July 03, 2007 - In another interview discussing Metroid Prime 3, Retro Studios President and CEO, Michael Kelbaugh, and the game's director, Mark Pacini, both shed light on what new technical possibilities - besides the obviousness of the controls - that Wii allows for over the GameCube. They also touched on how their approach to this trilogy ender has been different to the previous two games.
"What we’ve done in this game is make it a little more accessible," explained Pacini. "It’s not as laborious, it’s not as difficult to find out where you need to go, but it’s still very involved in that sort of gameplay."
Unlike Metroid Prime Hunters, which saw somewhat of a departure from the Prime series, re-traversal is a major component of Metroid Prime 3. "And that’s something from Prime 2 that we learned from," said Kelbaugh, "as it relates to, “you know, maybe it was a little frustrating.” So that’s something we really took a hard look at to make sure that it was a quality experience as opposed to reiteration and re-traversal just for re-traversal’s sake."
On the topic of the difference between developing for Wii and GameCube, Pacini commeneted, "Well, our production pipeline was similar, so it was a lot faster for us to get up and running on the game hardware, which was great. But we were also able to make a great deal of enhancements to the game world. There’s more polygons, higher-res textures, bloom lighting—a lot of graphical enhancements that we were able to make on the Wii that we couldn’t do on the GameCube."
And that's been achieved with "a lot of balance, a lot of polishing. A lot of feedback. It’s not additions or subtractions of particular elements, it’s just fun. Do we continue this battle? Do we make it longer? Do we make it shorter? What is your frustration level? It was a lot of that. A lot of refinements. A LOT of polish. It’s easy to just say “okay, nine hits will kill it now, instead of ten,” but that’s the cheap way."
Pacini said that while Retro's trying to reach players who don't normally play games like Metroid, "First and foremost, we’re here to make a great game for our fans. Beyond that, we wanted to bring over other gamers who might like other types of games, but who might not have given a Metroid game or first-person shooter a chance. We’re not looking to make this game easy as cake for grandma. It’s about knowing our audience, which I think we do, and knowing how much more Metroid can offer to other types of gamers."
Kelbaugh added,"We really looked at the Wii from a philosophy of “wow, look at all the stuff that we can do now,” as opposed to “well, it doesn’t do this, and that’s kind of a bummer.” So for us, we were really able to accomplish a lot more things than we could do on the GameCube. And in my opinion, it’s the best-looking Wii game out there.
"I won’t say it was seamless, but it certainly wasn’t like developing on a brand new piece of hardware with a six-month learning curve," he continued. "The development environment is a cakewalk to work with, and we feel we took advantage of what the hardware has to offer. I’m partial to the bloom lighting, it’s a really nice effect, and we could never have done that on GameCube."
One of the differences to the design side of the game - and that wouldn't have been possible on the GameCube - are the larger environments present in Prime 3, said Pacini. "We try to tell the story through the way the player travels through the game, and having these larger environments where the player can see farther and see things interacting with each other is something we couldn’t have done on GameCube...the environments have to be very interesting and very different to keep the players interested in walking around. So now we’re able to make these huge, expansive environments and have more things going on on-screen at the same time."
Many people were unhappy with Metroid Prime 2, and they felt that re-traversal needed to make more sense. Kelbaugh said that Retro acknowledged that, and explained, "We made sure we revised the experience to make it more accessible without making it easier. It’s hard to do. Making it equally as challenging without making it as difficult… It’s easy to say, but hard to do."
Good read. I have faith in Retro to make this game awesome. Going to be interesting to see what the wii can do.