After three years in development and almost no sleep, the three man team of EyeBrow Interactive have finally completed Closure, the puzzle heavy PSN title to hit on March 27th.
I had a chance to have a very casual chat with Tyler Glaiel, the programmer and designer of Closure during his much deserved downtime, and no doubt, bouts of insomnia from the anticipation of releasing his first PSN title. Tyler is also a well known Flash game designer. He’s one of a growing pool of talent that has nurtured flash prototypes on newgrounds to full console releases. Meatboy, AlienHominid, Castle Crashers have all had their humble beginnings on NG, and now Closure will soon join their ranks.
Jose: How’ve you been?
Tyler: Pretty good, pretty crazy.
Jose: Yeah man, jeez, I could imagine. Just five days now to release right?
Jose: How long have you been working on the console version of Closure?
Tyler: 3 years.
Jose: That’s actually pretty good considering it’s just the 3 of you (Tyler programming, artist Jon Schubbe, musician Christopher Rhyne)
Tyler: Yeah, so pretty much exactly 3 years.
Jose: Is this the longest you’ve ever worked on a single game?
Tyler: Yeah, by like orders of magnitude. I never really worked on any flash games for much more than 2 months.
Jose: What’s the shortest time you ever put into a game?
Tyler: Eight hours I think. [Pico: U.F.O.] was like 8 hours, decided really last minute to make something for picoday that year.
Jose: Haha, I remember that. The online version of Closure was made in flash, are you still using flash in any form for the console version?
Tyler: Not really, Jon (the artist) did a few animations in flash but most of the art was in photoshop, and I have one thing (towards the end of the game) that I prototyped in flash quickly first.
Jose: What are you using now and how was the transitioning? Which do you find easier?
Tyler: Closure was a custom engine (and custom editors) written in C++. That’s a lot nicer for a large project but you end up requiring a lot of overhead to do anything.
But if you have a fairly fleshed out idea for a game, once you spend the few months it takes to build an engine and editors, it makes it really easy to work and iterate on the game stuff.
I’m probably gonna make some more flash games again before starting another large project though.
Jose: I was curious if you went the Behemoth route (Castle Crashers was ported into C++ using a Flash parser). But that’s great, so flash is still used for the fun quick stuff and prototyping like you said before?
Tyler: Yeah. I actually do have a C++/OpenGL flash renderer prototyped for future stuff. I might take a look at it again if I decide to transition a flash project into a full project.
Jose: Hows life been in the console scene? Have any of the people you met with,(Sony, other developers) been pretty down to earth? Or its anything like how movies portray hollywood business types?
Tyler: Almost every company I’ve met with has a down to earth dev-relations person but they still have to follow rules set forth by higher-ups which makes doing some things tough (even though they keep saying they are trying to change things). Sony has been pretty good though.
And other devs are pretty awesome.
Thats why we spend a week every year at GDC which is mostly just a week of drinking and parties with other devs.
Jose: Nice, parties are always good. The Flash scene is pretty laxed on how and what type of games you make, have you had any limitations to how you wanted to address the story or art in your game in anyway? Like from Sony or ESRB?
Tyler: There were some limitations but nothing external other than trying to not get a T-Rating from the ESRB.
Jose: I was going to ask if your game could be deemed too “dark” and if that in any way could warrant it a T-Rating.
Tyler: Yeah it gets dark but there’s nothing really “inappropriate” in it since it’s all left up to interpretation. Blood has to be red for them to consider it as blood they said. There’s not really any blood in the game though.
Jose: Just kinda like a hint of it? For example, the sweat in Mortal Kombat 2 for the Super Nintendo?
Tyler: Well there’s a little bit of black goo on some decorations later on in the game, I won’t spoil it. But yeah I emailed the ESRB back and forth a few times trying to see if anything we had in there was considered inappropriate for E-Ratings.
Jose: Ok good call. So after 3 years I’d imagine you worked on a lot of ideas you wanted in, but couldn’t get in the flash version. Were you able to squeeze all of it in? Or are you leaving some for “Closure 2: Even Closurer”?
Tyler: There won’t be a Closure 2 or DLC .It’s all in. There’s a few things which would have been neat to try but nothing that I think would really be worth an expansion.
Jose: Sounds like you’re pretty happy with how it came out, thats a good sign.
Tyler: Yeah. it took a while to get there.
Jose: Yeah, three years must feel like ages after being able to whip out games so quickly with flash.
Tyler: Last year we started tying together all the levels and added transitions and stuff. A bunch of little things like adding the hub world and little cutscenes for transitions. It just suddenly stopped feeling like it was still in development and started feeling like a game that you could play all the way, beginning to end without using any debug commands.
Jose: What was that moment like? When you finally just leaned back, and said, “Shit. I’m DONE”.
Tyler: We pulled an all-nighter to finish the game 100% the day before we submitted it was pretty much, “Sweet we get to sleep now”. Then GDC was next week so we didn’t really get to sleep.
Funny thing is the flash version wasn’t hard it was just frustrating, like, we have levels really early on that are similar to the flash version’s levels, but since everything is more polished and clearer they end up being a lot easier. Then it does get really hard though.
Jose: Well thats good, I was feeling dumb getting stuck in the flash version. Well man, thanks for taking time to answer some of my questions.
Tyler: Hey, no problem.
Jose: Any advice to those flash kids out there that want to take their games to the next level?
Tyler: It’s a lot of work. It’s a job, not a hobby, and there’s times where it really does just feel like a job. So be prepared for that if you’re gonna go in. It’s very rewarding in the end but there’s a lot of shit you have to do that doesn’t even involve making games.
Jose: Well congrats on the game, and enjoy that well deserved rest.
Look for Closure next week, Tuesday the 27th, when it comes to PSN as part of the Spring Fever promotion. It’ll run you $14.99 or $11.99 for PlayStation Plus subscribers.