Interview | WayForward Answers Your Questions on LIT (Wii)

By Jorge Ba-oh 27.06.2009 4

LIT is one of the more exciting games being crafted for Nintendo's WiiWare service, a blend of action, puzzles and a poor lad known as Jake who's trying to find his girlfriend in a school over-run by dark creatures. The game is finally coming to Europe, complete with a few nifty gameplay enhancements and fixes.

Image for Interview | WayForward Answers Your Questions on LIT (Wii)

Cubed3.com Readers: Where did the idea for LIT come from?

Matt Bozon, creative director, WayForward Technologies: The concept for LIT originated with Adam. His passion for the game really drove the process.

Adam Tierney, director of WiIWare game, LIT: It was a blend of our adoration toward horror games, interest in puzzle games, and determining what sort of a game would work best on the WiiWare platform. Once we knew we wanted to do something creepy that focused on light vs. dark, the setting, story, and gameplay evolved over discussions between several of us at the company.

Image for Interview | WayForward Answers Your Questions on LIT (Wii)

C3: How was LIT developed?

Adam: After the basic concept was greenlit, the bulk of the production took place over about 8 months. The game had a small team and was developed concurrently to our paid projects. The core staff was 2 fulltime programmers, an effects programmer, and a handful of part time artists.

C3: What does the team think of the Wii as a development platform?

Matt: Wii has been great in helping a developer like WayForward experiment with ideas we might not get to try out on our larger Wii projects. It's nice that publishers and players expect unusual ideas on the Wii. It gives us creative freedom, and allows us to stretch our imaginations. That said, we don't like tacking on motion controls for no good reason, so we try to keep that in check.

Image for Interview | WayForward Answers Your Questions on LIT (Wii)

Adam: The Wii is very unique, and brings a whole new set of challenges and opportunities to game development when compared to the other systems. It's easy to get caught up in using the motion controls in gimmicky ways, or on the other end, completely ignore them. With LIT we took advantage of the Wii-specific controls and features where we felt they made the game better, but at the same time didn't throw them in for their own sake. It had to make sense for the gameplay.

C3: What is unique about LIT? Why should the game be recognized?

Adam: One of the primary goals with LIT was to create something that stood out from all the other available games. We went dark and took a horror theme because there wasn't a game like that on WiiWare at the time (and still isn't, I suppose). We wanted to create something creepy, emotional, unsettling, challenging, and unique with LIT. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but we were very happy to see the game resonate with so many fans and reviewers.

Image for Interview | WayForward Answers Your Questions on LIT (Wii)


C3: How do you feel about the WiiWare interface? Are you worried about LIT getting lost in the sea of games being added to the platform?

Adam: I think the game definitely stands out from the rest of the bunch. It's certainly much darker, in both senses of the word. The Wii shop is a little slow to navigate, when compared to shops on the other systems, but Nintendo really went out of their way to promote LIT, which we're hugely appreciative of.

Matt: There's room for improvement. It would be nice to see the top 10 games, or more easily view my collection. I'd also like to link directly to the videos when browsing games. I often find myself with a laptop so I can learn more while I surf the shop, which feels like an odd necessity.

C3: Why WiiWare instead of a full release?

Adam: There's just too much to focus on in our full Wii retail releases. WayForward has several retail Wii games in development right now, but there's a certain expectation of content with any game that's stuffed inside a box. A digital download allowed us to take more chances, be more abstract and creative with the design, and ultimately create a more unique title than if we'd had to worry about justifying a $50 pricetag.

Image for Interview | WayForward Answers Your Questions on LIT (Wii)

C3: Are you considering a WiiWare sequel or maybe a stripped-down edition for DSiWare?

Adam: DSiWare is very, very interesting to us right now. LIT was a blast to work on, but also kind of exhausting because of the amount of assets and programming required for a console release. Mark Bozon and I have specced out where a second LIT would head, but the team's a little wary to hop into another one at the moment.

As for a DSiWare version of LIT, I think it could definitely work. It won't be the next title you'll see from WayForward, though; we've got some other concepts for the platform right now with more steam. I'd probably be more interested in developing LIT a full retail DSi game, where we could properly expand on the game's story and world.

Image for Interview | WayForward Answers Your Questions on LIT (Wii)

C3: What made WayForward go for the "emo" kid approach? He does seem different from the usual protagonist.

Matt: Before LIT, I didn't know what Adam meant by an "emo". I thought it was a large flightless Australian bird.

Adam: Every kid is emo right now. If I pass by a high school or drop by the mall, 90% of the kids I see look like Jake and Rachael. We played up the 'emo' and 'scene girl' angle in promoting the game because it's fun, but really the point of Jake and Rachael is to have two very believable teenagers in this unbelievable situation. The creatures and situations are so horrific, that we wanted to ground the hero and his princess, so that the player had a point of entry into this world. It's important that the player can relate to the two of them, or else the whole thing becomes a messy, Tim Burton-esque fantasy.

C3: The phone setup seems cool. How does that affect the gameplay/story aspect?

Adam: The game is intentionally very wordless and minimal. We didn't want to slow down the game with lengthy tutorials, cinematics, or anything else that would take control away from the player for long periods of time. So the only way the player can find out more about the story is by racing to answer the phone each time Rachael calls. Each phone call the player answers gives them a little more of the story, and also builds up Rachael's persona (making her someone that's worth saving).

The phone calls are really meant to be sort of a personality test for the player, too. The first time they answer the phone, it's very easy to reach in time, and the player gets their first listen of Rachael. After that, they make the decision to either continue answering the calls, or ignore them. The game can be beaten either way. But if the player answers every call, they get the good ending, and also unlock Rachael as a playable character. Skip some calls, and they get the bad ending.

A few people online got pissed when they reached the end of the game and got that bad ending. But really, that's pretty telling of the gamers themselves. If a player answers every call, they genuinely care for Rachael, so it makes sense that they save her at the end of the game. If the player has a "meh" attitude about her, or only answers some calls, then they get the bad ending. Which also makes sense, because they were essentially telling the game that they don't care about Rachael.

Image for Interview | WayForward Answers Your Questions on LIT (Wii)

C3: Many WiiWare downloads don't have a difficulty setting, but LIT does. Why did you decided to add difficulty settings?

Adam: It's more of a hidden mode, really. Once the game is beaten once, the player will select between Light and Dark difficulty each time a new game is started. Light difficulty is the same level of challenge they just played through. Dark difficulty changes a couple of things. For one, Jake is now a black silhouette, making him much more difficult to keep track of. And second, every level is timed. We calculated the shortest time it took us (specifically our cruel tester, Chris Schroeder) to speed through each level. Then we require the level to be beaten in that amount of time or less. But rather than work off a clock, we dim the global lights. So if a level's time requirement is 30 seconds, that level will dim from fully-lit to pitch black over those 30 seconds. And once it goes black, the level restarts. It made more sense thematically to theme the timer this way than to use a standard clock.

But back to the question: why add the harder difficulty? Because we're mean, of course. We love hardcore gaming, so we added a fairly hardcore mode to LIT as an unlockable. It gives the player one more reason to play through the game again.

C3: About how long is the game?

Adam: It's hard to say, since it really depends on the puzzling aptitude and gameplay ability of the individual player. The game can probably be speed run in under an hour. But the average gamer will take several hours to make it through. And once the game is beaten, it can be replayed on Dark Mode for extra challenge, or with Rachael to hear Jake's side of the phone calls.

Image for Interview | WayForward Answers Your Questions on LIT (Wii)

C3: What is the cost of the game and the release date for LIT?

Adam: The game is in submission with PEGI right now. Once we get it rated, it's off to Nintendo EUR and then on to the virtual shelves shortly after. Early-July is looking pretty likely at this point. We haven't settled on a price yet, but it should be pretty comparable to the US pricetag.

C3: Can we expect any other new exciting games in the future for WiiWare that have clever little twists like LIT?

Adam: WayForward is working on several Wii retail games right now. But in regard to downloads, we're more interested in DSiWare at the moment.

C3: How is the approach to WiiWare different than that of a usual console? Do the size restrictions hinder your ideas?

Adam: Absolutely, especially when you have several minutes of voice acting! 40 megabytes is not a lot of space to brew a 3D game in. Luckily we designed the game specifically for the platform, so we didn't really have to cut anything out, just be mindful of the restrictions as we designed.

Image for Interview | WayForward Answers Your Questions on LIT (Wii)


C3: Will you be using Wii Motion Plus in any of your upcoming projects?

What did you think of the Wii as a console? Great? Over-hyped?

Matt: We've got a game wrapping right now that makes use of Wii Motion Plus, so we're definitely on board with the new tech. Personally I like what the Wii has to offer, and it's my primary gaming system at home. I was a big fan of Gamecube as well. I wouldn't say the Wii is over-hyped, but it is disproportionately appreciated compared to other great Nintendo platforms of the past, probably due to this new "challenging-challenged" audience they're looking for. The new game philosophy is bumper-bowling downhill…everyone wins. Its video games lite. And in some cases, maybe for the masses, that might be ok. But sometimes after a slathering of "I Can't Believe it's Not Gaming" I want to return to real butter.

C3: Do you have access to the extra RAM and better CPU when developing a DSi game?

Matt: I'm not a tech guy, but yes it appears that we can push our games further when they're exclusive to DSi. On our recent DSiWare title Mighty Flip Champs, we chose to keep it simple. So it's essentially a DS game. We'll probably go more complex down the line with more sprites and taxing calculations.

Image for Interview | WayForward Answers Your Questions on LIT (Wii)

C3: Matt spoke about the team's close relationship with German developer Shin'en Multimedia (such as with the soundtrack of SSS). Manfred Linzner of Shin'en later told C3 it would be great to work with WayForward because your close partnership. Can you ever see a collaborative project coming to light?

Matt: I really like Shin'en. Our relationship goes back to the GBC days. I could see us doing a collaboration of some kind. Can you imagine a Sigma Star Saga with Manfred doing the shooter portions and music, and WayForward doing the characters and animation? That would be pretty rad.


C3: Reginald Fils-Aime recently asked what developers should handle certain Nintendo franchises. Could this open the door for WayForward to start talks about any long-forgotten Nintendo series? If so, any thoughts on what you would like to tackle?

Matt: A 2D Metroid, with Samus starting out, trying to break into the bounty biz…something unusual would be cool. The hard part is coming up with a long forgotten Nintendo brand because fans remember everything! Just a second…unleashing the nerd. I suppose Prince Richard (Zelda: Link's Awakening) could get another installment of his original game...the one about the Custard Kingdom. But what I really want is a overall's-wearing bomb-tossing Princess Peach game. Team her up with Chain Chomp and you've got the makings of something great.

Adam: The big one for me would be Balloon Fight. I loved the original and have an idea of how to naturally evolve the series that would be pretty cool. You have our number, Reggie! *wink*

C3: It's well-known now that Shantae is used as a means of showing what you guys can do with various pieces of hardware, but will the previously mentioned WiiWare version ever see the light-of-day, or is DSiWare more likely after your work on Mighty Flip Champs?

Matt: DSiWare is much more likely now. What we were doing on WiiWare would have ended up looking like a Metal Slug…blown up pixel art. That would still be cool, but we've got so much DS style animation and level work it makes for a better fit on DSi.


C3: Matt previously told C3 that he would love to expand on Sigma Star Saga. Has there been any progress on that front, or has Namco Bandai closed the door to future games in that series?

Matt: Adam and I talk about that from time to time, usually as a PSP or DS game, and I think we've found a lot of ways to improve on the original. It could work very well. But I believe Namco Bandai has let it run its course, so we'd need to test the waters with a spiritual successor. Since my storylines and character designs are often cut from the same cloth, I'd hope that players of the original game would latch on if we mixed elements up.

C3: Who is the better captain, Kirk or Picard?

Adam: Han Solo.

Matt: How big are Kirk's hands in this scenario? Are we talking "pre Borg" or "post Borg" Picard? Does Han fire first? I'd need more details.

What do you think of LIT? Will you be downloading the game when it hits Europe? US readers, have you enjoyed LIT?

Box art for LIT
Developer

WayForward Technologies

Publisher

WayForward

Genre

Puzzle

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (3 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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C3: Matt spoke about the team's close relationship with German developer Shin'en Multimedia (such as with the soundtrack of SSS). Manfred Linzner of Shin'en later told C3 it would be great to work with WayForward because your close partnership. Can you ever see a collaborative project coming to light?

Matt: I really like Shin'en. Our relationship goes back to the GBC days. I could see us doing a collaboration of some kind. Can you imagine a Sigma Star Saga with Manfred doing the shooter portions and music, and WayForward doing the characters and animation? That would be pretty rad.

C3: Matt previously told C3 that he would love to expand on Sigma Star Saga. Has there been any progress on that front, or has Namco Bandai closed the door to future games in that series?

Matt: Adam and I talk about that from time to time, usually as a PSP or DS game, and I think we've found a lot of ways to improve on the original. It could work very well. But I believe Namco Bandai has let it run its course, so we'd need to test the waters with a spiritual successor. Since my storylines and character designs are often cut from the same cloth, I'd hope that players of the original game would latch on if we mixed elements up.


Two very important things there, in my eyes. First of all Shin'en and WayForward teaming up would be fantastic news (and something I've wanted to see since I learned they had a good working relationship a few years back). Secondly, that's so typical of Bandai Namco to ditch a good idea just because it wasn't as fruitful as expected first time round. But it's great to hear a spiritual successor could be on the way...

WayForward and Shin'en working on Sigma Siege (or something similar) would be great.

Thanks again to Jordan at WayForward for arranging this, as well as Adam and Matt for providing the great answers Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

I'll buy lit for sure. Up till now, buying the real wiiware games (the good ones) has provided me with the best amounts of fun imaginable for the money. Toki tori, lostwinds, world of goo, I'll buy icarian/nyxquest and lit for sure.

Looking forward to playing it.

But one thing: I think the size is quite adequate. Banjo-kazooie was on a 128mbit cartridge (or 256?) so that's either 16 or 32 mb. I realize gaming has changed and so have game engines and budgets around them, but still... it could be real big...

I will get this game as well as I bought Icarian (I still use this name, it's a fantastic name! The game is fantastic, too).
I like original games that stand out. I would buy Lost Winds any time again (still haven't finished it, thou!).

I find your lack of faith disturbing!

Nice interview, fun to read. These seem like pretty cool guys.

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