Following on from the news that Mass Effect 3 was receiving an Australian-developed Wii U port, MCV took the time to speak to the team responsible.
Straight Right Games is a Melbourne-based developer responsible for Need for Speed: Shift 2 Unleashed for iOS last year. We asked a few questions of studio head Tom Crago, who also heads up Tantalus.
So tell us a little about the brief history of the development duo?
Straight Right is a sister company to Tantalus, which I suppose is one of the grand dames of the Australian game development community, having been established in 1994.
Tantalus started as a conversion house, working on titles like House of the Dead, Manx TT Superbike and the Wipeout games. From there we moved heavily into handheld, with a focus on kids and family titles.
And why did you decide to create a second label?
Tantalus is still going strong, but with Straight Right I wanted to start a label that was more about core games, with a particular leaning towards digital distribution.
It's really a recognition that we need to move with the times, and an attempt on our part to engage more directly with the people actually playing our games. I see the two labels coexisting, and both share the same technology and studio. Together we're around forty people right now.
Is Straight Right being given much scope in terms of being creative with the Wii U execution of Mass Effect 3?
Absolutely. On the one hand we're trying to reproduce the graphical and narrative elements of the title as faithfully as possible. We've done that, and the game looks great. But then we have this cool new controller to play around with. So the starting point for us was looking at the title on its original platforms, taking hold of the GamePad and saying 'how can we use this thing to create the definitive Mass Effect experience?'
I know that when the Wii U was announced, and when we started to hear more about it, there were certain types of games that I felt would really lend themselves to the GamePad.
Madden was the obvious one for me, along with RPG-style games like Mass Effect, where you have UI mechanisms like the power wheel. To make that power wheel interactive, to put it on the touchscreen, we feel as though that in itself enriches the gameplay experience. It's so much quicker and more intuitive. And there are a bunch of other things we've done, like making all the level maps interactive on the touch screen and enabling gamers to give orders to squad mates via the maps.
Did EA and Bioware approach Straight Right, or the other way around?
We worked with EA on Need for Speed: Shift 2 last year and that project went really well. I've also known the BioWare guys for a long time and had been trying to find a way to work with them for years.
I'm a huge admirer of that company, both in terms of the quality of the titles they produce and the way they run their business. As always happens in this industry, it took the planets to align for us to finally find a project and luckily for us it was Mass Effect 3.
I guess they were impressed with our track record on Nintendo platforms, along with the fact that as Tantalus we'd done some pretty challenging conversions.
That and we're an undeniably stellar group of people.
Thank you for your time!
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