16 de agosto de 2018

Dive Head First into the Wacky World of Iguanabee’s Headsnatchers

De Shawn Petraschuk

We’ve all seen them, those videos of crazy Japanese game shows making their players do the wackiest of tasks. Taking inspiration from such shows as Takeshi's Castle, MXC, and AKBingo!, Chilean indie developer Inguanabee decided to make a video game based on the quirky Japanese variety show concept. 

In Headsnatchers you certainly won’t find anything as crazy (or as gross!) as the AKBingo! ‘Blowing Cockroach’ game, but you'll find there are 25 unique arenas that allow you to do everything from using your opponent’s heads as a bowling balls to flushing their noggins down a toilet. An absolute riot to play with your friends and vividly brought to life with Unreal Engine 4.

Released into Early Access on July 24, you can hit up Steam to take a look for yourself. In the meantime, we had a chance to interview Daniel Winkler, Co-founder of Iguanabee. The Headsnatchers Lead Programmer discusses everything from inspiration to his most effective and favorite tools within the Unreal Engine 4 suite.
IguanaBee is a small but talented indie studio based out of Chile. Tell us what brought the team together and what you hope to achieve as you develop your games.

We’re hungry to make unique games. That’s the formula that brought us together. In spite of the inherent difficulties of being an indie dev team coming from a Latin country like Chile, we have been working hard and have a huge passion to deliver amazing experiences to our players. We seek to push the limits of our talents and skills with every game we make.
Headsnatchers appears to be strongly inspired by Japanese game shows. What can you tell us about this inspiration? Were there any shows particularly inspiring to you?

In recent years we have been traveling to Japan and we love the country. That inspired us to mix Japanese culture into our games. Indeed, Japanese game and variety shows have been a source of great inspiration for Headsnatchers, especially in terms of the ridiculous tasks they need to perform.
Keeping with this Japanese game-show inspiration, how well do you feel this translated into video game form?

Our main goal was to create a game that would be fun for four players. Japanese game shows are the epitome of fun, and taking inspiration from them opened up a lot of possibilities to create all kinds of crazy situations.  
When creating so many varied arenas and games, which Unreal Engine 4 tool was the most useful to you?

Well, for the levels themselves, Sequencer was of great help letting our animators produce interesting in-game intros in a comfortable way. Also, for creating the 100+ unique heads the way we desired (with physical animations), the PhAT was an extreme help.Headsnatchers-Screenshot-2.png
What was the creation process like when coming up with so many different games and arenas?

We follow Chef Gusteau’s (of Pixar’s Ratatouille!) philosophy in that "anyone can cook". We have brainstorming sessions where anyone can come up with their own ideas on how to make the game funnier. In those sessions, we received suggestions of new levels and then we work into shaping them into the form you end up playing. Even during the development, if someone comes up with an interesting and fun idea on how to improve a level, we evaluate and potentially implement it.
With each game having its own set of rules and logic, did you have to start from scratch on each one or were you able to use some Unreal Engine 4 tricks?

Thanks to the Blueprints tool, we were able to reuse a lot of the actors and other classes we created. So, when making a new level, we always contemplate the already-created code and Blueprints, and navigate into reusing them in a smart way whenever possible. 
Did you have a favorite tool from Unreal Engine 4? What was it and why?

The Animation Blueprint is a very complete tool that helped us to focus on what is really important, while allowing us to improve the game by adding cool stuff using its capabilities. The Animation Blueprint is by far better than the animation tool of other engines. Also, the other very useful tool was the Data Tables. Data Tables are a great way to maintain structures in an ordered way, while making it very easy to tweak values without needing to recompile.
In the trailer, I noticed mention of winning prizes on the Headsnatchers Show! Is this a component of online play and what can you tell us about it?

The Headsnatchers Show is a local multiplayer game mode where you are part of a TV show with a host. There, the players compete to win a “car” or “what is inside the mystery box”. Of course, the mystery box allows you to unlock really fun in-game content.
Headsnatchers has released into Early Access, meaning that there's more on the way before you hit that 1.0 mark. What else do you have in store for players who jump into the game?

We’re currently working on adding support to more and more levels for the online mode, and improving the game by using the feedback of the people playing it.

If you could offer any piece of advice to someone jumping into Unreal Engine 4 for the first time, what would it be?

Learn about the tools that Unreal Engine 4 provides. They are very complete and strong, so don’t try to reinvent the wheel!
Where can people go to stay on top of everything Headsnatchers and IguanaBee?

We can be found on Steam, Reddit, Twitter, Facebook and of course our official website, but the most direct communication can be through our Discord.