PressA2Join recently had the chance to chat to Aki Kanerva, lead designer and founder of Virtual Air Guitar Company, an indie game studio that focus on making unique motion games. Their latest game, Squid Hero for Kinect is out on the Xbox One on July 29th.
PA2J: Where did the idea for Squid Hero come from, and how did you go about turning that into a game format?
Aki: The idea for Squid Hero kind of shaped itself through prototyping and experimentation. Boom Ball had been loosely based on Breakout. When we started the as-yet unnamed project in January, we wanted to see what we could make of Asteroids. The very first prototype was ready in a few days, and it had nothing but some vaguely rock-like blobs on a default blue background, and circles to represent the player’s hands.
PA2J: Why did you decide on squid as the animal protagonist for the game?
Aki: One of our programmers commented that the rock-blobs kinda looked like ice rafts floating in water. One thing led to another, and soon we had a silly squid throwing ice around (because squids are awesome, right?). Not much of the original Asteroids concept remained, but that’s how these things go: you can’t design motion games on paper. You have to try out ideas in practice, which results in a lot more new ideas.
PA2J: Virtual Air Guitar specialize in motion games, what makes motion games more appealing to you as opposed to controller based games?
Aki: Our team has a strong background in research, such as virtual reality and novel interaction methods. Even though motion games have been around for a while, they’re still all about pushing the boundaries of new technology. We’re geeks at heart and excited to be trying out new things. At the same time, we like the idea of promoting active, physical gameplay. Moving around is fun and rewarding, and we want to enhance that experience even further.
PA2J: Do you have a favourite level in the game, if so, why?
Aki: I’m quite happy with how the bosses turned out. I also like level 3-4. Serpentine Rapid, the one that’s all turbo. It’s one of the most challenging levels in the game, but so rewarding when you finish it in one go AND get the secret chest (and yes, it is possible to complete it without dying, I’ve done it myself).
PA2J: Have you been to any/all the rivers that are featured in the game?
Aki: No, but now I have a vacation plan for next year!
PA2J: What’s next for Virtual Air Guitar?
We have lots of choices, but nothing certain as of yet. We’re prototyping a new Kinect concept but it’s too early to say anything about it. Boom Ball is going to China, which is a big step for us. We also want to get back to bouncing balls at some point, so there may be a sequel for Boom Ball, or a fresh game based around that concept. And one day, when the time is right, Kung-Fu will strike back again!
Thanks Aki for taking the time to talk with us, you can get your copy of Squid Hero for Kinect on the 29th July. We’ll also be running a giveaway closer to it’s release. You can check out our review of the game here.