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Just Add Water exclusive interview!

by on August 21, 2011
 

I talked recently with Stewart Gilray from Just Add Water (Developments) Ltd. about their past, present and future projects – including the development of Gravity Crash, the Oddworld series, Stranger’s Wrath HD and more…

 

Although a smaller studio, most gamers probably know you for your work on Gravity Crash, an entertaining multidirectional space shooter, released on the Playstation Network in late 2009 for the PS3 and later also PSP. Could you tell our readers how big of a team worked on this title and introduce the core members of your company?

On Gravity Crash we had 4 people, 2 programmers, 1 artist and myself as Producer. When we did Gravity Crash we were smaller than we are now, with just 2 employee’s now we have 7, with more joining soon. Our core team is … myself, CEO, and Steve Caslin our CTO. We also have another 4 people inhouse and 1 more external worker. Our aim is to be at 12 by years end.

 

Looking back, what were some of the challenges that you encountered during development? And was it hard to port the title to a smaller device like the PSP?

The hardest part about doing the PSP version was redesigning the UI system with such a small screen, to make it usable was a real pain. An example of this is the ship selection part. On the PS3 this was done on one screen, on the PSP we had 3 different screens for you to choose from. Ironically we re-wrote the “paint” portion of the Editor for the PSP, and it was a much better, more efficient implementation.

Let’s get back to the present. Currently you are working with Oddworld Inhabitants on several games from the Oddworld series. Did you see this coming and can you name all of them? If it’s not a secret…

We started working with Oddworld back in 2009, so it’s been a while, just over 2 years now. Once we got talking we start to plan stuff out, and even as I sit here now we are still making plans. Currently we have announced Stranger’s Wrath HD for PS3/Vita and PC, as well as Munch’s Oddysee HD for PS3/Vita and PC. With other versions to be announced. We’ve also spoken about Abe HD and Hand of Odd, beyond that I can’t really say I’m afraid ;-)

 

I imagine these must be exciting projects for you to work on. Especially since the Oddworld franchise is so popular and different from anything out there. Have you played the original – Abe’s Oddysee – and what are your thoughts on this Playstation classic? What are, in your opinion, its trademarks that enabled it to become so memorable and successful?

Have I played the original? Yes and I love both of the Abe games, that is why we’re doing this. Meeting Lorne and Sherry was like a dream come true in some regards, I’d actually been hammering a mutual friend of Lorne and I’s for years (5?) to get Lorne to remake Abe’s Oddysee, so to now be doing that ourselves is just brilliant. What got me about it is the games characters and indeed the character of the whole presentation, you felt emotion for these creatures, probably for the first time in a game for a long time, if not ever.

 

Tell us more about Stranger’s Wrath HD. What are you currently working on in the game and what can players expect?

Right now we’re just finishing up various PS3 specific elements, then we’ll be at Beta. During Beta we will be optimizing the heck out of the game. Currently it’s running at 60fps 90% of the time, we want to ensure that it’s 60fps ALL of the time. As to what can players expect… It IS the same game it was in 2005, we’ve just polished it, lots more polys, much more detailed textures. We’ve doubled resolutions most of the textures in the game, in some cases even more. We’ve pushed out the view distance in some places just to give a much better view of the vistas in the game.

 

Is there a set release date for Stranger’s Wrath HD and will we see any of the Oddworld titles on the upcoming Playstation Vita?

We have a window we’re aiming for, but we don’t want to announce that quite yet, until we are officially in submission with Sony. Yes, we already announced back at E3 that we’re bringing both Stranger and Munch to Vita during the Launch window of the new handheld.

 

It seems that HD remakes are becoming pretty popular now-a-days. From God of War and Prince of Persia, to Tomb Raider, Metal Gear Solid and Silent Hill. What is your take on those and do you think more are on the horizon?

I’ve played almost all of them, except the Konami ones for obvious reasons. So far the biggest let down has been the PoP titles, I don’t think they got anything from the HD releases other than people thinking “damn, this really isn’t as good as I remember.” But GoW and Tomb Raider were pretty great.

 

If offered to work on a Crash Bandicoot HD Trilogy, consisting of the original first three games, would you accept?

Only if it was the first 2 :)

 

Thank you for the interview!

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