Conducted by Omni
us about yourself – your name, how you got involved in the gaming
industry, role on Transformers and at least one little-known fact about
name is Jonathan Chmura, Producer for Atari, Inc. (located in the
Beverly, MA Studio). I began my career in the gaming industry as a QA
tester for Hasbro Interactive. After being involved in QA for about 3
years, I accepted a move into Product Development. I’ve since
remained, and have worked on many different PC and console titles as
Producer prior to being lucky enough to be assigned to work on
Transformers? Why now?
gaming industry has always had a passion for a Transformers game to be
created that was worthy of bringing the Transformers universe onto next-gen
gaming consoles. Our development team (Melbourne House) has made an
absolutely brilliant game based on this franchise that will appeal not
only to fans of the Transformers series, but also to a wide audience of
gamers looking for a great action-shooter/adventure gaming experience
for the PS2.
there any anxiety about working on such an internationally known license
as Transformers? How will
you please all the fans?
this game based on the Transformers franchise has given us unlimited
content to mold our great game around. First off we have some of the
best characters to use for our game, the Autobots and Decepticons. We
bring their never-ending struggle into our game, and give the player the
ability to play as three of the most popular Autobots (Optimus Prime,
Hot Shot, and Red Alert) to take on their deadly adversaries - Megatron
and his evil Decepticons. We’ve also incorporated a third race of
Transformers, called the Mini-con. The Mini-con are collected throughout
the entire game and give weapon and ability upgrades to the player.
many members of the team grow-up during the ‘80s watching the old
course! The passion for creating our game originates from growing up
watching the original ‘80s cartoon. But, what we wanted to do was
encompass the Transformers universe in our own way for a next-gen game
experience. We’ve given the characters a look and feel that is less
toy-like and a little more gritty and battle-worn.
transforming into vehicles opens up all sorts of gameplay opportunities.
What kinds of missions will gamers face?
converting into vehicle mode plays a big part in how you navigate each
location, evade a fire-fight, or gain speed to jump over a large chasm.
We give the player full control over using their character in vehicle or
robot form throughout the game.
direction and mission updates are given through HQ Comms (headquarters
communications) or hi-res FMV sequences that will drive the storyline,
setup key battle sequences, or communicate mission directives.
the game engine versatile enough to handle flying units?
Definitely. And there are locations in the game that require a specific Min-con upgrade that allow the player to reach areas they normally could not – like by activating a pair of glide wings! Each character is able to attach this and then launch themselves into a free gliding movement whenever possible. This allows the player to then re-visit levels and reach areas they normally were not able to access with normal movement.
keep in mind that many Decepticon enemies have flight capability (like
Cyclonus and Starscream) and they’ll be zipping around the skies
trying to take out the Autobots whenever possible.
kind of environments can gamers expect to explore?
development team has created their own in-game environmental technology
system that allows them to create highly detailed and free roaming
environments throughout the game. You’ll be exploring the dense
ecosystem of the Amazon forests, or the desolate wastelands of the
Antarctic. Other massive locations will be encouraging the player to
fully explore them, to find the lost Mini-con or all of the hidden
extras throughout the game world. We have eight massive levels to
explore, some containing indoor as well as the exterior environments to
wage battle throughout the game. And there’s also a fantastic
encounter on another world that fans of the series will know and that is
the setting for our final boss fight.
there unlockable goodies planned for the die-hard fans of the
order to further please fans of the Transformers universe, we have
created a massive database of unlockable “extras” that are collected
throughout the entire game. These extras allow the player to view game
production materials, character data, Hasbro toy info, mini comics, as
well as the music and movie files created for the game. All these will
appeal not only to the Transformers fan, but to all players searching
for these great extras. And there may be a few surprises to really
please the die-hard Transformers fans!
all the stories that have been told in the Transformers mythology –
from the movie to Beast Wars to the comics – how do you come up with
an original story to tell? Will
the story be woven into the established mythology?
story loosely encompasses the Armada storyline but we’ve added our
twist to create a compelling in-game storyline to drive the action
throughout the game. We’ve basically taken some plot details from
Armada where the Autobots and Decepticons are racing to Earth to find
the lost Mini-con. Whichever side has the most Mini-con will have the
edge in winning the war that has raged on for ages. Since our game
relies heavily on the acquisition of the Mini-con upgrades, it seemed
only natural to convey portions of the Armada storyline.
you give us a rough idea of how Transformers controls? Is there much of a learning curve?
controls mimic those of most action/shooters for the PS2 and requires a
minimal amount of learning-curve. We utilize all functions of the game
controller in order to provide the player with the controls necessary to
move their character and the camera, fire weapons, jump and convert into
vehicle or robot form whenever necessary.
We also give players a first-person mode of play (called “Recon
Mode”) which allows them to move in a more stealth-like fashion when
encountering enemies. This first person mode also aids in aiming at
distant or moving targets.
kind of weapons are planned for Transformers?
using the Mini-con system of upgrading your characters throughout the
game, and encouraging the player to search each environment fully to
rescue all of the lost Mini-con, we offer over 40 different types
of weapon, defensive, and movement upgrades to the player. These include
different blaster types, secondary missles or grenades, shielding or
stealth fields, as well as speed-burst engines or glide wings.
was the “Aramada” subtitle dropped?
using some elements from that storyline, we didn’t want to corner this
title into being only recognized as based solely on “Armada”.
We’ve added characters and plenty of content not related to this
storyline, and felt it would not fit with keeping the “Armada”
working with a licensed property like Transformers, who has final say
over what can and cannot be included?
most licensor relationships during a development cycle, we’ve been
working closely with Hasbro throughout the entire development process,
making sure they’ve been pleased with the overall design of the game.
They’ve had input on character design, voice talent scripts, extras,
and any details in development that we felt was necessary for their
approval to move forward on. Needless
to say they have been very pleased with our development and agree that
we’ve taken Transformers into a new realm of interactive
the team hits a collective roadblock how do they come together to
overcome it? Have there
been any roadblocks during the development cycle?
Any design issues that seemed to be complicating areas of development are immediately identified and discussed as a group, and then acted on. This allows the development team to stay focused on their specific jobs, and the design team can continue to provide necessary direction. Towards the end of our development cycle, we’ve even come to agreement on a few design tweaks following some focus-group testing, which allows us to create the best gaming experience for our players.
(March 26, 2004)
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