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Gaming Interview

'Trials Evolution' interview - RedLynx on bettering 'Trials HD'

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Trials Evolution

© Ubisoft

Trials Evolution is the latest instalment in Finnish developer RedLynx's hugely popular and joyously madcap dirt-bike racing game series. Following the massive success of Trials HD on Xbox Live Arcade, the new title improves on pretty much every aspect of its predecessor, including a revamped single player in a larger world, a refreshed multiplayer and a supercharged level editor enabling gamers to create and share their own tracks, and try out other people's creations.

We caught some time with Antii Ilvessuo, the co-founder and creative director of RedLynx, to discuss this major evolution of the Trials franchise.

What do you think did not work in Trials HD, and how did you address that in Trials Evolution?
"I think in Trials HD it was really hard to tell your friend what you were doing in the game. So you might have done this great thing in the levels, but the only way you could share that was by going out of the game, and telling them. You also might not remember what track you had played and so on. It was also truly a mistake that we made the game so that it unlocked difficulty levels quickly, meaning people ended up banging their head because they did not have the skill to do them. We knew that the social features and the difficulty curve were two things that we needed to work on [in Trials Evolution]."

Trials HD was mercilessly hard in parts, so how have you given people the right tools so they will not get frustrated with the new game?
"Well, if you teach people in the right way then you can challenge their skill level but at the same time ensure they have more fun. This is instead of opening up new levels when the player does not have the skill level yet to tackle them. This feels really bad for the player because they don't have any chance of passing the level. Maybe after 100 goes they will pass it, maybe by chance, but by then it will just not be fun anymore. It's about hitting the right spot between challenge and reward."

Trials Evolution

© Ubisoft



Trials Evolution leaked online last month via a number of file-sharing websites, did that affect the development in any way?
"Well obviously it is not something we want, but we are now focused on delivering the right video of what the game is about. [The leak] is not what we can do anything about."

LittleBigPlanet proved a hit with gamers partially due to its extensive level creation system; do you think Trials Evolution will be able to develop a similarly vibrant and engaging community with its level editor?
"I hope so. In Trials HD we had a pretty simple level editor and what people created out of that was, well, out of expectations! We thought, 'this is cool'. But there was no way to spread those levels. We know that with the level editor people can create mad stuff but what people will create in Trials Evolution will be ten times larger.

Trials Evolution
"The thing is that everyone can get those levels now. So even more madder stuff can come out and everyone can enjoy it. We also hope that when people see what other people have created, it will give them inspiration to try it out. You will see it is possible. In Trials HD all you got to see was videos, but now you will get to play those levels."

Do you really think people will be able to make a first-person shooter with the editor?
"Yes. We have two guys that are in our level editing team. One made a top-down racing game, and the other created a first-person shooter. It takes time to learn how to do those things, to learn the skills, and there are only two people are the moment who can do it. But what happens if we have a community of 100, or 1000 people who are talking to each other, sharing ideas on how to use the controls, it will be an even faster learning process than ours.

"When we created the level editor, we didn't have the idea to create a first-person shooter or a ball rolling game, but it just happened after experimentation. If someone creates a cool level that people like, then you have 100,000 players or whatever, for your track. You are the track creator and it feels really good. We even hired our level designer for Trials Evolution after I saw the levels he created for Trials HD."

Trials Evolution

© Ubisoft



Players are going to access the created levels in a Track Central hub, but how are you going to manage this community?
"We will manage in-house the RedLynx Picks, so that is just one feed so that if anyone here picks a level it goes straight up there. But obviously the most downloaded each week pretty much handles itself, same as top rated. So we don't have to be editorialising those. They are automatic feeds, and they are dynamic and can be changed."

You have a long history in digital games, but did you ever consider a full retail release for Trials Evolution?
Trials Evolution
"At the moment, no, because we have been really focused on making an online game, and a big part of Trials is always online and connecting you with your friends. So Trials HD was in triple retail pack (alongside Limbo and 'Splosion Man in April 2011), and I don't know the exact numbers, but not everyone got connected. So if you have Xbox live and you are connected, you get Trials Evolution. You can play with your friends and compare scores, and find new stuff. So that's why for now it is part of Xbox Live. We have no plans to release a Trials game beyond XBLA at the moment, as we are focused on this platform."

What, if anything, has changed since RedLynx was acquired by Ubisoft last November?
"We no longer think ourselves an independent studio, we are part of the Ubisoft group and I am totally happy with that, because it is a positive thing. Obviously, it has only been a few months, but it looks good. We don't have any discussions at the moment to shift to retail. We have been really focused on making Trials Evolution. Looking longer terms there is obviously new platforms and new games models, so we try to be agile always in those ways. And we always discuss what could be the next step."


So what is it about digital distribution that really makes sense to your business?
"I think with Trials is that it is online and we can ensure that the best gaming experience is delivered to users, particularly in that you can actually buy the game! If you buy it online then it works better. We made two downloadable content packs for Trials HD, so that shows we are committed to making the game better and better.

"That is really good. It's also really interesting to see what people do with the game, such as the videos they produce. Trials HD exceeded all expectations in terms of what people created, but the Trials Evolution editor is huge, and its going to be amazing what people produce."

> Read our hands-on preview with Trials Evolution

Trials Evolution will be released for Xbox Live Arcade in April 2012.

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