Line Rider 2 Producer Chris Keenan details Wii sequel, set for Sept. 9

Line Rider was one of 2006’s biggest flash games toys. When it exploded on the deviantART site hosting it (and has received over 30 million views in 2007 alone), creator Bostjan Cadez never imagined his school project would turn into the madness you find when typing “Line Rider” into Youtube.

Months after the flash toy exploded, inXile announced the development of a true sequel to the toy and its updated versions.  It is now anticipated for a Sept. 9 release for PC, DS, and Wii.

Producer of Line Rider 2: Unbound, Chris Keenan, clued us in on some of the features we can expect from the Wii version, and how development of the game has progressed as a “dream project” for him and the team.

In short, expect some interesting features, especially in the online department and its ranking system.  And in a game like Line Rider 2, the user interface is a key aspect in determining whether this title is AAA or not.  And talking with him about menu navigation and tool selection in itself proves that this will be a game to watch for.

So dig in, Chris has got some good responses for us:

Mike Suszek - When you mention that the game will use “full Wii Remote functionality,” what does that entail? In specific, are there any plans to specifically utilize the remote’s key motion-sensing feature?

Chris Keenan - Our main focus on the Wii version was, first and foremost, making the controller respond well in the player’s hands. I’ve played too many Wii games where the controls were very washy or loose and we needed a bit more precision on this title. Our goal was to have the system feel and work like it does with the DS stylus. The Wii Remote is used to navigate through the user’s menus as well. I felt that the pointing mechanic of the Wii is frustrating so we wanted to try using the player’s hand movements to select their tools instead of making them keep a steady hand when making selections. We decided early on that we were going to keep the core mechanics true to the original (modify the environment instead of the rider), so you won’t be using the motion-sensing feature to control the player or anything like that.

MS - Were there any plans to include the DS and Wii’s ability to connect to one another as a feature in both versions?

CK - We looked into this early in development. The thought of exchanging Wii and DS tracks was exciting but the logistics of the systems and the point we were at in the code didn’t allow it. Line Rider is a heavily physics based game so the math would have to line up perfectly. Our Wii uses a floating point system while the DS is fixed point. The difference between the numbers would be minuscule but as the track grew in length, they would get out of sync and the rider would crash on a previously solid map.

MS - The full internet support in the game includes “clip art, tracks, and puzzles” that can be downloaded. Were there any hopes to include things like music? As well, are there plans to generate a moderating system for user-submitted clip art?

CK - We have included quite a few unique music tracks in Line Rider. We don’t currently have plans to include music downloads through Linerider.com for the Wii or DS versions. With the PC version, users can take any song from their personal library and add it to the music folder. By using the simple in-game video recorder, they can record their Line Rider track to their selected musical track, for local use only, of course.

MS - Aside from user-generated content, are there any plans to include downloadable content (made by inXile) for things like outfits for Bosh, licensed clip art, or possibly tracks and music?

CK - Our backend server is relatively innovative with the amount and types of content we are allowing users to share. Line Rider became famous from the user generated content that fans were creating. We wanted to continue this trend and focus on tools to let them be as creative as possible, without trying to interfere with what we as developers thought they’d want to see.

MS - The concept of multiple line riders on the same track begs the question: was there ever an intention to develop a multiplayer mode for the game?

CK - It was something that we bounced around, but decided against. I have a 14 page, bullet-pointed, design document of ideas that didn’t make it into this version. Our goal was to add large amounts of content to make this feel like an amazing experience, but not to overwhelm the player. We’ve been working on this game for a few years now and it was time to let her go. In fact, it was extremely difficult to narrow down to the features that we kept in the game. As a game designer, this was a dream project, as we essentially had a blank slate to work with when coming up with design ideas. I can say with certainty that there isn’t any other game out there like Line Rider.

MS - Will there be an option to vote on user-submitted tracks and clip art online, and therefore develop an online rankings system?

CK - Absolutely. We realize that there will be massive amounts of user generated content uploaded to the site. We definitely want to reward those people that spend the effort to fine tune their work. You will be able to vote on your favorite tracks, clip-art and puzzles to help push those to the top of the charts. We are also toying with the idea of giving individual users color ratings. If you upload a few tracks or puzzles and they are received relatively well from the other fans, your profile color could change. That way, you could see a highly ranked user who recently submitted a puzzle and know there is a high probability that it will be great.

MS - Is there an option in the game to have multiple save files for those Wii “sharers” out there?

CK - Yes. You can have up to 6 different profiles per game. Each profile has unique save slots so a family with multiple players doesn’t have to share the same bank of saved tracks.

MS - In terms of the concept behind the game, was the focus about living up to the simplicity of the original flash toy, or advancing the features to suit the Wii system?

CK - It seems like an interesting dichotomy, but both really. One of the things that made the flash version so great was its elegant simplicity. We didn’t want to add so much to the game that the players become confused, but we had so many new ideas that we wanted to incorporate. We kept it simple with collapsible menus and step by step UI for features like the trick triggers. The story and puzzle modes were one way that we progressed the features of Line Rider. These modes turn it into more of a game. Of course, we still have freestyle mode which is the same “toy” mode that the original became famous for, but with many more tools and line types.

MS - How much has Line Rider creator, Bostjan Cadez contributed to this sequel?

CK - Bostjan had a huge part in the crafting of the game. Our CEO, Brian Fargo, flew him out to Newport Beach when we started working on design. Bosh (that’s the nickname we gave Bostjan since everyone in the office was butchering the pronunciation of his name) had a gorgeous house right on the boardwalk by the Newport Pier. It was within walking distance to the office so he’d come in daily and we’d bounce around design ideas. There were many things that he wanted to do in upcoming flash versions but wasn’t able to due to the limitations so all of those were considered. After Bosh went back home and we started building the game, I would send rev’s for him to check out and give feedback on.

MS - Is there a solid release date for the game yet?

CK - The anticipated release date for Line Rider 2: Unbound is Sept. 9, 2008.

Check back with us for more news on this exciting game.  In the meantime, below is some information on the game from a fact sheet inXile provided My Wii News:

Product Summary:

In Line Rider 2: Unbound, the sled-stealing scumbag Chaz is up to no good and only you, as the clever and cunning Bosh, can defeat him. For Bosh to save his true love Bailey, players must complete tracks in over 40 mind-bending puzzles created by the #1 Line Rider player in the world, TechDawg.  Players can also create their own puzzles and story-telling masterpieces and share them on the Internet.  The possibilities are limited only by physics and your imagination…providing endless hours of creative play!

Game Features:

  • Full Wii Remote functionality
  • New Characters: Bosh is joined by his true love Bailey and his arch-nemesis Chaz
  • Story mode: Bosh vs. Chaz to get the best sled…and Bailey’s love…with over 40 mind-bending puzzle tracks designed by TechDawg
  • Puzzle Creation mode: design your own twisted puzzles for the world to solve
  • Freestyle mode: the classic way to create your own masterpieces with cool tricks and sound effects
  • Track Upload features enable track and puzzle sharing amongst Line Rider community
  • New, easy and intuitive user interface
  • New line types, including acceleration and deceleration lines, scenery lines, trampoline lines, trick lines, trap door lines and specially animated finish lines
  • Special features include a Pixel Perfect Eraser, Flag Markers for saving progress, Clip Art to help build tracks and scenery and Real Time Draw Mode
  • Library of Sound and Visual Effects brings Bosh and the tracks to life by enabling players to feel the effects of the course through Bosh’s emotion
  • Players can upload and download user generated clip art, tracks, and puzzles through their own personal Line Rider page with full Internet support
  • Players can make creations with multiple Line Riders on the same track

The Line Rider Story:

Originally created by Boštjan Cadež, a Slovenian university art student, the idea for Line Rider came from one of Boštjan’s drawings in his sketch book and moved from sketch book to the Internet in September 2006. Combining easy-to-use, engaging gameplay with viral user-generated content, Line Rider became an Internet phenomenon with over 31.6 million visits in 2007.  Over 23,500 Line Rider videos can be found on YouTube, with the top 10 videos weighing in with a combined 26.5 million views to date.

Line Rider received the ultimate peer recognition by winning the Game Developers Choice Award for Innovation in 2007.

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