December 13, 2009

Designing The Red Star

Filed under: Features — Tags: , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 11:25 am

Designing The Red Star Interview
My first encounter with The Red Star was a moment of complete chance. I happened to pick up the September 2004 issue of Play Magazine one morning – bewitched as usual by the shiny cover. Discovering a preview for The Red Star, I was instantly seduced by the visual style and eagerly read about the Acclaim title, which ambitiously aimed to merge elements of both the SHMUP and Beat ‘Em Up games of my youth into a single and instantly addictive action experience.

There was also a clear intention to create a game that was simply fun to play. Between the images shown, and the glowing preview Play gave the title, the only question that remained was whether I would buy the game for my Xbox or PS2.

But this all came crashing down when, with the game essentially completed and reviewed by several journalists, Acclaim went bankrupt in late 2004. Rumors continually surfaced, claiming that company X or Y might potentially bring the title to retail, but in the end gamers would have to wait until April 2007 for XS Games to finally release it.

And if this delay was painful for me, it was undoubtedly agonizing for Ara Shirinian, who worked as a designer on the game,

“…we were wrapping up the game (that’s a whole other story right there). I and the other designers on the project felt like if we had a few more months we could really polish and fix up the most problematic parts, but you never get to truly finish a professional game project, they just make you stop working at some point.”

Recently, I’d stumbled across a site that contained a scan of that same September 2004 issue of Play Magazine, as well as a listing of several boss encounters throughout the game. I was impressed with the layout, and dumbstruck to find that the page belonged to Ara, who created many of the scenarios within the game that have kept me replaying the title to this very day.

My fingers hesitated more than a few times while typing out an email, which soon after began an exchange that has given me a great deal more to consider not only about The Red Star, but about the process and state of game design as it stands today.


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