Interview with Encleverment Experiment Design Manager, Ed Linley

Interview with Encleverment Experiment Design Manager, Ed Linley

PPG: Were you hoping to inspire more families to play together when you first developed  Encleverment Experiment?

Ed Linley (EL): Although the game is playable in single player (both against AI opponents or against your own previous best times and scores) and online, we felt the main way to play Encleverment Experiment was with family or friends, all around the same TV. The interaction you get in that sort of situation is priceless and that’s why we decided to support the Big Button controllers as well as the regular controller, figuring that not many families have a full set of four regular controllers!

This decision influenced the design of some of the mini-games, in that we had to ensure that players couldn’t get hints of their opponents’ answers by watching the screen. For example, we had one mini-game idea that involved moving sliders around the screen. However, while this could work online, if everyone is watching the same TV they could potential copy each other.

So yes – while the single player and online modes were, of course, very important, we placed a large emphasis on family gaming, from decisions like those above to the implementation of difficulty levels (to suit all players) and the Home-Made game feature (allowing parents, for example, to tailor the game to suit their child).

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PPG: Professor Ivor Question is a very unique character. Was he, or any of the other NPCs, based after other people that you might have known in real life?

EL: Well, I won’t name names but I did work for three years to get a degree in Astrophysics, so yes, I’ve been around a fair few crazy-haired boffins in my time! One of the Mascots, the cat-disguised-as-a-mouse, is named Squeak, after my first pet cat in real-life. Our Mascot artist designed the little guy first and the name just fitted too well to not use!

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PPG: When you were developing EE, what was your source for all the brain teasers, and mathematical questions, in the game?

EL: The whole team brainstormed ideas for mini-games – all ideas were welcome, the crazier the better! The designers at Blitz Arcade came up with a large selection and we invited Mere Mortals to add some too when they started work on the game. In the end we fully designed at least 25 mini-games from which we picked the best 16 to squeeze into the game.

The rejected ideas either broke some design rules that we’d set early on (see my comment about the ‘slider’ mini-game earlier) or didn’t fit in some way. Some ideas worked well within the science lab theme and others required a little playing with to make them work. For example, one idea was for a criminal photofit game – you saw the photofit then had to pick the criminal from a police line-up. That didn’t fit the theme, but once we changed it to four faces emerging from a malfunctioning teleporter, we ended up with the Teleporter Troubles mini-game.

We very deliberately steered away from including trivia questions in the game. We felt that trivia is something you either know or you don’t and divide children and parents. We wanted puzzles and questions that everyone could work out. This also meant that, with a little practice, anyone could improve over time – hence Encleverment!

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PPG: You have some very interesting mascots in EE. What made you choose the mascots you have?

EL: We wanted Mascots that would appeal to all gamers, so while they’re all cute, some are obviously going to appeal to the hard-core a little more (the KISS panda seems to be popular) without alienating anyone. On the technical side, the Mascots had to share a basic skeleton, so you don’t see any fish, insects or giraffes in the game, but beyond that we pretty much included every Mascot we designed.

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PPG: We here at Pixel Perfect Gaming really enjoyed playing Encleverment Experiment. Does Blitz Arcade have other projects in the works?

EL: Well, we have to be a bit cliché here and say that we can’t talk about a lot of the stuff we have going on. The only games I can talk about are our up and coming Blitz 1UP titles, which include Fluttabyes, Clover: A Curious Tale and Mole Control.

Fluttabyes is an addictive Match 4 puzzle game with a butterfly theme developed by Red Chain that will be available for PC from the start of December

Clover: A Curious Tale is an updated of the much-praised Xbox Live Indie Game Clover. Developed by Binary Tweed it is a platform adventure title with beautiful hand painted water colour backgrounds and a deep storyline.

Mole Control is a modern take on the classic Minesweeper gameplay. The player is pitted against an army of cute, cuddly and deadly explosive moles and must save the town from infestation! Developer Remode has crafted a wonderfully charming and challenging game that will be out early next year.

For more information on EE, visit www.enclevermentexperiment.com

Thanks for letting us talk with Pixel Perfect Gaming readers!

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