We’re firm supporters of the ID@Xbox program, which allows indies to self-publish their games on to the Xbox One. One of those games is the top-down stealth title Spy Chameleon from Barcelona developer Unfinished Pixel, and we sat down with their designer and programmer Marcos Torrecillas to chat game development, pricing, and why their chameleon isn’t wearing any pants.
Brad: Before we get in to the game, could you tell our readers a little bit about your studio, Unfinished Pixel?
Marcos: Hi! I’m Marcos, the designer, programmer and 50% of Unfinished Pixel. The other half is Raúl, which does all art related stuff like animation and 3D. We are located in Barcelona and trying to make a living creating games we would love to play.
Brad: This is the first title created by Unfinished Pixel, right? Were there any other ideas being thrown around before your team decided to run with Spy Chameleon?
Marcos: Yes, Spy Chameleon is our first project as Unfinished Pixel, but isn’t the first game we made together. We created some prototypes and demos before but in order to start as a company we wanted to minimize development risks so we picked Spy Chameleon, as it’s a game I have already done some years before (for Xbox Live Community Games), so the gameplay mechanics and the core structure of the game was well known for us.
Brad: Spy Chameleon released on the Wii U at the end of last year, but just recently made its way to the Xbox One. What made you decide to bring your game to the Xbox One, and how is it different from the Wii U version?
Marcos: Honestly, I would love to see our games in every platform. Is a dream come true to see our game in the Nintendo, Microsoft or Sony platforms. Also is almost a need for us as the very small and indie company we are. The Xbox One version feels like the best as the original game was created from the colored buttons of the Xbox 360 original controller and also has some improvements and fixes.
Brad: One thing about stealth games is that they always have a cool, recognizable protagonist: Solid Snake, Sam Fisher, Sly Cooper, the Assassin’s Creed series, and now we can add Spy Chameleon to the list. Who came up with the idea? Did you initially have the color changing mechanic in place and THEN decide on a chameleon?
Marcos: Years ago I prototyped some gameplay mechanics based on the colors of the Xbox 360 controller. Me and my friends liked the blend with the environment one so I created some levels and stuff. The chameleon felt like the character that best fit with the color-changing skills of the character in the prototype, so we decided to use it.
Brad: Speaking of the character design, you know that he’s wearing a belt without any pants, right? I can’t help but laugh and smile when I see him with his bandit mask and turtleneck on, but no pants. Whoever came up with that is awesome.
Marcos: Not everybody notices the belt without pants thing haha 🙂 we wanted to create a light-hearted and funny character and world, so Raúl came up with different chameleon designs, finally picking this one.
Brad: Lets talk about influences for a minute. What games did you play growing up that influenced your decision to pursue a career in game development? Can we see any of those influences in Spy Chameleon?
Marcos: Lots of games. I can’t remember which one was the one that made the click, as I started watching my brother play games when I was 2 years old. I remember drawing characters, levels and playing with toys pretending it to be a videogame so I really wanted to create games since I was a kid. Two games that have influenced Spy Chameleon are Metal Gear (the stealth mechanic) and Super Meat Boy (structure of the game, difficulty and progression).
Brad: I actually just finished Spy Chameleon the other day, and one thing that I was kind of puzzled by were the story elements that were shown on the mission select screen. When I first started the game, I was like “oh, cool, I get to go steal this painting!”, but after reaching the end of the 15th level I just moved on to the next set of stages. Is this something thrown in just to add a little flavor to the mission select screen, or were there original plans to do more with the storytelling?
Marcos: We were overwhelmed with the amount of work on that. We needed to finish the game because of money issues and we needed to discard some ideas we had about that. We would have loved to add some “bosses” or special mechanics in those last levels, each one related to the mission you were accomplishing. Also a longer cinematic showing a funny end to each mission. We started with some stuff but we realized we weren’t going to make it, so we ended creating a very small “cinematic” in the level complete screen.
Brad: I really enjoyed the gameplay, the color changing hook, and I thought the pacing was right on point; adding in new ways to avoid detection and new obstacles to overcome regularly throughout the campaign. When it was all over, I immediately jumped back in to unlock achievements and collect ladybugs… and I want more of this. Is there a Spy Chameleon 2 in the works?
Marcos: Makes me happy to read that you enjoyed the game 🙂 we aren’t working on Spy Chameleon 2 but we would like to create a sequel in the future. We left some stuff out (we mentioned the final mission levels but there is more stuff we needed to cut) and I would love to see a cooperative or even a versus mode. There are a lot of possibilities I would love to explore. Also, I would love to have more time to tweak the difficulty curve and polish the levels that felt more frustrating or boring.
Brad: This isn’t really a question, but I just wanted to commend your team on releasing such a polished game at such an affordable price point. $5 is a steal for Spy Chameleon, especially with all of the replay value. We have 75 stages to play through on two different difficulties, tons of achievements, and even a speed-run mode. There’s a lot of indies on the Xbox marketplace right now offering far less content for $20, so thank you!
Marcos: Thank you for your kind words 🙂 we wanted to set a good price for the players who will only play the game on normal difficulty and then stop playing it, because they don’t like to dig deeper in the game. So all the players who want to get the achievements, beat their friends in the leaderboards and master every level (which is what the game was designed for) are very happy about the price, and we are happy too 🙂
Brad: So what’s next for Unfinished Pixel? Any new projects being thrown around for Xbox or otherwise?
Marcos: Yes we have a new project in the making (and very different to Spy Chameleon), but it will take some time to have a good version to show and announce it. Stay tuned if you like action games!
Spy Chameleon is available now on the Xbox One for $4.99. We’d like to thank Marcos at Unfinished Pixel for answering all of our questions during their busy schedule, and highly recommend checking out their game.
Our video review should be available here shortly, so stay tuned!
Bradley Keene is the Executive Editor here at What’s Your Tag?, generally handling reviews, public relations, and our social media communications on Facebook and Twitter. He’s no stranger to sinking an absurd amount of time in to an MMO, but also has a deep seeded love for quirky indie games, pro wrestling, horror films, and his hometown of Baltimore, MD. Get in touch with him by e-mail at the address above, or follow him on Twitter.