Frima Studio is looking to bring families together with their next PlayStation 3 release, Lights, Camera, Party! Known most recently for helping to bring Skylanders home to the web, iPhones, and iPads, Frima is crafting a family-friendly, motion-based, mini-game collection starting the Funzini family, seemingly looking to try and fill a void in the PS3’s market. With so many games oriented at the mature gamer, where are the games that parents can pick up and play with their kids? Executive Producer, Martin Brouard helped shed some light on where Lights, Camera, Party! Is coming from, and what he and his team are hoping to accomplish with the game.
Don’t worry, there’s monkey talk too … the headline wasn’t a lie.
MTV Multiplayer: Where do you begin when working on a game like this? Is it the mini games, the characters, the meta game, or something completely different?
Martin Brouard: We think about what kind of game we want to make. Who are we targeting as players with that specific project? Once we decided upon the Motion Controlled Party Game genre, we identified what we like and what we do not like in these kind of games. How can we make the best possible game in that genre? We all agreed that we wanted a really fast paced party game where there was virtually no downtime. That meant very short micro games in large quantity and many different game modes.
MTV Multiplayer: What makes a good mini-game?
Brouard: In the case of Lights, Camera, Party! I prefer to call them micro games because they usually last only a few seconds individually. They must be fast, original in their use of the motion controller, very satisfying when you succeed and make everybody laugh whether the players succeed or fail.
MTV Multiplayer: Where do you draw the line for a family friendly title?
Brouard: I wanted to be able to have fun playing this game with my young daughters but also with my friends. The humor needed to make a wide range of people smile. So while we went ahead with some good old slapstick cartoon violence and a zest of toilet humor, it is still really family friendly.
MTV Multiplayer: Is there anything that you had to cut out?
Brouard: The game was originally planned to be in 2D with really simple graphics. We soon realized that our game would be much more fun and appealing by switching to Unreal powered full 3D graphics. In doing so we had to cut a little in the total number of micro games, but with 50 we still have a lot more than most other party games.
Some of the motion control schemes that we developed also had to be cut out for different technological reasons or simply because they weren’t fun enough. (A good example would be the Bingo micro game where we originally wanted to use the move controller as a bingo stamper.)
MTV Multiplayer: Where did the concept for the Funzini Family come from?
Brouard: From the minds of very talented people :)
MTV Multiplayer: When working on a game like this, how do you balance creating a primarily multiplayer experience alongside a fun story mode?
Brouard: Obviously party games are made to play with family or friends. So we designed the story mode to be played in multiplayer too. Lights, Camera, Party! requires the players to pass along a single PS Move controller very quickly so that there is no downtime at all. The survival mode is especially hectic as the pacing and difficulty of the micro games augment every few rounds and players gets eliminated. Single players can practice each individual micro game and obtain medals in the challengingly challenging CHALLENGE mode.
MTV Multiplayer: What kinds of unique challenges does developing pass and play games present compared to more traditional, simultaneous multiplayer experiences?
Brouard: The fun comes a lot from the chaos inducing fast pacing of the game. In survival mode, up to 8 players can play together but one at a time. That could easily create boring moments between your turns. Hence the rapid succession of fun original quick bite sized micro games and the randomness in player turn order. Players need to be very attentive so as to not miss their turn and understand the many different control mechanics. There was a lot of trial and error but overall a very fun experience.
MTV Multiplayer: With multiple different control schemes how do you approach teaching the player how to know how to react so quickly?
Brouard: With Monkeys of course! The APE TV Monkeys demonstrate the control scheme at the beginning of every micro game. Of course it has to go rather rapidly or else the pacing would be greatly affected. Therefore the first time someone plays chaos usually ensues. Which is part of the fun. But very rapidly, by trying a second time and watching the other players, the controls are usually mastered. At the easiest difficulty level the instructions are shown a little longer. Hard mode is HARD!
MTV Multiplayer: Do you develop a game like this thinking that the children or the adults in the family will initiate playing, and how does that influence the title overall?
Brouard: I think for PS3, adults or teenagers will initiate playing the first time and, in the case of family friendly games, children will initiate many additional play sessions. For us that meant making a game wacky enough that teenagers and adults will find funny, original and fun so that they can still have a blast while playing with their younger siblings. Based on a ton of players who tried an early beta of Lights, Camera, Party! at PAX 11, I think we succeeded in doing just that.
MTV Multiplayer: How important is the use of monkeys in family oriented titles?
Brouard: As a wise man once told me: the more monkeys, the better.