Fantasy physics – PSU talks Trine 2 with Frozenbyte

The original Trine was something of a flawed gem. Visually striking and chock full of intriguing, brain-aching riddles, the downloadable title fused satisfying co-op platforming with compelling combat, making for quite the thrilling fantasy romp. Sure, it lacked a strong narrative and the EXP system was somewhat shallow, but overall, it proved a gripping slice of entertainment.

With a sequel just around the corner, PSU decided to catch up with Frozenbyte CEO and Trine Design Director, Lauri Hyvärinen, and get the skinny on what players can expect from the eagerly-anticipated follow-up.

– – – – – – – – –

PSU: How important was user feedback in making the transition from Trine to Trine 2, and how has it had an affect on the content and features in the game?

Hyvärinen: The feedback from players was really helpful and guided us right to the point with both the problems and what had worked in Trine 1. For Trine 2 we did a lot of fixes based on user feedback, along with many changes we ourselves found the game lacking. Some things have been streamlined, like removing the mana required for the magic efforts – I don’t think anybody will object to that, but mostly we have made Trine 2 a deeper experience and packed with a lot of nice features. And of course this time we’ll have both online and offline co-op available!

PSU: Can you give our readers some details on how online co-op will work in Trine

Hyvärinen: In the classic mode each player controls one of the three characters, and co-op of course allows some nice solutions which aren’t available in the singleplayer. You could say that in a good way singleplayer and multiplayer are different experiences, so the co-op really adds replay value. It doesn’t matter in which order you enjoy these game modes. And finally, there’s also Game+ and another extra mode to bring even more replay value!

PSU: Will Trine 2 support cross platform play?

Hyvärinen: We’ve decided to keep multiplayer platform-specific. Trine 2 is our first multiplayer game and we really don’t want to mess it up, so this helps on the technical side. It also saves us the nightmare of trying to figure out all the non-technical issues that would have to be sorted out to allow this kind of stuff.

PSU: What have been the biggest challenges when developing for the PlayStation 3?

Hyvärinen: With Trine 2 supporting online multiplayer, physics-based gameplay and awesome visuals all in the same game, that’s of course something that requires a lot of optimizations and inventive programming to achieve a smooth experience. But we’re armed with all the knowledge we gained from the first Trine, and we’ve now spent two more years with the PS3, and rewritten our whole game engine, so everything is falling into place very nicely. Trine 2 runs a lot smoother on the PS3 than the original Trine and it looks a lot better while doing so.

PSU: How would you rate the reception to Trine among the PlayStation community?

Hyvärinen: It’s been really good and we’re amazed how gamers continue to love the game! It’s still not forgotten, which is a very nice thing. Overall, we’ve been really happy with the reception of Trine 1 and it’s helped a lot with the development of Trine 2, financially and spiritually.

PSU: After watching the trailers for Trine 2, we noticed the inclusion of environmental manipulation; specifically where the player watered a plant in order to make it grow. Will there be any other ways the player can manipulate the environment?

Hyvärinen: We’ve added a ton of new physics-objects to the environment, and the fluid gameplay includes various growing puzzles but also lava and acid re-directing etc. You could say that behind every corner there’s a new puzzle featuring some kind of physics manipulation. Sometimes it’s necessary for progression, other times it just exposes some nice experience vials or other stuff…

PSU: Can you give us a little more detail about the skills that each character will possess?

Hyvärinen: We’ve aimed for a better balance for the characters, so for example the knight has reveived an ability to throw his hammer and use his shield as a stepping platform for other players. The thief now has freezing arrows, and the wizard has a small offensive ability – he’s now able to learn how to levitate enemies as well! The new skills, especially when used in combination with each other, provide countless ways to solve puzzles and smash enemies.

PSU: In Trine our heroes battled an undead army, but in Trine 2 in appears we will be fighting a new type of adversary — could you provide any details on the game’s foes?

Hyvärinen: This time we have goblins invading the lands, and the forest is also rumbling with all the plants growing wildly. The Trine summons our heroes once again for a quest which eventually turns out to be a lot more than a few overgrown plants and goblins…

PSU: One of the criticisms levelled at the original Trine was that it lacked a strong narrative; how does Trine 2 compare in this regard?

Hyvärinen: We’ve now paid a lot more attention to the story, and I think it’s paying off. I don’t want to give away anything right now but I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

PSU: Trine 2 currently has a tentative release date of "late summer 2011" — when can we expect a firm launch date to be announced?

Hyvärinen: We’re still making sure that everything is perfect, and after that the publishers and the channel owners will double-check and triple-check that we have done a good job. So even after it leaves our hands – which will hopefully happen quite soon – it will be another four to eight weeks before release, and the final release date is set by the console channels, so we don’t really know anything yet. I would imagine that once the game gets approved by both PSN and XBLA, then we’ll announce the release date and be happy.

PSU: Will we see a return of the infamous Tower of Sarek?

Hyvärinen: No, and again no! While a handful of people enjoyed the level, including a good chunk of our guys, it was too much of a departure from the normal Trine-kind of gameplay. With Trine 2 we have made very sure that we won’t make same mistake again! The game will of course gradually turn a bit harder, but nothing near so impossible as the Trine 1 ending was.

PSU would like to thank Mr. Hyvärinen for taking the time to answer our questions. Expect a full review of Trine 2 as soon as we get our mitts on it.

Interview by Justin Titus