ever heard of Harold, but last summer (2008), one of the guys stumbled upon an old Harold book in an antiquarian here in Copenhagen and bought it. Then we Googled it, and it turns out it is famous. We had no idea!
The idea for Max was conceived in the winter of 2007/2008. At the time there were two major trends in gaming - physics and drawing. The first videos of Little Big Planet had been released and it was getting a lot of hype. And drawing games like Crayon Physics and Line Rider were pretty successful.
When the idea to combine the two –- and making a “free” drawing mechanic was there -- a Flash prototype was made, and we had a lot of fun just playing around with it. That proved to us that the combination of platforming and drawing would work out. During the development of the prototype, Mike (Mikhail Akopyan / game designer), worked on the concept and made a bunch of sketches exploring the possibilities of the puzzles and mechanics. This made it even clearer to us that the possibilities within this concept were enormous.
To be honest, I have to say that right from the start, we have felt that this concept was too good and too obvious an idea that we thought our biggest problem was going to be being the first to bring it to the market.
Other than that, we all remember what it was like to draw as a child. What was a cool robot shooting giant gorillas with dumdum-laser to you, looked like random lines to other people. That ability for Max to enter his drawing/fantasy, has been a key element in the overall design and concept.
What types of environments and enemies will we be seeing in this game? How interactive will the environments in the game be?
I'm not sure how much I can say just yet, but there will be three worlds, friends and enemies, lots of stuff to play around with, secrets to discover, and challenges to beat.
Can you describe the controls for us? Will we be using any of the motion elements of the Wii Remote aside from the pointer functionality?
The player controls Max's movement with the Nunchuk and the pen with the Wii remote. There will not be motion control stuff. The controls are challenging enough as they are.
You recently had a group of 2nd graders in the office for inspiration. How much if any of their work will make it into the game?
The drawings will be used in different ways. Some of the elements will make it to the game, of course in a version that will match the overall look and feel. But mainly the drawings are used for inspiration as to how childrens' drawings actually look, and how they think -- just look at the house with eyes on the blog -- children are weird.
Do you see this being the beginning of a series? Can we hope to see more titles like this in the future?
If everything goes as we hope for, we will make a sequel where we can make use of the ideas that didn't make it into this one. We have a strong belief in this game and the overall concept, but it is impossible to say at the moment.
May we possibly see some online elements in the game such as level creation or level sharing among friends?
Sadly no, but it is definitely on the list for the sequel. What we have found, though, is that especially children have a lot of fun sharing controllers - one guy with the Nunchuk and the other controlling the pen. This makes it possible to play co-op with your kids, helping each other through the challenges.
Do you have any other ideas brewing that we could see down the line in future titles?
Yes! We were lucky enough to receive initial funding for prototyping a concept we call "Hard Plastic", which looks nothing like Max. The basic concept is to take what is fun about shooters and make it appealing to people who normally avoid them. It's a big challenge, but if it works out, it is going to be a lot of fun.
Along with Hard Plastic, we are working on a racing game for octopuses (octopi?) called Octoracer. It's a strange concept and we are still in doubt as to what platform it would suit best, but the initial steps have been taken.
Is there any idea on a release date and pricing for the game?
Nope. We really can't say anything yet.
We would like to thank Ole once again for joining us to discuss Max and the Magic Marker. The game just entered the Alpha stage, but you can follow all the information about the game here on Nintendojo or at the developer’s blog.