Xbox360Asylum.ca is dedicated towards the cause of introducing Canadians to amazing home grown talents that we enjoy in this great country. Artificial Mind and Movement is a perfect example of such homegrown talent. Based in Montreal, Artificial Mind & Movement (A2M) is Canada’s leading independent game developer, employing 500 talented people in Montreal (Quebec) and Santiago (Chile). Since 1992, A2M has released 70 titles across every game platform, with over 28 million copies sold worldwide. Our studios work with the industry’s top publishers and licensors, including Activision Blizzard, Bethesda, Disney, Electronic Arts, Fox, Konami, LucasArt, Viacom and Warner.
On September 15, Artificial Mind & Movement will be celebrating the release of WET, their first Xbox 360 title, Patrick Fortier, the Creative Director of WET took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions concerning the anticipated game.
BW: First I would like to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer a few questions for my website. I do understand that your time is limited, so let me get right to the questions.
WET was first announced during the 2007 Leipzig Games Convention by Sierra. I remember reading that the game was already in development for quite some time prior to the official announcement. When did development of WET actually begin?
PF: Prior to 2007, development had started on a playable prototype mixing guns and acrobatics. This prototype led to WET once Rubi was developed as a character and gave birth to the grindhouse universe and storyline of the game. So A2M worked on the the concept with a very small team for 1 ½ years before greenlighting WET with Vivendi in 2007.
BW: Looking at Artificial Mind & Movement's (A2M) impressive list of developed games, I could not help but notice that WET is the first title to receive a “Mature” rating. Was there an inner rebellion among A2M developers who wanted to create an edgier title after having mostly developed games targeted for a younger audience?
PF: Actually, there were a lot of people here at A2M who were craving the chance to work on a more mature title. While this in no ways represents a shift in direction for the company - A2M will continue to make family oriented titles - it’s certainly adds a new fold to the company’s repertoire.
BW: Again browsing over the list of over 70 games developed so far by A2M, I noticed that just about all of the titles with the exception of Scaler, were based on an existing intellectual property. Is WET or Rubi Malone based on any existing intellectual property?
PF: WET and Rubi were developed 100% here at A2M and the company is quite proud of the results!
BW: I watched the video that was released with the developers of WET speaking of the primary influences for the game. The names of Tarantino and Clint Eastwood came up. I can clearly see these influence in the art direction. What other director/actor/character influenced the development of WET?
PF: The general style of 70’s exploitation movies led to the flavor of the script along with a lot of the visual filters we use in the game. We obviously paid attention to Hong Kong cinema as well since WET is all about high-flying acrobatic action.
BW: Were there any particular female influences for Rubi?
PF: Rubi is a tough girl, but we really wanted to give her a strong “blue-collar” flavor. We wanted her to feel accessible and relatable. She’s really just one of the boys, so it’s hard to talk about female influences.
BW: The game appears to have attracted some big Hollywood names with Malcolm McDowell (Caligula, A Clockwork Orange) , Eliza Dushku (Buffy, Dollhouse) and Alan Cumming (X2’s Nightcrawler) all doing voice work while the script is being handled by Duppy Demitrius (24, The Closer). How did these talented individuals come to join the WET development team?
PF: I think they were all attracted by the very fresh style of the game. People appreciate the fact that the game does not take itself seriously and simply embraces its crazy, over-the-top nature. It’s very liberating to work on stuff like that because a lot of these people don’t often have the chance to let loose like that in the regular course of their day, so I think that played a big part. Also, we showed them a lot of concept art for the game and they all fell in love with Rubi as well as the universe we were starting to build.
BW: Activision and Vivendi Games (parent company of Sierra) merged and promptly cut development of many games, including WET. What was the mood like at A2M when you found out the news? Were there any thoughts of simply cancelling the project?
PF: Actually, when that happened, A2M reacted quite quickly by buying back the rights to the game in order to find a publisher. As a result, there was no impact on development and we were able to take our time and find a partner that shared our vision!
BW: In April we got the news that Bethesda Softworks would be publishing WET. The name Bethesda Softworks carries a lot of street cred, but is renowned for its large open world role playing games and not really action oriented shooters. Was this a concern for A2M?
PF: There were no concerns when meeting with Bethesda, everything clicked right away. They understood what we were striving for and really enjoyed playing the game. Communication with them has been great ever since because they are so experienced making quality titles. They really understand everything that goes into the development of a game. They really have supported us all the way and it’s been great working with them.
BW: The WET demo has been released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 to mostly positive reviews. Have there been any last minute alterations to the game based on the feedback received from the gaming community? With the demo made available so close to the retail release, was there any time to implement any changes had the reviews gone south?
PF: Since E3 we’ve started doing a lot of hands-on demos and the feedback has been really positive. Obviously, this is a genre where you can’t please everybody, but the overwhelming majority of people who played it found it intuitive and fun. At that time, we still made a few tweaks on the game (mostly on some of the early tutorials.
BW: WET is scheduled for release the exact same day as two major hockey titles. Was Bethesda Softwork or A2M not concerned how this would impact sales, at least in Canada?
PF: I think we have a good release window. Hockey is big here, but it’s not really direct competition. With a lot of titles pushed back to the end of the year or 2010, I think it gives us some nice breathing room in the action genre.
BW: WET is a multi-platform game with development of the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions done simultaneously. Was the development of the game more challenging on a particular platform? Was there any concessions made to the game to accommodate both platforms?
PF: No, we didn’t find the need to make any concessions.
BW: Achievements are an important part of the Xbox 360 gaming culture. The achievement list for WET has been released and appears to be the typical selection of "complete a level" or "kill so many enemies with a specific weapon" variety. Were there many discussions when contemplating what achievements to include in the game? Does Microsoft or Bethesda Softworks have any input in what achievements can be included in a game or not? Same question relating to trophies on the PS3.
PF: One of our game designers is an absolute achievement fanatic so we felt very comfortable letting him lead the efforts on this ;) Actually, Bethesda did have a few suggestions and some achievements were added towards the end, but overall the list was finalized pretty early in the development.
BW: What was the size of the WET development team at the start and at the end of the project?
PF: The original prototype which led to WET was started by a 5 man team. By the end of the project the team grew to about 90 people.
BW: Does A2M feel the game development industry is missing/lacking in any particular gaming genre?
PF: I think there’s a lot of interesting possibilities for more “niche” titles now with all the different new platforms available to developers. The “garage teams” concept could really prove viable once again!
BW: Rubi Malone is truly an inspiring and interesting character. Will we be seeing her again anytime soon?
PF: We certainly agree that Rubi is very iconic and that her universe is still very rich in possibilities. But, right now our focus is on getting this game out the door!
BW: And finally some of my readers wanted to know, how can they become beta testers for your next Xbox 360 title?
PF: Candidates can get more information on A2M.com
BW: Mr. Fortier thanks for your time. I would also like to thank Sylvian Awad from A2M and Bethesda Softworks who made this short Q&A possible. I look forward to sharing the answers with my readership.