Bionicle Heroes Dev Team Q&A
Monday, October 16th, 2006 at 11:29am by Kelly, BZPower Co-Owner
[Source: TT Games]
Not long ago, BZPower members had the ability to ask Bionicle Heroes questions that would be answered directly by the game development team. We are pleased to present the answers below. The questions have been answered by the following dev team members:
AP – Arthur Parsons – Lead Designer
CS – Chris Stanforth – Lead Programmer
MS – Mike Snowdon – Lead Artist
KG – Kieran Gaynor - Producer
- Leppy: How long did it take to make BIONICLE Heroes?
- CS - It took around a year, of, long hard work .
KG - BIONICLE Heroes took roughly twelve months of development time. We started late last year (05), but the project didn’t really take shape until the February of this year (06).
- Iruini Nuva: ill there be any multiplayer?
- AP – Right from the start we wanted to make a seriously impressive and immersive BIONICLE game that would be an awesome gaming experience for anyone that bought it, in order to do this we decided to concentrate on a single player game.
How closely does it follow the story of BIONICLE?
AP – The decision was made at the very start of the project not to follow the official BIONICLE storyline. We felt that doing this would compromise the game and would force us into making a game that may not be fun, so instead we decided to set the player as a hero that arrives on Voya Nui and has to track down the mask of life and save the Matoran of Voya Nui. This gave us far more scope to make a really fun and rewarding game.
- kalhiki: Why there are vahki and bohrok on voya-nui in the game when there isn't any on voya-nui?
- AP – We wanted to ensure that there were as many characters from the BIONICLE universe in the game as possible. As such the Bohrok, Vahki and visorak had to be in the game. The reasoning for them being in the game is that the Piraka have turned all of the Rahi into evil creatures with antidermis.
- Screenguy: What do you think sets BIONICLE Heroes apart from other video games?
- CS - We’ve combined the best features of first and third person action games, with the colour and fun of BIONICLE, enabling us to create a unique looking and playing action game.
KG - BIONICLE Heroes will stand out as it is an action / adventure game from an over the shoulder view point. Although we knew we were aiming at an audience that would be younger than most games of this type, we didn’t want to exclude the older gamers that might want to pick up the game. This game will have something for both older and younger gamers to enjoy.
What makes this one better than others?
CS - It is very immediate, fast paced, with fantastic cutscenes and interactive environments, with plenty to keep the player enthralled
- Toa Inika of plasm: What was the hardest part of making BIONICLE heroes?
- CS - Packing all the content, the fantastic levels, creatures and effects into the limits of the machine, we’ve certainly pushed boundaries with BIONICLE Heroes
MS - One of the most difficult things to do was cram so many amazing characters and environments into the game, and to make the whole world so interactive. Thankfully we have some wonderfully talented character and level artists, and I think that will be evident for all who play the completed game.
KG - I think the hardest thing about making the game was ensuring we had a story that would not conflict with the BIONICLE story line, but would also keep the fans happy. BIONICLE Heroes makes its own path in the BIONICLE universe.
- Kopaka's Apprentice: I noticed in the Hahli screenshot that there was a waterfall. Will you get to swim in 'BIONICLE: Heroes'?
- AP – Right from the start we decided not to include swimming in the game – because the player gets to play all of the toa at the same time we didn’t want to limit the player.
Do you get to use the Mask Powers in this game?
AP – The player does get to use mask powers, however these are not necessarily the mask powers that you would associate with the official storyline mask powers. Since we were making a game that needs to be really fun and also logical the mask powers had to fit. So for example in game Nuparu is able to walk up walls and also unearth hidden treasure.
Will you get to create your own characters?
AP – BIONICLE Heroes contains over 50 unique characters from the BIONICLE universe, plus in excess of 30 Moc’s, as such we pushed the consoles to their limits. We decided against user created characters as it would be virtually impossible to do this as the characters would need to be animated, and as BIONICLE allows you to create pretty much anything you can possibly imagine the number of possibilities made this unfeasible.
- Thoko: Which characters are the bosses in the game?
- AP – There are a number of bosses within the game. We tried to get as many BIONICLE characters into the game as possible so that fans of the franchise could see all of their favourite characters; as such the player will come across at least 19 different boss characters. These include the Piraka, but also characters from yesteryear like Krekka and Nidhiki.
- darkexotoa: How long does the game take to complete (playing)?
- AP – Bionicle Heroes has a main game and then absolutely loads of freeplay elements. As such a 100% playthrough is going to take in excess of 20 hours – it is a very, very large game.
- Toa Matthatoo: Toa Of Penguins: Did you make up any new characters for the game?
- MS - We didn't make up new characters as such; there are so many fantastic characters within the BIONICLE universe that coming up with new ones really wasn't necessary. However, we did go some way towards expanding the personalities of the characters, in order to really bring them to life, through the use of cutscenes and in game animation.
AP – In the game there are a large number of golden rahi and black rahi that the player creates. All of these were created by members of the team and are very interesting.
- Kohrak Slaye: Will Vezon feature in the game?
- AP – Vezon and Fenrakk are possibly the coolest characters in the 2006 line. We were very excited when we received the model for reference. As to whether they appear in the game . . . you’ll just have to wait and find out!
- Toa of the Red Star: Do you get to use the Mask of Life? / Are there any Matoran in the game (playable or otherwise)?
- AP – Your challenge in BIONICLE Heroes is to recover the Mask of Life and ensure the safety of Voya Nui and its inhabitants. As for Matoran, Balta features in the game in both the intro and outro movies, and as the shopkeeper in the Matoran Enclave.
- cam1: How popular do you think it will be?
- CS - Bionicle will be huge. It’s a great game, based upon a great licence that really lends itself to an action game.
MS - We're hoping it can live up to the immense popularity of BIONICLE!
AP – Fans of BIONICLE should love the game as it is huge amounts of fun and is a really big game. We are hoping that people who are not familiar with BIONICLE will also love the game, this way we will be responsible for encouraging new people to enjoy BIONICLE. Fingers crossed the game will be really successful.
- Toa BioNinja: Is it also for Gamecube?
- KG - Yes, BIONICLE Heroes will be available on the Nintendo GameCube, but only in America. With the next generation of consoles taking the step up to replace the old, there isn’t any space for GC games in Europe at this time.
- Deadalus: Just a simple question, will there be voice actors for the game?
- AP – There are over 150 cutscenes in BIONICLE Heroes featuring the various characters, because of the sheer scale of the game the decision was made at the start to not have voices in game. There is voice work in the intro and outro movies, but the rest of the cutscenes have sound but no actual voice work.
- pirakajalleroffir: Will you get the chance to fight rahi,rahkshi,and vahki?
- AP – In BIONICLE Heroes the player will get to fight numerous characters and bad guys. However try not to harm too many Fikou!!!! Save the Fikou!!!
jaller-kongu: What kinds of bonuses are there?
- AP – There are bonus levels, fun items for the Piraka to play with in Piraka beach, weapon upgrades, ability upgrades, unlockable BIONICLE historical content. There is a huge amount of extra content and something for every BIONICLE fan. I’d be really interested to hear your take on the Piraka beach content.
- Volcan: How many guys did it take to make the game?
- CS - We had at points 25 people working on BIONICLE Heroes.
KG - It took varying amounts of people to make the game. I can’t give a true figure as it varied during production. It would be easier to say this game is the end product of a lot of hard work from a lot of dedicated people.
MS - It took a core team of around 20 people. Add to that the hundreds of Bionicle figures sitting/standing/crouching around our offices!
- Shadow Vahki: How many levels will there be?
- AP – There are 25 main levels in the game and 3 bonus levels. The game really is huge.
Were you interested in BIONICLE before you made the game? Do you read the books?
CS - Definitely, I’ve always been a LEGO fan, and played with BIONICLE with my children
AP – I am actually a little too old to have had BIONICLE as I was growing up, however have always had a soft spot for LEGO System, as such working on BIONICLE was a great excuse to play around with BIONICLE. Our offices are now full of all kinds of BIONICLE creations. When I first started the design for the game I spent a good few weeks researching the BIONICLE brand and getting to know as much about it as I could. (so special thanks to BzPower for all their reference material!).
MS - I had certainly heard of the BIONICLE figures before I started working on the game, but I hadn't ever had a good enough excuse to play with them!
- Roody: What was the most fun thing about making this game?
- CS - Bringing the Piraka to life.
AP – For me the most fun thing in making the game was writing the cutscene scripts and then seeing the animators bring the characters to life.
MS - Flying over to Denmark, meeting the actual BIONICLE creators, and seeing their workshops (which were literally full of experimental BIONICLE creations) was a definite highlight for me. It was really inspiring to see the whole creation process, and by the looks of it there are some amazing BIONICLE characters/environments on the horizon!
Trogdor the Piraka Hunter: Will there be a get bricks etc. for cheats system?
- AP – BIONICLE Heroes has an enormous amount of unlockable content, enough to keep you busy for many hours.
- lavaside rahi: Will there be any fun extras like those in LEGO Star Wars (like disguises or invisibility)?
- AP – BIONICLE Heroes has a load of fun extras, including 12 brilliant Piraka beach items, bonus levels, and many other items.
- Umbra of Doom: Will we get to see the mask of Life?
- AP – BIONICLE Heroes places the player as the reluctant hero setting out to defeat the Piraka and return Voya Nui to peace. In order to do this they have to recover the mask of life. As such expect to see this in the game.
- taksanuba1990: how come the toa inika have the weapons of the older toa?
- AP – Due to the high numbers of Bionicle characters and the huge expansive environments we had a decision to make early in development regarding older Toa characters. We had wanted them to be in the game, however this was simply not possible, instead we decided to utilise some of the older Toa’s weapons. So when playing the game you will see some of the older Toa’s weapons within the game, however ultimately you will power your characters up at which point they will all be using Inika weapons.
- Yes.: Will BH be available on the Nintendo Wii?
- KG - BIONICLE Heroes is definitely a game that is capable of standing its ground on the next generation of games consoles.
- nuparu-x: How did you come up with the game idea?
- AP – BIONICLE is a hugely popular LEGO brand so the decision to make a game based on BIONICLE was relatively easy. Around the time that development on BH started Traveller’s Tales had just had a big success with LEGO Star Wars. LSW2 had just started development, and the decision was made to look at other LEGO brands that would make great videogames. We then decided to make a fantastic action game based on the BIONICLE universe because of the popularity of BIONICLE.
- Planetperson: What did you use for reference when modelling sets and characters in the game? And how was the music for the game produced?
- MS - We basically went to the LEGO shop at LEGOLAND in Billund (Denmark) and took every single character/creature that we knew we were going to have in the game. We were also provided with very high-resolution 3D scenes of the Piraka. LEGO were incredibly helpful in providing us with basically any reference material we needed, be it figures, 3D scenes or imagery.
AP – The music was composed by Ian Livingstone and helps to create a wonderfully atmospheric game.
- Air Freak: Will you be able to play as the Piraka?
- CS – Of course!! We couldn’t have a set of characters that cool and not allow the player to use them.
- Bundalings the Bunny: Will you be able to play it through again with the powers you earned before?
- CS - Yes, whole areas will be unlocked by your extra abilities, replaying the levels with your extra abilities is incredibly rewarding.
- Axxon_A_Protector: What kind of kanohi masks will be featured?
- AP – I love playing games and finding cool bonuses, as such I wanted to ensure that there would be an abundance of bonus items within the game. With the help of a handful of BZpower members there are serious numbers of bonus items to find and unlock.
- vader hater: Was there anything you wanted in the game that didn’t make it?
- CS - No, in the end we managed to get it all in, by working some very very long hours
MS - As with all games, there were certain limitations which forced us to take some artistic license with some of the characters in the game. For example, the Piraka figures have two distinct type of foot, but we basically had to use a single type for all Piraka.
AP – As a designer there is always more content that you want to put into a game, however there are limits to how much can be done on a game and the fantastic team we had working on BIONICLE Heroes managed miracles to get all of the content we have into the game, however there is a huge list of items that I have set aside for a sequel if we get to make one.
- Voporak:The Dark: Will there be free play like LSW1 & 2?
- AP – There definitely will be. There are areas of levels that cannot be accessed on the first playthrough, and you’ll need to explore all of these areas to unlock the cool bonuses in the game.
- Cleofan119: Are there any future plans for BIONICLE video/computer games?
- CS - We believe this game will be very popular, and that will drive the need for a sequel, the BIONICLE world is ever evolving presenting new game scenarios
MS - I personally would love to make a sequel to BIONICLE Heroes, and I speak for the whole art team in my desire to do so. We are so proud of what we achieved with the game, but hopefully it's just the start of something wonderful. To be honest it all depends on how well Heroes does with the public, but we have so many great ideas for a sequel (bigger, bolder, better!) that it would be a real shame not to make one.
AP – We are currently waiting to see how BIONICLE Heroes is received when it gets released. All of us that worked on the game would love to make a sequel as we have so many ideas, and we’d love to get some fans MOCs in a sequel, however we will have to wait and see what happens – however if you guys like BIONICLE Heroes and want a sequel please let us know.
KG - I'd never say never ;-)
- Toa Krajune the rider: I noticed that the Toa's body can turn golden during the game. How does that happen and what effect will it have on the Toa?
- AP – The playable characters in the game can trigger “Hero Mode”, this is a mode in the game where the player becomes super powerful. This grants them temporary invulnerability, their weapon fire is significantly more powerful and they are able to interact with golden BIONICLE pieces in the levels.
- Ozimul: How many weapons/items are in the game?
- AP – There are an incredibly large number of weapons and items within the game. The list is almost endless. There are weapon upgrades, armour upgrades, ability upgrades for each character, and then there are all of the various bonus items that can be found, unlocked and bought. We are talking big numbers.
- Mana Leader: Was the over the shoulder camera view chosen do to the popularity of other games with that angle?
- CS - The Toa, (and Piraka), are too cool to be tiny on the screen, and it brings the player much closer to the action
- IXI: Is the game engine the same as LSW?
- CS - The game engine shares aspects with LSW, as it was based on the LSW engine, however BIONICLE Heroes required many custom made segments which has resulted in a seriously supercharged version of the LSW engine.
- Ninja Handyman: Are there any Easter eggs in the game, such as an LSW character as a cloud or such in the game?
- AP – There are no LSW characters present in the game, unfortunately we couldn’t do that because of branding issues. There are however Easter eggs in the game, but those will remain secret until people find them.
If there was going to be a sequel/prequel, would there be a feature where you can create your own characters like in LSW2?
AP – This is something we looked into for BIONICLE Heroes, however it simply was not possible due to the complexity of the BIONICLE characters. LSW2 has this function but their characters are far simpler than those in BIONICLE Heroes. Perhaps we would be able to do this in a sequel, however it would be a very tricky proposition.
- Avantul: What made you decide to place the BIONICLE game in this genre as opposed to full-on platformer?
- CS - We wanted to make an action packed game, and this genre was the best for action
- Zumoro Nuva: Are there any cheats/unlockables?
- AP – There are loads of unlockables within BIONICLE Heroes, including some great bonus levels and the Piraka Beach items which are great fun.
What Titans do you face other than Brutaka and Roodaka?
AP – You will need to play the game to see them all, however rest assured there are plenty of great characters to see in the game.
- toa kongu hordika: How many level will you be able to play on free play?
- AP – there are a total of 25 amazing levels in the game, all of these levels can be played in freeplay. On top of that there are 3 ace bonus levels.
- Pohatu Jr. the Certified Hobo: How cool are the boss battles?
- AP – How cool are the boss battles? They are Ice Cold!!! The fact that you can face off against the various Piraka is beyond cool, the fact that you can also face off against at least 13 other bosses means that this game is MUST for any BIONICLE fan.
MS - The boss battles are intense, and there are so many of them! We've really tried to set the boss encounters in some beautiful environments, ranging from a dimly lit cave, to a massive icy chamber, and there's even a battle at the top of a crumbling lighthouse! Take care not to spend too much time admiring the scenery though, or you'll be crushed by the fearsome Piraka....
- Cyber Piraka: Are there any similarities between BIONICLE Heroes and LEGO Star Wars?
- CS - We leaned a lot of lessons from LSW which we applied to BIONICLE
AP – LSW was a really fun game, however any game can be improved on, as such we learnt lessons with LSW that made LSW2 so good, since BIONICLE Heroes was in development at the same time as LSW2 we were able to share ideas and thoughts and also solutions to problems. Despite the fact that LSW and BIONICLE are different types of game, there are similarities, which is why they are both such great games.
MS - Speaking from an art perspective, there are some similarities between the two, in that the LSW team were always on hand to offer their expertise. For example, the 'force' graphic from LSW is similar to that of the 'constraction' glow in BH. To me this is a very positive thing; it provides a sense of continuity to Traveller's Tales' projects, despite the many interesting visual styles that are evident throughout our back catalogue.
- puppydog: Is there something like the cantina in LEGO star wars II?
- CS - We have an area similar in concept where you can wander round, see creatures and items you’ve unlocked, wait to you see Piraka Beach!!!!!
AP – It was important to have a safe area that the player can explore, like an interactive trophy room. The Matoran Enclave in BIONICLE Heroes is this place, and as you progress through the game more of this becomes available to you, and there are more items to see. Ultimately Piraka Beach is the place to visit!!!
MS - I would imagine the 'Hub' (where you start the game) could be compared to the cantina in LSWII, simply because it's a hugely interactive section of the game, a place that you can explore freely and gain access to all kinds of fantastic upgrades, bonuses and general treats!
- MS/AP/KG/CS: A big thanks to everyone at BZPower, you've all been so positive about the game throughout the entire development time, and it's been a constant inspiration to us all to see how excited people are about the release of BIONICLE Heroes. We hope it lives up to your high expectations, and hopefully we'll all be able to get excited about a sequel sometime in the future.
« Return to News