Timesplitters Rewind Interview: Re-Developing A Classic For PC And Consoles
Gaming Blend: So how did you get in contact with Crytek and how did they give you blessings to take on the Timesplitters franchise?
Michael: Actually... Crytek got a hold of Dan through the fan page. I guess they did a little bit of research; they really made sure that they got in contact with the right guy. So they got a hold of him, and he was like 'Yeah sure, we'll definitely do it.' and that's when it all kind of pulled together when he did the post on the fan page to work on Timesplitters. [After] they got a hold of him I contacted him through Reddit because I was like 'Hey!' since there was a for hire post about a community manager. That's how I got on board. Everybody kind of followed suit from various directions... 4Chan and stuff like that. We just came together and worked as tightly as possible. It's been fun... it's been fun.
Gaming Blend: Not to completely switch gears on the topics, but seriously, one of the things I noticed is that there are hands on the models. In the first two games I believe that the first-person gun models didn't have hands. Will all the weapons from the first two Timesplitters also have hands and was that part of the plan?
Michael: I think that was actually an accident [laughs]. What happened was, at the time Crytek was slow on the responses and stuff, because I guess they were still trying to get to know us and stuff. But they were a little slow on the responses and they hadn't really provided us with any working access to the assets or anything like that because the way that Timesplitters 1, 2 and Future Perfect was developed – those assets, they actually have to go back and convert those assets into something that's actually usable, without any quality loss or anything like that. That's actually a time-consuming process for them. They actually have to take time out of their schedule to modify this or that model and send it over to us.
So what we did was – this is why I explicitly state in the updates, like 'Hey, what you see here you are not going to have access to' the original maps and stuff like that. What we would have to do was, we actually had to take the discs, put them into our computers and then rip [the assets] from the disc itself.
So in order to prevent any legal quarrels with Crytek's legal department, by any chance, we decided we're just going to recreate everything from the ground up. But wanted to make sure nobody had access to the original assets. Because while it is helping us to do our thing, it is – in my opinion – still unethical because you're taking content that was protected from a PlayStation 2 disc or a GameCube disc and then ripping it from that disc and putting it onto your computer and doing whatever you can with it. It's a hit or miss with it, but that's why we only have Training Grounds and Ice Station because some maps port perfectly and some maps don't port at all. So it's like 'Oh that's not helpful'. That's why we play through the game as much as possible.
Gaming Blend: Sony has really gone well out of their way to help indie devs lately, and they've been waiving fees and making the PS4 very accommodating to independent developers. Now I know you were talking about the possibility of the game launching on the PlayStation 4... so will this come down to resources, time or certification roadblocks from Sony?
Michael: It's mostly just us waiting on Crytek's legal department to give us the go ahead. With these things it's not like they say 'Hey, we don't know you but we'll give you access to these things and you can release it on this or that console.' It's also their reputation on the line. That also leads back to why I take care of all the PR and community management stuff, because I'm very protective over this.
I don't want anybody saying anything wrong or anything like that, and then it makes us look bad and Crytek look bad or stuff like that. I keep things open and I try to keep things professional, too, so we're all seen as professionals.
So essentially, what's really holding us back is just Crytek wanting to get to know us and their legal department saying 'OK'. There's also this or that developer working for a game studio, they also have to get in contact with Crytek's legal department and stuff like that. So it's basically just a long stretch of legalness and then we're good to go.
But! But... I will say, and this is something I've been trying to hold back, but I feel like it's probably a good thing to come out... we're actually going to go ahead and start development [of Timesplitters Rewind] on PlayStation 4. Just because we're pretty confident Crytek's going to say go ahead and do it. But we don't want them saying go ahead and do it when we're caught with our pants down and we're like halfway through development and [then] start something for the PlayStation 4.
So we decided that since they released the SDK to allow us to do this, we're going to go ahead and do it ourselves, and when they say 'yes' or 'no' we can decide what to do with that. For now we're just going to go ahead and do it. So at least we're prepared.
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