CellFactor: Psychokinetic Wars Interview (PS3)

Having seen Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network pick up steam over 2008, it was only a matter of time when major publishers decided to start putting a lot more focus on developing “next-gen” titles for the online services. CellFactor: Psychokinetic Wars is a prime example of this major push towards next-gen digital content for the consoles and Strategy Informer had the opportunity to speak to the Lead Gameplay Programmer, Mohamed Samir from Timeline Interactive and the Lead Designer, Julian Castillo from Immersion Games on outlook of the title.

Strategy Informer: What’s your name and daily duties related to CellFactor: Psychokinetic Wars?

Julian Castillo and Mohamed Samir: We are Immersion Games and Timeline Interactive. We are the developers of CellFactor: Psychokinetic Wars and the owners of the CellFactor concept. Our companies are two of the few video game studios in South America and the Middle East. Some of the developers which co-founded Artificial Studios moved on to establish Timeline Interactive in 2005 with its headquarters in Cairo, Egypt and offices in Ottawa, Canada. Immersion Games was established by a group of eager game developers and artists with its headquarters is in Bogota, Columbia with offices in Mexico. Our objective is to create the next generation of downloadable games and provide gamers across the world great casual and AAA titles at affordable prices.

Strategy Informer: How long has CellFactor been in development for?

Julian Castillo and Mohamed Samir: CellFactor was conceived several years ago at Immersion games as the company was being established. It got the chance to see the light with the help of Artificial Studios as the PhysX tech demo. The Egyptian team of artificial studios later moved on to create Timeline Interactive in Cairo Egypt, yet still stayed as an integral unit of the CellFactor development team. CellFactor: Revolution was not about the gameplay. Its main goal was showcasing the power of the PhysX technology, not gameplay. CellFactor: Revolution built on the CellFactor idea of characters’ psychokinetic abilities to move objects to introduce a game with thousands and thousands of moving objects to demonstrate the power of the Ageia PhysX technology.

CellFactor: Psychokinetic Wars is a different beast; it is definitely not a remake of the PhysX tech demo. It was designed and developed from scratch as a multiplayer fast paced game for XBOX Live Arcade -XBLA and PlayStation Network -PSN. CellFactor: Psychokinetic Wars is about stringing together the core CellFactor concepts to provide gamers with a fun challenging game that they will enjoy playing every time.

Strategy Informer: Has the team treated the development process for the PSN and Xbox Live the same? Were there any limitations for either service?

Julian Castillo and Mohamed Samir: CellFactor:Psychokinetic Wars was developed from the ground up as a console downloadable game. Most people know CellFactor from the PhysX tech demo developed for Ageia on PC. CellFactor:PW is something different and for us it brought the opportunity to evolve the promise of CellFactor’s concept into a fast multiplayer game. With CellFactor:PW, the emphasis definitely was on the gameplay and the playability. To our surprise, we realized that console controllers were actually quite good at handling all of the abilities of the three characters have while staying simple and intuitive to use.

Strategy Informer: Could you describe the features and gameplay attributes of CellFactor?

Julian Castillo and Mohamed Samir: In CellFactor: Psychokinetic Wars we use Telekinesis to enhance the gameplay. Players can use these powers to enhance their attacks on their enemies. It becomes extremely useful when players run out of ammo. Players can break apart the environment and use the generated debris as weapons; the maps were designed to push players to use these special powers to achieve their required objectives (Capture the Flag, Hack a base, etc...). It is not about the ability to move thousands and thousands of objects. It is about the psychokinetic powers enhancing the gameplay. The world is constantly providing players with objects that they can throw against each other. However, players can also use telekinesis to shield themselves from oncoming attacks, teleport or levitate.

Strategy Informer: How long will the single-player campaign take to complete and what replay value does it offer for gamers to go back and play through a second time?

Julian Castillo and Mohamed Samir: The single player challenges were designed for two reasons. The first is to give players the opportunity to practice and guide them through a series of exercises and challenges that help them master balancing fire power and the characters’ special abilities. The second reason is to allow them to earn points quickly and unlock some of the rewards and visual customizations to differentiate themselves in multiplayer mode.

Strategy Informer: What’s the story behind CellFactor? Is there a central plot that gamers should be concerned about?

Julian Castillo and Mohamed Samir: Like CellFactor: Revolution, we have decided not to emphasize the background story for CellFactor: Psychokinetic Wars, as it is primarily a competitive multiplayer arena inspired by great games that we cherish and enjoy such as Quake 3 Arena and Unreal Tournament. Unlike Revolution, Psychokinetic Wars leverages characters’ psychokinetic abilities to provide gamers with a well balanced, exciting, online multiplayer game. This game is faster than most console shooters and it was developed specifically for consoles, mainly for multiplayer online play on XBLA and PSN. We hope that our gamers enjoy it as much as we enjoyed developing and playing it!

Strategy Informer: Could you go in-depth about the powers that are available to players to use against their opposition?

Julian Castillo and Mohamed Samir: There are three classes of characters in the game. Different characters have different powers. Depending on character of choice, you might have the ability to teleport, telekinetically pull and push objects, power shields, levitate, cache objects –an ability to throw several objects simultaneously, super jump or tackle.

Our three character classes are: Blackop, Bishop and Guardian.

Blackop is a first generation genetically engineered human soldier augmented with telekinetic abilities that can also yield weapons. Blackop can pull & push objects, teleport and shield himself from oncoming frontal attacks. He is also the only character which can use proximity mines.

Bishop is the highly advanced genetically engineered human soldier with extremely heightened telekinetic powers. Bishop does not require the use of mechanical weapons. She is the only character which can fly to elude her enemies’ and escape their attacks, which makes her a bit harder to aim at. Just like Blackop she can create psionic shields and pull & push objects. On the other hand, she has her own set of psionic weapons and she has other psionic abilities such as psi flash to temporarily blind her enemies or psi cache to collect a bunch of objects from the environment and throw them all at once at her enemies.

Guardian is a highly advanced robot. He is the only character which lacks telekinetic abilities, but he can yield 2 weapons simultaneously, representing the shear raw power of steel. Guardian has the ability to perform a super jump offering him a wide view of the arena or the ability to overcome certain obstacles. He also has the ability to perform very fast dodges to escape his enemies’ oncoming attacks. Guardian is also the only character than can use the weight of his steel body to super run into his enemies and cause them severe damage.

Strategy Informer: What type of environments will players encounter on their journey through the storyline?

Julian Castillo and Mohamed Samir: The map environments range from small indoor environments optimized for fast action and one-on-one fights to vast outdoor environments designed for large team confrontations. Lava, acid pits, snow, ice and water bodies are present in some of the maps, but there are no weather conditions directly impacting the gameplay. We optimized the game to handle dynamic objects and provide players with a considerable amount of objects and debris that they can use in the game rather than introducing weather conditions into the gameplay. These are also taxing when it comes to performance. This is a neat feature that you might find in the next CellFactor though!

Strategy Informer: What customization options will players have for their own characters?

Julian Castillo and Mohamed Samir: We built a scoring system that gives players different points for ability and weapon kills. The more points a player accumulates the more rewards they can unlock. Players can select 2 from their unlocked rewards and several of their unlocked customizations in through the customization scene. This gives players a wide range of playable configurations providing a variety of online player abilities.

Strategy Informer: What online game modes will be offered to gamers who specifically play their games online?

Julian Castillo and Mohamed Samir: Death Match, Capture the Flag, Team Death Match, and Assault – each supporting up to 16 players.

Strategy Informer: Are there any chances of download content for CellFactor?

Julian Castillo and Mohamed Samir: Aside from the game itself which is a download, this is definitely something that we are considering.

Strategy Informer: Is there any release date in sight for CellFactor on either service?

Julian Castillo and Mohamed Samir: We’re looking to release the game in March.

CellFactor: Psychokinetic Wars is being developed for both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.