4cr Interview – Broken Rules

by Antonio Garcia

Chasing Aurora was released along with the Wii U as one of a handful of games to take advantage of the new eshop for Nintendo’s latest console. I got a chance to talk to Martin Pichlmair of Broken Rules about the game; here’s what he had to say.

4cr: Could you please tell us a bit about yourself and what you do at Broken Rules?

My name is Martin Pichlmair. I’m one of five founders of Broken Rules. Since we’re a small studio, I wear a lot of hats. In the company, I’m responsible for business development, contracts and marketing. When it comes to games I’m doing a lot of engine stuff, I’ve written our level editing tools and I’m writing most of the story. At Broken Rules, everyone is a game designer.

Can you describe Chasing Aurora for some of our readers who may not be familiar with it?

Chasing Aurora is a 2D local multiplayer aerial sports game. You play a bird-like creature that has to win against fellow birds in a tournament. There are three different multiplayer modes, some of them offering asymmetric gameplay supported by the Wii U GamePad. There’s also a time-challenge singleplayer mode.

How was developing Chasing Aurora for the Wii U eShop different from doing And Yet It Moves on Wiiware? Was not having a restriction on the file size for the game liberating?

All in all the Wii U is much easier to develop for than the Wii was. I can’t go into too many technical details here because we’ve got an NDA with Nintendo. What I can tell you, though, is that the development environment for the Wii U is very comfortable. Also, the technical features of the console are a good fit for our engine and I really like the graphics chip.

How many people did it take to take Chasing Aurora from concept to finished product? How long was it in development?

There were 11 people working on the game, plus a number of interns working on the engine and tools. We’ve built our own tech base along with the game so it is very difficult to measure what time went into Chasing Aurora alone. The first ideas of a multiplayer flying game popped up at the end of 2011. Serious development of the title started in early 2012 but we had several projects in parallel at that point. The main production phase of Chasing Aurora was about 5 months long.

Did any of the work or tech from the physics-based platformer And Yet it Moves make its way into your Wii U release?

The experience did. The tech is completely new. I think we’ve learned a lot about game design during And Yet It Moves. And we’ve also learned that we want our own engine. Publishing And Yet It Moves on WiiWare also taught us how excruciating releasing a console title is. It was much easier the second time around.

You worked hard on an update for Chasing Aurora. Can you elaborate on some of the things that were changed or added with this update?

There are a couple of enhancements and changes in the update. First of all, multiplayer modes are geared towards 2-3 player matches. We’ve changed the tournament structure to be more suitable for one on one challenges and also added some new elements for this situation. For example, there’s an AI enemy added to the game of hide and seek when you’re just two players. Additionally, we’ve tuned the performance of the game, the loading times and made the single player mode considerably more challenging.

I know you can’t go into specific sales totals, but are you happy with the way the game has performed at the Wii U eShop?

We’re content with it. Given the overall success of the Wii U we are doing just fine. It’s a pity that you can’t bring the game to other consoles, though, because it’s built so much around the unique capabilities of the Wii U.

Now that the patch is out the door, is the studio working on new prototypes of games for the Wii U eShop? Or do you have something in the works for the 3DS eShop as well?

We have nothing in the works for the 3DS. Yet we’re certainly working on a new game set in the same world as Chasing Aurora. All I can tell you so far is that it will be a single player game.

Anything else you might want to share before we close the Q&A?

We’ve also added new hints that talk a little bit about the playable characters of Chasing Aurora. Each of them has a back story which sadly didn’t make it into the game yet.

We would like to thank Martin for taking the time to do this interview, and wish Broken Rules all the best with Chasing Aurora and their next game!

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