The War of the Worlds Interview (PS3)

There are some things that will never get old, that will always be remembered, re-mastered and re-done. War of the Worlds is one such thing - the original book was one of the first novels to deal with alien invasions, and has inspired the sci-fi genre ever since. Now, indie studio Other Ocean are doing their own take on the classic tale, and we spoke to their head of development to find out about it:

Strategy Informer: War of the Worlds is a bit of a classic - are you nervous about adapting it for a modern audience?

Mike Mika: Absolutely. Very nervous, actually. When the opportunity came up, I had seriously just finished reading it again. How do you convey the hopelessness, desperation, and fear that Wells’ so masterfully delivered in a downloadable game? Our initial meetings were solely spent on figuring out how we could convey those key emotions with a small team and a short schedule.
Strategy Informer: In terms of visual style, where have you taken your main source of inspiration? From the original texts or perhaps some of the media adaptations that have arisen since?

Mike Mika: We originally started with a 16-bit style, and quickly took that into HD. It looked really cool at that point. The “what-if” took hold of us: What if Amiga could display this many sprites? What if the Genesis could use additive blend? Etc. We held ourselves to a very strict 2D style, using parallax layers to convey depth. It was challenging and honestly, we may have been a little crazy for doing it. But we like the way it looks!

Strategy Informer: You're releasing on the PSN and the XBLA... any chance of a PC version as well?

Mike Mika: We’ll be making more announcements soon. PC is a natural place for us to go.

Strategy Informer: There's been some talk recently that, as a platform, XBLA has reached its peak - what do you think about that as someone who is interested in distributing your game via XBLA?

Mike Mika: I don’t think I would agree with that. I think XBLA has matured, but I wouldn’t say it has peaked. In the early days, a lot of us were trying to convince people that it would make for a viable publishing platform. Microsoft changed the way people thought about digitally distributing software on console. What people may be thinking when they say something like “XBLA has peaked” is that it is harder, now, with so many games on the platform, to have a runaway hit that just owns the top of the charts like Castle Crashers. Otherwise, like most mature platforms, it comes down to marketing a game, and delivering a good game. If War of the Worlds goes out there and sells nothing because people don’t like the game, that’s our fault, not XBLA.

Strategy Informer: Will you have any music from Jeff Wayne in your game?

Mike Mika: No. However, we do have an amazing new score by the incomparable Chris Huelsbeck. He recorded live with the Macedonian Orchestra.

Strategy Informer: What was your main inspiration behind wanting to do this game?

Mike Mika: We really wanted to make an old school platformer, something like our favourite old PC titles like Prince of Persia, or Karateka, or Out of this World. We really liked Flashback. While we wouldn’t be able to build a game to the scale of those titles, relatively speaking, we wanted to pay homage to them. We really loved the process behind those games, from taking videos of ourselves performing moves for the main character to trying to create interesting scenes with a small palette. Those games used a lot of smoke and mirrors to build something with a lot of integrity. If we get even remotely close to that kind of game, I’d be very happy.
Strategy Informer: How much have you taken from the 1999 video game of the same name? Or even the old 1984 game?

Mike Mika: Nothing. Not that we don’t like them, but we sort of wanted to do a big reset on the game and try to make something that came from the original context.

Strategy Informer: Any news on a firm release date yet?

Mike Mika: Halloween is an important time for War of the Worlds. The radio broadcast is an annual tradition for so many people, and I think, before any official statement, that it’d be awesome if we could release by then.

Let's just hope that, this time, America realises aliens are not invading the planet.


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