Transformers fans get ready, as the Fall of Cybertron is upon us! The highly anticipated follow up to 2010’s War for Cybertron is now available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. Recently, I had a chance to chat about the new game with Dave Cravens of High Moon Studios about all things Cybertron and what, if any, other Hasbro properties they would love to get their hands on next.
Can you please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your role at High Moon Studios and on the Fall of Cybertron project?
My name is Dave Cravens, I’m Senior Creative Director at High Moon Studios. I work closely with our game directors and designers to ensure story and cinematic moments come through in our games with clarity and great impact. For Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, I co-wrote the story.
How does Fall of Cybertron fit in with the previous game’s story?
If you played War for Cybertron, Fall of Cybertron is its true successor. The story picks up right where the first one left off. But honestly, it doesn’t matter. Fall of Cybertron stands on its own, not only as an epic story that allows players to experience the final days of Cybertron before they came to Earth, but also as what I feel will be hailed as the definitive Transformers game of all time. This is IT. This is the one fans have been waiting for.
How relieved are you to be back in total creative-control with the Transformers IP (with respect to Hasbro’s wishes of course) rather than being constrained to crafting a movie tie-in?
We at High Moon are Transformers fans—period. That said, it’s always more satisfying for a developer to be able to exert more creative control over what they’re working on. Hasbro is a fantastic partner, and we’ve built a great trust with them over the years so they know we’re going to treat their characters right. They gave us a lot of room on this project to make a great game experience for the player and that freedom has paid off. We told the story we wanted to tell, we made the game we wanted to make. Players and critics will be the ultimate judge, but I’m very, very proud of what the team here has done.
Did the studio take anything from the experience of working on the Dark of the Moon project that it has / will apply to the Cybertron series?
Dark of the Moon was a different team and as you hinted to earlier, had to operate under a different set of rules being tied to a movie. That said, the Fall of Cybertron team took all the lessons they learned from War for Cybertron, really listened to the feedback from fans and critics, and had the time to address and improve upon ideas with great impact. Fans wanted more variety in gameplay—they got it. Every playable character in TFOC has a unique power and personality that changes things up in the minute to minute experience. AI has been redesigned from the ground up. Fans wanted a more epic story—it’s in there. Story is paramount to the single player campaign, and we took ridiculous care to make the player a part of it as opposed to just watching a cut-scene all the time. Even the little things, like Host Migration for multiplayer—it’s in there. And big things like building your own Transformer—it’s in there! Whatever Transformer you see in your head, you can build through our character creation system in multiplayer. You can even adjust the metallic sheen of your character. It’s all in there!
As fans of the source material, how excited were you guys to get permission to incorporate the Dinobots and Insecticons? Was there anything you wanted to put in that you couldn’t?
Matt Tieger, the game director, is a huge dinosaur nerd. Having Grimlock in the game was a must for him. At first Hasbro raised an eyebrow—because dinosaurs don’t exist on Cybertron, right? Doesn’t make a LICK of sense! Well, it was a great opportunity to redesign the Dinobots’ origin story, and Hasbro loved what we came up with. That was a great example of them working with us, giving us the freedom to do what we needed to make some great gameplay—as long as it fit into their canon. The Insecticons process worked very similar, and to spectacular effect.
As a huge fan of the original game, I am ecstatic to see Escalation returning in the new game; has the mode changed or expanded since we last saw it?
Everything is refined even more. There is perhaps more emphasis on the individual roles that each team member gets to play. Don’t play this mode by yourself—you’re going to get your proverbial butt kicked! Grab your friends, crack open your favorite beverage and get ready for some white knuckle-teeth-grinding-four-player-online-coop-survival-mode- awesomeness!
Given that the title of the game is “The Fall of Cybertron”, is this going to be the last game set on Cybertron? Will this game help players transition to a new environment if there is a new game?
Oh clever, clever, media person. I can’t even remotely begin to answer that.
I never would have imagined that we would be creating our own Transformers for use in the game’s multiplayer; how “big” do you think this feature is to the experience and how much of a difference do you feel this will make in the overall multiplayer experience?
I think it makes all the difference in the world. Being able to create one’s own Transformer is something that fans have been wanting for YEARS. I spend hours just fiddling with the options to get the right “look” for my guy. It’s a ton of fun. And then to take my creation, show it off to my friends, and then blast away their obviously inferior walking trash bin that they claim to be a Transformer? There is little more satisfying in life.
In another question directed towards the “fan mentality” of the studio, how psyched are you to have Hasbro announcing a toy line based on High moon’s character designs for their Generations line?
Ohhhhh, I’m a pretty big toy nerd, and I’m surrounded by bigger toy nerds, so were all pretty pumped. Many of us have already bought out several of the stores that showcase the current toys based on our game in our area. For those of you out there who are toy fans—buy our game FIRST! THEN buy the toys. That way you can truly appreciate the awesomeness of the two! (Shameless plug.)
As children of the 80’s, are there any other classic cartoon franchises that you would like to see brought back in a manner similar to what you have done with the Transformers?
I’m a huge GI JOE fan, so I’d like to see someone get that right. You would think it’d be easier, but these days it’s not just making a great game, it needs to have the right size audience and proportionate budget and blah, blah, blah. Still, GI JOE done right would be rockin’!
Is there anything else you want fans to know about the game before it launches this Fall?
To the FANS—buy this game! Seriously, 99.9% of you are going to love it. I can’t guarantee 100% because it’s never possible to please everyone, and that .1% is probably the same crowd I will never, ever share my toys or dessert with.
To the NON-FANS—buy this game! If you’ve been on the cusp about Transformers, THIS IS THE GAME FOR YOU. We want everyone to get into this great franchise, and Fall of Cybertron is the ideal introduction for gamers. The story is multilayered—if you don’t give two bits about story and just want to blow stuff up as a super powerful mega robot that can turn into a vehicle whenever and wherever you want it to? You’re covered! If you’re a casual fan who wants to learn more about Transformers—you’re covered! And if you’re the super fan who knows EVERYTHING about Transformers and still wants to be surprised in a fresh new way? YOU’RE COVERED.
I would like to thank Dave for taking the time to chat with us regarding the new project and to Wiebke Vallentin for setting everything up. Transformers: Fall of Cybertron launches into stores this week!