Two competing storytelling philosophies exist in video games. One states that a game should be filled with a series of scripted cutscenes that narrate an overarching plot. The other believes a game should never take control away from a player, thereby creating a kind of simulated fiction where the player is mobile actor. In Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, developer High Moon is aiming for this second approach. It hopes to offer players some measure of control even during scripted sequences. But telling a story this way is no simple task.
Using interactive sequences and allowing players to discover the plot on their own is a lot more work than the traditional approach. “I feel like if you can tell a story in-game then that’s how you should do it,” says High Moon cinematics designer Neil Carter. “One of my favorite games is Out of This World. I loved how they seamlessly integrated cutscenes with gameplay. We’re trying to do more stuff like that in Fall of Cybertron.”
When we decided upon Transformers as a cover story, I started asking around the office looking for ideas for our video coverage. Without a second of hesitation, Game Informer's own Jeff Cork demanded to learn how the team at High Moon Studios recreates the iconic sounds of the transformations. We are happy to say that we captured the process on video along with many other glimpses inside the creation of audio for Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. Three separate videos each capture an element of the audio work being done for the game, from the fun of foley sound capturing, to working with the inimitable voice of Optimus Prime, Peter Cullen.
It may seem strange for a toy brand to have its own encyclopedia of chronicled narrative. Properties like Barbie, Hot Wheels, or LEGO aren’t known for their large wealth of fiction, for example. One of the first toy properties to pioneer the concept of branching off into additional media was Hasbro’s Transformers. Since the franchise was first introduced into the world in 1984, the brand has constantly been reinvented for different markets and audiences.
High Moon’s Transformers: War for Cybertron was significant in that it translated the core Transformer’s concepts into an entertaining game. Few licenses are able to safely make this transition. We sat down to talk with High Moon game director Matt Tieger and Hasbro vice president of intellectual property development Aaron Archer about how they avoided traditional licensing pitfalls and what they learned that will make the upcoming Transformer: Fall of Cybertron even better.
In the interest of offering an official history, we asked High Moon Studios, in cooperation with Hasbro, to prepare a timeline that explains the emerging fiction. If you've been paying attention to the Transformers for many years, you'll notice elements of the story drawn from the original generation of stories, not the least of which is the tracing of a history that takes the Transformers from Cybertron to Earth. Careful readers will also notice some new hints about the direction of the Fall of Cybertron storyline.
Today, we go deep on one small area of gameplay and character – a close-up look at the character Jazz. This Autobot should be familiar to anyone who watched the old 1980s cartoon, but he hasn’t had a central role in the Transformers storyline in recent years. That equation changes with Fall of Cybertron, as Jazz steps up as one of the main playable characters.
Like all of the characters in Fall of Cybertron, Jazz and the levels he plays are built to complement one another. The challenges and battles you’ll face match Jazz’s particular skill set and strengths. Along the way, you’ll get to know more about this redesigned character, including a unique gameplay mechanic that only Jazz can implement.
Two things unite every sane person in the world: pumpkin pie and the unrivaled awesomeness of dinosaurs. In the '80s, Hasbro capitalized on the popularity of these beasts by creating the memorable team of elite Transformers called the Dinobots. Once a pillar of Transformers fiction, the proud Dinobots went the way of the dodo as the series chose to emphasize other characters. Thankfully, High Moon Studios couldn't let them go, as the Dinobots return to the fight in Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. Led by the robotic Tyrannosaurus Rex named Grimlock, these five transforming robots will be an intricate part of the story. Check out the first video below to learn how High Moon Studios built a new origin story that logically allowed for robotic dinosaurs on the alien planet of Cybertron.
High Moon has improved the responsiveness of all of its enemies for Fall of Cybertron, but that’s only one of the key changes to the AI. In order to communicate how its enemies react to the world, High Moon has implemented some overt animation and sound effects that help distinguish each character. Whenever possible, enemies in Transformers: Fall of Cybertron undergo physical transformation changes that will cue players into enemy behavior and weaknesses.
If a player hides from the Guardian’s battle mode, the Guardian will shift into investigate mode and begin scanning the environment for signs of their prey
Leapers don’t go into a full transformation, but they do shift into a wedge shape as they jump into the air. This air attack is one of the Leapers’ more powerful moves. Players will have to dodge this move and attack from behind in order to defeat these monstrosities
Crawlers will not attack while in flight, so their unique transformation sound signals players that it is time to crawl out of cover and find a better firing position. This is a good example of how High Moon’s visual and auditory cues aid players in combat
Enemy AI often influences a character’s design. For example, the Guardian’s battle mode is big and bulky, which represents how tough a challenge the Guardian will be in combat
Promised video interview with Matt Tieger - Game Director - Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, responding to your questions. Tieg was not feeling great so we only got to 3 questions.
The team at High Moon is laser-focused on creating an authentic vision of the Transformer characters -- one that is true to the roots of the character concepts, while still moving the fiction and visual treatment forward in exciting new directions. That philosophy is on display in a big way through the animation work that is going into Fall of Cybertron. Each character's unique transformations is built to represent the nature of the character. Optimus Prime pounds the ground with the force of a gorilla. Jazz flips and twists like a break dancer. Grimlock morphs into a destructive monster like an uncontrollable hulk bursting forth from a smaller form.
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