Coordinated explosions? Not as easy as Michael Bay makes it appear
So why do Wyv and Keep play identically? Couldn’t they each have some special power? This is one of the questions we get asked most often at A Jolly Corpse, and trust that we’ve wrestled with this question ourselves. We considered unique abilities for each character, but ultimately decided that by making Wyv and Keep identical we really put the puzzle solving in the hands of the players, rather than the developers. If the heroes each had unique powers, this would make the solving of each level much more linear, as it would be immediately clear which player was supposed to solve which part of every puzzle. If Wyv could, say, construct ladders to reach high places, there would need to be puzzles where this was the only solution. While we did enjoy the prospect of each character having a unique skill and getting a chance to further their development, we didn’t want to dictate how players were to solve any particular puzzle.
We wanted them to decide this themselves, and work through every level together, solving step-by-step whichever part they figured out themselves. As a result, there are very commonly solutions to levels that we hadn’t even thought of. Yes, you’ve gotta get a box on that switch, but how you do that is often up to you! Keeping controls and abilities identical allows players to get attached to their character, as they can pick either Wyv or Keep purely by personality and aesthetics, rather than what they “do”. It adds another level of challenge to the game, as the solution to any puzzle is never immediately obvious, and requires analysis and deconstruction.
Challenge is something we feel has been lacking in modern games. Lacking, we say! All right, yes, it’s more of an actual fact than something that we feel uniquely. This really connects to a much larger discussion about the evolution of gaming as a whole, but in general we are hardcore gamers who look back fondly on the days of the SNES and Genesis, and have little interest in new casual “quick reward” games. Attention spans have become short, and recent generations of gamers can lose interest with a game in roughly thirty seconds if they aren’t permitted some sort of immediate gratification. We think this is a shame, and that some of the best gaming experiences rely on taking time to enjoy the game world and become personally invested together with a friend. As middle schoolers and high schoolers and into college, and even still today, we’ve had some of our best gaming experiences playing together with friends through a challenging campaign, probably not beating it the first time, or second, or even tenth, but finally conquering it all hopped up on Mountain Dew and crappy pizza. Or these days on beer and... well, crappy pizza. This is the kind of hardcore no-holds-barred late-night co-op gaming we want to bring back.
Hats! Everybody loves hats! ... right?
This is not to say Wyv and Keep has no rewards. It certainly does, but they will be more rewarding to a player who’s invested in the story, the characters, and the world. We believe that a reward can take the simple form of a particularly charming back-and-forth between the two heroes. It can be discovering a hat shop run by a constantly guffawing giant in an ancient underground pygmy cannibal village and equipping the heroes with Chun-Li hair buns and a viking helmet. We believe that yes, even in 2012, simply defeating a ninth level and advancing to the next world, earning a new template and new music and new traps can be its own reward. And we believe discovering the final (well, only...) boss and all of its unparalleled awesomeness (we spent a long time on it!) should be a reward in itself. Most of all we think players will feel rewarded just diving into the world together with a friend. Co-op gaming has always been one of our favorite activities here at A Jolly Corpse, and will continue to be as long as people are making great co-op games. Or even if the world ends and people can’t make games anymore, as long as we can still play Twisted Metal 2 on a generator.
Oh right, and the number one question we get asked: are Wyv and Keep lovers, friends, brother and sister, or cousins? We’re not sure! You’ll have to ask them. :)