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'Foo' - Developer interview

by Rainier on June 12, 2003 @ 1:42 p.m. PDT

Set in ancient China, Foo will challenge you and your competitors to enter palaces and temples before dawn, loot them for as much treasure as you can carry, and escape before the sun rises. Before setting out carefully plan what traps to take with you for your unwitting competitors - but beware, the more trap components you take in the less treasure you'll be able to carry out and the slower you'll move and react to the traps set out by other players. Foo is a unique "sneak, steal and trap-em-up" game of malicious pleasure with gameplay summarized as "Thief" meets "Spy vs. Spy", with the general feel of an animated feature crossed with the comical morbidity and brutality of "Itchy and Scratchy." Game Designer and Development Team Leader at IdolFX, Stefan Ljungqvist answers a few questions to shed some light on this rather unknown title.

Check our previously posted Foo screens & trailer

Q: What has Idol FX, the dev team, written before and what do you feel is your expertise?

SL: Idol was formed 1999 and merged with the Hidden Dinosaur Studio at the beginning of the year to form one of Scandinavia's most interesting developers of interactive electronic entertainment. The team/s at Idol currently develops for all consoles, PC and GBA. Before founding the company, the principals have been developing paper RPGs, miniature games, CCGs, board games and children games for the past 5-10 years. We have produced 6 games since 1999; Gast®, Grumpa®, IMP®, Uhu!, Loophole® (for interactive TV), and Nosferatu: The Wrath of MalachiT. We're currently developing DrakeT for the Xbox.

Q: You have summarised the game as a mix of Thief and Spy Vs Spy. People will know about Thief but many new gamers will not have seen or heard of SpyVSpy. Please detail the game' style and what it offers to PC gamers in terms of innovative game play?

SL: The game is about malicious pleasure and not so serious style of game-play. In multiplayer the game is primarily inflicting indirect damage to the opponents (by luring them into vicious traps) rather than causing direct damage to them with a gun per the normal multiplayer PC game (even though there are throwing weapons and bombs available for this purpose also in FOO). There are also some more game vitals to gauge as you need to loot for treasures in order to buy equipment in between levels as well as cause damage to your opponents to hone your score. In addition to the other players you also have to struggle against the guards and the time.

Q: Many will have asked before. The game looks very action come arcadey and more akin to a console game. Please tell us why it is PC and who do you feel you are targeting the game towards?

SL: The game is primarily a multiplayer game, and as such it was a natural choice to go for the PC as primary platform. Also we wanted to present the PC multiplayer game players an alternative to the shooter style FPS games out there. We will see if FOO will available on console in the future, it is not impossible...

Q: Who do you assume, is there much difference from the characters and who is Foo? What will be the tasks/main objective for the players and who are you competing against?

SL: The major enemies are the guards and the time (and human opponents in multiplayer). You need to complete each mission within a certain timeframe and once the guards get scent of you, they won't let go easily. Stealth is key in order to avoid being captured by the guards, since capture means that you lose valuables, time and health and might even be thrown into jail. It is also important to avoid alerting your opponents of your presence.

Q: How is the game structured? Tell us a bit about the game play what interesting actions, confrontation and puzzles you will be involved in?

SL: In single player the game is a linear story with 10 missions that are played in consecutive order, everything from rescuing people to looting treasure. There are some platform element style challenges in the game, but the missions are primarily about avoid detection of the guards when fulfilling the target objects of the mission.

Q: Is everything on offer preset? How random are events and how creative can the player be?

SL: When playing a random generated level, the core of the level and architectural design in FOO is basically a highly sophisticated file hierarchy system that allows random generated static and/or animated geometry, spawnable characters, texturing, sound and any game play element. When playing single player the player has to complete missions in a given order.

Q: Give the reader a couple of events/incidents pertaining to specific levels? (How many levels are there?)

SL: In single player there are 10 missions. In one mission you have to rescue your friend the Panda who has been imprisoned in an elevated cage. You must trap two guards that each hold a key to the cage (one lowers the cage, one unlocks it) and snatch the keys from them when they are stunned. In multiplayer mode you play over a number of levels, either a specific level you decide for or random levels. Between each session you can use the valuables that you have brought back to buy new traps to increase the likeliness of you being victorious in the end. Your success is determined by the number of times you trap your opponents as well as the amount of valuables that manage to bring with you.

Q: The 3D world you have created looks inviting. How interactive are the environments and have you created your own 3D engine with special effects etc?

SL: We use the internally developed FX engine.

What kind of actions (fighting, running etc) is involved and how fluid is the movements and controls of the character you control?

You move, crouch, sprint (for a limited amount of time, then you'll get exhausted and have to rest for a while), jump, pick locks, search containers for valuables (includes listening to them, looking for fingerprints), set up traps, avoid the opponent traps, throw weapons at your foes and push them so they fall over if you are up close to them.

Q: What on screen info is there and what are the final objectives?

SL: Inventory menu: If you have accessed the inventory, the item that you have currently displayed in the centre of the frame in the lower right hand corner of the screen, is the one that will be selected when left clicking.

Health: This is a numeric as well as a visual representation of your character's current state of health. When the health reaches 0 the game is over for this time and you must try again.

Stamina bar: The stamina bar indicates your character's ability to sprint. When you sprint, the stamina bar will gradually increase, reducing the pace of your sprint. If the stamina bar peaks, your character has to rest for a while.

Time: Mission time remaining.

Message icon: These icons display information on players near your traps, trapped by you or in prison.

Q: Finally sum up the game in a sentence!

SL: Sneak, steal and trap-em up!

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