Previously categorized as cheap attempts to make money, games based on properties have come a long way over the past decade. Pixar realized the importance of the art and began working closer than ever with the teams developing video games based on its films. The Toy Story 3 and Cars 2 games are recent success stories for Disney Interactive and Pixar, smartly developed to be accessible and fun for everyone, without alienating gamers looking for more of a challenge. Recently, I had the chance to ask Brave video game producer, Glendon Dphrepaulezz, a few questions about Pixar’s involvement, the gameplay, and more. Read our exclusive interview with him after the jump!
Pixar Times: Can you talk about the development process of the game? When did development first begin? How much is done at this point?
Glendon Dphrepaulezz: The development process for the game mostly went as expected for any video game – concept and pre-production to gameplay tuning and finalizing. Where it differed for “Brave” was the collaborative time spent with Pixar, specifically toward the beginning of development when the most impactful decisions were made. During the initial stages of development, a lot of time was spent deciding what the core tenants of the game would be, based on the insight we received on Merida’s character and personality in the film. It was very important that the feel of the gameplay properly reflected how viewers felt about Merida after seeing the movie. At this point, we’re essentially done with development on the game. Now we just need to get it on store shelves!
PT: How closely have you worked with Pixar on the game?
GD: We worked very closely with Pixar when making “Brave: The Video Game,” from early concept to completion. We all wanted to be sure that the game properly reflected the movie experience in both content and design, and the only way for us to ensure that this happened was by staying in close communication with them. Pixar was involved with everything from the decision of the game genre, to environment art direction, to the animation design of the enemies found in the game. It was very much a collaborative effort.
PT: How does the story in the game follow along with the story of the film? How much was added on top of the film’s story?
GD: The story in the game follows the overall direction of the film’s story, but puts more focus and emphasis on the elements that make Merida a hero. The film takes more time to emphasize the development of Merida’s character and her relationships within the story. While the game has character development, it puts more emphasis on Merida’s ability to handle a threat that has fallen upon the Highlands of Scotland.
PT: What was the reasoning behind adding motion control to the gameplay? Can those without Kinect and Move still play with traditional controllers?
GD: We felt that Merida’s affinity toward the use of a bow lent itself very well to motion-control and gesture-based gameplay. This is why we added the Archery Range mode for Kinect and Move. However, the main portion of our game was designed around the use of traditional controllers, because we felt that it worked best for the game design we chose to pursue. “Brave: The Video Game” can still definitely be enjoyed through the use of traditional controllers.
PT: How do the console versions differ from the Nintendo DS version?
GD: The console and DS versions differ quite a bit, but both are derived from the same design direction. Both are adventure titles with a focus on combat and platforming. The two different versions of the games both have similar combat upgrades, similar upgradeable weapons, similar enemies, and both use our Elemental Charm system, which incorporates earth, fire, ice and wind elements into Merida’s sword and bow attacks to defeat enemies and complete platforming challenges. The differences really boil down to the intricacies of the game design for each of the platforms.
PT: Are there any plans for online play or downloadable content?
GD: There are currently no plans for online play or downloadable content.
PT: Considering that this is a game based on a Pixar film, it will likely catch the eye of adults and children alike. Can you describe the balancing process of making it accessible to children, but still making it enjoyable for adults?
GD: We actually consider accessibility to be something that is important for all ages. The goal behind the game’s design was to make an enjoyable and satisfying experience, as opposed to one remembered for its increasingly difficult challenges. Now, this not to say that there is no increase in difficulty – there definitely is, it just took a back-seat to accessibility. And for players who really want that challenge, we have a “Brave” difficulty level that will give them exactly what they’re looking for.
“Brave: The Video Game” for PS3, XBox 360, the Wii, Nintendo DS, PC, and Mac is scheduled for release on the Tuesday before the film hits theaters. Look for it in stores on June 19. It is currently available for pre-order on Amazon, which is offering a coupon for $8.00 off the Brave movie ticket price.
Many thanks to Glendon for taking the time to talk about the game and to Disney Interactive for setting up the interview!