First Look: Scaler
With so many strong A-list titles heading our way over the next several weeks, it's easy for a sleeper to slip past the radar. Take Global Star Software's upcoming game, Scaler, an upcoming 3D adventure, developed by A2M (not to be confused with AM2). Scaler is a crazy odyssey where players take control of a young boy, Bobby "Scaler" Johnson, who gets more than he bargained for when he stumbled upon his next door neighbor's evil plot to take over the world by stealing all the lizards and training them to become his mutant army. Bobby takes on his enemies in ways kids will only have dreamed of...by transforming into one of them. Sneaky, elusive, witty and hysterical - this unexpected hero will keep you guessing just what will happen next!
Scaler will offer the following features:
- Power ups - grab lots of "Klokkie Balls" and seek out the rare "Crystal-Gems"! Use them to rev-up the skills necessary to overcome obstacles and battle evil enemies
- Transformations - take the shape, abilities and weapons of five different characters -essential to progress through the game!
- Climbing - scale vertical surfaces and even go all the way upside down!
- Sliding - surf on wild vines and use the static electricity to juice-up your electric discharge weapon
- Camouflage - go "Super-Stealth" (a super-cool proprietary game technology), to blend in with environments and fool your enemies
- isuals - exotic plants, wondrous creatures and beautiful landscapes
Below is a recent Q/A session (courtesy of Games Press) conducted with David Artuso, one of the producers of the game. Check it out and be sure to get a glimpse at the gameplay movies recently supplied by Take-Two Interactive.
1. Hi, can you introduce yourself and let us know in what way you're related to the development of Scaler?
My name is David Artuso, and I work for Take-Two. I'm a producer on Scaler as well as one of the writers.
2. So, whaUt's your history in relation to the gaming industry?
I've been working in the gaming industry for about nine years. I started off as a writer and over the years I developed into a producer.
3. What is your vision for the game and what do you believe are the important ingredients for success within a platform game?
We infused Scaler with faster-paced cool arcade style energy. Things are popping all over the screen all the time. We believe that this non-stop action approach is key to the success of our style of platform game.
4. How did the idea of such a game emerge?
The game did not emerge all at once. It evolved. The genesis of the game started with the developer. The publisher then spent a lot of time working with the developer to find just the right note to hit with the gameplay and the story. A lot of things changed from the original concept to the current execution of the game. The final version is much more edgy and turbocharged.
5. Healthy suburban boy one minute, blue and yellow striped lizard the next. How exactly does this transformation come about?
Lizard energy! You pump enough of this life-force into any healthy boy, and bam - you're a lizard!
6. Please tell us a little about the team, the set up, core expertise and overall goals in developing the game?
A2M is a well established developer. They have a long history of creating lots of fun games. The goal of the team was to create a great platform game with lot of energy and variety. We want you to pickup the control and not want to set it down again until you've completed the adventure.
7. Scaler seems to be targeted at the younger end of the games market. What kind of hazards are there involved in catering for this type of audience?
Younger kids (and older folks who are kids at heart) have a short attention span. You need to grab their attention fast and keep them involved throughout the course of the game. Scaler does that! Our kid testers did not want to put down the controllers even when the testing session was over.
8. How has humour and a sense of fun been incorporated into the gameplay?
Scaler has an attitude, but so do the creatures he meets on his adventure. The back and forth banter is a lot of fun and a lot of physical humour has been injected into the game.
9. How many power-up and goodies can you collect? Tell us about your favourite?
You collect orange klokkies and feed them to the Repbaldactile. This creature then breathes a disgusting orange mist all over Scaler. Sick, but kids love it! So what does this have to do with goodies? This is the way you acquire them! You can 'buy' camouflage ability; increase the strength of your claw attacks; increase the strength and number of your electric bomb attracts, increase your heath, and so on. You pick how you want to shape Scaler.
10. What special abilities does the main character have?
Scaler is all about the special and rather unusual abilities! He has a very long tongue attack. He charges up with electricity and then blasts everyone around him. He learns how to change into five different creatures and then takes on their abilities such as sniping, flying, swimming, and so on.
11. How many creature transformations are there in total, and how does Scaler obtain them?
There are five transformations. Scaler gains a transformation by defeating a specific number enemies and absorbing their energy. Once he obtains critical mass - bam, he can transform.
12. Does Scaler ever transform back into a boy at any point?
Well... Now that would be telling. You must allow us to keep a secret or two.
13. How about vertical surfaces? Can he deal with them Gekko-like?
There are climbing paths in the game. Scaler's claws work really well on these services and up he goes. Climbing adds yet another form of gameplay.
14. Talking of which, we've picked up flavours of Gex, Ratchet and Clank, Cameo, even Alter Echo... Were any of these titles an influence at all?
You certainly hope to learn from what others have done well and what they have not done so well. That said, Scaler has some pretty unique elements in it that really haven't been done before - at least not in the way we're using them.
15. What can you tell us about the stealth elements of the gameplay, and do you think you've brought anything fresh to this type of game with its inclusion?
Stealth is one of many keys needed to successfully navigate the game. We use stealth as more of a puzzle element. You really need to reason out when and where you use it.
16. How sensitive is the enemy AI in reacting to both Scaler's 'abilities' and your current choice of creature type?
There are a lot of different enemies in the game with different levels of intelligence. Some enemies are brawlers and rush right on in for the fight while others hang back a bit and think things through. And, of course, the enemies don't attack their own kind so you can use that to your advantage by transforming into one of them.
17. What can you tell us about the game engine Scaler is based on? Was it created bespoke for this title?
A2M is continually improving and building upon their existing technology for all their projects. It's the best way to ensure a great game engine. Scaler is no exception.
18. Tell us, are there any compromises seeing as the game is going onto a number of formats? (What is the lead machine?)
PS2 is the lead platform. Each platform is a bit different, but we don't really feel we had to comprise the game because of the multiple formats.
19. How varied are the settings to the game? Can you offer us two diverse examples?
There are ten very different locations in the game, all considerably different from one another in look and feel.
20. Are we going to see any multi-player capabilities with this title?
Sorry, no. It's all about Scaler.
21. How much of development has already been completed?
We're almost gold. Just a couple more weeks to go!
22. How long do you think before we see Scaler out on the shelves of game emporiums worldwide?
We'll be out soon, so put Scaler down on your Christmas 2004 wish list.
23. Does Scaler ever lose his tail at any point, and can he grow back?
I'm afraid Scaler always keeps his tail attached. After all, he doesn't need a decoy. He's ready for any fight.
24. Is there anything else you would like to add?
I hope you'll have an opportunity to play the game. I think you'll see you won't want to put down the controller. At least our kid testers kept wanting to play the game even after the test time was over. We look forward to kids everywhere enjoying Scaler.
Scaler is scheduled for an October 20 release on all major platforms.