Indie developer Lewis Pugh talked to Nintendo News about Twisted Fusion, his new Wii U eShop-exclusive open world platform adventure game.
Indie talent is on the rise for Nintendo’s 3DS and Wii U consoles. The raw talent and quality bursting from the small independent studios that make it all possible are only improving over time with development tools such as Nintendo Web Framework and Unity. Whether new to the software development scene, or seasoned veteran with a successful list of published titles, there are always new, innovative, unique, and interesting gameplay experiences being offered from independent developers.
Nintendo News recently had the privilege of talking with Leuvsion’s Lewis Pugh about his upcoming Wii U eShop-exclusive title called Twisted Fusion. If you like water pistol-wielding women protagonists, open-world platform experiences, crazy quirky baddies and bosses, beautiful music and scenery, and loads of in-game fun, Twisted Fusion is right up your alley. Let’s hear what Lewis had to say.
Twisted Fusion Development
To start our interview, could you please tell us your name and a little bit about yourself?
My name is Lewis Pugh, and I’m 26 and an indie developer in the UK. I also host the weekly Infendo Radio podcast. So as you can tell, I’m a big Nintendo fan and I love to talk Nintendo. I’ve always been fascinated with how games work, which lead me to game development from an early age.
When it comes to developing video game software, what’s your background? And, is Twisted Fusion your first project for a Nintendo platform?
I’ve been creating games way back since I was about 8. My dad brought home some software called Klik & Play by ClickTeam, which lets you make games without code. You just used your mouse to import objects into the game field and used something called the Event Editor to programme what you needed the objects to do. I was hooked and was making games more than I was playing them. Eventually, I was introduced to newer and more advanced versions of ClickTeam’s game making programmes and I never lost interest.
When Apple announced the App Store for the iPhone, I, like many others, saw a great opportunity to get games out to an all-new, very large audience. Unfortunately, this meant (at the time) I had to drop my cozy relationship with Click Team’s visual creation tools and jump over to something more traditional: Objective-C and Xcode.
I set myself to learn this strange new language and built a simple game in less than a month. I ended up putting update videos up on YouTube, which became quite popular and drove me on to complete my task. Thankfully, I did manage to update something to the App Store at the end of that month. Since then, I have been making games for iPhone, iPad, and later, Android and Windows Phones.
As an independent video game developer, you’ll be publishing your own software. What’s the name of your publishing company, and when was it established?
My game developer name is Leuvsion and it’s the name I’ve been using since I started iPhone development; I also set up a business account in the same name. So this was established in 2008. The name actually comes from the name of an organisation in a game I’ve been planning longer than I’ve been creating mobile games called “21 days.”
How long has Twisted Fusion been in development?
Twisted Fusion has been in development now for almost 6 months, when I was accepted by Nintendo as an approved Wii U developer. As Twisted Fusion is a re-telling of my iPhone game Twisted Fates, you could say it’s been in the making since 2010.
What factors and motives inspired you to say, “I want to create a title for a Nintendo system”?
Ever since playing my Game Boy classic and SNES, it’s always been a dream to have one of my own games on a Nintendo system. I’ve been developing for mobile now for about 8 years and, with all the indie talk among the big console manufacturers, I felt now was the perfect time to step up. Having built for multiple mobile platforms simultaneously, and knowing it was a pain, I also wanted to focus on just one console to make that game the best it can be.
While I was pondering about what would be the best platform to start off with, Nintendo announced, during last year’s GDC, the Nintendo Web Framework — a way for small teams to create games and apps on the Wii U using web standards. This really did make my choice easy, and that same day I sent in an application to Nintendo to become a Wii U developer.
Audio composers, programmers, and graphic designers are all part of the development process. Are any other team members involved that provide assistance with any of these roles?
Yes, this is not a project I could do by myself. Ville Vuorio is our 2D sprite artist. We started working together with Twisted Fates where both of our characters appear. The he developed the same style for his PC game Twisted Tower, also set in the same universe; so we already have a big archive of 2D sprites to pull from. One of the reasons Kickstarter is modestly priced is because we have a lot of costs beforehand.
Jonathan Adamich is our composer who also worked with us on Twisted Fates. Again, we have already got a lot of this stuff together which helps us keep our Kickstarter price low. Argjent Feka has done all the anime art shown thus far and we expect to add more artists to the fold as development continues.
Software development tools such as Nintendo Web Framework and Unity make the development process much simpler and efficient. How have these technologies helped with bringing Twisted Fusion to life?
The simple answer is that you wouldn’t see a lot of indie developers moving over without these rapid development tools. I was looking into traditional coding for the Wii U before the Web Framework announcement, and if I would have chosen that route, we wouldn’t be seeing Twisted Fusion coming out this year.
I think both Unity and the Nintendo Web Framework will help other multi-platform indie developers also support Wii U. Wii U, as we know, doesn’t have a huge market share. But with the ease of bringing games over, you may as well when you have these standards supported.
Have there been any hurdles encountered during the development process?
So far things have been relatively smooth. I was expecting more headaches jumping from mobile to console, but this simply hasn’t been the case. Thankfully because the Web Framework is based on an industry standard, you have a large choice of tools to work with. The tool I’ve settled on was not the first one I tried. In fact, I played around with quite a few. The fact that I had this luxury instead of being tied down to one proprietary software suite is really great, and should make development possible regardless of your background.
What’s Twisted Fusion All About?
How did you come up with the name “Twisted Fusion”?
The Twisted name originally came up when Ville Vuorio (HitmanN) and I were working on Twisted Fate. Twisted became our project name and we made games under the sub-brand Twisted Team (www.twistedteam.com). HitmanN is currently developing a PC game in the same universe called Twisted Tower. As for the word Fusion? Unfortunately, it is story related so you will have to play the game to find out the mystery behind the name.
Can you please give us a description of the game, its inspirations, and storyline?
Twisted Fusion is an open-world 2D platformer. You play as Cora, who after being warped into the strange world of Evan, is left to fight her way back home, find her friends, and figure out the mystery of Twisted Fusion. When you do find your friends from the real world, they will also become playable characters and you will be able to switch between them on the Wii U GamePad.
Having access to multiple characters will help you solve more advanced puzzles and even take on enemy hordes in all new ways. Whilst I’ve tried not to base Fusion off of any one particular game, and looking back at what Twisted Fusion has become, it’s safe to say my inspirations come from games like Super Metroid, Shantae, and Kid Icarus: Uprising. The last game on that list may surprise some. One of the elements I really like about Kid Icarus: Uprising is that you have a difficulty slider that you set before each mission. The higher it was set not only increased the difficulty, but also the loot you would get to spend on weapons once you cleared each level.
Twisted Fusion has a system where you have a difficulty slider on your GamePad at all times (this gets frozen during combat), so you can play around with the difficulty and ramp things up if you need the loot. It’s a really fun system to mess around with as a player.
Twisted Fusion became a Kickstarter project on April 1st of this year. If the minimum funding goal of £3,000 (approximately $5,000) is met, the title becomes a Wii U-exclusive title. At the present time, only £426 (approximately $700) is needed to make it a reality for Wii U fans. How do you feel about that?
As a small indie developer who has made mobile games so far, I am thrilled about the support this game is getting. It’s one thing for people to buy my games from the digital app store, but to have the faith to put the money in upfront is really incredible. So thanks to everyone who have pledged so far. We are really close and, with the time left, maybe we’ll even be able to smash through some of the extremely fun stretch goals.
If successfully funded, what time frame can fans expect to see Twisted Fusion appear in the Wii U eShop, and for what regions?
If funded, the plan is to release Twisted Fusion this December in Europe and America. Then I am looking to release the game in as many different countries as possible, including a Japanese release during Q1 2015.
Have you decided on a price point yet, or is it still too early?
Things can change and I will likely need to localize pricing worldwide, but I am aiming for around the same price as the game will cost you currently on Kickstarter, which is £7 / $12. One of the great things about the eShop is that the developers are in charge of pricing. Nintendo is also flexible now in terms of doing sales, so that is very encouraging.
Are you considering releasing any type of DLC (Downloadable Content) in the future?
Most of Twisted Fusion’s stretch goals come out in the form of DLC. We have an auto-runner game called Cora-Bolt, a Smash Bros.- inspired fighting game called Twisted Smash, and even a 4-player co-op. In terms on non-stretch goal DLC, it would be fun to add seasonal outfits for Cora, for example.
While development of the title is still an ongoing process, do you already know how many levels will be offered and about how long the title will take to complete?
The over-world and game towers are all planned but, from my experience, you can’t hold your original plans too sacred. Changes will be made along the way during development, during play testing. The overall scope, themes, and general ideas however are pretty set. There aren’t levels per se, as most of the game takes place in one big connected world, but there are towers which take on a similar role that dungeons do in the Zelda series. The are four major towers (like the 4 dungeons in Majora’s Mask) and there will also be other towers you can challenge which are not needed to complete the story.
Would you ever consider bringing Twisted Fusion to any other consoles in the future?
The pitch for Twisted Fusion really has been a Wii U exclusive, so I won’t be bringing this to any other consoles. Maybe further down the road I will release a PC/Mac version, as it wouldn’t be too much extra work. And the PC and console markets don’t compete too much. I think a good idea would be putting this to vote among the Kickstarter backers as they are the ones who have funded this project.
From the gameplay footage I’ve already had the pleasure of watching, Twisted Fusion looks to be a beautiful masterpiece. For fans curious about the graphics, what resolution will the title support, and at what frame rate will it run?
Currently, I am developing Twisted Fusion in 720p running at 60 FPS. The game looks great running in silky smooth 60FPS, so it’s a shame the online videos don’t capture this. 1080p/60 FPS would likely be possible too, but we can’t confirm that we will be able to support it at this stage.
When it comes to controller options, there are many different types of configurations that can be used. What, besides the Wii U GamePad, will be supported?
As a Wii U owner, I really appreciate controller options. I, like many others, have lots of different controllers I can use on my Wii U, so it’s good when you can put them to use! I can confirm Twisted Fusion will support the following: Wii U GamePad, Wii U Pro Controller, and Classic Controller / Pro. If the multiplayer stretch goals are met, I will also add in Wii Remote support for people who don’t have four “traditional” controllers.
Will there be any type of online or local multiplayer options available for Twisted Fusion?
The initial Kickstarter goal for Twisted Fusion will get us the big, single player experience. However, there are stretch goals which add multiplayer to the main game and multiplayer modes like Twisted Smash. There won’t be online multiplayer, but I am very intrigued about online interaction in a big open world. Perhaps you could see who of your friends have cleared certain towers by reading the sign upfront? I think there’s lots of online interactions you can do to enhance a game without doing direct online multiplayer.
What about Miiverse integration? Some games don’t offer this. Will Twisted Fusion allow players to exchange memorable screenshots and thoughts about this game via the Miiverse experience?
Miiverse is a great part of the Wii U (and now 3DS) experience. I’ve not confirmed any Miiverse features yet, but I can imagine posting messages and pictures on bulletin boards around the world. You could warn friends about what is ahead, alert them to a secret, or just be mean and leave wrong information.
What is your current relationship like with Nintendo?
I am a Wii U approved developer and Nintendo is aware of Twisted Fusion. Thankfully, I haven’t needed their help much so far during development but whenever I have, they have been a pleasure to deal with and always have some very interesting information. I’m very happy working with Nintendo and it’s been a great experience so far.
Do you have any other projects forecasted for the future?
When I was making mobile games I would often manage several at a time. However, now I am totally focused on Twisted Fusion for Wii U. It really is refreshing to go back to making not only just one game, but a single SKU at that. You really can focus on how to make this game the best for this system. As alluded to in my Kickstarter, my final stretch goal is for a game, in itself, called 21 Days. If this goal is not met, I will definitely try again once Twisted Fusion is all wrapped up.
I’ve already heard a lot of excitement from the community for 21 Days, which is based off some of the core-concepts of Majora’s Mask like the Doomsday Clock. This is also an open platformer game that includes Cora. So hopefully, people who enjoy Twisted Fusion can also look forward to 21 Days in the future.
END OF INTERVIEW
Lewis, you’ve poured your heart out today. It’s easy to see how passionate you are about Cora’s new Wii U eShop-exclusive title. Thanks you very much for your time today and we wish you all the best in the future!
Presently, the Twisted Fusion Kickstarter has just over eight days left and only needs £300 (approximately $500) to become a reality for Wii U owners.