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Cloudberry Kingdom Interview: Everywhere for everyone

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There are always unexpected gems in the world of gaming. These are the games that suddenly pop up on your radar due to special events or promotions, like E3 2013, and end up looking like something you have to own. Cloudberry Kingdom looks like it has the potential to be one of these games.

The first game of Pwnee Studios, Cloudberry Kingdom is about to make its debut on all current consoles and Windows PCs next week. GamerTell had the opportunity to ask TJ Lutz, Vice President and Co-Founder of Pwnee Studios, a bit more about this unique game.

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GamerTell: First, tell us about Pwnee Studio’s baby, Cloudberry Kingdom. What kind of game is it and what can players expect?

TJ Lutz: Cloudberry Kingdom is a 2d platformer based around an infinite number of randomly generated levels. We designed an A.I. that generates levels to a player’s specific skillset, determining when to make it harder or easier depending on your performance. People who play Cloudberry Kingdom can expect to run through an infinite number of new and interesting levels every time they pick up the controller.

GamerTell: How did you and Jordan Fisher come up with the idea for Cloudberry Kingdom?

Lutz: The idea initially came about while Jordan was procrastinating from his scholarly duties. He was daydreaming about playing Mario 3, and began to wonder to himself whether it was possible to generate infinite Mario levels. He started tinkering away and doing Jordan magic, and eventually had an alpha version of a really terrible looking platformer. We played it together over the summer, and started to slowly add heroes and obstacles to see how the random level generator handled it. Eventually we had some friends come over to try it and they were hooked. After that, we realized that we may be on to something, and decided to really flesh it out and make it into a real game.

GamerTell: You don’t often see procedurally generated platformers. What set Pwnee Studios off in that direction during development?

Lutz: The entire development was based around the procedural generation! Without that, it would have felt like just another platformer. We wanted to have something really special, that would allow people to keep playing the game without ever getting bored of it or having it end. Early in our childhoods we were traumatized when we beat Mario. No more levels!? We’re done!? What are we going to do? But I don’t want to go outside! – Looking back, we were spoiled little jerks. But we got the last laugh, because now we can play a platformer forever.

GamerTell: How customizable is the hero of Cloudberry Kingdom? How can the abilities and appearance change, and how big of an influence does this have on gameplay?

Lutz: Character customization has always been one of the most important aspects of Cloudberry Kingdom. What is nice about the A.I. we created, is that it takes into account the way the hero moves before creating the level. What that means is that if you have a hero with a jetpack on, the level is designed for use of a jetpack. The same goes for doublejump, or bouncy hero, or rocketbox, etc. We also have a mode in the game where you can create your own physics for a hero. We call it “Hero Factory”. In this mode you can completely customize your hero, from the way he jumps, to how heavy he is. You can alter gravity, friction, jump acceleration, rate of falling, how many times you can jump in the air (Octuplejump is a ridiculous hero), and all sorts of other strange adjustments. And each hero you make will completely change the way levels are generated! Aside from all of this functional customization, you can also alter the look of your hero, because who doesn’t want to do that? Also, we have hats. Lots of hats.

GamerTell: Cloudberry Kingdom has multiple local multiplayer options. Which do you enjoy playing most around the office?

Lutz: One of the biggest crowd pleasers at conventions and at the office is bungee mode. Bungee mode is like regular local co-op, except every player is tied together with bungee cords. This means that everyone will be tugging at each other and generally causing all sorts of chaos. Also, when a player dies they become dead weight. This weighs everyone down and only adds to the mess. It is a really fun game mode to try, and I suggest everyone try it at least once with a group of friends. The two reactions we’ve gotten are laughing until crying, and endless rage. Usually 80% on the laughing side.

GamerTell: Cloudberry Kingdom is going to appear on the PS3, Wii U, Xbox 360, Vita and PC. Which platform was easiest to develop the game for?

Lutz: When we first started working on Cloudberry Kingdom, we were working in XNA. The hardest part of the entire development was the porting process. It’s just a pain in general. So since we didn’t technically have to port to the Xbox 360, I would have to say that it was the easiest for us to develop for.

GamerTell: Is there any chance we could see Cloudberry Kingdom on even more systems? Perhaps a 3DS or Android/iOS port?

Lutz: It’s certainly not out of the picture. We’re looking into every option to see how viable each one is. I think we all like the idea of having Cloudberry Kingdom on a handheld device, and would love to be able to get it on more of them.

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GamerTell: Cloudberry Kingdom got a lot of exposure at E3 2013. I didn’t even realize it existed, until I saw it at Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft’s booths. What was it like to get that kind of support, and what kind of reaction did you get from attendees?

Lutz: It was really great to be able to see our game in multiple locations at E3. We still haven’t really had time to sit back and put it all into perspective. Just going to E3 had always been a dream of mine since I was young; having a game presented there blew that dream out of the water! The best part though, was the reaction that we got. There were so many people there who had no idea what Cloudberry Kingdom even was, and watching them play it for the first time was a blast. We were in the Nintendo booth for most of the convention, and we had a constant crowd around the Cloudberry Kingdom kiosk. I didn’t get to see what the reaction was like in some of the other locations, but hopefully it was similar.

GamerTell: Cloudberry Kingdom is one of Sony’s PLAY 2013 games. How did this come about? Did they approach you?

Lutz: As a matter of fact, yes they did! We first spoke with Sony about the possibility when we were presented at Ubisoft’s Digital Day event. They seemed to be really into the game, and we chatted a little bit about the possibility. We weren’t sure whether it would actually happen or not until recently when we got the good news. We’re very happy to be a part of the PLAY 2013 event.

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Cloudberry Kingdom is coming to the PS3, Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360, and PC. It’s first appearance will be on the PS3, as it’s hitting that platform next week on July 30, 2013. It’s part of the PlayStation Store PLAY 2013 event, so if you pre-order, you can get it for $7.99 instead of $9.99 with an exclusive theme. The PC and Xbox 360 versions will follow shortly after, on July 31, 2013, with the Wii U version coming August 1, 2013. Those with Vitas or computers running Mac or Linux will have to wait until later in the year.

Site [Cloudberry Kingdom]

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