Today, I got a chance to talk to CC, the developer behind Twister: Eye Level. I’ve been playing the game where you take the role of a twister with the aim of sweeping up fleeing civilians and animals. Twister: Eye Level takes place across multiple levels, each harder than the next.
Without further ado, let’s get into the interview!
Twister: Eye Level is a hard game. Was it purposefully made that way from the get-go or did you implement the difficulty later down the line of development?
From the start I wanted the game to be accessible but challenging. I also wanted the game to be playable with either the arrows or a gamepad. Pretty much all the details to achieve those goals were settled on during development. I programmed the AI to increase the opponent’s speed based on the deficit between your score and the computer’s score. But the opponents will also slow down if their score is high enough above yours. The bigger a threat you appear to be, the more desperate the people or snakes become. But if you appear not to be a big threat anymore, they’ll become more cautious and deliberate. You’re not out of the game just because you get off to a bad start. But you also can’t slack too much if you get a big lead. After a LOT of testing, I became satisfied that I’d struck a decent balance.
One of my favourite features about the game is that AI will move based on where you are, I’ve even seen some travel in packs. How did you manage to incorporate that into the game?
That’s one of my favorite aspects of the game also. Under the hood, behavior of the humans or snakes is primarily a strategic use of random numbers and conditional logic. When the opponent spawns, it does so with a few randomized attribute variables that guide its behavior throughout its life on the map. Those attributes include perception, leadership, durability. The opponent always moves toward an escape point it has chosen, but certain events cause it to reevaluate and perhaps choose a different one. For example, if two opponents collide, one may choose to switch to the other’s target escape point. The chance of that happening depends on the leadership attribute of both opponents. That’s how packs form. Perception comes into play when you get close to the opponent. They may choose a different escape point. They might do this more than once. Durability helps determine how long an opponent will be stunned after a collision. There are enough randomized behavorial attributes that each opponent will spawn as a relative unique individual.
If copyright didn’t exist, what famous character (fictional or non-fictional) would you put in the game?
I think I’ll run into this more in the current project, Amanda against the Space Serpents than I did during Twister: Eye Level. The new game is a “story-drive retro space shooter” that makes all kinds of creative references to space shooters and other classic games. The message you receive prior to starting level 7 once referenced the “Eisenhower Treaty” but I ended up shortening those messages later. That might be the only nonfictional person Twister: Eye Level ever directly referenced. All the locations in Twister: Eye Level are actual places in the real-world that more or less inspired the map for that level. I don’t think GPS coordinates are an enforceable intellectual property claim. Even so, I tweaked a few of them just to be safe.
What would you say was the hardest part of developing Twister: Eye Level?
As it was my first game, there was a lot to learn and a lot to do. Even with Unity and Visual Studio, it’s hard for one person, even a seasoned programmer, to do everything that ends up going into a Windows 10 game. Cleaning up at the end was painful because I ended up with a lot of unused assets and scripts. Some of them made it into the final build. While I’m happy with what it does, it’s not the prettiest code in the world. I’m taking a more structured approach with Amanda against the Space Serpents, and I have a better idea what the final code must do as I start. I had to change computers near the end of Twister: Eye Level development and that required some things that were done and tested to have to be redone and retested. Then I submitted three times for certification because I kept missing icons. So a bunch of things were hard.
Will there be a sequel?
In the context of story and characters, Amanda against the Space Serpents is a direct sequel. But it’s a complete different genre of game. One innovation I’m pushing for with PlayerPla.net games is to continue certain storylines across different game genres to reach the widest variety of gamers possible. To enable players to follow storyline canon across different games, each game uses a reality code to show compatibility. As far as gameplay goes, I’m not yet certain about another Twister game. Initial reaction to Twister: Eye Level couldn’t have been much worse. It was mostly ignored, so I found people online offering to review games and approached them about it. Several refused, saying they had no interest in the game. Some took the free download but never actually did a review. I finally got one review with really low scores. The winds might be shifting now, as I’ve recently gotten more serious interest and quality feedback. I’ll have to see where that leads. It’s really up to the gamers if there’s another Twister game or not.