Vita Developer Interview: Chronovolt
Chronovolt is coming to Vita users in North America real soon. So we figured it would be a good time to ask Luigi Fumero over at PlayerThree to let everyone know a thing or two about it.
What is Chronovolt?
Chronovolt, at its heart, is a rolling ball game. The player has to travel from one location to another through tortuous levels full of moving parts, enemies and the usual keys/doors puzzles. What makes Chronovolt special is the fact that players have the power to control time. They can rewind time (to solve puzzles or to save themselves after a mistake), send enemies to other time dimensions or stop time for the objects on screen. To unlock new levels players need to collect stars. Stars are awarded for finishing a level, for collecting all the chronovolts and for finishing a level under a certain time limit.
How did you design the game around the PlayStation Vita’s features?
We wanted to take advantage of as many features as possible, especially the new input mechanics. The most obvious thing we did first was to use tilting to control the ball, but during development we realised it was a lot more fun to play using the analogue sticks. The tilt control is still in the game, but it is switched off by default. As most of the game is a race against time it is a lot easier to play with the sticks.
Then we wanted to find a nice way of using the two touch panels and that gave us the idea of interacting with the world objects via the front panel. It was actually the brainstorming that we had about “touching objects” that gave us the idea of controlling time and the whole time traveling idea was born. Touching the front panel the player can stop time for some objects. That worked nicely straight away while for the time rewinding power we had to try various iterations. The first version had the player swiping a finger on the top and one on the bottom panel, like thumb and index finger. The idea was that the player was holding the world in his hand and was rewinding the time by moving his hand. While it sounded cool on paper, it did not work well. We tried other solutions until we found that the best one was using two thumbs on the front touch screen. It’s a very immediate action and when the player is in trouble he can quickly rewind time.
What can you tell us about the game’s story?
As mentioned before, the time traveling ideas came from the input scheme discussions. Once we decided that it was all about time controls and that the player needed to collect something to get the time powers we came up with the Professor and Scabious inventing the Chronosphere and then becoming enemies. Then it was only a question of finding a way to get the player to travel to various time eras and giving a reason for the bad guy to do so. You will have to play the game to find out more, but it’s 2012, so the game is about the end of the Universe!
How did they land on a Mayan/Steampunk design for the game? Did they consider other themes? (from @Jeremy_LaMont)
The storyline is all about traveling in time and the end of the Universe. There is a storyline reason why the player goes to the past to check out Mayan and Chinese ruins and to the future, in space. Plus we love the steampunk setting and visuals.
How exactly does the time manipulation work in the game?
The player has to collect chronovolts scattered around to power the time controls. He/she will have 3 different types of powers as mentioned above and they are used not only to eliminate enemies or to rewind time when a mistake is made, but they are also useful to solve puzzles or traverse the levels faster. For example players can wait for rotating platforms to align or they can quickly stop them in time by touching them. Or they can drop to locations where they cannot come back from and then rewind time after they have collected a key.
As this is your first game without the limitations of minis or PlayStation Mobile, what was it like working on the project?
It was nice to finally be able to add Trophies and Global High score charts. We also took advantage of PSN to allow players to send each other challenges.
Any plans in the works for additional content?
We would like to release new levels for the game, but we have not started on them yet.
Right now the only additional content available is a set of 4 different Chronospheres. They give a slight advantage to the player but the game has been balanced so that it can be finished with the default Chronosphere. It is a shame we had a lot of negative tweets from people complaining we made the game too hard to push people into buying the extra spheres.
When can we expect to see the game here in the US?
The game and the first DLC will be available in the US in the 31st of December. The game will be free for PS+ subscribers.
Thanks for this interview and a big hello to all your readers. Follow us on @PlayerthreeUK for the latest news on our games. We have more games coming to PSN.
Thanks to Luigi for taking the time to answer ours and your questions. Look for more coverage on Chronovolt next week.