WP: Who has the honor to speak with us? State your name, rank, and occupation!
I'm Marcus Savino, and I'm a producer on Puzzle Quest: Galactrix.
WP: Did you get started with Puzzle Quest: Galactrix, or were you involved in the original Puzzle Quest?
MS: I did not work on the original Puzzle Quest. Galactrix is my first title with D3 Publisher.
WP: Why the change from knights and warriors to sci-fi?
MS: The way to look at it is Infinite Interactive, our developer, was experimenting with a space game. After the success of Puzzle Quest, they were experimenting with doing a space game, and we all collectively decided that it would be a great Puzzle Quest game. It captures that core RPG, match-three hybrid gameplay. It was a very natural, organic process. It wasn't as if we thought, "We've now going to make a space game now that we've made this game." It was more like, "We'd like Infinite Interactive to do it," and we thought it was a great idea, so that's how it kind of how it happened.
WP: The first Puzzle Quest took a very standard approach to jewels dropping in from the top. Here, everything seems to drop from the sides toward the center. How did that mechanic come about, and how did you balance it?
MS: That's a very good question. Everything with Infinite Interactive is iterative. We try something, and we experiment. They're a really great game design developer. I think it was a shared idea between our head of development and Steve Fawkner, head of Infinite, so they worked on that concept together. How did we balance it? Lots of testing. The multi-directional gameplay is a new way to play a match-three, and it's something new and different, but you get used to it. It's still a match-three at its core, and it's still very easy to play.
WP: Aside from the drop rate, what else has changed and what else has stayed the same? Obviously you still have spells of some sort. Do you still have missions? Are the rules of the game still the same? Did you tweak them? Do you have multiple turns?
MS: I would say that structurally, it's very similar to Challenge of the Warlords. We've made some modifications to how you can play on the board. For example, we have mines that do damage on the board, and we also have blue gems, which replenish your shields. You can actually heal your health and protect yourself using the board, which is a new innovation.
In addition, you're flying around in a ship in Galactrix. It's a very different experience. It's space, and it's exploring mini solar systems. We have eight different solar systems in the game that you can fly to and explore. I would also say that there is a great deal of free-roaming capabilities, a great deal of freedom to explore and find new things and do new things. We have a similar amount of quests as Challenge of the Warlords and a similar structure like that, but the exploration is really a key innovation. It's about finding all those items and loading different ships with them, basically.
WP: What about multiplayer aspects?
MS: Multiplayer is identical. It's the same exact suite of multiplayer that we have in Challenge of the Warlords, with one very important addition. One thing you can do in multiplayer in Puzzle Quest: Galactrix is if you've been playing for a long time and have a very powerful avatar and a powerful ship, but you're playing against a friend who hasn't played or is inexperienced and doesn't have a very powerful ship, we pre-load the game with other ships that are loaded with items and are different levels so that any two players can always be on an equal playing field at any time.
WP: Galactrix is a multi-platform game. What differences are we going to see between the NDS, PC, Xbox Live and PlayStation Network versions?
MS: Content-wise, it's identical, so it's the same quests, same ships, same items across all platforms, same depth and same gameplay length. Obviously you'll see enhanced visuals on the next-gen platforms and PC, but the DS game is just as robust as the next-gen platforms.
WP: With the wide variety of games that D3 has, theme-wise, where is Puzzle Quest going? Are you looking to evolve the series to always have a new setting? Are you looking more to evolve the gameplay? Will there ever be a proper sequel to a Puzzle Quest game, or are you going the Final Fantasy route, where each game is individual?
MS: It's really a question for Infinite Interactive. They lead the creative for the Puzzle Quest franchise, and I'd say that the next title after Galactrix, whatever we do will be an evolution of the concept of the game. I don't really know if it's so defined as to how we're going to progress. Whatever feels the most fun and feels the most right, that's how it'll happen.
WP: Do you think we'll ever see an Onechanbara Puzzle Quest?
MS: Anything is possible, but I wouldn't count on it.
WP: Is there anything about the game that we haven't talked about that you wanted to add?
MS: No, I think you got it all, so we're good!
Puzzle Quest: Galactrix, rated E10, is in development for PS3 (PSN), X360 (XBLA), and PC, scheduled for early 2009, while the NDS edition is coming Feb. 24, 2009 for North and South America.
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