Metal Arms: Glitch In The System Interview
We sit down with the producer of one of the coolest little games. Metal Arms: Glitch In The System.
Q: Before we being with the interview today would you mind introducing yourself and telling us what your role is on the Metal Arms development team?
A: Mike Jacob- Sr. Producer for VUG
Q: Not much information has been released about Metal Arms thus far, aside from a few videos and screenshots and the random report from different gaming sites. What exactly is the premise of the plot for Metal Arms?
A: Iron Star
Located on the outer rim of a distant galaxy is a planet with deep secrets and a mysterious origin. It is a planet unlike any other in the universe, and yet it would go entirely unnoticed by a passing starship.
This is Iron Star, a planet inhabited by a society of robots. Although Iron Star appears to be an ordinary organic planet, it was actually constructed in the distant past by ancestors of the current inhabitants. Its construction is architectural genius, consisting of a thick metal shell fastened to a solid core in the center. The surface was terra-formed with imported dirt, shredded asteroids, and crushed ice.
Upon the planet’s surface, many robot cities are scattered between the vast barren regions of the planet. Some large and some small, these robot cities are home to the majority of the planet’s primary robot civilization known as the Droids. The Droids on Iron Star work with efficiency in their cities, and live in the security that the planet’s façade provides.
Deep within Iron Star, under its protective shell, is the planet’s primary industrial region operated by a small society of enigmatic robots called the Morbots. Not much is known about the Morbots. Since the beginning of Iron Star, they have remained below, forever committed to operating the planet’s most valued resource: its power. It’s an unquestionable law that Droids never venture below the planet’s surface, if that were even possible. For the only entrances into the Morbot region are what seem to be permanently sealed gateways decorated with unusual symbols. So mysterious is their existence that even the subject of Morbots is guaranteed to inject a hearty dose of discomfort into any conversation. No Droid really knows why this is, although there are many eerie stories about the Morbots that have been passed between Droid generations. They couldn’t all be true, could they?
Science Gone Wrong
For the science Droids, improving the existing models of worker Droids had become routine. The modifications usually improved efficiency, whether it involved movement, visual and audio processing, or the tools the robots were equipped with. For generation after generation, the Science-Droids have progressively evolved every type of Droid in one fashion or another. That is, every type except for the science Droids themselves.
The science Droids’ specialty is their extremely complex brain circuitry, which makes them the only Droids capable of comprehending the inner workings and schematics of every other type of Droid on the planet. But their own brain electronics are far too complex for them to understand, and this limitation has prevented them from evolving themselves. Since the existence of Iron Star, the Science-Droids have remained exactly the same. Many attempts have been made for self-improvement, but all have failed miserably, usually resulting in a twitching pile of metal with a smoking brain circuit.
The most recent attempt to build a new science Droid was devastating, and changed Iron Star forever. A team of science Droids, led by their chief scientist, Dr. Exavolt, applied radical ideas to a new robot brain. Although the first several attempts resulted in a robot with the intelligence of an electron, their perseverance finally, for the first time in Iron Star history, produced a robot with the ambition and the know-how to evolve himself beyond that of his original design. But with this ambition came a hunger for power! The science team constructed a custom chassis to house their creation and, after a few calibrations, the new robot stood and looked around to study its surroundings. It turned to face the science team whom were standing motionless with disbelief that the impossible stood before them. It spoke four words, “I am General Corrosive.”
Suddenly, from outside the science lab where General Corrosive addressed his makers, several loud explosions were heard along with laser fire and metal alloys clashing. Then silence. Other science Droids rushed down the hallways to the top-secret lab, and were shocked to find the door completely obliterated off its track. Inside, the room was demolished. Equipment was torn into pieces, still sparking and smoking. Furniture was thrown about. Broken glass and shards of metal lay spilled across the floor. And mechanical fragments of the robot science team were scattered across every corner. The debris lead out of the lab, through the door, and down the hallway where it finally vanished. Whatever did this had escaped.
It didn’t take long for the Droids to piece together what had happened in the top-secret science lab. From the notes, Dr. Exavolt had been working with his team to create a new robot with a super brain. Radically new ideas were hastily used in the design and construction of the robot creation, and resulted in an unstable neural network in its cranium. When it was powered-on, the creation’s unstable brain circuit entered a state of chaos and it destroyed the science lab and the robots in it. However, Dr. Exavolt was never found and his whereabouts remain a mystery to this day.
Q: Looking at the game, it seems that some of it looks very serious with very dark and menacing graphics while other parts are very vibrant and colorful. Glitch (the main character) looks almost cartoon-oriented with his oversized head, but other robots look to be all business. This contrast has us a little confused as to what your target audience is with this title?
A: As Glitch, you will explore Iron Star from above and below the planet’s surface. From the deep rebel mines and dreaded wastelands to the towering high tech enemy cities Glitch will explore a variety of environments throughout the planet that have varied landscapes and moods.
Our ultimate goal with Glitch has been to make him appear as a little bot with a big attitude. The sweet spot of our target audience is 13-18, but we expect that a wide variety of gamers will be picking up their own copy of Metal Arms because of solid gameplay. That’s the foundation of any great game.
Q: Some might wonder if the Xbox is getting saturated with games involving robots (i.e. Mech Assault, Robotek, Gun Valkyrie). This game does seem to have a new take on the genre though. Where did the idea for Metal Arms come from and what makes this game unique from all of the other robot shooters out there?
A: Steve Ranck, president of Swingin Ape, describes the origin of Metal Arms. “In early 2001, the team at Swingin’ Ape Studios was working on a game concept based on a space traveling bounty hunter. We had a rich story, interesting characters, and exciting planets the player could visit.
Metal arms is quite different from many of the other “robot” games you’ve seen. Because Metal Arms is a shooter with some platform game elements integrated, it strikes a balance somewhere in the middle. The gameplay and controls are well suited to the console platforms. It’s sort of a genre bender really. It’s sort of like Halo meets Ratchet & Clank.
Of course, let’s not forget about the humor. Metal Arms is not only fun to play, it’s funny too. We’ve hired some top notch writers to ensure the game makes you laugh while you play. We know you’ve heard this promise before from other games, but Metal Arms really delivers the laughs. Trust me!
Q: While watching the trailer we noticed a few different modes of game play such as 3rd person action, 3rd person driving and multiple types of machines for playable characters. What other types of game play will Metal Arms be offering?
A: Metal Arms is all about control. In addition to tons of great weapons & many robots to hijack and play as, Metal Arms allows you to jump into and control just about every vehicle or mounted gun turret you find.
Q: Could you tell us an estimate of how long it will take to play through Metal Arms, and how many levels there are to play?
A: We have over 40 levels to play through. We estimate it’ll take a player around 30 hours to play on normal mode. Right now it takes our QA team (experts who know the game inside and out) almost 20 hours to play the game from beginning to end.
Q: One of the coolest things about having machines for main characters is the ridiculous amount and types of arsenals they can carry. What weapons will be available in this game?
A: Here are just a few of the weapons you can use as you play. Of course, we have a few surprises we don’t want to tell you about just yet, like the upgradeable rocket launcher or about half a dozen other really cool weapons.
The scope is an optical telescopic device with an electronic circuit that gathers the optical data and sends it to the active weapon. It is compatible with a number of weapons, but not all.
The Scope can be upgraded with an Equipment Upgrade Kit. The upgrade provides increased zoom and weapon accuracy.
Once used by Droid Miners to blast ore out of rock mines, the Coring Charge is an explosive charge powerful enough to rattle any metal chassis. When tossed from Glitch’s left hand, close-range targets can be attacked while simultaneously using the primary weapon – a devastating combination. Skillful users may find ways of tossing the charges at great distances.
Labeled with familiar hieroglyphs, this mysterious device is made quite obviously from Morbot technology. Dubbed the Recruiter Grenade by Droid rebels, the device has the unique ability to permanently reprogram the allegiance subroutines of nearby Mils such that they become allies of the Recruiter Grenade’s user. Not all Mils are susceptible to being recruited, but most are.
For close quarter fighting, Glitch can whip his current weapon at nearby bots for a punishing, joint-shattering impact.
Q: While perusing the Internet we happened upon a hands-on article from Gamespot where you mention a 'hacking' ability. What exactly is this ability and how will it work during the game?
A: Glitch has the ability to “hijack” into other robots in the game. This allows him to take control of these characters and play as them for a while. Of course, like any remote controlled device they have to stay in range or you’ll lost the signal and connection will be dropped. There are a couple of ways you can hijack into an enemy bot. Of course the Control Tether is the most commonly used, but sometime Glitch will find a control console mounted on a wall. It looks a bit like a stand-up video game console with joysticks and buttons. Glitch can walk up to it and jack in. Once he’s in the player takes control of an enemy bot.
Q: The game play in this trailer just screams 'Make me multiplayer!' Do you have any plans for single system multiplayer, LAN, or Xbox Live capabilities?
A: Metal Arms supports single system multiplayer games. The Xbox & GameCube versions support up to 4 players. The PS2 version will support 2 players.
But the real attraction is our ability to let the gamer set up and customize their multiplayer games themselves. They can set time or number of kill limits, if weapons or vehicles are allowed. They can even turn on enemy bot AI (Artificial Intelligence) to add to the chaos. It’s very flexible and gives the player a great deal of control over the multiplyer games and rules they want to play by.
Q: As this game is announced as being launched across all the current platforms (Xbox, GC and PS2), what are the differences between the Xbox version of Metal Arms and the other two?
A: All three versions of the game are identical from a feature set perspective with the one exception of the PS2 multiplayer supporting up to 2 players. Each platform version is being optimized to ensure the game is maximizing the unique capabilities each offers.
Q: One aspect of games that is most often overlooked but can do wonders for its playability is the soundtrack. What kind of music will we be listening to while playing Metal Arms?
A: Metal Arms features a totally custom soundtrack that ranges from hard driving metal to driving techno. Every track is specifically written for the game and the situations that the player will encounter. It is tightly integrated and fits the game’s attitude and style. We’ll be releasing some of the tunes online so gamers can get a feel for the style of the music.
Q: I'm guessing it still might be a little too early in development to ask this, but what types of resolutions are you planning to support with the Xbox version of Metal Arms?
A: We’re still investigating what we can do with the game to take advantage of this wonderful Xbox feature. Stay tuned. We’ll see what we can do.
Q: On behalf of all of our members and staff I would like to thank you for your time and the information you have given us! A last parting question: When is Metal Arms slated to be released?
A: Metal Arms will be released on all platforms this November.
Thanks for the killer interview.