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Welcome to our latest feature!

Media Molecule have recently won 3 BAFTA awards for their amazing family game Tearaway, it’s one of the most uniquely brilliant games you could ever play, making full use of the PlayStation Vita’s front and rear cameras and touch screens in a world that really sucks you into the experience. If you have not played it, you simply must! Feel free to check the MGL review of Tearaway while your here.

Enjoy our interview with Tearaway creative lead Rex Crowle below, you can use the floating contents bar to the left for quick navigation and to skip to the comments section where we’d love to hear what you think. If you enjoy it, please share this article!

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Hi there, please tell us about yourself and what you do at Media Molecule:

Tearaway_avatar_04Hey – I’m Rex Crowle, and I was Creative Lead on Tearaway at Media Molecule.

What made you want to be part of the gaming industry?

Tearaway_avatar_04I’m from an art and animation background, so I’ve always enjoyed making characters and little worlds or scenarios to put those characters into. Getting into games meant that, not only could I do that, but I could then let players interact with what you had made.

It’s an interesting collaborative creative process that requires a team of very different but talented developers, but its also a collaboration that continues when the public get their hands on the game, and start playing around with what you’ve given them, and having all kinds of divergent experiences.

Tearaway

For those who have not played this amazing game, please tell our readers about it:

Tearaway_avatar_04Tearaway is platform adventure game, set in a world made from paper – a world that can fold and transform much like a pop-up book, but as a full 3D environment. It focuses on a journey undertaken by a tiny papercraft Messenger, carrying a unique message all the way through this paper world, so they can deliver it to You, the player outside of the game that’s holding this whole world in their hands, inside their PlayStation Vita.

That set up allows us to have all kinds of fun with the fact that its a handheld game, and with all the functions of the Vita. So we allow the player to push their fingers into the papercraft world, see themselves appearing in the landscape or let them run wild with crafting new elements to add into the scenery, so it gradually becomes a world that’s as much about the player as the story.

This game is famous for “Breaking the 4th Wall” is this a particular motivation for you when developing titles?

Tearaway_avatar_04It feels like a honest way to make games – we can make them more immersive if we can actually present them as a world inside a games console, which you are holding in your hands – because that’s what you’re actually doing. It’s not something that would work for every title, but as this was our first handheld game it felt like we should make something of its hand-held nature, and the hands that are holding it!

In Tearaway your hands are literally part of the experience of playing.

With other games such as the Puppeteer taking this approach too, how do you see this principal influencing gaming as we enter this new generation with the PS4 and XboxOne?

Tearaway_avatar_04I think there’s lots of ways games to break the fourth wall, whether its inside of the game (like Puppeteer or Assassins Creed) or ways to bring in extra elements from the world outside of the game, using cameras, on-line sharing etc. I think its a more natural thing to do on a handheld, as you’re actually holding the game rather than sitting 6 feet away, like you do when you’re looking at your TV.

But its interesting seeing games at the more experimental end of the spectrum, and the ways other teams are playing around with the concept of what games are. One of the games I’m most looking forward to at the moment is Double Fine’s Hack & Slash, and the way it allows players to hack the properties of all the game assets, changing all their properties and behaviours. It actually looks like a good introduction to game-design for players!

Since the game uses the camera to put your face in the game, did you ever consider putting a warning on the box about a player being filmed when they might look a bit scary first thing in the morning/last thing at night? I certainly got a fright!

Tearaway_avatar_04Ha! Well we really wanted to involve the player visually in the game, and seeing their face peering in was a very immediate way to do that.

I like that this allows you to photo-bomb many of the game cut-scenes, so instead of pressing the “Skip” button you have a part to to play, and its up to you whether you want to act-up and be overly dramatic, or just pull faces at the characters. It’s just more engaging to be part of the story in that way – and its fun watching other people playing too!

The 3D paper world of Tearaway has some brilliant and unique touches. During brainstorming sessions on the paper theme what features worked best for you and were there any you wanted to include but decided against?

Tearaway_avatar_04The sun is a good example of how we tried to combine experimental uses of technology, the 4th-wall-breaking narrative and a general playfulness, but it came out of an earlier failed experiment. We have game-jam phases where everyone on the team can try out ideas based on a core theme, Omar Cornut, a gameplay programmer on Tearaway experimented with using facial recognition so that the player would have to smile while playing the game to allow certain doors to open.

It was pretty funny, and I love that it made you do something outside of the game world that didn’t need a button press or anything “normal”  – but it was also very glitchy. It meant you needed to keep your face very still and there needed to be good lighting, which isn’t particularly compatible with the way handheld games are played.

But it made us think about our own faces, and instead of making a game that forced you to smile, we could make a world that would encourage you to smile just through the joyfulness of it all, and then literally reflect yourself back into that world, by seeing your smiling face peering down from the sun.

Peek-a-boo!

The story element of Tearaway is about delivering a message to the “you” as in the player, why did this particular motivation become the focus of your title’s plot?

Tearaway_avatar_04We had several different designs for the main character, but none of them suggested a real purpose in their appearance. Plus although they were made of paper, they were’t made of anything recognisably made of paper. And thats where the idea of basing them off the design of an envelope took form. Envelopes are iconic and recognizable, if we see an envelope we know what its made of, and a sealed envelope is intriguing – it makes us wonder whats inside.

So from there the whole narrative formed, the idea that this character was a messenger and had something sealed up inside them, a message that they want to give to you. Of course they could have delivered this message to someone else in the paper world, but that didn’t feel interesting enough, and it would have been hard to represent that as a goal that you are always travelling toward.

It was our goal to make the game as much about the player, as it was about the fantasy world, so it just made perfect sense to make the player themselves the recipient for this unique message.

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Little Big Planet

We can’t ask you questions without a little bit of Little Big Planet. The franchise has seen the loveable Sackboy develop into a massive franchise now, what pleases you most about the game’s success?

Tearaway_avatar_04That its helped a whole load of people get into games development, Media Molecule has several game-designers who started off making things in LittleBigPlanet as a fun hobby, and we know of many more in other companies too.

We have seen Sackboy on PSP and Vita along with PS3 for the original titles and even in a Kart… where is he going to go next, is it safe to think he will come to the PS4?

Tearaway_avatar_04We said goodbye to Sackboy, Sackgirl and the whole of Craftworld a few years ago, but its always interesting to see what they get up to without us!

We have a huge following of Indie Games fans and developers here on My Games Lounge, what is your opinion on the influence Indies are having on the gaming industry?

Tearaway_avatar_04There’s a lot of different interpretations of what “indie” means – personally I think of it more as “thinking independently”  – those developers with a desire to make games unlike ones that been made before, or to renew passions for game-styles that have been lost as the industry (and its budgets) have expanded.

There are some terrible Indie games, and some terrible-A games, but its a fantastic time for games that think differently, that rewrite the rules or make players explore topics and themes they haven’t up until this point.

And, if you could be any video games character who would you be and why?

Tearaway_avatar_04Parappa! So I could rap, learn kung-fu from an onion and just generally have a pretty good time. I just gotta believe!

Great choice Rex, it’s about time the rapper returned if you asked me!

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What a top interview, one of our best! A big thank you to Rex and all the very helpful people at Media Molecule who have supported us with our requests, I’m sure we’ll be catching up with them at some point later in the year.

We hope you enjoyed it and if you did please share this out via Facebook and twitter or any other social media source you are part of. We’d also love to hear what you think so join our MGL gaming community and leave some comments below!

If you missed it, click here to read our Witcher 3 Exclusive with CD Projekt Red

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