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Monty Goulet, founder of Maestro Interactive Games, chatted with us about their upcoming games, Percy’s Predicament and Cosmic Highway.  Goulet was a sound designer who worked on games such as Donkey Kong Country Returns before starting his own company. Percy’s Predicament is about a penguin trapped inside of a magical orb, and your objective is to roll around obstacles and collect fish along the way.  If you’re getting some Super Monkey Ball vibes from this game, you’re not alone.

Maestro Interactive Games has also given us some great news — they are now officially licensed 3DS developers.

We would like to thank Mr. Goulet for taking some time out of his busy schedule to do this interview.  You can follow Maestro Interactive Games at their Twitter account (here).

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In early September, Percy’s Predicament had been submitted to lot check and was awaiting approval.  Now that it’s late October, could you give us an update on the game’s release? Is it still coming this fall?

Absolutely, it is still coming out this fall as we want it available for the holiday season.  We simply have marketing stuff we want all in place before it comes out. (Trailers, Screenshots, Website, Soundtrack, etc.)  We will be announcing in the next couple of weeks the actual release date for Percy’s Predicament, which is still at this time “Fall 2013” as everything went well.

Percy’s Predicament is going to be you first game on the Wii U.  Can you describe your experience developing for the Wii U and working with Nintendo?

With Percy’s Predicament, the GamePad was really the focal point of the project.  We wanted to develop a title for the GamePad in order to fully grasp the development necessary for it when we create our future titles in the pipeline.  Luckily for us, development for the GamePad has been extremely straightforward and allowed us to come up with some cool concepts for future titles.  And of course as more developers move onto the Wii U, we’re going to see even more cool ideas and innovations.  It’s similar to the evolution of the DS in some ways in that intuitively you feel as though there are gameplay mechanics that should work really well given that new interface, and generally you’re right but sometimes that first wave of ideas needs tweaking and refining.

A couple years from now we’ll be seeing the GamePad used in different ways I’m sure, and that’s a fun thing to contemplate. The great thing about Nintendo and the Wii U, is that you are not limited to one controller.  We have the Wii U GamePad, the Pro controller, and all of the original Wii controllers.  We have this variety that provides a win-win for players, as it allows us to develop all different kinds of gameplay.  I can’t say it’s easier or more difficult to develop on Wii U versus other platforms.  It’s just different.  What was difficult was working on work-in-progress engine, but Nintendo has been very helpful about that.  I think the real strength of the Wii U has yet to be explored.

What is Maestro Interactive’s next project after Percy’s Predicament? Can you tell us about your plans for 2014 in relation to Wii U?

We have learned some interesting things about gameplay thanks to the Wii U.  With the GamePad, we can explore asynchronous gameplay in a way that we have not been able to on a console before, particularly right out of the box.  Sony and Microsoft are incorporating it with Vita and SmartGlass but that requires the consumer to get something more, Wii U provides it for instant gratification.  We believe in Nintendo.  Nintendo is a company that has proven in the last 30 years that they are able to fascinate tens of millions of gamers.  Nintendo is a great game creator; they are magic to a lot of gamers.  And we’ve had a lot of great experiences with Nintendo in the past, gaming wise, and work wise.

In 2014, we look forward to giving gamers even more eShop titles.  We have already have Cosmic Highway nearing completion and we have another title as well that is being conceptualized currently.  Be sure to follow our Twitter and Facebook for more as we will be putting up Cosmic Highway videos  on a regular basis, and we will be testing our next title very shortly.  In the meantime, here is a piece of concept art from the upcoming unannounced title.

Obviously, Cosmic Highway didn’t reach it’s Kickstarter goal.  Is that going to stop the game from ever being made? Do you have plans to relaunch the Kickstarter again at another time?

While we were a little disappointed that our Kickstarter was not funded, it certainly has not hindered development or our spirits.  Our reasoning behind making the Kickstarter was to build awareness of our concept as well as get the funds needed to purchase testing units as we already had the development kits.  We managed to secure the funds on our own for the testing units through sales of our previous titles. While it would have been nice to get the funding for Cosmic Highway via Kickstarter and provide fans with all the neat backer rewards, it certainly has not caused development to cease.  We will in fact still be selling the OST on our website at a later date.

Can you give us an idea of how far along in progress (maybe percentage wise) Cosmic Highway is in completion? Is it impossible to finish this game without a successful Kickstarter campaign?

In terms of development, all of the music is 100%.  We were very fortunate to have George “The Fat Man” Sanger on board to compose some of the tracks for us.  He was the composer for Wing Commander as well as Ultima Underworld and The 7th Guest, so he was an excellent addition to the overall game.  Art wise, we are roughly at 80%.  All of the racers are finalized with their powerups animated.  All of the programming is done as well, and we are really enjoying how the audio system turned out.  The transition in the music between racers is seamless, and we think players will really enjoy listening to the music and realizing without having to look at the HUD who is in first place.  Currently, what we are finalizing is the AI system as we want players to have challenging AI to race against so we are fine tuning our systems for that.  We are also doing a polish sweep in the game, making things smooth for the player. Our goal is to maintain a solid FPS throughout the entire race so we have been working hard on maintaining that within the Wii U.  Most of the game currently runs at 60 FPS and we are working on bringing the rest up to that quality.

The delay has also allowed us to create the title as a multi-console title, it will most likely appear on all three next-gen consoles, and for sure be on two of them, with exclusive content on the Wii U to support the fans that wanted the game originally.  We truly think the Wii U GamePad is a great device for this game and we already have ideas for the exclusive content.  We promise you will not be disappointed if you get this title for the Wii U.  Overall, the game is coming along rather nicely and we could not be happier with it.  We expected it to launch sometime early 2014 on the Wii U with the other platformers later that year.

If you did another Kickstarter campaign for Cosmic Highway (or any game from Maestro), what would you do differently to help the campaign reach its goal?

For us, it was a good experience creating sort of a publisher pitch for a title like Cosmic Highway, but pitch it to the gamers themselves.  We felt it was a good platform to announce our title with, and we did just that which was our goal but not what backers wanted.  They wanted to see gameplay footage, which was simply not feasible at the time unfortunately.  Would we run another one? Maybe, you know what the future holds for us.

What advice would you give to an indie developer who wants to launch a Kickstarter campaign?

Make sure you have developed something in the past to completion.  I believe people want to see that their money is going to be properly used on a finished product.  The first rule of KickStarter is you have to spend money to make the game have a successful campaign — just to get money to make the game.  It is silly but an inescapable truth.

Personally, I do not feel that KickStarter is the right place at its current stage for game development or for gamers to be quite honest.  I hope it will eventually be at that stage.  We had jumped onto it early on in the game side of KickStarters career, but now that a lot of titles have either missed deadlines or have been cancelled after games put forth the money, I do not feel like it’s fair to the backers. Game development takes time and developers that use KickStarter, us included, simply can not fathom how long it will take to create their product if at all.  IF you will indulge me for a moment, Double Fine, which I think is a great team of developers, made a KickStarter for their game, Broken Age.  They raised a lot more than they initially asked for ($3 million and asked for $400K).  Their project is well beyond the six-to-eight month period originally promised by the team to bring the product.  What backers need to understand is that you as a developer can face failure and cancel the project and even though backers are just that — investors, I think they view themselves as pre-ordering a product that is 100% guaranteed if funded which is simply not the case.  So my advice to developers is to just be aware of your audience and firmly express your projects risks and challenges so backers are not disappointed.

 

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