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Seite 2: Interview mit 5th Cell zu Drawn to Life
NintendoDS Artikel vom 03.09.2007
PlanetDS.de: First of all can you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about 5th Cell who is behind the project and what did you do till now?
Jeremiah Slaczka: My name is Jeremiah Slaczka, and I’m the Creative Director for 5TH Cell. Founded in 2003, 5TH Cell started making mobile games, but we’re gamers at heart so our focus has always been on original, innovative ideas in the console space. Drawn to Life is 5TH Cell’s first Nintendo DS title, and we’re so excited to break out with such a great game.
PlanetDS.de: Usually all games come up with a main hero, who is characteristically throughout the entire game. With “Drawn to Life” you start a complete new way of playing. How did you come up with the idea to let the player create their protagonist and surroundings and how easy is it to do so?
Jeremiah Slaczka: Well, we wanted to come up with a game that really utilized the DS’s main features, and the touch screen was the obvious choice. From there, we kept coming up with different ideas that used the touch screen in a unique way until, finally, we came up with the thought, “What if what you draw, comes to life!” Using that as the core concept, we fleshed out the rest of the game.
PlanetDS.de: The player can not only be creative by drawing his main character, but also the levels can be hand made like plants, animals, etc. How do you combine these features to a charming game play and what is the main story of the game all about?
Jeremiah Slaczka: The levels require the player´s drawings to get through to the next section. The creative team over at THQ has helped a lot with this because they really wanted to make drawing a big focus on the gameplay element, and it worked out well. Each section is unique and has a ton of new and interesting drawings to help you along the way. The story is also a big part of the game. A small village inhabited by the Raposas has been overrun by darkness, and all the things the Raposas once enjoyed, including the sun, moon, crops, etc., were taken from them. As the Creator, it is your job to create a hero for them which you play as in the game. Your hero will go out into the world to find pages of the Book of Life that contains all the things the village has lost. You then re-draw the contents of the book. Along the way, you’ll meet and rescue lost Raposas in each of the different levels and worlds and watch as your village comes to life again.
PlanetDS.de: Can you tell us more about the game engine. How does it manage to animate the hand drawn figures, since the players won’t need to draw every phase of movement?
Jeremiah Slaczka: We were very adamant about making a game where what the player draws is what the player gets, and we wanted to make it as close to a doodle coming to life as possible. Therefore, all the animation is done by our artists here in our engine, so all the player has to do to make their creation move is push the d-pad.
When you draw your hero in the scarecrow position in the creation tool, the animations have gaps in the joints where they bend. The 5TH Cell programming team came up with a great solution to this issue by filling in the gaps with the user’s own pixel data. As a result, the player will never notice any unusual gaps in the characters they create.
PlanetDS.de: Away from the innovative and creative part of the game and back to the basics. How many levels are there in the game and what time would an average player need to beat the game? Are there any secrets to unlock to keep the player going after one has beaten the game?
Jeremiah Slaczka: There are 16 levels, but each level has an average of 4 large sections, so there are 64 sections total, each with unique creations the player has to draw. The game experience is pretty long—about 15 hours—but it, of course, largely depends on how much time the player spends drawing their creations. There is also the village, filled with interesting Raposas and a fun story to transition from section to section.
PlanetDS.de: Will you take advantage of the multiplayer or even online functions, to like share drawings, play against each other, etc.?
Jeremiah Slaczka: Yes. Players can share their Heroes and creations with a friend using the Nintendo DS multi-card play option.
PlanetDS.de: Since every character drawings are possible in “Drawn to Life” what do you hope the players will come up with? Will they go for complete new designed one or more often copy existing characters like Mario, Sonic and Co.?
Jeremiah Slaczka: THQ recently held a contest where IGN US hosted a flash demo of the drawing tool from our game. Consumers were able to submit the hero that they created, and we received more than 5,000 different drawings. It was really cool to see what people created! Some of the entries were goofy, some were just stick figures, others very professional, but all the entries we saw were creative and unique, which is what’s so great about Drawn to Life.
PlanetDS.de: What did your first character look like, which was created with "Drawn to Life”?
Jeremiah Slaczka: Oh man, it has been so long! The first really cool hero that I drew was a Spartan solider with a gold chest plate and a sword. I remember showing it off to everyone in the office—it was great.
PlanetDS.de: Is there anything you would like to tell our readers, that you’ve never been asked before?
Jeremiah Slaczka: We’re really excited for Drawn to Life! Our team worked very hard on it over the last year and it turned out great. THQ has also been very supportive of our game and vision. Look for it when it hits the shelves in September!
The interview was held by Kevin Jensen [Iceman] for PlanetDS.de.
Thanks to Jeremiah Slaczka for his kind support.