“It Takes Two” (It Takes Two) is undoubtedly the most surprising and unique game recently: a unique two-player game mechanism; from a studio that has only done two-player cooperative games; plus one of its main creators, Joseph Fars was once known for chanting “Fuck Oscar” on TGA. All this makes the game come with many tags.
At the same time, the market performance of the game is also eye-catching. After its release at the end of March, “Two Persons” soon made it to the Steam bestseller list, and it has dominated the list so far, with a positive rate of 95%. On the comprehensive scoring website Metacritic, the game also has a high score of around 90 points.
After playing, many players said that this is “the best cooperative game reservation of the year”, and some people were moved by the warmth of the game process and plot.
Before the game was officially released, Fars had been interviewed by Gameingbolt and GamesBeat, and talked about the development process of the game and his views on game design. Some of them are instructive, such as:
Just like going to a movie together, Fars feels that the demand for “cooperative games” of players is greatly underestimated, which is also the space for “Two People” to play.
He is extremely cautious about content that enhances “repetitive playability” such as side tasks. In his opinion, “allowing players to get through the game at once and experience all the content” is the highest priority. Instead of designing side plots, collectibles and other elements to forcefully extend the game time.
For this reason, they are willing to spend a few months or even a year to die in a few level scenes-even if the player’s actual game time here is only a few minutes.
Similarly, they have also worked hard on the diversity of level gameplay. Fars confidently said that the diversity of gameplay in “Two Persons” “can break the world record.”
We have compiled and compiled the essence of it (not including plot spoilers, please rest assured to read):
“Two Players” is your third game in which cooperation is the core element. Why do you like to do this kind of games so much?
Fars:When we experience something, we always do it together, such as watching a movie or going to the theater together. I think that in games, the value of cooperation (how to play) is underestimated and has not received enough attention. Generally speaking, some games that provide single player mode also allow you to play cooperatively with other players, but that’s only the limit.
From the perspective of creation, especially narrative, if you design two unique characters with distinct characters for a certain game, and design a story suitable for two-player experience on this basis, you will find that there are many places worth exploring.
In addition, people also miss split-screen games. I like to read stories with other people. On the Internet, many anchors often connect to interact and share wonderful moments. This is human nature. “Two Persons” is a narrative cooperative game with various elements. No game is more suitable for players to experience as a group.
From the perspective of visual perception and tone, “Two Persons” looks completely different from “Escape from the Sky”, but at the same time, it also emphasizes player cooperation and role-driven narrative, which seems to be similar to “Escape from the Sky” The same philosophy. Did you deliberately create a game that is familiar to players and has a new experience?
Fars:of course. Whenever we make a new game, we always do our best to push the boundaries of narrative and mechanics forward. So you will think that “Two Persons” is a Hazelight work, but it is completely different from “Escape from the Sky”. I won’t say it too deadly-but at least at this stage I don’t want to make a sequel, but rather want to create new game content using new rules. Compared to developing a sequel, creating a new IP from scratch is more exciting.
What are the important experiences you have accumulated from the “Escape from the Sky” project?
Fars:As a team, we are growing, becoming more mature, and we have a larger budget than in the past. You may not know that many members of the “Escape from the Sky” development team are interns, and they have now become very good developers. So no matter from which point of view, we have become better than in the past.
However, we hope that the game mechanics are designed to be more resonant, so as to give players more fun and freshness. I don’t want to use the word “fun” all the time, but it is indeed the main goal we try to achieve when designing the mechanism. In this regard, we must have become more experienced than when we were developing “Escape from the Sky”.
There are not many games that focus entirely on cooperative play, such as “Two Persons” and “Escape from the Sky”. It seems that only Hazelight will establish a project. What is your motivation to keep creating this type of game? What new things can cooperative adventure games bring to the gameplay and narrative?
Fars:You will never get a similar experience from other games, “Escape from the Sky” is the first one. I can even say that Hazelight has created a new category of “cooperative narrative” games.
From a narrative point of view, it is always more interesting to have two characters because of the various interactions between the characters. In addition, you know that when we watch movies or share stories, we often want to be with friends. So I think that storytelling in cooperative games is underestimated. There must be some good ways for people to experience the game together. For example, when we observe two players playing “Escape from the Sky” together, their reactions to each other are very interesting.
In terms of creation, there is still much room for exploration in this category. How to tell a wonderful, interesting and unique story in a cooperative game? This incident fascinates us.
“Two Persons” is characterized as a romantic comedy, and its story will obviously contain a lot of personal narratives that resonate with the players. How did you manage the balance between designing these scenes and maintaining the game’s sense of comedy? What challenges did you encounter in this process?
Fars:To be honest, I have never played a romantic comedy game. No matter what kind of game you make, this is difficult, but considering the overall tone of “Two People”, the challenge is even greater.
I personally think that the most difficult part is to combine gameplay with narrative-this is also our focus.
I can cite many examples. For example, our two protagonists are having a divorce and lose their attraction to each other. Suddenly a crazy and tacky book throws a magnet that is divided into two halves, implying the relationship between the protagonists. As the level progresses, the magnetism of these broken magnets will become stronger and stronger, and in the end you two will be able to attract each other again.
So you see, we really want to combine mechanism and narrative. I think this is the most difficult. Of course, it is not easy to elicit emotional resonance from players, but it is still not as difficult as designing a narrative that integrates gameplay.
Have you been inspired by any movies, such as Pixar’s animation? I think “A Pair of Two” has a similar atmosphere.
Fars: Thank you for your compliment. We are indeed inspired by some movies. Pixar is particularly good at creating animated films, and I’m glad someone mentioned this. I admire Pixar very much. We drew a lot of inspiration from Pixar’s works, such as how they tell stories and how to design characters.
Compared with the concept prototype of the game, has the story changed much in the release version of “Two Persons”?
Fars:It is different, we made some changes, but it is also normal.
If you have seen the difference between the first draft and the final draft of a movie script, you will find that this change is not too big…I have directed several movies. Generally speaking, the movie script has to go through at least 10~15 Revisions. In “A Pair of Two”, the story is still the same as I originally imagined, but with a few changes. We have adjusted some of the content where the game design and the story are not compatible enough.
Was the creation of “Two Persons” inspired by any romantic comedies?
Fars:To be honest, I don’t have many choices, because there are not many great romantic comedies. We tried to create a warm atmosphere and create cute characters, but we did not specifically refer to any romantic comedy.
From the perspective of game creation, it is very interesting to try new things. The game industry is still very young and we can do a lot of experiments. We just touched the fur. In the future, we will have the opportunity to play more games of different categories, with various types of stories and styles.
So what is your favorite romantic comedy?
Fars:“When Harry Meets Sally” is one of my favorite movies. The script is great and the actors perform well. In addition, that movie has a very unique tone and retro feel, and it is indeed a master-class romantic comedy.
I also like “True Lies” directed by James Cameron, you can think of it as a romantic comedy movie with action scenes-I like all the movies that Cameron made, especially “Avatar” and ” Titanic”.
“Two Persons” seems to use a lot of asymmetrical gameplay. During development, which gameplay style did you find the most interesting?
Fars:No matter what kind of mechanism is created, it takes time to adjust and optimize, and there will be challenges in the process. We have done a lot of internal and external tests. However, our approach is different from other teams: when testing the game, we will not simply adjust based on player requirements, but rather hope that through adjustments, players will understand our intentions better.
It’s hard for me to say what the most interesting gameplay mechanics are, but designing these all brings different challenges. Sometimes we start to study a certain mechanism very early, and we are very clear about what we want to design, but we have to spend a lot of time. It took us a whole year and a half to design certain scenes and bosses from start to completion, but in actual games, players may only take two or three minutes, or even 30 seconds, to watch them. But the investment is worth it.
Do you think it is the story that guides the game design, or the gameplay dominates the development of the storyline?
Fars:We hope to combine the two so that game design and story complement each other.
You may have played some games where the story itself is great, but the design is completely incompatible with the design. They make you feel that the screenwriter and the designer are just like two different games… At Hazelight, we work hard Let the two blend into one. Sometimes we do it well, and sometimes we do it in a more obscure way, such as the magnet attracting example I mentioned earlier.
But in the final analysis, games need to bring players an interactive experience, and we always hope to take this experience to a new level. If you pay close attention to “Brothers: The Legend of Gemini”, “Escape from the Sky” and “Two Persons”, you will find that “Two Persons” provides players with higher resonance and interactivity.
Between the gameplay and the story, we try to get to the middle position precisely, where they meet. The gameplay is as important as the story. We will never say:’Let’s design the gameplay first, and then add the story’. I often tell the designers of Hazelight that games are not always fun. Certain classic game scenes are not interesting, such as the beginning of “The Last of Us”, but all the details in that scene fit perfectly. We need to find a design that fits the current storyline… According to the content of the story you are telling, you can create a unique mechanism that best suits them.
I know that the team sometimes gets angry with me because we spent a lot of time making a lot of scenes, but they can only be “broadcast” for a minute or two in the game. But in any case, it is important to combine the gameplay with the story, and we will continue to work in this direction.
The gameplay of “Two Persons” seems to be very rich. There are many seemingly unique levels, gameplay fragments and scene presentations in the game. Is this kind of levels that are very diverse from start to finish deliberately? What are the challenges of such a design?
Fars:Let’s put it this way, from the perspective of gameplay diversity, I think “Two People” will set a world record.
There are many reasons for our design. First of all, I think that many narrative games are too repetitive. Developers seem to be accustomed to repeating after finding a certain mechanism, and we need to throw away this way of thinking. This is not in line with the narrative experience at all…So in “Two Persons”, we hope that no matter what kind of situation the characters are in, players can experience the fun while playing.
The gameplay should not only reflect the narrative content, but also allow players to continue to pay attention to the story, so as to continue to bring freshness to the players.
Also, I hope that players can pass “Two Persons”. Certain statistics annoy game developers, because in many games, players don’t even pass levels. I think the high repeatability is one of the reasons. This is an old-fashioned design rule that may work in those brushy shooting games, but it does not apply to narrative games. I always believe that narrative games should provide players with a richer experience.
I can make a bet with you, if someone really gets bored with the gameplay of “Two People”, I will give you $1,000. This is impossible, because you can always discover new things. From a production point of view, my team is not always happy about it-after all, the workload is too much. But we are used to it, and we like to do this type of game.
You have been emphasizing that “Two Persons” attaches great importance to the combination of gameplay and narrative. Can you tell us in detail about the concept behind this design?
Fars:I have answered this question, but I might as well say it again.
When making games, we always want to integrate gameplay and narrative. Can we construct a meaningful mechanism for narrative? For example, the player must walk through this tree to go home. What is on the tree? Is that a squirrel? Have you met that squirrel? What is it doing?
Let me go back to the example I just gave. In “A Trip for Two”, the male and female protagonists have a problem with their marriage relationship, and there is a book that attempts to repair their relationship by splitting a magnet into two halves. Then the book explained to the two protagonists that their relationship is like a magnet attracting each other. In the second half of the level, the attraction between the two magnets becomes stronger and stronger, and you can even rely on each other…you can understand what I mean when you play there.
I have some other examples. In a certain level, Cody feels that time is endless, while the heroine May thinks that she doesn’t have enough time and can’t wait to become two people. Therefore, we let the clone become Mei’s mechanism, and control time becomes Kodi’s mechanism.
In short, we hope to combine gameplay and narrative. In this way, the player not only uses a certain mechanism to play, but the mechanism itself is also compatible with the narrative, which can more stimulate the player’s emotional resonance.
How long does it take for players to pass the level of “Two Persons”?
Fars:Maybe 14-15 hours. Players can explore as much as they want, but there are no collectibles or other shit-like things in the game, which is not what we want.
What the player has to do is not to move around, but to interact with carefully designed content. There will be a lot of mini-games in “Two People”, there are about 25 in total. We want the game world to feel lifelike, and players will definitely find it particularly interesting when they discover strange and weird things. There are also many secrets and easter eggs buried in the game, I hope players can discover them. Players will definitely fall in love with “Two Persons”.
How about the repetitive playability of “Two Persons”, for example, do you have content such as side missions?
Fars:I think we must be very careful when talking about the replayability of the game, because all the statistics show that most players will not pass the game. But from media reporters to reviewers, almost everyone is keen to talk about replayability…Who wants to really replay the game? Maybe a small number of players will do this, but we should focus on how to let players pass the level.
In the case of “Two Persons”, if you want, you can of course replay it. You can try different mechanics every time you play. But this repetitive playability should not be the most important thing in a game. I am always asked this question and I don’t understand why. How many people replay the game? Not as much as you think.
In addition, I don’t really like collecting items in games. Rather than designing some fancy collectible items for players, I would rather build a game world that is fun enough and interactive. There are a lot of mini-games in “Two People”, but there are no collectibles, which makes us very proud. You can explore as much as you want without staring at a rising statistic.
What else do you want to tell everyone about “A Trip for Two”?
Fars:Believe me, when you get started playing this game, you will definitely feel great fun.
You will like it. There is a “friend pass” in “Two Persons” and you only need to buy one. I am pretty sure that the game will be a success. As long as you play it, you can understand what I mean-you have never played any game like it before, it will surprise you.
Compilation/Andrew & Wind Horse
Source: Game Grapes