RedLynx on MotoHeroz's ancestry, league play, and prospects

Trials HD developer RedLynx released MotoHeroz on WiiWare in North America last week. As a multiplayer, party-focused iteration on the exacting Trials gameplay -- and as a major WiiWare release in 2011 -- it's an odd game. In the interest of understanding it a bit better, I spoke to lead designer Antti Ilvessuo in an email interview.

MotoHeroz is actually the second game in a "Heroz" series. RedLynx released an even weirder game, the foot-racer 1000 Heroz for iOS, this year, and the new WiiWare game ties into it. "Both MotoHeroz and our iOS game 1000 Heroz take place in the same shared universe, the world of Gema," Ilvessuo said. "In this world, differences are settled not with battles but with games, and politicians must get to the top of their Leaderboards to get elected." The characters are purportedly unworthy of the designation "heroes," thus the near-miss appellation "Heroz." You can even collect "Ancestor Spirits" in MotoHeroz who hail from the prehistoric cast of the iPhone game.
While it shares a universe with 1000 Heroz, and the kernel of side-scrolling racing and jumping with Trials and other RedLynx racers, MotoHeroz is its own thing. Enumerating the major differences, Ilvessuo said, "First, the game was designed right from the start to have multiple buggies bouncing around on the same driving line, which you don't have in Trials games. Second, and this goes back to the inspiration for MotoHeroz, the game was designed as a Nintendo-style experience right from the start, which to us means we were going for a colorful, frantic, fast fun game that bounces out competitive joy in a unique and charming way." That means the game is bright and colorful -- and that the physics "are probably more forgiving and geared towards amazing comebacks than a more realistic model would have."

MotoHeroz is also geared toward something most of its WiiWare contemporaries don't have: online integration. RedLynx has a series of downloadable "Daily Challenges" that offer a new level every day, which RedLynx has prepared entirely in advance. That said, it doesn't feature (traditional) online multiplayer. Ilvessuo said that the realistic physics interactions of four vehicles, transmitted across four connections in real time, would have led to "unpredictable gameplay." Instead, RedLynx opted for leaderboard-based, asynchronous online competition, using Buddy Leagues.

"Buddy Leagues work very simply," Ilvessuo said. "your Buddy tells you the name of his league (and password, if any), and you enter it into the appropriate screen. Now when you check the Global Leader Boards for the Online Runs, you can check out the world standings, but also filter the boards on just your Buddy League, so you are only comparing times with your friends' scores." And you can do this without Friend Codes, it's worth noting.

Ilvessuo called the WiiWare market an "interesting situation," noting that while there's a massive Wii install base, there's "uncertainty" about WiiWare's market: "there were some early successes, but fewer lately." He is optimistic, because "we do know that the Wii is still the same, fun platform as it has always been. We also know that MotoHeroz is an excellent, highly polished game that should be one of the biggest and best WiiWare games ever. It has all the principles of RedLynx game design: easy to pick up and play, but with huge depth and surprises for those that keep on playing and developing their skills."

The difficulty is in getting the word out about the game, which RedLynx is doing by ... well, talking to me, at least. "So we're excited, there is some uncertainty, but at the same there is also a possibility for a big success that gamers will love," Ilvessuo said. "Enthusiastic, excited, and a bit sweaty – just like an expecting father!"

If RedLynx's new baby truck-racing game makes a name for itself out in the world, more siblings in the Heroz family will be on the way. "Maybe something like 'Heroz Quest: The Quest for Heroz,' or 'Dial H For Heroz.'"

This article was originally published on Joystiq.