Not so long ago we had the chance to do a Q and A interview with Team 17´s Creative Manager Kevin Carthew. So we asked him quite a few questions about Team 17´s past, present and their plans for the future. And this is what Carthew had to say to us.
Since 1990, Team 17 has released 72 titles, and that includes everything from Alien Breed, Project-X, Superfrog, Worms, Addiction Pinball to The Escapists. So my question would be the following, how has Team 17 been able to stay on top of their game for over 25 years? And which games are you most proud of?
Kevin Team 17
We’ve been smart enough to keep hold of our own brand, Worms, which has been consistently successful over the years. We’ve also had great people working on those games over the years too!
The teams have often been a mix of people who’ve been at the company a long time (such as myself) who understand the brand, and also some new blood too which helps to bring in new ideas.
The game I’m most proud of is in fact a Worms game; Worms: Open Warfare 2 on the Sony PSP and Nintendo DS. It was my first role as a lead designer, and we introduced lots of cool additions to the game. It was well received and looked and played great.
Team 17 has a brand-new Worms title in the works – Worms WMD, what does the game offer that´s new? And is there any nailed down release dates for the games yet?
Kevin Team 17
We’re really pushing the boat out for W.M.D, and the game has a lot of significant new features. For the first time ever the Worms can drive a host of different vehicles, each of which both help the worms get around the landscape and offer extra fire power. The worms can also hide in buildings; if you enter a building only you and your worms can see the insides of it, your opponent has to follow you in if they want to see exactly where you are. Mounted gun placements offer extra firepower; and a simple crafting system allows the player to tinker with and modify weapons, giving them something to do even when it’s not their turn.
None of this would count for much if the underlying gameplay and physics weren’t right, but thankfully they are! W.M.D uses an entirely new engine, but takes an old school approach to how it plays. The game takes direction from the fan favourite Worms Armageddon, replicating precisely the solid feeling of that classic Worms gameplay.
All of this is presented with a fresh new art direction. The worm character has been redesigned to make him look more modern, and the landscapes are beautiful digitally painted affairs. We’ve new tech for the random landscape generator, which means that even our random landscapes have a hand authored look.
Since virtual reality is a big thing now (everyone talks about it. Gamers and developers alike). Have Team 17 ever had any thoughts about adding VR support to any of your new games?
Kevin Team 17
We recently took delivery of a few different virtual reality headsets, and we’re looking forwards to getting hands on with them. We don’t have any concrete plans for VR just yet, but we are definitely going to enter into prototyping to test out a few ideas. It’s an exciting thing to look at for a designer, because there’s a whole host of entirely new things to consider. Hopefully something will come of one of these prototypes – watch this space!
Team 17 are set to publish Deadwood: The Forgotten Curse (Steamroller Studios), and Strength of the Sword: ULTIMATE (Ivent Games), Is there any release dates for those games yes? (as most of them are either “TBC” or “coming soon” titles), and why should the players be excited for these titles?
Kevin Team 17
We aren’t confirming any specific release dates for either yet. Strength of the Sword is looking great and the team are making rapid progress with the game. It’s a modern game with old school sensibilities; it’s hard but fair. The underlying game mechanics are solid, but it does one or two especially interesting things in its PvP online multiplayer. Fans of 3D hack n slash brawlers won’t be disappointed.
Deadwood is quite an original concept. It’s a top down shooter with a big emphasis on survival gameplay.
By day the player roams a beautifully constructed and large open world exploring, adventuring, meeting characters and performing quests; all the while gathering the resources they need to stay alive. By night the Deadwood come alive; an army of wooden zombies. The player has to craft items and build barricades to survive the onslaught. The team have a great core concept, and with their background in the movie industry (several of them have worked on big Hollywood films at Dreamworks) it’s shaping up to be beautifully presented too.
As I’m a huge fan of the Worms series, I have to ask the following questions. How has Team 17 be able to keep the Worms theme and formula relevant for over 20 years? And how did you even come up with the idea behind Worms (why worms? It could have been just about anything else but worms) in the first place?
Kevin Team 17
Worms was originally conceived of by a chap called Andy Davidson. Andy created the game while he was still at school, partly as a way to do something other than his homework, but also to keep his mates amused. I can’t tell you exactly why Worms and why not some other creature; it might have been something to do with keeping the character simple for Andy to draw and animate, as he was more of a programmer than an artist. Whatever the reason, he hit on a character that has been able to endure over the years. A combination of great gameplay, slapstick humour and funny high-pitched voices seems to cross age and gender gaps, and appeals to a wide and varied audience.
Keeping the formula relevant has been due to a number of factors. On new devices (such as mobile) we’ve been able to bring the game to new audiences: non-gamers, and younger games too who are growing up and discovering Worms for the first time. On more traditional platforms, it’s been more down to hard work. We do make a lot of Worms games, but we also try very hard to innovate with each entry – there’s always something new we add. You can see this in titles like Worms W.M.D – where we’re looking to increase the depth of the game’s strategy, without trying to add a lot of complexity.
Not so long ago I found out that Team 17 has it´s very own Games Label. Could you tell me a bit about how that happened? And how have things worked out for Team 17 and the developers who have signed up with Team17?
Kevin Team 17
Team17 has always helped bring the games of other developers to market. This has been a part of what Team17 does since the Amiga days back in the early 90s. We’re lucky that we’ve been around for a long time, we’ve a lot of experience in developing, but also in many aspects of publishing and delivering games to market. Around two years ago we realised we could use that experience to help other developers not only realise their visions by leveraging our experience as games makers, but also to bring their games successfully to market, and help them be commercially successful.
We’ve had some amazing success stories in those two years. Chris Davis’s brilliant The Escapists has sold over 700,000 units now and garnered a rafter of awards. Chris himself was awarded a ‘Breakthrough Brit’ award from BAFTA. Sherida Halatoe’s beautiful Beyond Eyes has won awards too, and Microsoft liked the game so much they invited Sherida on stage at E3 to present her game. On Steam and Xbox One, Sonny Meek and Dean Foster (or ‘Unicube’, as they’re collectively known) have a large and loyal fanbase helping their steer their game, Sheltered through Early Access towards an imminent full release.
I´ve got a last question. What plans does Team 17 have for the future? What games do you enjoy the most (either your own games or other company’s games). And what do you wish for most right now?
Kevin Team 17
We’re always so busy at Team17, it’s hard to look beyond the next project. We’ve more than got our hands full trying to ensure W.M.D is the best Worms game we’ve ever made. But in truth, we’re looking to continue building the Worms brand with a successful launch, and working to continue improving our support for a variety of developers through our Games Label. I’m hoping we can further develop one or two exciting new concepts we’ve been working on in the background, a part of that could be related to VR – it’s too early to say.
Right now I’m playing Alien Isolation, Fallout 4, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture and Undertale. (Or, I’m trying to play those games!) I enjoy all sorts of different games, the most interesting space to me right now is the indie space.
What I wish for is a break at Christmas, so I can try and finish some of the games I’m part way through.
Robin “V-Act” Ek
The Gaming Ground
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