Teslagrad was first announced for the Wii U several months ago, but was recently highlighted as a European-developed indie title hitting the Wii U eShop in the coming months. Teslagrad is a 2D puzzle-platformer where both your creativity and logic will be put to the test as you navigate treacherous levels armed with the power of magnetism. I’ve had my eye on this game for a while, and wanted to find out more about it so spoke with Rain Games’ Project Lead, Peter Wingaard Meldahl about the game, and it’s journey to the Wii U.
Who are Rain Games? How many people are currently working for Rain Games and who are they? Have you created any games we may of played before?
Rain Games is an independent studio in Bergen, Norway. Ole Ivar Rudi (Olli) is the Lead Artist, Aslak Helgesen does the animation, Petter Amland creates backgrounds, Martin Kvale records sfx, Fredrik Ludvigsen is Lead Programmer, Thomas Tyssøy also does programming, Marte Haugsbø is a Writer, Jørn Lavoll and Linn Katrin compose the music, Magnus Holm is a level designer, Eduardo Garabito looks after the community, Eirik Lund is in charge of testing and bug-fixing, and Aleksander Helgesen does a lot of the book keeping! Most of us are full time, but not all.
Ah, before I forget, I am Peter Wingaard Meldahl. I am the Project Lead. I do a bit of everything, and keep the rest co-ordinated. I do my best to hold the vision together!
For most of us Teslagrad is our second game project. The team was working on Minute Mayhem before, but we had to pause that to focus fully on Teslagrad.
Many of the team members experience comes from careers outside of game development, working with other media. We have always been deeply passionate about games, and as soon as it was possible to start a video game company in Norway, we did so!
Which games and such inspired Teslagrad? How long had the game been in development?
Teslagrad will have been in development for 2 years in a few weeks time. A lot of different things inspired it. Part of that was our own previous project, Minute Mayhem, set in the same universe. There is also the modern wave of platformers such as Limbo, Trine and Braid, but not forgetting the classics like Metroid, Castlevania and Megaman.
A lot of the world and the art is inspired by Nordic and Eastern European history, art and architecture. The character design takes a lot from Belgian comics combining this with parts of the newer Japanese styles of animation.
We were inspired by a lot of work in very different media to see if we could try to do speechless storytelling in a videogame. Comics like Gonn and a lot of different movies, and several older video games, before voice acting became a big thing, is also told by just what you experience. This inspired us to see if we could do this somewhat more purposefully in a modern game.
What’s the status of Minute Mayhem, and why was it put on hold?
Minute Mayhem was our first project. It was going to be a top down “Brawler” for up to 4 players. For this game we created a world with four different nations, we gave it a history and populated it with characters. In the end we could not find any funding for it. However we created a spin-off idea about the origin of our nation Electropia, in Teslagrad.
Minute Mayhem has been put on hold as a consequence. We may return to the game later. In any case we would love to explore the world we have created further in later games.
Will there be any unique content for the Wii U version of Teslgrad and when will it release?
There is a map that really helps you explore the world of Teslagrad. With the dual screens we found that we could use the Gamepad screen to display the map at all times rather than hiding it away. There is also off-screen play of course, but I guess any good Wii U game has that.
The game has to go trough testing at Nintendo, and this is the first time we will have that experience, as a result we dare not be more specific than “fall 2013”.
There are quite a few indie-developed platforming games coming to Wii U, what makes Teslagrad unique?
When making a platformer having some uniqueness is really important. For us it’s about the art, the way the story is told and our core mechanic.
Teslagrad is built around manipulating magnetic forces, in a physics engine that can have many powerful results! We really try not to constrain the player or the environment too much, so that players can really get to experiment with the forces in the game.
The Wii U has had a hard time of late, why did you decide to bring the game to Wii U?
Nintendo has been great! We build on the Unity Engine, and normally making a build from this engine for any console is really expensive license-wise. Nintendo has essentially paid for this, making building the Wii U version free. They have also been great at supporting us and helping in getting people to get to know about the game.
Must have been great to see your game highlighted in a Nintendo Direct?
Very! I grew up with the NES, and being featured in Nintendo’s own information channel was a great experience!
How did you find the process of becoming an approved developer?
Nintendo actually came to us! Today we are an approved developer with Sony too, but then we just had a game that looked different from the others.
I think becoming a Nintendo developer is easy as long as you make games that appeal and that find a good home on the console.
Dialogue with Nintendo has always been good, but being Norwegian we do not get to meet face to face outside of conventions, but so far the long range support is great.
Once development is complete, what’s on the cards next for Rain Games?
The next project looks to be a new story from the world of Teslagrad. There is still a lot there to explore. In all likelihood it will be a different kind of game, but we will try to take the spirit of Teslagrad with us.
I do hope we can keep developing for Nintendo consoles, and I think we will.
Any final words for our readers?
I hope people play our game, and that if they do they will have the experience we’re trying to deliver. I remember my experience with Nintendo games from my youth, and the joy of exploration and mastery. If anyone gets to experience that, then I am happy.
I’m sure you’re like me and eagerly awaiting the release of Teslagrad! Thanks again to Peter for taking the time to answer our questions.