West Yorkshire developer Team17 might be best known for Worms, but the studio originally won over hardcore gamers with Alien Breed, its 1991 co-op Amiga sci-fi horror shooter. Now, some 18 years after the original’s release, Team17 is returning to the franchise, self-publishing Alien Breed Evolution for XBLA, PSN and PC. To mark the occasion, we sat down with studio director Martyn Brown at the Brighton Develop conference to tear as much information out of the outspoken developer as we possibly could. Read on to find out when Alien Breed’s coming out (check out our hands-on preview), Worms on WiiWare and what Team17’s got in store for the iPhone.
VideoGamer.com: Given that you're going down the self-publishing digital download route, and you can make whatever you want, why go back to Alien Breed as opposed to something completely different?
Martyn Brown: We actually are doing that as well. It's very difficult going from a known IP, something like Worms, to something that isn't known. Yeah I think we've obviously got a legacy in Team17's brand in the Worms brand. What we want to do is soften the blow of trying to do something new and taking such a big risk with maybe revisiting something. To be honest we've always wanted to do it. In one way or another we've been trying to get Alien Breed to be done. In retail on PS2, we were going to do it using Snowblind's tech – who did Baldur's Gate on PS2 – about five or six years ago. We got very close to signing a deal. We almost did it on PSP with someone, but for some reason it didn't happen. We've always had it our mind exactly what we wanted to do. So once we got the opportunity with no obstacles in the way, other than funding the bloody thing ourselves, it was actually, let's do this. Just the last few years with Unreal 3, and then everything following it with LIVE Arcade and digital and PSN, it was just like, oh let's just do this. We were so hungry to do it. I think you can see that in how we've actually done the game. There is absolutely new stuff going on. Very innovative – some touch screen stuff that we're doing now is unlike anything that we've ever done, so it's all new IP. Hopefully because we're going digital, we'll become synonymous with quality within the digital download space. Then people will maybe not just talk about Worms but Team17 games. That's where we want to be really.
VideoGamer.com: Have you pinned down a release schedule for this?
MB: It's only tentative. It's as tentative as it can be really. Until we get the thing certified through all the publishers, and that sometimes can take two months, sometimes it takes six months. Until we know that... we can kind of tie stuff to a quarter, realistically. We can't pin absolute dates on it. It's very different at retail. Things get rushed through because it has to tie in with a lot of spend. Things are a little bit different for us. A great example is Worms for the iPhone. We just got approval Sunday. Rather than release it on the 21st, I think is what we planned for, we just thought bugger it, we'll release it today. We released it two weeks early. That's the beauty of digital. We just thought, oh bollocks to it, we’ll put it out there.
VideoGamer.com: In terms of quarters then?
MB: It's certainly looking like September, October for the first Alien Breed game. It's LIVE Arcade exclusive for a little while, and then it'll be on PS3 and PC.
VideoGamer.com: Have you got a tentative schedule for the gap between each episode?
MB: No. We've gone through a lot of conversations with Microsoft over time about how often do we do that. The jury's out on that. All the game is built. We've put a lot of effort into doing the first episode first, but the second and third ones can be very short and certified pretty soon after the first game. Really it’s going to be down to a number of things. Microsoft has their own schedule on LIVE. It depends on the feedback from consumers. We don't know how each one's sales will affect another. It's real experimental stuff, what we're doing. There's a few – Telltale are doing episodic stuff and all the rest of it.
VideoGamer.com: They follow a monthly schedule, roughly.
MB: Yeah. It's very different content to this. Each game isn't a sequel. It's a bit like the Red Riding Trilogy that was on TV. If you think of it like that, that's how we've done things. That's just a useful thing that's come out recently, how we can describe what we've done. You don't need to watch any one of the others, but they all link. The answer is I've no bloody idea. I would think it's probably six or eight weeks between… I don't know. Two months, maybe three – even three – I don't know yet.