Posted 29 November
Media Molecule’s Tearaway – developer diary #1: “Jamming”
We’re constantly trying to think about how to share more details on the development of our games with the rest of the world, to show how we work, and how the games are coming along. So far we’ve not been particularly successful at this. It is after all quite a hard nut to crack, as traditionally game content is kept under lock and key, and polished until ready.
So, we thought we’d try our hand at some development diaries, starting with this written one, and hopefully taking the conversations through to our podcasts, and maybe some video diaries too.
We’d very much liked to evolve these to share as much as we are able to, and to discuss the development of our games in a depth people feel interested in reading about, so please let us know your thoughts on what you’d like to hear us talk about.
So, what have we been up to since we first announced Tearaway for PS Vita, and where are we now? Let’s ask the game’s Producer, Michelle Ducker!
Back in early August on the eve of Gamescom in Germany, a small group of Molecules sat in the audience of the PlayStation press conference after spending a full day in rehearsals. It was an incredibly emotional and nerve-wracking experience, and a very special moment for the whole team. This was where we were going to reveal what we had all been working on for the last year and a bit – our next game, our new IP: Tearaway.
The moment Jim Ryan began introducing Rex and Alex was terrifying. Lots of buzzing questions and worries began circling in our minds. Will the game crash? Will it do something weird and unexplainable? Will there be time to grab the back-up Vita we’ve prepared that was sitting on the side of the stage? Will it go horribly wrong? Live demos are always a risk… Gulp!
Back at Mm Towers in Guildford, the rest of the team was crammed around a TV set watching the live stream of the event as it was happening, possibly thinking the same things. Looking back, this all must have been a very new feeling for most of the team – I can imagine the anxious excitement that they must have all been feeling at that moment, especially for our rocking QA team, who were working right up until the line with us on the Friday before the event, getting the stage build ready for this day.
All in all, the experience of taking this little concept and getting it to the point where we are demo-ing it onstage at a major games event was pretty epic and extremely overwhelming.
Well, it’s been a few months now since that tense and exciting moment at Gamescom, and it might seem that we’ve been super quiet over at Mm Towers, but we haven’t! For the Tearaway team, it’s been non-stop. We immediately began to tackle a lot of the key areas of the game we felt weren’t strong enough, and focusing on the bits that will become the foundations for us to build an entire game upon.
We’ve had quite a few ‘jamming’ sessions whilst making this, the first being the god-like powers, and then, post-Gamecom, we spent time on Iota’s abilities and how they developed during the paper adventure.
The jamming process involved the whole team writing a big list of all the things that they wanted to try out, all the ideas we had, and then people would go off to work on them, either alone or partnering up with others to try stuff out. We would review the prototypes daily, and critically figure out which ones were fun, and more importantly, strong enough to make it into the shortlist for our next epic challenge, building out first game theme!
Lots of really cool stuff came out of the little jams we’ve had along the way, as well as a lot of really wacky and crazy ideas that didn’t quite make it in. It’s funny because throughout this time you really get a sneak peek into the minds of our design and gameplay teams; the results could be genius, hilarious, and at times… disturbing! It’s our favourite way to work together, and it brings out the best in each person in the team. I’m looking forward to showing some of these experiments at some point!
So, what does this all mean? We’ve set ourselves a very key milestone for a few weeks from now, by which time we aim to produce our first fully playable game theme, one that will form the framework and basis for the rest of the game to be built upon. It’s an exciting time for us and there’s lots more to do!
The game theme we’re building is a marooned island in a lake of glue, where something fishy is going on. We don’t want to say much more than that right now, as with any luck we’ll be showing more of it before the end of the year, and we don’t want to spoiler people too much. Teasing is way more fun!
We’re looking good for our milestone: the underlying technology, visuals, animation, audio, and gameplay for the theme are well underway, and in building the whole area we hope to find the answers to many questions we’re still asking ourselves about the rest of the game.
We’re very much looking forward to showing you more soon, and hopefully keeping these dev diary conversations alive. If you have any thoughts about what you’d like to see us talk about, perhaps in more detail, then let us know – we’re open to suggestions!
If you’d like to hear a little more on the post-announce highs and the things we’ve been working on, you can tune into the most recent Mm Podcast.
Whilst most concept art is traditionally sketched with pencils or rendered on computers, a lot of ours is made from cutting out and folding pieces of paper. We pulled together all the scraps and half made bits and pieces from around this cutting mat, to give you a little teaser of some of the things we are working on for this big milestone. Look out for them when we reveal it for real!