Some of the most fun to be had during multiplayer video games isn't actually in the game itself -- it's outside of the games, where players chat with each other for fun, break down a strategy during co-op, or trash talk in-between deathmatches. You don't usually get XP for taunting over voicechat or telling your team where the enemy is, but there's a reward nevertheless, a social bonus completely independent of the code that developers write.
Wideload Games has done a great job of focusing on that gameplay in Disney Guilty Party. I got to play the same co-op Party Mode as Randy at a pre-E3 event this week, and while it's definitely a family game, it competently serves up custom-made mysteries for families to take on. In hunting down and accusing various colorful suspects, that out-of-game conversation and interaction becomes just as important and fun as the in-game button pressing and Wiimote waggling.
Game Director Patrick Curry was my partner-in-crime-solving, and since we have common roots in Chicago (I used to work in the same building, one floor below Wideload's studios), we had a quick chat about the studio's direction towards family games, and its acquisition by Disney Interactive.
So tell me a little bit about why you've decided to take this route from the Stubbs the Zombie days all the way up to this.
Sure. One of the big motivating factors in creating Guilty Party was that we wanted to have a game we could play with our families -- not just show to our families, but actually play with them. Stubbs wasn't really a game I could show my Grandma, whereas Guilty Party is a game that I can and actually have played with my Grandma. Even though she's not working the Wii remote, she's there participating with us, reading clues, hypothesizing about who did it, and that's wildly rewarding. Both for us and personally for me.
So it sounds like you guys have grown up.
Yeah, we have. The industry is growing up, right? We have kids, we have families now, and so we don't want games to be this secret, solitary thing that Dad does alone, we want it to be something our whole family does. We grew up on board games and mystery games, and this is our way of kind of like reflecting that back on the next generation, saying, "We're not going to pull out a board game, we're going to pull out Guilty Party." This is where the modern family plays, in front of the Wii. We wanted to make a mystery game for years and years and years, and once the idea came of blending it with the Wii, it made huge sense, because that's where the family plays. The Wii remote is such a powerful tool, and we can turn it into anything we want -- it can be a magnifying glass, it can be a flashlight, it can be a lie detector. That really set us on the path, and once Disney got involved...
Yeah, I was going to say -- Disney Interactive seems like a good match with you guys if this is what you're wanting to do. How did that come about?
When Wideload was an independent developer, we worked with lots of different developers, and Disney was someone that we sought out. We really wanted to work with them, for their expertise in creating family entertainment across all media. And they saw the value, really got what we were trying to do with a family game, and not only publishing the game, but actually acquiring Wideload, being part of the DIS family. We're still Wideload, we're still focused on original IP, original characters, original stories. And humor -- it's very important to us that our games are funny. But now it's kind of like that Pixar funny, where there's a joke there for Mom and Dad to laugh at but it goes over the kids' heads, and the kids just think it's fun because the characters are fun and silly, and it's physical humor.
The last time I talked to you, you guys were talking about how you wanted to outsource as much as you could, stick with a small team and do a lot of work with outside developers. Did that work out, is that still working for you?
That's been going excellent, as a matter of fact. Each game we've gotten better at it. We have really trusted partners that we've worked on three or four games with. We still have a really small core creative team -- the Guilty Party team is about 25 people in Chicago, and then we've worked with hundreds of people all over the world contributing graphics, sound effects, voice actors, animators. Yeah, it's really worked out for us. And it's let us keep our core creative culture in the studio. But we can still make big Disney games -- here we are alongside the top Disney franchises in the world. That's pretty exciting.