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Interview With Bruce Chia of CarneyVale: Showtime

September 23rd, 2009 by

From left to right: Jingying Yeo, Bruce Chia.

We caught up with Bruce Chia at the CarneyVale: Showtime booth. He’s one of the four programmers who worked on Showtime as undergraduates at the Singapore-MIT Gambit Game Lab. If you missed the game’s preshow summary, you can find it here. Otherwise, read on for a peek at the inspirations, problems, and future for CarneyVale: Showtime.

Pixelsocks: Could you tell me a little bit about your game?

Bruce: This game is about this acrobatic clown called Slinky. He’s a rag doll, and he’s living in a circus world called Carneyvale. Slinky wants to become the best performer in the world, but because he is a rag doll, he has to use rotating grabbers to help swing him around and complete levels.

Pixelsocks: I’ve read that pinball was an inspiration for CarneyVale: Showtime, but it’s more commonly called a puzzle platformer. Can you explain that?

Bruce: One of our first few ideas for this game mechanics was to use a pinball flipper and other things like bumpers. However, we eventually found that they weren’t suitable to use with the rag doll.

Pixelsocks: Most games that try to mix pinball and platforming elements end up terrible. What it is that you think makes your game work where those other games failed?

Bruce: Well, to be honest, I’m not too sure myself. I think that one important element is the rag doll. It’s kind of funny to see him bumping around, so there’s an additional layer of gameplay there. Some people play the game just to see the rag doll being bumped around.

Also, I think the objectives that we developed in this game are more suitable to be mixed with pinball. It’s fun to collect all the balloons and find secret stars, so it all gels together in the end.

Pixelsocks: Another thing that stands out about your game is its extraordinary level of polish. That said, I was wondering if you learned from development that you would do differently.

Bruce: Yes, definitely. Probably the biggest mistake we made with this game was localization. We didn’t think about localization when we made the first version and we’re having trouble moving it to other languages right now.

We’ve also found that the last few levels are too difficult. So that’s one of the mistakes we want to correct–redesign the levels to be friendlier and more fun. At first this game starts off like a kid’s game, and most people want to try it. However, once they try it, they find it’s as challenging as a hardcore game.

Pixelsocks: Is this project pretty much complete at this point?

Bruce: We’re not really doing any more work on the XNA version right now, but we’re thinking of moving this game to other platforms, like PC. So you guys can look out for that early next year.

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