At the Eurogamer Expo, PSLS had the pleasure of talking to Bethany Aston, Team17’s Senior PR Executive, about all things worm related.
Hiya! Tell me about Worms Revolution Extreme.
It’s basically Worms Revolution from last year, with the three DLC packs included, for Vita. We’ve added in 10 side objectives as well, for example one of them is killing two worms with one shot, when you do that it’ll award you a key and if somebody else does that same objective on the PS3 they’ll get a treasure chest, so we have a cross-gifting treasure mode where they come together.
Here, have a play *hands me Vita*.
*Picks up Vita* Is the reartouch optional?
Yeah, I don’t know about you, but that’s where my hands rest. You can do it with or without touch, but I find using the front touchscreen quite easy.
Yeah, me too.
*Plays Worms, time passes*
Oh, uh, I should be asking questions, this is too fun. Lemme just kill this guy.
Ok, so how do you keep Worms – as a brand, not a food – fresh? As a company, you’ve been going for 24 years.
The formula of Worms is what it is, and we wouldn’t want to change that because it works really well, so it’s finding things like the physics engine to improve so that you can now do chain reactions. It’s about improving the experience without fundamentally changing it.
It’s quite unusual for an indie developer to have a franchise stay alive for that long.
Yeah, we’re really lucky with it. We’re in a really privileged position to still be able to make Worms games and have such a loyal and lovely fanbase.
With all the new self-publishing rules on next gen consoles, that’ll make being indie easier, right?
We’ve got both the kits in, and our Managing Director, Debbie Bestwick, is the Ambassador of the ID@Xbox program as well. We’re on really good speaking terms with both Sony and Microsoft, and she has been lobbying for the best experience possible for indies. We’ve got the tech, and at the moment we’re just playing about and seeing what it’s like.
With PS4, nearly everyone is going to have PlayStation Plus, is it an issue that you’ll be competing with all those ‘free’ games?
[Pauses] I don’t know! The PlayStation Plus content is really good, but I don’t think it’s too much.
Have you found PS+ beneficial?
Yeah, we’ve used it quite often, we’ve done a few launch discounts using Plus.
How much control do you have over that?
We organize it ourselves – well our sales manager does.
How long did it take to get Worms up and running on the Vita?
It took quite a while to get it running with absolutely everything in there, to keep that stable experience on a handheld. But it plays really nicely now, and there’s cross saving so if anybody’s already got Revolution they can just transfer the saves across.
Did you have any discoverability issues on iOS and Android that a lot of devs experience?
Not really, actually. We’ve just done a new iOS version lately, but it’s been three years since the last full Worms game on the App Store, so I think it’s the right time to do it and people were looking for it. We’re trying to do the best Worms experience possible, depending on the platform it’s on. So with Worms 3 on iPhone, there were tons of features in there that really worked with how iOS works, while with Revolution we have the cross-gifting between PS3 and Vita.
While iOS has a lot of sales, the Vita’s not exactly… selling like worm cakes.
I think it’s doing really well, it’s got a lot of cool stuff coming to it, and I think they’ve worked really hard on turning it around, so it’s getting in a lot more hands now. Plus, we’ve done Alien Breed and Superfrog on PS Vita already, so we’ve had a lot of demand from Worms fans to bring it to Vita and we did it.
So they did well on Vita then?
They’ve done reasonably well, yeah. But with Superfrog and Alien Breed, that was cross play and cross buy, it’s taking advantage of the tech between the PS3 and Vita.
Is Worms cross buy planned in the future?
There’s nothing at the moment.
Some developers have said they won’t port games to the Vita, because the cost and time outweigh what they’d get in return. Is that a worry?
No, not really [laughs]. It is really nice to bring it to another platform for our fans because we’ve done it on 360, PS3, PC and Mac. It’s just nice to make it available to more people.
But I’m guessing most Vita owners have a PS3, so they may have already bought the game.
I guess, with Worms as singleplayer, they get over 70 missions, and that’s the same. But they get multiplayer as well, a lot of people tell us they don’t touch the singleplayer at all, and that’s local and offline for 4 players. That experience is indefinite, you can keep play it as long as you want.
Also, you can play it on the way to work.
But no Ouya support, then?
We have got the kit in, but we’re not doing anything for it. We’ve played around, but there’s nothing in the pipeline.
What’s your thoughts on the Vita TV?
It looks really interesting, I’m excited to see where they bring it to.
Where do you see the Worms brand going from here?
It’s just about putting out the best experience we can. Like with our PC version we did Steamworks integration, and that’s just us trying to add in PC-centric features to Worms. With that, we’re not seeing ourselves doing another PC Worms for a while, we’re planning to support it instead, add and grow to that audience.
What kind of audience do you think Worms targets?
God, everyone, I think. We’re really lucky to have people since day one, but we’re still getting fresh players. It’s everybody, there’s no one type that’s a Worms fan. It’s just one of those games that’s funny to play, like getting together with your friends and having fun. You don’t have to be a pro at it, that was the idea when it was created.
No plans to dabble with 3D again?
No, we’re really happy with the style of Revolution, and that’s what we’ve gone forward with. I think it looks visually great, but 2D is what works with Worms and it’s what the fans want. There are a few people who want to see Worms back in 3D, but I just think it doesn’t work all the time, while what we have now works really well.
As an indie, how reliant are you on the success of your latest game?
I think it’s important, but we’re in a really lucky position compared to some indie developers. We adopted digital quite early on, and that’s been really important for us, and I think we’ve been quite on the ball with responding to feedback as well. We’re lucky to be in the space we’re in, and be quite used to digital.
Have you thought about experimenting with different digital distribution methods? Episodic content, F2P, etc…
We have, we’ve got a Facebook version of Worms as well, but at the moment we’re Premium, we don’t have any free-to-play stuff going on.
F2P has got a bit of a bad rap.
It does and it doesn’t, I can see why it works, but for what we’re offering – full game experiences – I’m not sure how Worms could fit into it.
Speaking of bad raps, the UK games scene is in a bit of a crisis.
We’re really lucky, we’re on every platform, we have great relationships with all the platform holders, and we’re still publishing all of our own stuff. Back in the day we even used to distribute our own games, we’ve always done everything ourselves.
Is there a worry you’ll overuse your biggest franchise?
I don’t think so, we’re always adding viable changes, and different fun tweaks without destroying that core gameplay. But with the one’s we’ve released now, we are taking a break and are supporting the games instead. Like with the iPhone version, we’ve got tons of updates coming for that, with the PC version too.
People still love it, and everyone in the office still loves it – we’re making games for ourselves as much as we are for players. It’s a lot of people’s baby, and I don’t think we’d do anything to damage it.
How risky can you be?
I guess it depends on the definition of risky. Like we’d never change the gameplay that people expect of Worms, or…
…Turning all the worms into badgers.
[Laughs] We could put a costume in, that’d be quite cute actually.
How many Worms games are there now?
A lot! [Laughs] In a couple months’ time, I think it’s going to be the 18th year since the first one.
But you’re still doing other games as well.
Yeah, definitely. We revisited Alien Breed last year, and recently we revisited Superfrog as well. We’ve got a really rich back catalog of games, plus we do quarterly game jams as well so we have different concepts, different ideas we could work on. We’ve got quite a few different things in the bag.
How are the studio’s developers split up between new games, new IPs, updates, etc?
We have a few different teams, but last year we moved to open plan offices, so we can all see what we’re doing. It’s a really good team spirit.
Where do you see the company going in the future?
We’ve got the next gen kits in, so hopefully we’ll talk about that more next year. We’ll continue to support the titles out now, and Vita-wise we’re really excited to see how it does. And hopefully we’ll start to see a few new IPs from our game jams…
It’s a really exciting time to be working here, and hopefully there’ll be a few surprises for people next year.
So how much of your team is working on a new IP?
We’ve got a few ideas that we’re looking into, so it’s hard to say, but there’s stuff in the pipeline. It’s just about making sure it’s fun to play. People are experimenting.
Worms: The Horror Game
[Laughs] I don’t think anybody could take it seriously. A massive part of Worms is the humor in it, the daft comedy, the script, and the fact that it’s a worm fighting.