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The Undergarden Developer Q & A

We had a chance to ask Antonio Santamaria, Head of Engineering at Vitamin-G, about the soon to be released PSN version of The Undergarden.  As such, we had questions and in return we got answers (shocking, I know!):

1 ) Where did you guys get the inspiration for The Undergarden? Were you influenced at all by thatgamecompany’s “Flower”?

The fun part about making The UnderGarden was that we didn’t design everything up-front.  Instead, we experimented with different ideas and played with what we felt worked, so the game was influenced from alot of different ideas the entire team contributed along the way.

We are definitely fans of Flower, and the way it managed to feel different from alot of games definitely provided some inspiration.   We also play alot of different games and some, especially fps’, tend to build up tension.  So a big part of the inspiration for The Undergarden was to see if we could make something that did the opposite; something that could let you unwind a little.  Also, we wanted to make something that would let our non-gamer significant others jump in on the fun too, even if they didn’t have alot of gaming experience.  It’s always fun to play with someone sitting right beside you.

2 ) How has the overall response been to the game thus far? I mean it has been released on STEAM, Xbox Live, and is now coming to the PSN. It seems like it’s doing good since it’s coming to another platform.
We’ve received alot of positive feedback from the game.  About half the feedback we get is from people who appreciate the break from playing first person shooters, and the other half like that they their non-gamer partners or children can play with them.  We definitely wanted to bring that to as many people as possible, which is why we’ve made it on all the major platforms.

3 ) Does it seem like the gaming community is accepting to something totally different than the traditional shooters or what not?

I think so.  Definitely games like Flower have shown that there is an audience for something new, and PSN has been especially welcoming to that.  From the feedback we’re getting, alot of people seem to be open to different ideas and a different type of experience.  What we hear often is that people love their shooters, but sometimes want a change of pace.

4 ) Is this a port?

The PS3 version was developed simultaneously with the other versions, so it’s not a straight port of a completed game.  The levels and content are very similar, although we have 2 new levels included on the PS3.

5 ) How long did it take for you to make the transition from concept art up to the final retail product?

The game evolved alot during the course of development, as we experimented to see what worked and what didn’t.  In this game, there wasn’t really a separate concept art phase followed by a development phase; it all happened concurrently as we tried different things.  But I’d say the first prototype took probably a couple of months, and the main development portion probably about 6 or 7 months after that.

6 ) How big will the downloaded game be on PSN? HDD space is at a premium nowadays and we have to make room for The Undergarden.

The game requires roughly about 350 megs on your hard drive.

7 ) What will be the specs for the game? Are we set for a 1080p 60 fps game for our collection?
The game runs at 720P.  I’m not sure on the exact frame rate off hand, but we think it looks and sounds great!

8 ) How many people are involved in making The Undergarden a reality on PSN?

The number of people varied during development, but we had anywhere between 4 and 12 or so main developers working on it at any given time, including art, programming and music.

9 ) We imagine that due to size restrictions some of the music and sound effects had to be left in the cutting board. Any chance that the complete soundtrack for the game can be made available on PSN? Maybe make it so there’s a bundle of the game and the soundtrack for a lower price?

That’s an interesting idea!  There is in fact some extra music, and that’s something for us to think about.

10 ) How long will it take us to make a first run from start to finish?

That all depends on how you play.  You could try a speed run through the game, but then you’d be missing out on a lot that it has to offer.  If you wanted to see all of the levels, get all the costumes, bloom all the plants and collect all the Trophies, we imagine it would take a fair bit, but we’ve never timed it.  We’ve had people tell us they just like to fly around reblooming plants, changing the colours and listening to the sounds everything makes, so it will take them a whole lot longer! 🙂

11 ) Could we get a trophy list for the game?

Sowing the seeds of love (Bronze): Grow your first fruit tree
Color your world (gold): Grow all the flowers on every level
Rainbow collection (Silver): Collect all the bonus flowers in the game
I wanna be a rock star (Silver): Pick up every musician in the game at least once
Blown away (Bronze): Grow 50% of plants in “Wind Surfing”, “Kaboom!”, “Blown Away” and “Handle With Care”
Turn that thing off (Bronze): Drop a bomb on a musician
Listen to the flower people (Bronze): Re-bloom some flowers carrying 3 musicians at once
Time to hit the sack (Bronze): Hit every pollen sack in “Batteries Not Included”, “Zap!” and “Into the Machine”
Happy birthday to me (Bronze): Complete “Grab Hold”, “Watch Out, They Spit”, and “Hold on Tight” in under 20 minutes
Someone set us up the bomb (Bronze): Drop a bomb on the second player in a co-op game
Let’s clear the air (Bronze): Clear most of the smog in the smoggy levels
The devil wears produce (Bronze): Hold a musician, heavy fruit, lantern fruit, and explosive fruit while wearing red horns
A very good year (Silver): Collect 17 crystals in the game

12 ) Considering that the game has been available for the PC and XBLA and judging from those sales, any chance that you’ve been authorized to start working on a potential sequel as soon as the first one is available on PSN?

That’s something we will definitely be considering.  We hope that people enjoy the first one, and if there’s demand for more we would be happy to work on it again.  We’ve got some great ideas we’d love to add to the game!”

Be sure to check back with us since we’ll have a review & a giveaway for The Undergarden at once the game is closer to it’s final launch date.