Puzzle Quest was a game that snuck up on us a bit at GamingNexus, well everyone except for Cyril who raved
about the game. The folks at D3 know they had a hit as the game was a huge success on the DS, PSP, PC, and Xbox Live. This week the team behind the game is releasing the follow-up to the game and we got a chance to talk to the producer behind the game, Marcus Savino.
What do you think made Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords so popular? Were you surprised at how well the game was received?
D3 certainly had high hopes for Puzzle Quest: COTW. I think it’s very hard to predict when something is going to really connect with audiences, but it is certainly a game worthy of the praise.
Something tells us this isn't just Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords with a sci-fi skin. What have you done in Puzzle Quest: Galactrix to combat the "more of the same" criticism that will inevitably pop up? In what ways is Puzzle Quest: Galactrix different than Challenge of the Warlords?
Aside from some shared code under the hood, Puzzle Quest: Galactrix is a brand new game. We have an entirely new interface as well a redesigned puzzle board, enhanced particle effects and lots of cool 3D elements. And that’s not even getting into all of the new game features which I’ll go into more later.
What kind of RPG elements will we see in Puzzle Quest: Galactrix that we didn't see in Challenge of the Warlords?
There are a few key things that make Puzzle Quest: Galactrix really exciting for RPG lovers. Most importantly, there are almost limitless options for customizing your ship. We have spread 150 items across 80 galaxies and the greatest rewards will go to the players who look hard for every item. An even cooler feature is that players can have up to three ships in their fleet at any time, so each ship can have a unique build for different kinds of circumstances.
In addition, the aspect of building wealth in Puzzle Quest: Galactrix is a fun game on its own. You can go to asteroids all over the galaxy and mine for different cargo types. Once you have acquired them you can take them to space stations and sell them. However, depending on your faction standing with a specific system, your best price for cargo will change.
Developer Infinite Interactive has a history of fantasy fiction games, so the first Puzzle Quest game drew upon the company's experience. But Puzzle Quest: Galactrix takes the somewhat trickier science fiction route. Why boldly go where you've never gone before?
That’s what fans appreciate, the willingness to take a successful premise then evolve it into something unique, while still staying true to the heritage. Plus, putting Puzzle Quest: Galactrix in a different setting allows us to experiment in a different universe from the beloved Challenge of the Warlords without alienating the Challenge of the Warlords fans who wouldn’t have a sequel any other way than in the fantasy realm. Galactrix is an evolution, but more importantly, it’s a cousin to Challenge of the Warlords, so it will stand on its own.
When a game garners an admirable level of success--which Challenge of the Warlords certainly has--there tends to be a succession of clones that want a slice of that pie. But Puzzle Quest has more or less sidestepped that. Why do you think that is?
I think it may be easy to clone one of the two elements that defines Puzzle Quest…but it is much more difficult to clone both in the same package. It’s a commitment…and not a very easy one. I think that Steve Fawkner and his group at Infinite had a very strong vision to explore a different take on the match-three puzzle game, and where they succeed is in staying committed to both aspects, puzzle and RPG.
The first Puzzle Quest was much beloved by us here at GamingNexus--we gave it an A-. How does it feel competing against yourself?
It’s an honor to be a part of the Puzzle Quest legacy. I don’t see it so much as a competition as it is a responsibility to fans such as GamingNexus to make sure that we deliver an experience that is just as worthy of the praise you guys gave Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords.How do you tweak the AI for each character in the game? Can you talk about how you make each character in the game different?
Ultimately, it comes down to the ships and the weapons/items for each race and character in the game. We were able to create a solid, base level of AI (that doesn’t cheat, by the way), enhance it with ship type, and then customize with weapons and items. There are limitless combinations of ships and items that allows for a wide variety of AI opponents. This is crucial to ensuring that as the player continues through the game, the AI remains competitive…and fresh.
It seems like there's a lot of discussion in the industry between what people call hardcore games and casual games. What do you think of the argument and where in the spectrum does Galactrix fit?
I think the line is blurring rapidly. “Hardcore” probably used to describe a game that was a first person shooter or maybe an MMO. But FPSs and MMOs are more successful than ever all over the world and convert first time gamers into hardcore grinding freaks. Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords was the first RPG for many “casual” players who then turned around and became RPG fans. So I would say it’s a “casual” game that turns you into a “hardcore” gamer!
Are there any real differences between the various versions of the game? Any chance we'll see one make it to the iPhone/iTouch in the future?
Each platform has its strengths, but the same gameplay is present in all versions of the game. We don’t have anything announced about iPhone/iPod Touch at this time, but don’t count it out as a possibility.
Can you spill some secrets in terms of advanced strategies or tactics that player should try out in the game? Do you have any personal tricks that you like to use in the game?
Sure, here are five must have tips for winning battles.
1. You control how pieces on the battle board refresh! So select a piece to make a match. Whichever direction you move that piece will dictate how all new pieces come onto the board for that turn. This also works in all of the mini-games.
2. Think about how your moves could benefit an enemy ship before you make them. Try not to help your opponent by leaving them a costly mine or shield match.
3. A great way to defeat your opponent faster is to always think about how you can do the most damage every turn. Try to think:
a. How can I do the most damage using what is on the battle board?
b. If there are no Mine matches, how can I use my items to damage my opponent?
4. Enemy ships will do anything they can to protect themselves. Don’t leave shield gem matches on the board for your opponent to use. Use them first!
5. USE YOUR ITEMS!!! Some of these ships are tough; proper use of items will make you considerably more powerful.
We'd like to thank Marcus for taking the time to answer our question and to Brandon for helping to coordinate the interview.