An Interview with Alex Jones of Twisted Pixel

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As you guys know I am located in (near) Austin,Tx which is a hotspot for game development. That fact has given me the opportunity to be able to sit down with some very cool people in the industry. I was able to get some time with Twisted Pixel‘s Alex Jones and ask him some questions about game development. I also included some questions for the readers of this blog. Thanks again to all those who contributed!

Now on with the show!

Please describe your game company and its history?

Twisted Pixel

Twisted Pixel was formed in 2006 by Frank Wilson, Michael Wilford and Josh Bear. Our first game was The Mawwhich was followed by Splosion Man and Comic Jumper. We have also done contract work for other game companies but have been focusing on our own work more recently.

What is your role in the company?

I am designer on one of our projects. Most of my time is spent on level design but I also do research, design documentation and testing.

Is humor always going to play a part in your games?

I believe so. I find it hard to imagine us making a game without humor in it.

What was your development process like for Comic Jumper and did it differ much from the last two titles?

Comic Jumper had a slightly bigger budget and longer development cycle than Splosion Man. There was more of a focus on art and presentation and we contracted many more people such as writers and voice actors.

What software/tools did you use to create the game?

We have our own engine and world builder called Beard and Razor that we improve upon while working on each new title. Our artists use Granny and 3ds Max.

What were 3 technical hurtles you had to over come during the development of Comic Jumper?

Twisted Pixel talks about personality in games photo

There’s a ton of animation blending going on for Captain smiley to make sure he still looks good and animated even while aiming, and he and star are also able to talk while doing all of their actions. The sheer amount of content was way more than anything we’d dealt with before because of the different art styles. Our lead engineer also developed a streaming system for our levels.

Questions from the Audience

Can you tell us more about the Pitch Movie Process?

Every developer pitches games differently.  Some make playable demos, some just have documentation, but we like to make a fairly well polished video that shows what the game will look like, not just to pitch with, but to help get the whole team on the same page about what we’re making.

Why no PC titles after The Maw?

Due to our partnerships, there are certain exclusive rights we need to abide by, and we’ve generally been keeping busy with new projects instead of older ones.

Is contract work more hectic or frustrating than in-house projects?

From what I have seen, the contracts involved working with external game teams who stuck to 9:00 to 5:00 pretty routinely.  But our in-house projects tend to have longer hours.

Thanks again to Alex for taking the time answer the questions. Also wanted to send a big thank you to those who contributed questions for me to ask! And thank you for reading! Let me know if you want more of these!!

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