I’m a big fan of National Geographic. I get the magazine, I go to National Geographic Live events, I have several books by the company and a lot of documentaries. I even occasionally get the song stuck in my head. The one thing I haven’t been a fan of…are the video games. You would think since I’m the owner and editor-in-chief of a gaming website that a combination of two things that I love would-be a no-brainer for me. Unfortunately, the National Geographic games I’ve played have been pretty bad. I was unimpressed with National Geographic Panda and Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure was downright terrible. In fact the only fun I’ve had with a National Geographic game, was with the National Geographic quiz pack I downloaded for Buzz! Quiz TV.
With this in mind, it’s no wonder that I was happy to hear that Relentless Software, makers of Buzz! Quiz TV as well as games like Buzz! Quiz World and Blue Toad Murder Files were making the next game to feature the national Geographic Licenses – Kinect Nat Geo TV. I was quite curious to see what would come of this pairing, especially since Relentless Software is best known for games that test your brain rather than your body. Andrew Eades, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Relentless Software was happy to sit down and answer a few questions I had for him about Kinect Nat Geo TV.
Diehard GameFAN: Relentless Software has spent much of its existence making PS3 exclusives like Buzz and Blue Toad Murder Files. What was the decision behind developing a game for the 360 instead?
Andrew Eades: We’re big fans of motion controls. We worked on EyeToy in the early days and we added Move support to both Buzz and Blue Toad Murder Files. Kinect is a natural controller for us to make games so when it was announced, we started designing for it.
DHGF: Relentless has made quiz show titles and old school point and click adventure games. With Kinect Nat Geo TV, this seems to be your most interactive game yet. How will one play Nat Geo TV through Kinect?
AE: It’s certainly one of our more physical games. We worked on EyeToy: Groove before, which was the original motion-controlled dance game back in 2004. When we design a game, we are aiming it at a particular audience, so the physicality of Kinect is important. Augmented reality gives us something we’ve never been able to do before and really helps the player feel the role they are playing.
DHGF: In the game, people will be turned into virtual animals. What sorts of things will the animals have to do? Will it be more realistic items like foraging for food or will it be more fantastic in nature?
AE: At the launch event in New York, Casey Anderson from Expedition Grizzly showed us how grizzlies forage for moths in real life and then played a moth eating game. Before we started this, I would have thought the idea of a grizzly eating up to 40,000 moths in a day was fantastic. I think the whole point of Nat Geo is to show that the world we live on is full of wonderful surprises.
DHGF: Previous National Geographic based games have focused on education as much as entertainment. Is that true about Kinect Nat Geo TV, and if so, what sorts of things will players learn about the animals in the game?
AE: I’m not qualified to answer but learning can be fun and entertainment can educate. We found with Buzz, that we learned a lot of trivia without trying, just by playing a lot. That’s why we made Buzz: The School’s Quiz. We made just knowing stuff fun by putting Buzz in the classroom.
DHGF: What animals can you play as in Kinect Nat Geo TV?
AE: I can’t tell you anything like that without getting into trouble with the great people that are busy planning all the PR and marketing. What I can say is that I have a whole lot of fun when I walk through the studio, as I never know what I’m going to be turned into next.
DHGF: How will different age groups find the game? That is, will parents or adult gamers have just as much fun playing the game as younger ones?
AE: I think young and old can get just as much out of most of the games we make. We like to entertain social groups of people and very often that is defined as the family group. Kinect makes this easier than ever as it allows non-gamers (parents) to play with gamers (children) on a level playing field and without having to have ninja-like reflexes.
DHGF: Relentless has never made a fully licensed game as far as I’m aware, instead choosing to develop IPs of their own. What made you decide to partner with National Geographic?
AE: Actually, we’ve used a hell of lot of licensed content in our games before. We have made games based on licensed music and all our quiz games contain licensed content. I think the biggest-selling DLC pack for Buzz is actually the Nat Geo pack. Nat Geo is a full partner in this project though and they bring a lot of enthusiasm for what we are doing.
DHGF: Will there be any unlockables in the game, such as a full National Geographic documentary?
AE: Sorry. I have to keep quiet about unrevealed game features.
DHGF: When can we expect to see Kinect Nat Geo TV in stores?
AE: I think a spring date was announced.
DHGF: After National Geo TV, what’s next for Relentless Software?
AE: As ever, we have a few things under wraps at the moment. This year we have launched Kinect Air Band, Mutation Station and Quiz Climber. The next thing is Quiz Climber Rivals that comes out very soon. We’ll talk about the 2012 plans a bit later in the year.
Well, we didn’t get to learn too much about the game, but we have more details now then when the game was first announced a few weeks ago. As we get closer to the Spring 2012 release date, I’m sure Relentess Software will be happy to do a follow up interview with us about the game and reveal more aspects of the game. Until then, you can learn more about National Geographic by visiting their official homepage or more about Relentless Software by doing the same.