Xbox 360 Interview

Joe Lewis gets (Geon) Emotional

Strawdog's Creative Director details his new XBLA title

Eidos New Media and Strawdog yesterday launched their unusual fast-paced puzzler Geon: Emotions onto the Xbox Live Arcade, and with this debutant in mind we sat down with Creative Director Joe Lewis to find our why it deserves our hard-earned points.

The game has been described in some quarters as Pac-Man on acid, care to elaborate?

It’s true that the game has a Pac-man-like mechanic in that in the core game the player uses his E-mote to collect pellets, but the pace of gameplay is much faster and using a selection speeds things up even more. Moreover, it’s a versus type game, so once the E-mote is charged up, you have to score a goal against your opponent. It's a fast and manic game played versus AI or a human player. Geon has 40 levels including mini-games. The minigames are another challenge for players to unlock and explore.

Tell us some more about the game's funky visual style.

Originally Geon's target platform was the PSP and then migrated over to the XBLA. The visual styling was originally inspired by Designers Republic and the psychedelic colours fitted really well with the emotions theme. We wanted to make a unique game that was instantly recognisable.

How did you come up with the concept for this 3D puzzle offering?

It’s not really a puzzle game – though many people take one look at the screens and think it is! Geon is a much faster arcade collect-em-up, with a sports game feel. Geon came about whilst thinking through some ideas around the old arcade games such as Pac-Man. The game has a really neat twist in the sense of you have to flip over to the other side of the map to score your goals. This brings in a risk of being on your opponent’s side as they are more likely to attack you.

What impact do 'emotions' have on gameplay?

The emotions in Geon have different properties which aid in offence or defence of pellet collection and goal scoring: for example Rage has a power-up called JumpBash, which when activated near your opponent causes them to drop all their pellets. Passion has a fast exhilarating move called a powerslide that lets the player collect lots of pellets; this can also be used to bash pellets out of the opponent if you collide. All the emotions can take advantage of all of the power-ups, but each has its special power-up.

Will there be any mini-games?

Geon has 8 mini-games all of which are unique to each other in the terms of structure. Each mini-game is unlocked as you progress through the game and get better at it.

We hear chatter of a Dual Mode, how does this play out?

The Dual Mode is a really good way of getting to grips with another player's tactics, Duel mode is simply a war against your opponent, it's all about scoring the most goals to win.

Music. Will there be some?

Each emotion in Geon has its own funky theme tune, when you flip over to the other side of the map you will then tune in to your opponents theme tune as well as other visual indications, like the sky-box. The music has a wide range of differences that suit each emotion.

How will Geon keep players engrossed longer than other Arcade puzzlers?

Geon is perfect fit for XBLA, in that you can pick it up easily and enjoy a quick blast, its simple game mechanic has a sports-like feel as well as very arcade characteristics. But, there’s a depth to the tactical gameplay – learning the nuances of using certain power-up, emotion and grid combinations which will take many sessions to master. We feel no other game on the XBLA offers this much diversity. With a wide spread experience curve the achievements are tuned to keep even the best players wanting more... who will be the Kings of Geon?

Will Geon be released on any other platforms?

Yes, Geon will also be released on PC download so watch out for this too. We feel Geon lends itself very well to the Wii platform but we cannot comment any further on that at this time.

Is there anything missing from this edition that may be included in future releases?

Plans are afoot to release a map editor so players can create personal maps to play with friends. Watch this space!

What are the challenges of developing for the Live Arcade compared to other 'traditional' formats?

Developing for the XBLA has been a challenge purely down to the download size. To get Geon in to 50mb is a good way of focussing on the main thing that matters in game design - which we think is fun. It's kind of reminiscent of the good old days when you had only so much memory to play with, this is a lost art nowadays as size is not really an issue. We at Strawdogs are very passionate about good gameplay and quality.

Finally, what is your favourite aspect of the game?

We really love the way you can attack each other, we have had games that last over 15 minutes! It can sometimes turn the air blue with cursing, but saying that... it's all fun and games, isn’t it? We also like the manic speediness, the quick decision making and how it all rolls together with the music and the psychedelic colours. Its a really fun game to play.

E3 Trailer