Interview: Battle High Developers PointFiveProjects

Reviewers love surprises, especially when they’re great ones. One of the latest was Battle High: San Bruno, a $1 Xbox Live Indie game that brings back an era of rampant 2D fighters all hinging on the success of Street Fighter. Battle High is better than than though. It comes from PointFiveProjects, and after we found the time to put the title down for a while, the developers took some time out of their day to respond some questions via e-mail.

Who are you and what do you do?

V: Vanni Del moral. Character design and graphic arts for the Battle High, both the PC version and XNA version.

M: Matthew DeLucas. I’m a game engineer at Schell Games in Pittsburgh. I did all of the programming for the XNA version of Battle High as well as small contributions to design and graphic design.

How long was the development process?

V: For graphics, about 4 months.

M: The XNA version of the game took me just under a year to finish, but I was working on the project on-and-off.

What is the planning like for the special attacks? Jiro throws a type of rock cube for example. How did you come up with that?

V: Each of the characters has some kind of special ability to manipulate a specific type of natural element. We designed the character’s persona and moves set based on his/her assigned element. Also, one of the considerations in design was to just have fun with it, from Arvid’s throwing “Trading Cards” to Bryan throwing sinks and other appliances and fixtures a horror monster could use to smash your head with.

Were you trying to emulate any specific hardware in terms of something like color limitation or resolution? It sort of looks like a Super NES title with a slightly diluted palette.

M: I don’t know about SNES specifically, but we did try to emulate the some aspects of older fighting games such as a limited color palette for easy palette swapping and smaller file size.

What fighting games (beyond Street Fighter) were your inspiration(s)? Since there are schools fighting, the immediate thought for me was Rival Schools/Project Justice.

M: Gameplay-wise one of my inspirations was Guilty Gear. I always liked the concept of the Roman Cancel, but I was never good at pulling it off effectively, so that is why I implemented the Rush Cancel; the fact that aerial dashing is horizontal was also influenced by GG.

The game has a very distinct, juggle-focused feel. For instance, a fierce/strong jump kick actually lifts opponents into the air. Traditionally, that’s a ground combo starter. Was that always the intent from the beginning of the design?

M: Yes. The originally PC had many juggle-based moves, and I wanted to keep that alive in the XNA version and combos setup from those types of attacks, I think, are a lot more fun and not as difficult to pull off.

Prejudice is a key part of the story. Is there any insight into that or were you just aiming for a more comic book feel?

V: It’s more comic-book feel. You have your good guys, your bad guys, and guys in neutral. We then mixed it with typical hardships a high school student would go through. The story, however, is focused more on the two brothers, Jiro and Shinji and how love brings them together and yet separates them.

M: There was a slight bit of rewriting for the XNA version, and the bit I contributed for that mostly involved the prejudice intro. I was influenced a lot by the X-Men movies, even the 3rd one. I actually don’t read comics.

Was there a temptation to implement more mechanics (i.e., parry, air blocking)?

M: I started implementing air blocking actually, but decided to put it on hold since the game, I feel, is more simple and there’s aren’t projectiles flying everywhere like a Vs. game or BlazBlue, so I didn’t feel like air blocking was really necessary. Not gameplay mechanics exactly, but I still want to involve scoring for a Score Attack mode and then other modes like Time Attack and Survival with online scoreboards of sorts.

Were there any specific styles of martial arts you were aiming for?

V: Nothing in particular.

M: The only characters I really tried to represent actual fighting styles, in the slightest, were Khai with kickboxing and Heavyweight with boxing.

Why is the game windowboxed instead of full screen? My guess was it easier to work with any performance issues.

M: The original PC version was made at a 4:3 aspect ratio at 400 by 300 pixels. Essentially I didn’t want to scale-up the size of the game by more than 200% or else it would get badly jagged; the next size up would be 400% but that would be too big. I was going to try and do what MVC2 for PS3 and 360 did, but I didn’t like that because you’d be corner but still have a few good hundred pixels, and I founds that confusing. I then thought the art may not work well with a larger distance between the characters, so I just scaled up by 200% and gave it the standard def. view.

How long before we get Super Burning High Turbo HD Remix?

M: *laugh* That’s a good question. Probably not anytime soon. My hope is to be able to keep the game at a dollar for as long as I can, which would mean not upscaling the sprites for quite some time. Maybe we’ll skip the HD part and go right into 2.5D like Street Fighter 4!

Please make a beat-em-up with this same style. That’s not a question.

Do you mean visually or gameplay? Either one I’m not quite sure about, but you’ll probably see more games from Vanni, me, and PointFiveProjects, and maybe, if you’re lucky, one of them will be a beat-em-up!

Thanks to PointFive for the interview and this game which deserves a wider audience… although a beat-em-up would be awesome too.

WOMEN, MAN YOUR PEDALS AND BIKE TO WORK.(Getaways)

Seattle Post-Intelligencer May 16, 2002 | Dizon, Kristin Byline: KRISTIN DIZON Special to the P-I Ladies, rev your quadriceps!

Tomorrow is Bike to Work Day, an opportunity for women to bump up their participation in the 12th annual celebration of bicycle commuting. Last year a survey found that less than 32 percent of the riders were women.

One of those is Katey Bean, a marketing writer for software company WRQ and busy mother of three, who makes it a priority to ride six miles to and from work.

Bean, 32, started commuting by bike in college and hasn’t stopped since. Her oldest sons, ages 8 and 6, are veterans of a tow-behind bike trailer. The 6-year-old, Isaac, now rides behind his mom on a bike-trailer attachment as they make their way along back roads from the Greenwood area to his school in Fremont.

Then Bean continues over the Fremont Bridge to her job on Lake Union before the two repeat the process in the afternoon.

Her two other boys go to a different school and day care and are dropped off in a car by their dad, Matt Bean, an attorney. biketrailernow.com bike trailer

Katey Bean ruefully acknowledges that her husband doesn’t bike to work despite years of prodding from her. “He’s actually perfect in every other way,” she said.

But their children all like the sensation of wheeling in the wind, even 18-month-old Caleb.

Bean, who is mostly a fair-weather cyclist, plans her commuting schedule to pick up kids at school, day care and activities.

“I get time to exercise and it’s integrated in my day,” she said. “And I get time alone – which, when you’re a mother of three, is very valuable.” Women and moms aside, organizers of the local event – WRQ and the Cascade Bicycle Club – welcome, beg and beseech all comers to participate.

They had good news last year: 6,784 people, including at least 285 first-timers, pedaled to work during the one-day event, up 26 percent from 2000. This year they hope to break the 7,000 mark.

Seattle’s event coincides with National Bike to Work Day, which is, in turn, part of National Bike Month. In cities around the country, people receive T-shirts, baked goods, door prizes and other goodies as rewards for commuting by bike, even if it’s just for that day.

Of course, the goal is to make this a commuter habit rather than a once-a-year fluke here, where the average bicycle commuter logs 1,992 miles a year, according to the City of Seattle.

The benefits bicycle commuters extol? Fresh air, exercise, an environmentally friendly way to get around without spewing exhaust fumes and particles in the air, less dependence on fossil fuels, and a mode of transportation less expensive than driving a car.

They have less tolerance for the hurdles many people cite, such as: danger, lack of facilities to change or shower, rain and cold weather, the need to do errands after work, or difficulty in keeping work clothes unwrinkled.

Paul Wantzelius has been screamed at, cursed at and even pelted with a can of beer by angry drivers.

That hasn’t stopped the Boeing electronic design engineer, who sets off every weekday at 4 a.m. on a modified mountain bike, which has 114,000 miles on it. The 21 miles that he rides from his home in Maple Valley to a Boeing plant takes an hour and a half in the dark of morning.

Only ice on the roads or unusual errands stop him from cycling to work – and that happens just eight to 10 times a year.

Wantzelius, 52, has been commuting this way since 1971 and says biking to work makes him feel virtuous. Colleagues seem impressed, too.

“Most of them kind of admire your guts to get out there in that car traffic and do it day after day,” he said. “It’s a habit. It feels strange if I don’t do it.” Accidents, close calls and the aging process haven’t deterred Halstead Harrison from bicycle commuting. in our site bike trailer

The 71-year-old professor emeritus in atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington rides 12 miles from his Mercer Island home to his office and classrooms.

The trip, which he does about once a week in winter and four times a week in the summer, takes an hour each way.

“I would say I’m mildly addicted to exercise,” Harrison quipped. “Some people drink coffee. I ride a bicycle.” He hopes to keep cycling for years but says the peer group shrinks considerably when you hit your seventh decade.

For now, Harrison follows his bottom line: “If it’s fun, do it. If it’s not fun, don’t do it.” If you ride Bike to Work Day is from 6 to 9 a.m. tomorrow. Thirty-six commuter stations in King and Snohomish countries will give out free bicycling maps, prizes, T-shirts, water bottles and more.

A “Celebration Ride” with local celebrities, including Joe Kurmaskie, the Oregon-based author of “Metal Cowboy,” will start at 7:30 from the Seattle Center International Fountain and head to an 8 a.m. rally at Westlake Plaza.

The busiest commuter stations are at the Fremont Bridge; the Burke-Gilman trail at Rainier Vista; and the corner of Mercer and Dexter streets.

For more information, see www.biketoworkday.org Dizon, Kristin

XJ vision; JAGUAR PINS ITS HOPES ON A RADICAL NEW LOOK.(News)

The Mirror (London, England) July 10, 2009 Byline: Richard Hammond LAST night there was a big party at the Saatchi gallery to launch the new Jaguar XJ hosted by American talk show host and car fanatic Jay Leno.

My invitation was lost in the post, but I’m sure it was a flash do. The next XJ is certainly an important new car for Jaguar, which isn’t having a good time right now.

The XJ really needed a proper replacement. The big Jag has always been a nice car but, unfortunately, it’s always looked the same. Even the current one, which is a very sexy big saloon, looks similar to the XJ that was launched in 1968. here bowers and wilkins

And punters who lash out 50 grand on a posh saloon are not too chuffed if you can buy one that looks like it off eBay for the price of a dog collar.

The new XJ looks totally different. First, it’s got a long glass roof that creates a very bright interior. Inside there’s all the luxury you’d expect in a Jag including various options of leather and wood.

And while lots of designers bang on about ‘wraparound’ dashboards, the new XJ’s really does. I’m looking forward to seeing the ‘virtual’ instruments working.

There are several audio and infotain-menoptions including a 1200 watt Bowers and Wilkins hi-fi. No, I hadn’t heard of them either. Sounds like a shortbread biscuit maker.

Both standard and long wheelbase versions will be available when the car goes on sale early next year. If you’ve been in an old XJ you’ll remember that there’s hardly enough rear legroom for kids let alone a couple of lanky businessmen. The new car apparently has ample and the LWB version an extra 125mm. The boot, usually a XJ weakpoint, is 520 litres.

Half of the aluminium chassis is made from recycled metal, so some bloke could be driving round in your old beer cans.

Under the bonnet there’s a choice of a 3.0-litre twin turbo V6 diesel, the 5.0-litre V8 and a supercharged version of the latter with 470bhp. I imagine that one day there’ll be an R version with a bit more. As the diesel version can do 40mpg it’s going to be most popular. A Jag shouldn’t just go fast, but should handle well with a comfortable ride. The new XJ comes with a wardrobe full of gadgetry including air suspension and variable damping as well as heaps of clever electronics. website bowers and wilkins

If it drives as well as the smaller XF, it’ll be a job well done. I’m looking forward to finding out if it does.

JAGUAR XJ THE FIRST 41 YEARS 1968 In September the Series 1 XJ was launched. A 2.8-litre sixcylinder was standard and a 4.2-litre was optional. Air-con was only available on the 4.2.

1972 A V12-powered version was launched, the XJ12. It was so smooth you could barely hear the engine. Sometimes that wasn’t because it had run out of fuel – usually it was.

1974 The Series 2 arrives, looking a lot like the Series 1. A twodoor coupe arrives that looks even better but it leaked water and wasn’t well made.

1979 Series 3 launched. Amazingly it looks a lot like the 2 but with bigger rubber bumpers. The 5.3-litre V12 is still fitted along with the 3.4 and 4.2-litre straight sixes.

1986 XJ40 launched. Hideous, with square headlamps. The only XJ that isn’t svelte and sexy.

1995 The X300 arrives – the XJ is sexy again. Ford is in charge and quality is improving.

1997 Now it gets confusing as the X305 facelift replaces the X300. It still looks a lot like the 1968 Series 1. The big news was the new V8 engine.

2003 I’m running out of puff and space so we’ll wind up with the X350 which was novel in that it used aluminium for its body (It still looked like the 1968 SJ). This car was given a facelift a year or so ago to keep it alive until the new X351 arrived.

CAPTION(S):

GLASS ROOF Stylish looks TOP CAT Sleek, eyecatching design