Interview: GripShift developer Sidhe Interactive

Gripshift small logo

Available on Xbox Live Arcade now, the team that brought racer Gripshift to the Xbox 360 has taken out the time to answer a few questions about their game. As one of the most original games to hit XBLA yet, GripShift developer Sidhe Interactive not only shares information about their game, but gives a few thoughts on the development process as well. Enjoy!

Thanks for taking out the time to answer a few questions. Off the top, are any of the development team planning on jumping onto Live to play with the fans of the game after its release? If so, what are the Gamertag’s to look out for in the case of a dev losing to one of our readers.

We’ll be looking to organize some specific times when gamers will be able to play the dev team on the forums at the official GripShift site, www.gripshiftgame.com. We are just in the process of getting copies of the game to individual members as well, so they will no doubt also be playing over the holidays as well.

Firstly, for those that may not know anything about the developers of GripShift, who is Sidhe Interactive and what does GripShift bring to XBLA that isn’t already available to Xbox 360 owners?

Sidhe Interactive (www.sidheinteractive.com) is a console game development studio based in Wellington, New Zealand. We have worked on a range of different consoles and titles over the years, and most recently have started developing downloadable content.

GripShift brings an innovative driving title to the XBLA lineup. In one easy download it packs in multiple game modes, online multiplayer, and a total of 165 levels, tracks and arenas. For 360 owners, its both something new and great value for money.

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Racing fans are sure to like separate molds of racing games. Simulation or arcade style. What mold does GripShift try to fit into if it tries to fit into any mold at all?

Rather than being either a simulation or arcade racer, we describe GripShift as something entirely new – a “driving platformer”. The title takes elements of racing and driving games and marries those with platformer and puzzle paradigms. What this means is that with GripShift fans of both simulation and arcade style will be able to use their existing skills in new and interesting ways. It really tries to supplement the racing genre rather than competing with it directly.

What do you seeing as being the goto mode for GripShift during any random play time?

The Challenge Mode really offers the most depth. In this mode, the gamer is tasked with 3 separate goals; finish the level within a challenging timeframe, pick up all the stars in a level, and find the hidden GripShift token. It brings together fast paced driving, platforming, and exploration elements, and the player may have to approach the level in completely different ways to complete all the goals.

With 120 levels each with 3 different goals, in just a few minutes you can achieve something meaningful be it unlocking a new level, finding that elusive GripShift token, or improving your rank on the leaderboards for each level. Gamers will be able to engage with the title in this mode by spending just a few minutes to hours at a time.

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PC gamers have had something like Track Mania for a few years. Does GripShift attempt to differentiate itself from that game other than a deathmatch mode or is it attempting to bring a similar experience tailored to a console?

GripShift has some similarities to Trackmania, but ultimately they are very different games. Trackmania takes a traditional driving experience and sets it in over the top tracks for a thrilling race centric experience. GripShift goes beyond that by adding deeper multi-faceted gameplay in Challenge Mode, fantastical levels and much more interactive elements to the environments. The use of weapons and powerups in the Race Mode and additional gameplay modes such as Deathmatch in GripShift further separate the two titles.

GripShift has seen its development move across several other platforms at this point. How has the move onto XBLA been for the development team? It’s been a widespread conjecture that the Microsoft Certification process is in some cases a obstacle for some dev teams. Was the process for GripShift an eventful one or is all of that just rumor? In other words, what were the challenges developing for the Xbox 360 versus the PSP and PlayStation 3 versions?

It is my understanding that a number of teams have struggled with the certification process for XBLA. A possible explanation for this is that the XBLA platform has attracted a number of traditionally PC developers who are potentially not used to developing software under the extensive and rigorous requirements and standards imposed by the console manufacturers. Also, some developers may not have their own internal QA teams to help catch issues and allow them to be resolved before builds are sent away to Microsoft.

Given Sidhe comes from a retail console development background and has a dedicated internal QA team, we have been exposed to and been successful in completing this sort of certification process many times in the past. The XBLA certification process for us was very comprehensive and time consuming, but not unexpected or overly arduous.

From a technology standpoint, the 360 was a pleasure to work on, as Microsoft has great tools and support. We are looking forward to continuing to create games for the platform.

In Xbox 360 fashion, how are the achievements implemented into GripShift seeing that this isn’t the only platform for this game?

The Achievement system allowed us to add an additional level of fun and reward to the title. Because the gameplay of GripShift is multi-faceted with multiple modes, we were able to create a broad set of achievements which test both the gamers’ dexterity and their technical execution. The team really had a lot of fun coming up with them, and turning those “wow, that was cool” moments into a tangible reward.

Achievements in the game include everything from doing massive jumps and barrel rolls through to completing multiple objectives in one Challenge Mode run through to fragging opponents in a certain way.

Lastly, seeing that Gripshift is a fast paced racer, was GripShift inspired in anyway by Criterion’s Burnout series?

Being a driving platformer the inspirations for the title were actually games like the quirky Super Monkey Ball, the classic Stunt Car Racer, and the hardcore physics title Elastomania. All these games do a great job of mixing nail biting action with platform elements. Influences from these titles can be seen in the final product.

Again, thanks to Sidhe Interactive for taking out the time to shed some light on one of the newest Xbox Live Arcade games GripShift.

-William “thewilleffect” Bell-

5 Responses

  1. Fantastic interview Will. I was hoping to get a chance to set one up myself, but damn if I haven’t been absurdly busy. Thanks for filling in!

  2. I don’t really get why you call this innovative or original, but good interview nonetheless.

  3. Mikael: I didn’t say it was innovative, only original to XBLA. Look for a review soon.

  4. Very Interesting.

  5. […] Gripshift developer Sidhe Interactive has announced today that Gripshift has Downloadable Content available now. Known as the Turbo Expansion pack, get ready for mini games, multiplayer modes, race tracks, and deathmatch arena’s. “With Turbo we wanted to extend the GripShift experience for fans that loved the game’s initial content.” said Mario Wynands, Managing Director of Sidhe Interactive. “GripShift Turbo’s bonus single player mini-games will ensure endless excitement for veteran players, while the new multiplayer mode gives new players a competitive edge. Penguin Bowling, the popular mini-game from the PSP version, is returning with as much penguin crushing excitement as ever.” […]

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