What’s In A Trailer: Reset Devs Explain Amazing Debut

By Nathan Grayson on May 1st, 2012 at 10:30 am.

I bet he's sad because everyone - including you - mistook him for a robot. You should feel bad about that.

So yeah, that Reset trailer. Its sumptuous eye candy feast reduced the Internet to a slack-jawed chorus of “oooos” and “aaaaaahs.” Pitter-pattering raindrops, gently wavering foliage, and a blinding sun holding two giant scoops of intrigue turned the “single-player co-op” puzzler into the talk of the town. It had a lot of graphics, I suppose, is the short version of what I’m saying. And yet, all of that heart-wrenching, gob-smacking robot-on-a-car comtemplaction came from a two-person team. Two. So then, the obvious question: how? And, perhaps more importantly, why put so much work into visuals so early? I spoke with Theory Interactive’s Alpo Oksaharju about avoiding Dead Island trailer syndrome and why there’s more to Reset’s debut than meets the eye. For instance, that robot? Totally not a robot.

But first, how? Is it all smoke-and-mirrors? Can a game coming from such meager means really look like that? Theory Interactive is a witch coven, isn’t it? That has to be it. And yet, Oksaharju sounded pretty human, all things considered.

“After knowing what we wanted to accomplish, we sat down and asked a question,” he began. “It wasn’t ‘Can we do it’, it was ‘How can we do it?’ The key was knowing pretty specifically what features we needed and innovating new methods that allow us to produce as much stuff as possible with the least amount of effort. We threw out many industry standard workflows to suit specifically our needs. Our ridiculously tight resources made us think things from scratch. We questioned practically everything and derived workflows from that.”

“We’re working with standard i5 rigs with current-gen graphics cards. The game is being built on DX10 tech, so DX11 is not required – at least, not at this stage. Can’t really specualate on the final requirements, but our goal is to find a suitable set that doesn’t compromize the visual fidelity.”

Which sounds fairly reasonable, all things considered. Knowing that, I wasn’t entirely surprised to hear that Oksaharju and his partner in eyeball-caressing crime, Mikko Kallinen, met while working at benchmarking mastermind FutureMark. Granted, there’s always room to grow.

“Reset is a dream project for us, as we shared the same interest in what kind of games we want to make,” explained Oksaharju. ”We’re in this for the long haul, so getting more dedicated and talented individuals to join our team is pretty obvious. But we’ve [also] prepared to finish Reset with just the two of us since one of our prime directives is to stay independent.”

“Yes, it’s nearly, but not entirely impossible [to self-fund]. We can always make more holes in our belts, and hopefully when we release the game, there will be enough likeminded people that we can fund also our next project. We’ve been looking into Kickstarter and the like, but unfortunately we can’t apply for a Kickstarter project from Finland. There are some other EU based crowdfunding sites and we’re still going through them.”

So obviously, Oksaharju and Kallinen have big plans for the future, but what of the present? Reset’s proven it can do pretty, but how does it work? What is this vaunted “single-player co-op” we’ve been hearing so much about? While Oksaharju wasn’t ready to provide specifics, he did fill me in on the basics.

“You do one action and leap back in time to complement that action. There are a few games that I know of that have touched this subject before, The Misadventures of P.B.Winterbottom and Prometheus, a UDK mod. Our approach is somewhere in the same ballpark
perhaps, but it is not the same.”

Granted, it is a bit perplexing – especially seeing as Reset’s blog notes that the next big development milestone will focus on gameplay. In the land of development, that’s a bit, er, backward. There is, however, a method to Oksaharju and Kallinen’s apparent madness.

“We had to decide what parts we needed to do in what order, since we couldn’t parallellize much,” he said. “We have done game design enough to really stand behind it. Atmosphere and mood are a big part of what we want people to experience, so it was only natural to really make sure we can pull off what we wanted to achieve.”

Of course, moving too far in that direction can lead down a rather one-sided path, as evidenced by such prolific sadvertisements as Dead Island’s not entirely accurate debut. Reset’s obviously in-engine, but could a similar fate be in the cards if it fails to back up its claims? Oksaharju – in spite of gamers’ notorious cynicism about these sorts of things – isn’t losing any sleep.

“The trailer consists of all the major visual features we wanted to implement and it was a way to test them,” he explained. “At the same time we wanted to express the mood of the world and the story because it is a big part of the whole. We combined these two so in a way the trailer itself is a byproduct of the actual development. We would be poorly allocating resources if we just made a trailer for its own sake. We’re not worried about the Dead Island implication, but only time will tell if we can make your worries disappear.”

Ultimately, that is the (perhaps literally) million-dollar question. Will it all come together? Can it? For now, we can only watch and wait, seeing as Oksaharju and Kallinen certainly haven’t laid all their cards on the table. They did, however, leave me with this one last ace:

“The character is a human, but in an mech exosuit. This is the first time we’ve revealed this: the character’s name is Zero-Two.”

Hmmm. Could this mean asymmetrical sometimes-human, sometimes-exosuit single-player co-op? And where will time travel enter that picture? Anyone care to put on a long, wispy costume beard and spend some time with me in the vaguely suggestive speculation corner?

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39 Comments »

  1. Shadowcat says:

    Um, I suspect that almost no one watching the trailer mistook the character for a robot once it’s heart was restarted.

    I have to say that this trailer didn’t do a lot for me. Sure it was moody and pretty, but it told us virtually nothing about the game; literally nothing about the game play; and only the merest morsel of story at best.

    The Dead Island trailer was entrancing both because it gave the impression that you were gleaning something about the gameplay, and because it told an affecting story in a memorable way.

    I wish this team all the very best, and hope the game turns out great (whatever it turns out to be); I am a little perplexed by the coverage to date, though.

    • wodin says:

      Trouble is Dead Islands trailer hinted at gameplay\mood and atmosphere that weren’t really in the dead rising\ left 4 dead clone.

    • povu says:

      @wodin Exactly. The mood set by the Dead Island trailer doesn’t reflect the mood of the game, which is a fun co-op zombie slaughtering game but the story isn’t exactly great. It occassionally tries to be all serious and sad in cutscenes but usually just misses the mark completely.

    • buxcador says:

      Nice demo, but gameplay is what makes the cut. If it ends having another mindless console gameplay, I’m out.

  2. pilouuuu says:

    Groundbreaking graphics + interesting gameplay = epic experience (hopefully!)

    • diebroken says:

      Just like Project Offset…

      • HisMastersVoice says:

        Has a nervous breakdown, collapses into a weeping heap of misery on the floor.

        I so wanted Offset to happen.

      • pilouuuu says:

        Snif… Snif… Why Intel? Why?!?

        • Nova says:

          Because Larrabee sucked. (To put it bluntly.)

          • Lev Astov says:

            Yeah, but then they wouldn’t sell the IP back to the developers who wanted to make it anyway. A total jerk move. I can never forgive Intel for it.

        • Chandos says:

          Well, let’s say you invented something that could extract a lot of extra mileage from a used car… and sold the idea to an auto manufacturer who had already sunk lots of investment into developing the next gen cars for years to come… what are the chances it would make it to the market?

      • mrwonko says:

        I had almost forgotten about that… Sad thing.

        Reminds me of Edge of Twilight, another cancelled game that seemed interesting.

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      Some angry bloke on the internet once said that graphics and good gameplay cannot co-exist anywhere in the known universe. He said that you have to choose one or the other, and that because he was so awesome, that he would rather have gameplay, thank you very much. And lo, many agreed and said words of swearing at the unbelievers. As he seemed so very angry, and wrote oh so many paragraphs (with swearing and condescension and everything), we all reasoned he must have been right.

      Therefore this game does not exist.

  3. DickSocrates says:

    Comtemplaction.

  4. The Sombrero Kid says:

    I was hoping to turn heads with the graphics in my unannounced game I’m working on but I don’t think it’ll look as good as Reset unfortunately.

  5. Saul says:

    I thought there was a shot showing someone watching displays inside the “robot”!

    But yeah – will be interested to see how the game part works with all this fanciness.

  6. wodin says:

    The trailer had the feeling of total loneliness and isolation. Or was that just me picking it up?

    Sort of last survivor kind of feeling, maybe waiting to be picked up or rescued from a dead planet?

  7. The Sombrero Kid says:

    I think they have had to ‘reveal’ that it’s a mech because we were all too awed by the amazing visuals of the trailer to actually watch it properly & notice.

  8. Suits says:

    I don’t watch a trailer for it’s graphics

    • MonstroUK says:

      Yeah, I mean why the hell would you watch a primarily visual medium on the strength of it’s visuals?

      • Unaco says:

        I think what he means is, he prefers to watch trailers that inform him about the game and how the game itself plays, rather than just how pretty it looks. Like some people have an aversion to cinematic trailers, and some people have an aversion to gameplay trailers.

        The trailer may be pretty, but pretty doesn’t make a game. And the trailer tells us little, if anything, about what the game will actually involve.

  9. rsanchezsaez says:

    Anyone else find it curious that they mention Winterbottom and Prometheus but not the seminal Braid? I doubt Winterbottom would be what it is without Braid.

  10. Love Albatross says:

    Since you see the guy get reanimated in the trailer, I’m going to guess he has been left there for many, many years in order to travel back in time and fix/prevent whatever cataclysm wiped out the rest of the population.

  11. Chizu says:

    Gameplay sounds kinda like the puzzles Clank does in Ratchet &Clank: A crack in time
    in which case, I will be pretty interested to see it cause I quite liked those.

  12. Lucky Main Street says:

    This is Chronotron. They’re making Chronotron.

  13. Coriform says:

    DX11 games don’t require DX11 cards to run, just to utilize DX11-specific features. Their choice in DX10 is strange, considering the DX11 API is much friendlier and more future-proof.

  14. Belua says:

    Whenever I see this robot/mecha suit I’m vaguely reminded of Robo from Chrono Trigger.

    Therefore, I have decided that this is a prequel from his perspective, and it takes place in a world that is all but wiped out by the attack of Lavos. You play the events leading up to meeting Crono. The suit repairs you and wakes you up – but still leaves you hungry. While it prevents you from starving to death, the hunger drives you mad enough that you forget that you are a human instead of an actual robot after some years/decades.

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