Features & News

Interview: Mike Mika @ Other Ocean (War of the Worlds)

October 26, 2011, Author: Ray Willmott

While The War of the Worlds may be a very old and established intellectual property, there’s been a lot of buzz about the license since this past Summer. We recently got to chat with the writer of the game, Christopher Fowler, and asked him if he felt any pressure tackling such a beloved story. Now, we turn to the attention of the developers of the game.

With the game launching on XBLA and PSN Marketplaces this week, we spoke to Mike Mika, the Head of Development over at Other Ocean Interactive about the game. He tells us why they decided to make the game a 2D Platformer, what OO think of Digital Distribution, and how Patrick Stewart recalled locations and landmarks during recording sessions that were later put into the game!

Q. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. There are a lot of different War of the Worlds influences out there, obviously spawned from H.G Wells’ original source material. Would you say you’ve borrowed any elements from the Radio Show, the Musical, the Spielberg movie, or have you just decided to completely go for your own look and feel to the game?

“We really like all of those versions, but we really went back to the source of it all and created our own interpretation. The book, to this day, is still a chilling piece of science fiction. We wanted to take elements from that, like the black smoke, and explore how that could be translated into a game.”

Q. Based on some others hands-on experiences with the game, and the rotoscoped graphics, I’ve heard many compare War of the Worlds to the likes of Flashback and Another World. Do you feel this is a fair comparison? Why did you decide to bring this tale into the platforming genre, what was the appeal for that over the likes of an RPG, or even an FPS?

“We were inspired by Flashback, Another World, and Prince of Persia primarily because we were fascinated by the process to produce those games. We really wanted to try it ourselves, and since we would be a smaller game with a shorter schedule, those techniques would benefit us from a production standpoint. I’d say it isn’t a fair comparison, though, since our game is smaller. Those games are revered by the team, and if we even captured some of that magic, we’d be happy. Those games did, however, tell incredible stories from a 2D perspective, and were paced brilliantly. We learned a lot from them.”

Q. Do you prefer the freedom of using Online Marketplaces to promote your games, rather than going the retail route, or have the right opportunities just not come along?

“We love digital distribution. We can have more production time since submission to store is so much smaller without actual product production, and we can extend our games more easily after launch. We left a lot on the cutting room floor, and it’d be great to revisit those levels. We couldn’t do that in traditional retail.”

Awesome visual style...

Q. How much of a boost do you feel it was to have Sir Patrick Stewart offering his vocals? Do you have any other voice actors in the game, or are all vocal affairs handled by him?

“We are incredibly fortunate to have Sir Patrick Stewart. There are few times in our careers when we ask for something and it just magically happens. The benefit of working with the team at Paramount made this dream request happen. He brought so much to the game and production, having grown up in London and being such a huge fan of the book and 1953 movie. During the recording sessions, he’d recall locations and landmarks that we’d later place in the game. We do have another voice in the game, too, masterfully provided by Jim Conroy. He performs our periodic radio broadcasts.”

Q. Why did you decide to create a 2D platformer based on War of the Worlds? Why not 3D?

“We had just finished another 2D game, Dark Void Zero, and really enjoyed doing that. A lot of us worked on a lot of 2D games in our careers, and it was a bit nostalgic to revisit that style. If we were going to do this, we might as well have fun doing it. We also liked the kind of visuals we could play with, and the number of objects we could animate on screen. We sort of answered the question, “What if we had this much power back in the early 90s.” What would we do with it? The tools were built from the ground up, and resembled the kinds of tools we’d use in the early 90s. It was really quite fun.”

Q. We wish you every success with War of the Worlds. Thanks for the interview, we can’t wait to play this one for ourselves!